Itineraries And Ports Of Call
European river cruises travel along the;Rhine,;Danube,;and;Seine Rivers;as well as other major waterways.; A great deal of effort is made to ensure guests enjoy food and wine of the specific region being traveled.; International cruises vary in length from a week to three weeks with a select few longer in duration. In many river cruise ports of call, museums, churches, shops, restaurants and other attractions are usually very close by, with no need for bus transfers. Viking, in particular, has prime central mooring spots as it owns its own docks. However, this isnt the case in many European cities. Sometimes bridges are too low for river cruise ships to make it into the heart of town. Other factors that can influence where a ship docks include its size the Viking Longships are too big to dock in central Paris, for example and the agreement that the line has with the local harbor authorities.
For passengers who are full-time wheelchair users, or have very limited mobility, it is best to choose itineraries that cover longer distances with plenty of cruising time. This means they will be able to spend more time aboard with fellow passengers. Top options and also an excellent choice for first-time cruisers are sailings on the;Rhine;and;Danube, the most popular rivers in Europe.
The Myth Of Europe In Accessible Travel
Often when considering an accessible vacation, travelers can make the mistake of thinking western world equals comfort and ease for wheelchairs, walkers, and senior travelers.
In reality, many European cities may prove challenging to navigate unless you stay in the more modern areas and away from many of the historic sites.
The cobblestones are charming but can be extremely uncomfortable to walk along, let alone wheel a chair. These surfaces are uneven hard stone, and it can be easy to slip – especially if you have weak hips or feet and arent wearing sturdy footwear.
Exploring Europe’s many castles can also be a strain. Steps are steep and hard, and often of the spiral variety which can be dizzying for even the more able-bodied traveler.
That said, there are some stand-out cities that combine both European charm and accessible travel options.
For a lovely European getaway look no further than charming Amsterdam. And it is the perfect destination for boat tours through the canals – a great option for wheelchair travelers. And then there are the medicinal properties of a certain highly available plant
The city is largely flat as well, making it easy to walk or roll longer distances. This is good as WheelchairTravel.org notes only a 3 out of 5 score on the Public Transit.
Option : My Second Grouping Is European River Cruises Without Pre
Yes you can get river cruises which dont include excursions and in a lot of ways these are my favourite.; It allows customers to travel the same stretch of river but not need to go back to the same church or town they saw last time or it even allows them to do something different in that place.; Or it allows you to travel a river without having to see said church or town at all.
If youd rather go shopping in Budapest than go to the Parliament building, then why not?; If youd rather just find a cafe and people watch, then why not?; This style of river cruising is more akin to more mainstream ocean cruising as it is flexible and less hectic.; If youd rather not or are not able to do a city walking tour, why not get the front desk to book you a private taxi and let the taxi driver take you on a tour instead?; Find a friend and split the cost between you.; You dont have to go on the coach with the 150 others on board, you can do your own thing.
This second grouping is how the Europeans do river cruising.; They will use the stop on the river to explore on their own. They will choose from a menu of excursions in different places and then buy one by one, the ones they are most interested in.; You have a floating hotel with all the usual amenities but you also may have all your drinks included in the package, so you can relax on board all day without working up a tab.; And you still get to socialise at meal times.
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Option : The First Grouping Is River Cruises With Included Excursions In The Price
Viking River Cruises are a company who offer river cruises with daily included excursions which you may have heard of.; With a company like Viking their brochure will show the included excursions they provide so you can have a good look at the itinerary and it will usually, but not always, ;give you enough information to show you how each excursion will work.; Things you need to consider are:
If it is a walking tour with a local guide, then check if it is a half day or a full day.
Are you walking from the quayside into the town or are you being taken by coach?
Is there free time included in the excursion?
Is the excursion a visit to a museum or monument?; How much walking will be involved?; Are there steps involved?
Is there a walking tour in the morning and then another in the afternoon?
Is there time on board ship to relax after a tour in the morning?
Are there any days free to get your breath back?
Would I be able to take a walking aid if required on these excursions?
Does the brochure state that there is a slow walkers option available?
The must-see sights on the river or on the tours are they up a hill?
How would you feel if you were unable to get to the highlight of the trip for you?
