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Old May 17th, 2010, 05:42 PM
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Default Taking my grandma on a cruise! We need your advice please.

Hi everybody. I'm taking my mom and 86 yo grandmother on an Alaskan cruise and really do need your advice. Because grandma is fairly affected by her Parkinson's we're trying to plan things out very carefully. From what we've learned so far it seems like we should be looking toward Holland America as a cruise line.

Well, instead of going into a lot of questions maybe I should just say what our priorities are and then see what you guys have to say.

- Although grandma can stand fairly well and be on her feet for up to 5 min at a time, we're really prioritizing ease of movement on the ship for grandma which will probably happen by way of wheel chair about 1/2 the time.

- Secondly, we're looking for an environment grandma will be overall comfortable in, which for the most part means a low key environment. I'm sure the glitz and general activity on a Carnival ship would be way too much.

- Third, she's not going to be able to get off the ship at ports, so we're looking for the best big ship route with the very best 'from ship' views. We had to give up on the idea of an inside passage route due to the possibility of smaller ships rocking.

- Fourth, I know we're at somewhat of a cost disadvantage with an odd number of us going. I'd like to get mom and grandma a great room w/ a balcony, and get myself just the cheapest room on the ship, a single if possible. But if the cheapest I can get is a cheap double I'll probably just stay with mom and grandma the whole time, say if they have a couch.

- For entertainment, just real simple stuff would do the trick. Some kind of show would be nice. Actually, anything too loud or flashy would overwhelm a Parkinson's patient.

At this point I should say thanks for reading all of this and wrap up.

We're wanting to go when its potentially the warmest in August, and we're still entirely flexible. With our priorities in mind, what cruise line, cruise date, ship, and course/port of calls would be good for us? And of course all of your opinions are so greatly appreciated! Thanks.


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Old May 17th, 2010, 06:23 PM
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Well... all I can say is welcome to the site & although I can't help I am sure someone will. I think a cruise is a good choice for those with "limitations".
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Old May 17th, 2010, 06:58 PM
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I'm not sure you will find all you are looking for with an Alaskan cruise. What I mean it the cruiselines have the smaller older ships on this route. We took the Celebrity Infinity from San Francisico to Alaska. We are action people and Celebrity was a more mellow cruiseline. So it didn't suit us at all, but it might suit you better. Here is a link to the website on assessible staterooms. Accessible Staterooms
Some ship facts Infinity was built in 2001, max passengers is 2362. There are more details on this website (CLIA).
Celebrity Infinity | Cruise Lines International Association
The deck plans show the cabins that are Wheelchair assessible with roll in showers. For example this is deck seven cabin 7135 is wheelchair accessible. I hope that helps.

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Old May 17th, 2010, 07:47 PM
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You can get cabins that will fit 3 people. Might be tight, but it's doable. Or maybe you can find a friend to go and share a cabin with you?

You might want to look for a ship that has a promenade deck that totally encircles the ship. That way you can go for walks with the wheelchair without worrying about stairs. A great way to watch the scenery pass by.

I've always shied away from Carnival because of their rep as being sort of wild. But that, I believe is especially true for 3 -4 day cruises and I've heard that for Alaska this isn't the case. We sailed NCL, HAL, and Celebrity and found the atmosphere the same on all 3 lines, in spite of HAL having the rep for being more laid back.

Since you won't be leaving the ship at the ports I highly recommend a cruise that goes to Glacier Bay. Spectacular scenery. Also I'd recommend round trip from Vancouver. Longer in the inside passage since you're worried about movement. You say you worry about smaller ships rocking.... even the smallest ships these days are in the 60,000 ton plus range of size. Plenty big in our experience. But you are in the ocean so there is a possibility of rough seas no matter the what size the ship is.
They all fit the inside passage, even the largest ships sailing up there. You shouldn't have to worry about ship size.

All 3 of our trips were in August.....all 3 we rain into rain and all 3 we had port days in the low 80's. You just can't predict the weather. You are sailing by a rain forest.

I think all the ships have "Vegas" or "Broadway" type shows. Those will be loud. But other nights we had "quiet" entertainment. Concert pianist. Guitarist. Acapella singers. Even a banjo player. I would think that type of show would work.

There is of course bingo and other forms of that type entertainment too.

There will be a lot of kids on the ships in August so you may want to factor that in. They are especially noticable around the pools. I can't recall seeing any kids (other than mine) on the promenade decks.

