I was very nervous before to make a 14-day land tour / cruise Alaska, because I am confined to a wheelchair. While I can stand, I do not go. While traveling in wheelchairs always have a problem with something that should correspond to ADA and mismatches.
Our trip started in Ankorizh and then brought us to the Copper Center, Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Montana. McKinley and Talketna. After the land tour, we boarded a cruise ship in Uitter and traveled south through the inner passage to Vancouver, with the docking port of Skagway, Juneau and Ketchykan.
The whole trip was excellent in terms of accessibility, although there were a few hiccups that we met along the way. I drew them to the cruise line and will share with you.
The following is a summary of the advice and recommendations that I make from my own personal experience, when you are wondering about the trip:
- Never judge, that if someone tells you about the room, transportation, transmission, etc., meets ADA standards, what it is. There is a large discrepancy in the interpretation and assumptions, when you can say that it is "compatible with the ADA". You should make a list of specific questions that require specific answers from a travel agent who really knows your specific required number.
- When I started planning my trip, I worked directly with the cruise line. I talked with the agents who actually carried out on a cruise ship, we took out, and who can give me information about the convenience of wheelchair on ships and help me choose the number. I also talked to them about placing the department access places available regarding numbers on the land, and of such things as a bus / bus / under the & # 39; lift. These people were very helpful. I did not want to work through an independent travel agency, because of the experience I have learned that certain things never answer properly, or "lost in translation" when dealing with third parties.
- I booked my trip almost a year in advance, so I can get exactly what he wanted. For example, I wanted a room on the deck containing the buffet, grill and outdoor pools / lounges / movies, to eliminate the use of elevators. In addition, we have saved $ 1,400 by getting a room inside room – open deck was just beside our door, so we do not need a balcony room.
- We booked in September, because the city was less crowd, and young children are not present. I think that being in a scooter, I always have to take care of others; so many people – especially children – do not look after me. In addition, we did not have to contend with mosquitoes at that time of year, we saw the northern lights, gorgeous autumn color, and the days were cool – 50-60 degrees. Cold temperatures have been good for me, because my PC is very sensitive to the warm humid days, it is often in the summer months in Alaska.
- I sent a written letter to the Access Department, in which he stated that I was "confined to a wheelchair", so I need a & # 39; lift for all transport, as well as a shower, which is stored, if any. I recommend to send such a letter, if you are completely limited, since it will cover you later, if there are problems that in my case turned out.
For example, three buses arrived, which did not have under the & # 39; lift. Fortunately, I have a small (125 lbs.) And my husband is strong, so I was able to transfer to a coach. Otherwise I would have to stay for what would be disrupted and canceled my trip one of my tours. In the future, I would like to do, and I would recommend others to do: consult with a tour desk in every hotel where you are staying to reiterate that the vehicles with an elevator will be available for you the next few days. You can also re-confirm any other special needs that you requested ahead of time, for example, plug-in shower. Twice I was given a room with no roll soul, and later found out that this room was given to the one who does not. If I was traveling with my sister instead of my husband, I could not take a shower, because she could not raise me in the tub, which was placed a chair.
If you use a wheelchair working on a part-time, note that there are 5-7 steps that go into cars, and they are quite steep.
On the railroad was under the & # 39; a lift, as well as some sightseeing buses in Denali National Park.
Surprisingly, the availability alyaskanskih cities – even in the smallest domestic locations – was very good. If I use the toilet, I need help with my husband. We were able to find a bathroom, which was large enough for both of us, even in the homes in which we stopped to eat. Note: The railway toilets can not fit two people, so if you are someone needed an assistant, you will need to prepare in other ways to the 5-6 hour drive.
If you think about a cruise or tour, I propose to begin to plan their arrangements for the year ahead, because the number of disabled are limited and fill up fast.
Finally, because of the unpredictability of my the MS, I decided to purchase travel insurance in case of any health problems that would prevent me from going.