SUN PRINCESS & THE DISABLED
August 11-25 my wife, who uses a wheel chair or walker were passengers aboard the Sea Princess. In oiur opinion this vessel is not "wheel chair" friendly. Here is the problems we encountered. First, and foremost all three dining rooms are at the front of the vessel. To access these by elevator you can only use the front elevators that operate from Deck 5 to Deck 14. There are two glass enclosed elevators in the same area that operate from Deck 5 to 8. In the rear portion of the vessel are elevators that operate from deck 7 to deck 14. These are needed to get to the gym, the beauty salon, the Computer or Business Center, the pool deck and the ice cream bar. Deck 7 has the theaters ands show lounges, the library and several bar lounges.
Another problem is that on the stateroom decks the room stewards have to use large carts mostly in the morning when you go to breakfast and in the evening when you go to the evening dinner. The width of the passage way is approximately 50 inches; the carts are approx. 26 inches wide; the wheel chairs provided by Princess Cruises are approx. 23-24 inches wide. This represent a tight squeeze, especially when these heavy carts are not tight to the wall . It is impossible to get by when the wheels of the carts are not parallel with the bottom of the carts.
An impediment in the passage ways or throughout the decks is the high raised sills where there is a fire door. The small front wheels of the chairs find it difficult to roll over the sills so you must either raise the front of the chair or turn it around.
The ship management is aware of these problems and their answer on the passenger deck carts is to get the room stewards to move their carts, which appears to be a cumbersome, time consuming ,inept solution. They contend the high sills are required "by the Coast Guard. I cannot accept these a answers for we have cruises aboard Holland American Ryndam, Maasdam, Statendam; Celebrity Galaxy, Carnival Elation, even Princess Cruises Sky Princess since the wife has needed to use a wheel chair or walker and not found any of there irksome obstacles to satisfactory use of a wheel chair.
I spoke to at least ten other wheel chair bound passengers and they all had the same experience. I also spoke to a young lady who used a motorized wheel chair who had the same problem. She was not permitted to get off the ship with her wheelchair. They offered to take her off on a Princess chair. They get you on and off the ship in port with you sitting in your chair being moved by a tractor like device. One lady told me she was scared during the up and down movement of the chair on the gang plank.
The elevators are alleged to hold 12 passenger, Twelve skinny midgets maybe but when there were ten adults in them they were crowded. With wheel chair in the elevator you could only squeeze in four more. Unfortunately we were booked right outside the aft elevators so I method to avoid the carts in the passageway and if you take this vessel you might follow this plan.
Take any elevator at the rear to deck 7; then push the wheel chair across this, the Promenade Deck, to the front elevators. We used one of the two glass elevators to get top deck 6 which has the main dining room. Deck 5 has the Preferred Choice dining room and the front desk. If we desired to go to the Lido Buffet restaurant on deck 14 we would take any elevator. By any I mean whether going up or down, if it was empty of not crowded, we would take it. What goes up must come down and what goes down must go up. We used the same routing to get back to our stateroom on deck being confront with usually one cart.
This is why we feel this vessel is not "wheel Chair friendly." Those that need using a wheel chair should check because I understand the Sun, Golden and Dawn Princesses are sister ships so you might encounter similar problems aboard these vessels. Other than the contents of this report we enjoyed the cruise. The food and service was excellent.