I suggest doing some research, keep asking questions....we're all very opinionated on this site..... and you'll find what will suit your needs. Half the fun....well, maybe not half....is in the planning. Have fun researching and you'll do great.
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Old May 17th, 2010, 07:54 PM
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I took an Alaskan cruise on Princess. The Sapphire was a big ship with a small ship feel. It's sister ship, Diamond, sails in August and does the inside passage.

The sail was very calm and enriching. A balcony is a must in Alaska, in my opinion, and, I think there are cabins that are handicap accessible and some with 'berths' for more than two people.

If the powers above will let me post it, here's the link. Princess Cruises : Voyage of the Glaciers - Whittier to Vancouver : Details & Availability

Good luck, it's an awesome trip!
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Old May 17th, 2010, 10:13 PM
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Peg I agree completely we went the end of May and saw a lot of Whales right off the ship as well as Dall's porpoises. Then there are the Glaciers. It's unlike any other cruise that way.
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Old May 18th, 2010, 06:40 AM
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Try to pick a route/cruise that has one or two glacier viewings and a balcony cabin would be worthwhile, especially if it will be difficult for your grandmother to get off the ship. I would certainly look at all the Princess ships, just more to choose from...
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Old May 18th, 2010, 05:58 PM
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We traveled to Alaska in 2000 on Celebrity Mercury from Vancouver to Anchorage. We did not have a bumpy ride at all. We went in July and were glad to have jackets, sweatshirts, gloves and sneakers w/socks. Basically, you started with a lot of clothes and then removed them as the day warmed up. The folks who went the week after us had bathing suit weather! Go figure!

I think if I was going again, I'd choose Holland America. Defintely look at a balcony and a superior suite could house the 3 of you. Make sure you get a handicap accessible cabin. You won't regret the expense.

Speak to a reputable travel agent in your area who specializes in cruises. Of course, you gain a lot of information from this site and others. Good luck!
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Old May 18th, 2010, 07:23 PM
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bradleyheathhays,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You View Post
Hi everybody. I'm taking my mom and 86 yo grandmother on an Alaskan cruise and really do need your advice. Because grandma is fairly affected by her Parkinson's we're trying to plan things out very carefully. From what we've learned so far it seems like we should be looking toward Holland America as a cruise line.

Well, instead of going into a lot of questions maybe I should just say what our priorities are and then see what you guys have to say.

- Although grandma can stand fairly well and be on her feet for up to 5 min at a time, we're really prioritizing ease of movement on the ship for grandma which will probably happen by way of wheel chair about 1/2 the time.
Getting around the ship in a wheelchair actually is very easy. All of the ships built in the past two decades have passageways that are plenty wide for wheelchairs and plenty of lifts (elevators) to take wheelchairs between decks, and they have no thesholds between compartments on any of the passenger decks. Best of all, everything is within a few hundred feet and an elevator ride of everything else. Also, the staff on most lines are very well prepared to assist handicapped passengers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
- Secondly, we're looking for an environment grandma will be overall comfortable in, which for the most part means a low key environment. I'm sure the glitz and general activity on a Carnival ship would be way too much.
Excellent!

All of the major cruise lines offer very similar itineraries on cruises to Alaska. Thus, the major differentiators are the ambiance and the lifestyle of the ships. Invariably, folks have the best time on the cruise line that is the best match for their style.

>> I agree with your comments about Carnival probably not being the best choice. I also would be inclined to steer clear of Norwegian Cruise Line.

>> Celebrity tends to be the dressiest of the major cruise lines, especially in the evening. If your grandmother would enjoy getting dressed for a couple "formal" evenings -- and she probably does not have much chance to do that any more -- it might be a nice experience for her. If getting her dressed for a "formal" evening would be royally difficult, OTOH, Celebrity would be a poor choice.

>> Holland America does a super job catering to older folks, BUT your grandmother is not going on this cruise alone. You need to pick a cruise line on which you also can have a good cruise experience. Alas, that might not be Holland America Lines (HAL).

I think that Celebrity, Princess, and Royal Caribbean all do a very good job of catering to a broad spectrum of ages. To determine which of the three wold be the best choice for your clan, I really recommend buying a guidebook to cruise lines and cruise ships and reading the descriptions of the various lines. Of those three, I would go with whichever line really feels right based on the descriptions.

