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Old April 7th, 2008, 07:18 PM
Rev22:17 Rev22:17 is offline
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Admiral
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Massachusetts
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never-cruised,

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Questions about Panama Canal Cruise:
1) Which cruise line and/or ship would be best to take an elderly (80 yo) person who is on oxygen 24/7 and can't walk much.
All of the major cruise lines have reasonable accommodations for passengers with disabilities, though Holland America Lines has a longstanding reputation for going the extra mile with wheelchair lifts on tender platforms and pool lifts with staff who really do know how to operate them (primarily because they get a LOT of practice!). Nonetheless, each cruise line has its own personality and style that may make some lines a better match for your party than others. Even with a handicapped member in the party, I would be inclined to choose a cruise line with a style and personality that's a good match for my own.

Regardless of which line you choose, make sure you inform the cruise line of the passenger's needs (wheelchair, oxygen supply, special diet, etc.) when you book the reservation.

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2) East or west direction? Which is best if you are going one-way?
Both directions are excellent.

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3) Would prefer to depart from San Diego (near to where we live), so the flight would be at the end of the vacation instead of the beginning (in case it is a nightmare...wouldn't want to start off on a bad note!)
If crowds are an issue, you probably would be better off sailing westward. Fort Lauderdale International Airport tends to be horridly crowded when several cruise ships are disembark there, and the airline terminals simply do not have enough space for the cruise passengers who get dumped there early in the morning to await flights home throughout the day.

If you live in San Diego, you might want to plan to fly to Fort Lauderdale on the day before the start of your cruise. Otherwise, you might have to take a "red eye" flight to arrive before your cruise departs on embarkation day.

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4) Since we are traveling with someone with a disability and do not want to 'fight the crowds' at every turn, would a balcony room be better to view the canal?
No. You'll be able to see only one side of the ship from your balcony, and you probably will not be able to hear the narration there.

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Any other information you can think of...I would be SO appreciative. Best month (Jan, Feb?) etc. Our disabled companion will stay on board, but we would like to do some excursions.
All of the major cruise lines actually offer some excursions that are suitable for passengers with disabilities. If your companion has limited ability to walk, arrange a wheelchair that you can take ashore.

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Rooms for singles? Are they way overpriced? Or is there a room-type that 3 could comfortably fit in?
Policies for "solo" travellers vary, but it's generally less expensive to pay twice the current sale fare for single occupancy than to pay the fare to which a lesser "single supplement" would be applicable. For a party of three, however, the better alternative might be a small suite in which the sofa makes up into a bed.

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Originally Posted by You
Should I just go find a travel agent to help, or just research online? HELP Please
I strongly recommend two things. First, go to your local bookstore, buy a travel guide to cruise lines and cruise ships, and read the descriptions of the major lines to get a sense which line would be the best match, in style and personality, for your party. Next, sit down with a travel agent who understands the cruise industry to discuss your preferences and your handicapped companion's needs and to book your cruise.

Norm.
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