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Author: mipa24

Joined: 1/20/2012
Posts: 2
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2009

January 20, 2012

Hi fellow travellers!  I feel somewhat awkward to place this posting which is more like a question.  I do get very short of breath when I have to walk some distance or climb stairs.  I recently took a Royal Caribbean Cruise to the Bahamas and experienced a lot of difficulty walking inside the ship.  My doctor suggested that I get a travel scooter when I travel next.  Ii has been a long dream of mine to start taking river cruises with GCT.  i was wondering if any of you could let me know whether the boats used by GCT have elevators and whether any of you have seen a traveller using a scooter for mobility inside these boats.  Also, I was wondering whether I could carry on my scooter if I wanted to avail of a land excursion during any of the GCT River Cruises.

 

Thank you and hope all of you keep travelling.

 

Chandra Majumdar

csm0208@hotmail.com

Author: bad758

Joined: 4/28/2010
Posts: 27
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2001

January 20, 2012

The river boats do have elevators, but I have not seen anyone with a scooter.  I think it would be very difficult to use a scooter as the boats are much smaller than a cruise ship and the hallways are narrow.  Getting the scooter on and off the boat at stops would be a problem as well. The river boats usually travel at night and dock during the day so that passengers can walk through towns and see the sites or travel by bus to other locations.  I think the larger cruise ships would be better for your particular needs. 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 977
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

January 20, 2012

I also have never seen one nor have I seen a wheel chair.  The two ships on the Russia Revealed river trip do not have elevators that go to the Sun Deck level, and that's where most of the talks and all the entertainments take place.  I found the stairs quite strenuous, since I was having a lot of trouble with stairs at that time.  But I managed to haul myself up. 

These are small ships with narrow corridors, and scooters could be considered a hazard

I suggest you speak with GCT's office about that.

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 524
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

January 20, 2012

My wife has some mobility issues as well, but we have done significant traveling. For many years we brought a rolling walker, sometimes called a rollator, and it worked quite well. It was a four wheeeled folding walker with a fold down seat. We did Russia, China, Egypt and the Rhine river cruises , with GCT, with this. It actually fit in the overhead compartment on most transatlantic flights. River cruising, however can subject you to many stairs and steep embankments; this is just the nature of river towns. There we times that, due to rough terrain, that it was almost as much work as it saves, but it added stability and provided a seat when we were stopped.

We did take one cruise where two people had wheelchairs. These did not work out well, with the stairs and steep hills. It was very difficult for their companion to push them, and others helped out, but it affected everybody's trip. They we not very useful on the ship with narrow corridors and small cabins either. All of the ships that we were on had elevators, except the Egyptian one, but they did not always go to all of the decks, but there were generally short flights of stars with good railings, and the ships are not that large, so there isn't too much walking, so most peole should be able to get around the ship without aids.

She does have a scooter, which we have used for Orlando park vacations, but can not envision it working out on a GCT river cruise.

Thankfully with surgery, therapy and walking for exercise, we no loner need either the scooter or the walker,

The GCT staff were very helpful, but there may be times, however, that you would have to stay on the ship rather than taking a shore excursion.

Her walker was made by Invacare, and we still have it after about 10 years, It is similar to what they currently call the Rollite Rollator. It folds flat for either a car trunk or an airplane overhead.

Be sure that you make your requirements and limitations clear to the travel councilors, so that you need are met.

Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 161
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2005

January 21, 2012

Chandra, we took the Great Rivers of Europe in a large family group.Three of our family members had serious mobility issues.  One had congestive heart failure and couldn't walk far or do many stairs, one had major knee issues and couldn't walk far without pain, and one had had a stroke, so balance and steps were both problems. They all used canes of various types. Because we had many able bodied family members to help and were willing to go to extra expense, we were able to accomplish this trip and have everyone enjoy it.