[quote=You]- Third, she's not going to be able to get off the ship at ports, so we're looking for the best big ship route with the very best 'from ship' views. We had to give up on the idea of an inside passage route due to the possibility of smaller ships rocking.[quote]

Why do you assume that your grandmother won't be able to get off the ship in the ports of call? In most Alaskan ports, the ships dock at piers or warfs right downtown and the gangways generally do accommodate wheelchairs, so you'll be able to wheel her right off of and back onto the ship. Some shore excursions also can accommodate wheelchair passengers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
- Fourth, I know we're at somewhat of a cost disadvantage with an odd number of us going. I'd like to get mom and grandma a great room w/ a balcony, and get myself just the cheapest room on the ship, a single if possible. But if the cheapest I can get is a cheap double I'll probably just stay with mom and grandma the whole time, say if they have a couch.
Actually, all of the ships offer ADA handicapped cabins in several categories. This would be the best option for your mother and your grandmother. Standard cabins on cruise ships are very compact and efficient, with relatively narrow doors, so they don't have much room to maneuver a wheelchair. For the same price, an ADA cabins have more space and wider doors to accommodate the wheelchair with no problem. The ADA cabins also have sit-down showers or minitubs, which your grandmother probably will need.

I'm a little less certain what to recommend for your accommodation. On most ships, the suites have a sleeper-sofa in the parlor in addition to two twin beds (also configurable as a queen) in the bedroom. Some standard cabins also have an upper bunk, but I'm not sure if you can get ADA cabins with an upper bunk or not. But your least expensive alternative might actually be an ADA cabin for your mother and your grandmother and a standard inside cabin nearby for yourself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
- For entertainment, just real simple stuff would do the trick. Some kind of show would be nice. Actually, anything too loud or flashy would overwhelm a Parkinson's patient.
All of the cruise lines offer a fairly extensive array of entertainment, so you can choose whatever you wish each evening.

>> There's a different show (either a production show featuring the ship's cast or a "headliner" act) each evening in the main showroom. These shows are very different from each other, so don't assume that you won't like any of the shows if you don't like the first.

>> There's usually Karioke somewhere on the ship most evenings.

>> There are usually several lounges with live music for your listening and dancing pleasure.

>> Most cruise lines have a "Newlywed and Not-so-Newlywed" game where couples compete for prizes.

>> And many cruise lines offer a variety of themed parties and special events on various evenings of the cruise.

So the bottom line is that there's something for everybody.

As to timing, any time in June, July, or August is best. May and September tend to be a tad cooler.

Have a fantastic cruise!

Norm.
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Old May 19th, 2010, 12:42 AM
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Thanks katlady! I have another recommendation for the Infinity as well. Will be looking into her.

Peter C thanks tons for all your suggestions! I'm expanding our options to NCL and Celebrity, and a round trip out of Vancouver now!

Worthew8 and Donna, thanks much for the Princess line advice. They're a line we're open to now.

And thanks Skipper's Mom, we'll be sure to pack to dress in layers.

Wow thanks 22:17! I really appreciate all your advice. Wish I had to comment on everything. I'll definitely be reading through your advice a number of times before I make the booking!

Thanks everybody! I'll probably be back soon with more questions!
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Old May 19th, 2010, 08:21 AM
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Having just come off of HAL's Noordam, with a large number of wheelchairs and scooters, I must say that traveling with either will be no problem.
It seemed that everywhere was wheelchair accessible, including special cabins, and places in the theatre.

I believe Holland America would be a good choice for "mother & grandmother" and not such a bad choice for yourself. Although the clientele tended to be older, not everyone was, and the entertainment was top-notch.
Besides the big Broadway-style shows (too flashy for Grandma?) there was a concert pianist/opera singer, a Pan-Drum show, and a Tribute to John Denver, as well as an Olympic gymnast (amazing!) and a comedian.
In short, a little something for everyone.
Mom & Grandma might also enjoy HAL's lovely afternoon teas in the dining room.
Having never done an Alaska cruise, I can be of no help there, other than to insist they get a balcony cabin for the wonderful views.
I do know that Princess has some wonderful Alaska itineraries as well, and so does Celebrity, both good choices in addition to HAL for older folks.

Have fun planning Bradley, I'm sure all 3 of you will enjoy your cruise!

donna
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