We are traveling NCL's Star, starting July 24, 2005, for a round-trip Alaskan tour from Seattle, Wash., to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Canada.
My legally blind, legally deaf, wheelchair-user mother wants to know:
1) if the shore excursions are wheelchair accessible, and if so, which low-key activities are the best;
2) if the boats dock or tender at these ports, and if a tender is required, is the boat extremely accessible;
3) if the streets and sidewalks in each port are in respectable shape for wheelchair access;
4) if anyone has done a comparable tour in previous years, when is the best time of year to go for whale watching; and
5) what is the suggested attire for onshore activities.
Thank you for your time and consideration of a reply.
None of the ports mentioned are tender ports unless there are just so many ships in town that you draw a short straw.
Gang planks and docks will be accessable WITH ASSISTANCE. It may take some assistance to get a wheel chair up or down a gang plank, but, the ship will provide the help you need.
I won't ask how a blind /deaf person is going to participate in any kind of a shore excursion.
In Skagway, I'm thinking the White Pass Railway may be accesable. Contact them now and ask. The town is a few blocks a way from the pier and many of the stores and shops are right at street level. Much of the stuff is quite old and I am not sure about accessable bathrooms etc. in town.
In Ketchcan, the ship docks all of 100 feet from "town". There is much to see and do within walking distance of the ship. A whole lot of it is modern (made to look old). I would say much of the town would be accesable.There was a very modern mueseum right in town as well as the Alaska Lumberjack Show. You could stroll along the boardwalk on Creek Street, but most of the buildings would not be accessable.
Saxman Park would be accessable, I'm not sure that getting there is.
IN Juneau, town is far enough away to be a long walk. Once there, you might get access to most shops. The vistors center at Mendenhall Glacier was accessable, I'm not quite sure that transportation to and from would be.
Suggested attire for shore is layers and being prepared for rain.
Many excursion involve buses and boats. That would of course include the whale watching you mention (you can always see whales in Alaskan waters often right from the ship). Whale watching excrsions involve relatively small boats, I don't see them as being accessable.
Thank you for your response, as it is informative enough for me to be more decisive about onshore activities.
FYI: Legally blind/deaf does not mean that a person has absolutely no vision or hearing. The term describes a specific level of visual/hearing impairment that is considered sufficient to be entitled to certain protections and services.
In America, legal blindness is vision with an acuity of 20/200 or a range of vision of 20 degrees or less in the better eye after correction. Nine out of 10 people considered legally blind have some vision (a small window of perfect vision; very blurry vision; or only detecting light). Also, hearing is measured in a logarithm scale, and impairment (mild, moderate, severe, profound) occurs at greater than 60 dB.