On GCT river cruises, you have three options when the ship docks.. You can stay on the ship and watch the world beside the docks.  (Sometimes it's interesting, other times it's not, but it's always better than sitting at home watching TV! ) You can also take the excellent regular walking tours that are offered and see the city or village you are in....and then go out on your own in the afternoon. This is, of course, what most people do. Or, you can do your own thing, which is what members of our group did. You can see quite a lot from the ship itself, of course, as it sails down the river. And many fun things come right to the ship for you to enjoy there.....glassblowers, folk dancers, strudel-makers, etc.

When the ship would dock in a town or city, those of us who were younger and stronger took turns going out to sightsee with the tour group or on our own. But we had the program director arrange for a taxi or a van and driver in each port. so that those with health problems could still see some of the area we were in. They only had to walk down the gangplank and get into the van. Three of the more able bodied would take turns to accompany the three with problems, helping them in and out of the van, staying with them, trouble shooting any stairs or paths, accompanying them to  whatever sights they wanted or were able to see. In one city, for instance, the van took them right to the door of the Gutenberg Museum, which they could navigate themselves because it wasn't too large and also because it had good elevators. Then the van (which waited outside)  took them right to the door of the cathedral so they could see the Chagall windows. Then the van took them back to the ship. (The rest of us took the walking tour of the old town, visited the museum, walked through the marketplace and up the hill to the cathedral, walked back down and had lunch, took a little tourist tram around the city, and walked back to the ship.) The next day, those who helped the mobility. impaired would have the "day off" and someone else would rotate to being a helper.

Our program director was able to generously provide time to tell us which sights were accessible for everyone, and which were not. (Some cathedrals, for instance, have access only by stairs. Some monasteries were simply too large.) Sometimes the van took a "driving tour" of a city, and in a few places the van passengers went out of town to other smaller villages. They might eat a leisurely meal in a sidewalk cafe, and take a look at a different area. Sometimes the optional tour was by bus, and they could ride along on a regular tour and see the sights from the window, and then enjoy waiting in a smaller square or area of the town being visited until the return trip. In Amsterdam, they really enjoyed the canal boat tour.

There was at least one day when each of our mobility challenged people stayed on the ship, tired. But they were so thrilled to be out seeing the world, even with a limited itinerary, that we all agreed that it certainly was worth the effort of planning and executing the adaptations we chose. They loved the trip and have talked about it often. If you need the kind of help I have described, perhaps you have a younger couple of relatives or friends who would be willing to travel as your helper/companion in exchange for a trip to Europe.

 As others have said, your scooter is probably not suitable for these small ships.  But, because they ARE small ships, perhaps your walking abilities would be enough to enable you to get around on them more easily than you can on a large ship. If you can go up one flight of stairs, and half an hour later, go down, that would be suitable.  Only one deck of our ship, the Concerto, was not accessible by the elevator. And the stairs to the top on that trip actually had an individual "seat" that went up and down the stairs, but I don't know if every ship, every trip, has that available. Check out the length of the GCT ships and see if they are too long for you to walk, at your own pace. You could also arrange to have a room right by the elevator, to lessen the distances for you.

If the kind of trip I have described isn't possible for you, then go for the big cruise ships where you can take an electric wheelchair or a scooter. Whichever type of trip you choose, you have to realize that because of the cobblestones and stairs of the European landscape, it will not be possible to see every sight along your route.  But with some careful planning and determination, you can still have a wonderful, interesting trip.

Author: mipa24

Joined: 1/20/2012
Posts: 2
GCT Trips Taken: 1
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 2009

January 21, 2012

To my dear friend gaynell:  I am so touched reading your response to my inquiry that I find no suitable words to express my gratitude.  You have provided a lot of very valuable information which I will study carefully.  The encouragement you have provided means a lot to me.  My wife and I love to travel and have been to many places over the years.  Thanks for giving me some hope - may be my travel days are not all over yet.

