Alaskan Cruise
By Annette Novominsky 2003

We took the Holland America Line's Inside Passage and Glacier Bay Cruise leaving Vancouver, BC on the Zaandam. This was our second cruise on Holland America ships and both cruises were wonderful. The Zaandam is one of the newer ships and I had no problem what so ever getting around on my scooter. We had a handicap accessible mini-veranda suite. It had a wonderful big bathroom with roll in shower w/hand held shower and a shower bench. There were grab bars in the shower and to the side of the toilet. When the steward took us to our room he asked if there was anything at all that we needed that was not available. We told him that both my husband and I have CPAP machines for sleep apnea and we needed extension cords for those and one to charge my scooter overnight. I also asked for extra pillows. He was back in a jiffy with every thing I had mentioned. I have to also say that our steward always kept an eye on me and if he saw me heading toward the cabin he would run ahead to help me with the door --- he had noticed that the first time I went to the cabin alone I had a bit of difficulty managing to stick the card in the lock, turn the handle and push the door open enough to catch it with a outstretched foot --- while also trying to drive the scooter. I must have been quiet a sight!! 

We docked first at Juneau where we took the shore trip to Menenhall Glacier and a salmon bake. We went by motorcoach (with lift) to both areas and I was able to take my scooter with no problem. I would recommend this trip. We returned to Juneau in time to do shopping before continuing the cruise. I had no problem getting around in Juneau -- curb cuts were everywhere I needed them and most stores were accessible. 

Our next port was Skagway. Once again, I had no difficulty getting around. Curb cuts were everywhere they were needed. We took the 3 1/2 hour rail trip up White Pass and enjoyed every minute. The train has one car that has wheelchair lifts on both sides and plenty of room for wheelchairs and scooters. There were only two of us in the car that were on wheels but the car could have easily held 6 - 8 depending on whether they were wheelchairs or scooters. There were also 6 rows of benches on each side with each bench able to seat two. Again, we had time before heading back to the ship to do more tourist shopping. 

Our last port was Ketchikan and it was the only place that I did not go ashore. It was my own decision to stay on the ship. Because the tide was in, the gangplank was very, very steep and I was afraid that I might get down and not be able to have the power to get back on the ship. My husband, brother, daughter, and two grandchildren had booked a fishing trip at that port so I was to be on my own. The staff offered to help me down the gangplank and said they would help me back up ---- I was the one who decided to go to lounge with a good book and read. I figured I had done enough shopping anyway. 

Next, we traveled back down the inside passage and to Glacier Bay where we were able to go up close to the glacier and witness it "calf" --- it was awesome!! We had ice floating all around us, on some of the larger pieces of ice we saw seals. We also saw bears on the shoreline and lots of whales, both orca's and gray whales, as we cruised the inside passage. 

The entire cruise was great!! The ship was beautiful, the food was excellent, the entertainment was delightful. The water was smooth as glass for the entire cruise and we only had one hour of rain over the week at sea. Alaska is breathtaking, so green and unspoiled and so very clean!! If only I had better luck in the casino the trip would have been perfect! 

Before the cruise, we spent three days in Vancouver at the Fairmont Waterfront hotel. Our room was lovely and the only thing lacking was a roll in shower. They had tubs with shower bench and hand held shower and plenty of grab bars in shower/tub and by the toilet. The hotel took all of our luggage to the ship for us when we checked out. The hotel location was great --- it was central to everything, we walked (and rolled) to Robsen street shops, Gastown, and Canada Place. I would highly recommend the Fairmont Waterfront. 

While in Vancouver, we rented a minivan with a ramp and raised ceiling from The company was very accommodating. The van we had did not have a power ramp (it folded out) but that was not a problem since my husband was with me to help, however, they do have vans with power equipment so if someone is going to be alone they need to let them know what they will require. 

I want to mention something that made our trip even better than it was. My husband knew that I might have a problem being comfortable at night without my electric bed and temperpedic mattress so he bought a single size temperpedic mattress pad from Bed, Bath and Beyond that came in it's own nylon duffel bag. There is no way to tell you how wonderful it was. I would highly recommend this purchase to anyone that has trouble getting comfortable --- it was a godsend and well worth the $129 he paid for it. I used it at both the hotel and on the ship. 

Seven years ago, on our first cruise to the Western Caribbean we were on an older ship -- the New Amsterdam. Although we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, it was not totally accessible. We docked in Jamaica, and I was able to go ashore, but the other two stops they went ashore by tender and my scooter could not go. Even though I could not go on the other shore trips, I still had a great time. The service on Holland America is fantastic and food and entertainment were super. Both my husband and I decided then and there that we wanted to do cruise vacations when ever we could. It was the most relaxing vacation we had ever had. I believe that the New Amsterdam has been replaced by the new ship "Amsterdam".

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