First, let me compliment you on a great resource and for your kindness in helping people out. I came upon you board while researching information for my relatives, who are thinking about joining my family on a cruise.
We are booked on the Zaandam for June to take the Inside Passage round trip from Vancouver. We are on the Navigation Deck in a deluxe suite.
We plan to book the pre-cruise package in Victoria-Vancouver.
We are also thinking about a post-cruise package, booking a train or renting a car to tour the Lake Louise-Canadian Rockies area.
My mother and aunt are in their 80s and have some mobility problems but can do stairs and walk a fair distance. My cousin has post-polio syndrome and has a leg brace. She can do limited stairs and walking. We had success renting a wheelchair and taking her on tours when she came to visit. She used the wheelchair when she got tired. In all 3 cases getting into a bathtup would be a problem.
Has anyone sailed on the Zaandam, and if so what was your experience?
Should they book a suite similar to ours or can they make do with something less expensive?
Should they book an accessible room?
Are there any issues we should be aware of in terms of getting around on the ship?
What are the best shore excursions for our group?
What are some of the best destinations for a post-cruise trip?
How or who should we contact ahead of time to make sure everything goes smoothly.
If you can still book an accessible cabin, suggest you do this (they tend to book up early). Not sure about this ship, but on the HAL Ryndam we were able to get an accessible cabin for 3 (with a roll-away). The accessible bathrooms have no 4 inch step to get in, and some have roll-in showers (with a flip down seat) instead of a tub. Be sure to specify this if you need it, as otherwise the "accessible" bathroom is still a tub.
Have not been to Alaska on HAL, but did go 18 months ago with Princess and were able to get accessible tours in all ports, including wheelchair transportation from airport and back in Vancouver. I would recommend using wheelchairs both at sea and in port for these ladies as fatigue can be a factor, and if you get any rough seas at all balance can be difficult. If they can get on/off a tour bus, the tours that show limited walking may be options, and they will store the wheelchair in the bus luggage bay most often.
Not sure about access on private land tour or with HAL. We did find the HAL Special Services office in Seattle very helpful when we were on the Ryndam in South America. I would suggest making a call to them for more specifics.