 

Chandra Majumdar

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 242
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Traveler Since: 1995

January 21, 2012

The response to Chandra was really good and covered a lot of "how to's" on traversing a river ship and nearby sites.  One thing, not mentioned in any of the posts, was this.  Several river cruises we were on we had to dock on the outside of another river ship that was docked (like not next to the dock, but middle of river).  We had to go down or up our gangplank, up several decks of the other ship, then down and up stairs to their gangplank that was at the dock.  Some of these were very tiresome for we two with bad knees/surgery.  Some double dockings were easy, just out our gangplank, straight into the other ship, then out their gangplank to the dock.  Can't be sure this won't happen, but carry at least a cane so before you leave the ship you will know how this transfer will take place and take the cane if you have one.  It would be hard to go the first instance I mentioned in a wheelchair because most was up  hill and pushing a chair up those planks (some steel, some were wood), would be tiresome for the pusher.  Just some thoughts not mentioned.

 

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 524
GCT Trips Taken: 12
OAT Trips Taken: 4
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

January 22, 2012

I have to agrre with singsling on traversing other ships to get to the dock, For the major European rivers the ships are generally similar in design, and therefore relatively level and easy to transit, but in Chiuna and in Russia, we had significant differences in deck height that required some degree of agility to get beween the ships. Crossing in a wheelchair or scooter would have been very difficult, if not impossible.

Author: gaynell

Joined: 8/12/2010
Posts: 161
GCT Trips Taken: 4
OAT Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2005

January 22, 2012

When I replied to Chandra's original question, I should have specified that I was referring only to the possibility of traveling on the European river cruises.  Other river cruise trips, such as the trips to China and Russia, would not be appropriate for someone with mobility problems. On the Russia Revealed trip, for instance, you walk several long distances, and have banks of stairs at times, and longer walks at villages, museums, palaces, etc. Someone without the ability to walk well could not do that trip. 

But many of the European itineraries, you are taken right from the airport to the ship, and at the end of the trip you return from the ship right to the airport. Since you are always able to use the ship to rest, and never have to "keep up" with the group, those trips are more adaptable for travelers who have mobility issues. You can see a lot of interesting things right from the ship as it moves down the rivers and canals. Basically, you are using the ship for lodging and for transportation from city to city, and planning your own sightseeing, which has been adapted for ability. Taxis and vans are readily available in most European countries, so you have that individual alternative transportation you can use....for a price, of course.

When traveling to Europe from the states, we requested airport wheelchair assistance for those who were not able to walk far. And they never touched a piece of luggage; the younger family members were the personal Sherpas who covered that job. (High school and college aged family members would be great for this.) For our family, the time for different generations to be together was precious to all of us, a second benefit besides seeing the wonderful castles and cathedrals and sights of Europe.

You have to really want to travel together to make a trip like this happen, but it extremely satisfying when it is successful. Communication with each other about your respective expectations is really important.  If you have the money to pay the extra costs, as well as capable people who care about you, to be your traveling companions, it can be done. 

So go for it, Chandra!

 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 977
GCT Trips Taken: 11
OAT Trips Taken: 0
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

January 23, 2012

Gaynell is correct.  Most of the ships on the European river cruises are very different from the ones used in Russia or China.  Almost all decks are connected by elevators.  The Prelude Deck, the lowest, doesn't seem to be; and I'm not sure about the Sun Deck.  But on those ships, none of the talks or entertainment take place on the Sun Deck, at least I don't think so.  The lounges are big enough to seat everyone.  And these ships are much much smaller than ocean cruise ships.

Some people don't take many shore excursions.  They mostly stay onboard sitting in the lounge which has windows all the way around and watching the scenery.  Since our stops are at towns/cities along the rivers, we are almost in the center of the action.  Don't forget that transportation in the early days was by boat along the rivers, so when you disembark you don't have far to go.  In most cases.  Some shore excursions do involve a bus or van to a site a little distance away, but many do not.

And local people come onboard for talks or demonstrations or cooking lessons, so there's a lot going on.

 

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