Are there evening excursions included that might feature concerts which will allow you to see the inside of beautiful buildings rather than having to just walk or drive past them?
Regensburg, Germany tour group at the holocaust memorial
How fast would you ideally like to walk?
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Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Park With Access Tours
National Parks, especially in the United States have really upped their game in recent years making handicap accessible routes to the spectacular views and natural phenomenon that attract travelers day after day.
On this tour, youll spend some time driving through the dramatic landscape of Wyoming and three full days are devoted to exploring Yellowstones unforgettable scenery, including the ever punctual Old Faithful.
From $2,860 per person. Not yet rated. 9 Days. See Itinerary
River Cruise Ship Layouts
River cruise ships are much smaller than ocean vessels, particularly in Europe, where they are restricted in width and length to fit into locks and sail beneath low bridges, and parts of Asia where they have to navigate shallow waters. Most have a maximum capacity of 250 passengers or less, and typically only have three or four decks. Many river cruise ships have several dining options, several bars and lounges, a swimming pool, and even a cinema and salon.
There is generally an open-seating policy for dining, so you can sit where you want. Meals can be fairly regimented due to the small size of the galley, so one sitting for breakfast, lunch and dinner is the norm . Lighter meals can be enjoyed in the lounge, or outside on the deck, and some vessels have additional specialty restaurants. Entertainment is low-key with the major attraction being the passing scenery.
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Learn About The Rest Of The River Cruise Lines
If you’re considering a cruise on one of the major cruise lines, here’s how they stack up when it comes to accessible travel. Feeling overwhelmed? Ask a knowledgeable travel agent — particularly one who specializes in river cruising or cruise travel for people with disabilities — to help you find the ship and trip that’s right for you.
AmaWaterways: Passengers are recommended to bring collapsible wheelchairs that can easily be stored in the cabin. All stateroom doors are wide enough to allow access, and AmaSerena, AmaSonata, AmaReina, AmaPrima and AmaCerto have specially designed cabins that have slightly wider doors and modified bathrooms that allow wheelchair access. These cabins also have an emergency access door leading directly out of the ship, which can accommodate a wheelchair during emergency evacuation. Every ship in the fleet has an elevator that serves all floors except the lower deck and sun deck. Crewmembers will assist any passengers with disabilities to the top deck, and help them at any other time onboard, subject to availability. It is strongly recommended that disabled passengers travel with a caregiver who can assist them on tours and with getting on and off the ship. Many shore excursions are accessible for passengers with limited mobility.
When A River Cruise Will Not Be For You
I am sorry to say that if you are a permanent wheelchair user, our experience through countless attempts to try, is that it isnt usually possible.; There are issues of use on board and space requirements but the bottom line is that ships can often be moored side by side.; In this instance, it means that customers may have to go up and over other ships to get off to the quayside.
Ocean cruising ships are much better at providing a holiday you will enjoy if you are a permanent wheelchair user.
So, lets look at the options available.
For this comparison, the type of river cruise available in Europe falls into two categories.; Ill also follow this up with some actual examples of our customers who are not great walkers who have enjoyed river cruising.; Hopefully, this will give you a good insight into what can be done and what cant.
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Top Cruise Lines For Seniors
Cruising is one of the very best ways to see the world – especially for more mature travelers.
From easygoing river voyages to elegant ocean sailings to enrichment heavy expedition journeys or exciting globe-spanning World Cruises, a cruise;vacation is;the perfect way for seniors to visit multiple destinations while maximizing your travel dollar.
Comfortable, convenient and extremely cost-effective, cruises are a safe and stylish way for seniors to see the world with like-minded travelers and be pampered along the way. Whatever your mobility level, a cruise provides the perfect balance of full independence and accessible support while venturing out on your own.
Of course, the list of reasons to go on a cruise is long, making that part of the decision an easy one. With so many choices to choose from though, the hard part might be deciding which cruise line is right for you.
To help narrow down the choices, our experts have selected some of the top cruises for seniors wanting to travel in style.
