by R. Santer
May 31, 2006
This was our second cruise on this ship in the last 11 months. We sailed the same itinerary on June 29, 2005 with my son and his family. (see review dated 6/29/05) This trip was a follow-up to that excellent cruise.
Once again we enjoyed the ship and the ports. We were a party of 10 (all seniors)this time with six people being first time visitors to Alaska.
All had balcony cabins and made good use of the wildlife viewing opportunities the balconies provided. Had quite a bit of rain which is not unusual for the inside passage, did put a little damper on the port activities in Ketchikan and Juneau. This being my fourth Alaska cruise I've learned to hold our major tours to Skagway and Sitka where chances of sunshine are better.
We did the White Pass RR excursion in Skagway and had a great time, all 10 of us were accommodated in the special handicap access car on the train due to my wife utilizing a battery powered scooter. This car has a wheelchair lift as well as areas without seats so that folks in wheelchairs or scooters have good viewing spots. This is one of those not to be missed shore excursions.
Our next port was Sitka and this held my favorite shore excursion of any Alaska Port. That is the Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest. We took this tour twice before and the last time on July 4, 2005 we took my wifes scooter with us on the tour and then into Sitka for the Fourth of July festivities.
This time we had a very rude surprise in that we were not allowed to take the tour with the scooter, apparently Allen Marine who runs the tour changed their policy regarding handicap access. We were not aware of this even though I had e-mailed Carnival requesting info about using scooters on board ship.
Carnival's written answer indicated there would be no problem even though I later learned the Allen Marine had notified Carnival of the new Policy last fall. In any case my wife and I were forced to remain aboard ship for the entire day when Carnival also said they would not allow the scooter on their tenders.
This was our fourth cruise in the last 2 years, all with the scooter, it was the first time we encountered restrictions.
Since I am a travel agent I've asked Allen Marine and Carnival to advise me what the new policies are so that I can pass on the correct and truthful information on to my clients and the agencies I represent.
I would strongly suggest that any handicapped potential cruisers check with your cruise lines and travel agents about their policies toward the disabled before you book.