Cruising Down The Rhine River: Our Great Viking Longboat Experience
- Cruising Down the Rhine River: Our Great Viking Longboat Experience
In 2015, we traveled 820 miles down the Rhine River on an eight-day Viking River Cruise from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Basel, Switzerland. It was one of the best trips weve ever takenand we dont say that lightly, having logged more than 2 million flight miles across the world! The experience was simply outstanding, from start to finish. We enjoyed delicious, exceedingly fresh food; fine wines; tailored itineraries; breathtaking scenery; excellent customer service; and modern, clean rooms. Dr. Gary Raymond, a friend who took the identical Viking riverboat cruise weeks before, echoed his satisfaction with the trip, commenting that out of 18 cruises he has been on, this was one of the best! He noted, Everyone from the captain down was open to taking care of any problem you could come up with.
Viking is one of several major cruise lines, including AmaWaterways, Uniworld, Avalon Waterways, and Tauck, to run river cruises in a variety of countries. Taking a Viking cruise is a very different experience than being on one of the large cruise ships, however. Having only 190 passengers on board promoted a unique and relaxing atmosphere. There were a few teenagers, but most of the passengers were 50 or older. We did not see any children or loud, wild groups, as one would experience on the larger cruise ships, which carry thousands of passengers!
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Awful Facilities If You’re Not Able Bodied
I made an initial enquiry regarding facilities for a family member that had mobility issues and may have needed to take a wheelchair on board. I was appalled at the response which was along the lines of, staff will not help you with moving the chair down the stairs even though the on-board lifts don’t travel to all the floors. Also, it may not be possible to leave the ship on excursions in certain ports as you would have to disembark across several moored ships due to the way ships are moored to each other. Sounds like Viking are only interested in able bodied guests. Having read some of the other reviews I’m more than happy to spend my money with another operator that has a more positive attitude to less able bodied customers.
Last Minute Cruises Can Sometimes Be The Cheapest Cruise Deal
Sometimes, but not always, the cheapest cruise deal is a Last Minute Cruise. You won’t get a wide selection of stateroom categories or a chance to select your stateroom location but if your schedule is flexible you just might find a cheap cruise price on a last minute cruise. Last minute cruises are cruises leaving in the next 90 days. The cruise line really wants to fill those last few staterooms and sometimes will offer them at a discount cruise price in exchange for you giving up your right to a full selection of cabin categories or deck locations. CruiseExperts.com makes it easy for you to poke around and see what’s available in last minute cruise deals. View our Last Minute Cruise Deals by clicking here and give it a try. This is one of our most popular website features.
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Discover Truly Accessible River Cruising
While most river cruise lines offer accessible travel only with major caveats, one ship stands out from the rest. Catering mainly to the British market through the tour operator Shearings, the 100-passenger MS Alegria is the only river vessel that offers totally accessible facilities. Cruising on the Rhine and Dutch waterways, the vessel can accommodate up to 10 disabled passengers per sailing. Manual and electric wheelchairs, foldable electric scooters and walking frames can be used onboard. Passengers can also bring larger electric scooters for use ashore.
Cabins for wheelchair-dependent passengers feature large doorways and “wet room”-type bathrooms, with seats in the showers. Other cabins have wheelchair-accessible doorways, and shower stools can be provided on request. Travelers can elect to rent ceiling-mounted hoists and other mobility equipment, such as walking frames to use on the ship and stools for showers that are not already equipped with them. Items available do not include medical equipment, although small oxygen cylinders can also be taken onboard with prior arrangement.
Three elevators link the passenger decks, and two chair lifts take disabled passengers to the sun deck. The ship has wide corridors and offers a collection and return service for mobility aids that are not stored in the cabin. Alegria moors at wheelchair-accessible dockings and offers excursions suited to wheelchair users.
Cruising Tips For Seniors To Make Your Trip More Enjoyable
If you are a senior citizen and have never visited a cruise before, the best thing to do is research.
Its best if you visit different sites that offer advice for seniors. A lot of them even provide tips.
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Adaptations For Those With Hearing Impairments
Some accessible staterooms have been designed with hearing impaired guests in mind, including innovative adaptations like vibrating alarm clocks, and doorbells, telephones, smoke detectors and fire alarms with indicating-light systems. Staterooms without these facilities feature alert kits which can be fitted to any cabin; these include visual-tactile smoke detectors, door-knock alerts, wake-up systems and telephone alerts.