The Sky Princess Cruise
by Vladimir Drobashevsky 2000

My wife and I recently experienced an 11-day cruise aboard the Sky Princess, round trip from San Francisco to Alaska. It was our 7th cruise, but it was our first one since my wife became a below-the-knee amputee last year.

From previous trips, I knew that the Sky Princess is a smaller and older ship; it turned out - with a minimum number of handicapped person staterooms. Imagine our disappointment to find our cabin right next to two "crew members only" entrance doors, and adjacent to our room, a loading dock with loose pieces of inventory on the floor. This all meant 24-hour door banging by the crew and with the help of an occasional sea swell, load shifting, right next to our room. The comment from the Pursers' Office was that they simply had overbooked the cruise, and there was nothing they can do about it.

But the biggest bummer was the access, or the lack of it. The handicap stateroom had beds about 17" off the floor, which made it impossible for a disabled person to sit down or get up without major assistance. The towel racks, again - over 5' high, a steady "Hon, would you please, get me the towel." All of the passageways, such as the main Promenade Deck, have little thresholds, which were very hard to get over without help from others.

Instead of a ship to shore ramp, they used the steps. It took four crewmembers to lift a handicap person (over water, mind you!) with a wheelchair and carry her, or him down to the pier. After two or three shore visits, my wife decided, it was OK to stay on board...

Thinking that she could navigate easily in her wheelchair, I made reservations to fly a seaplane in Ketchikan and another for a helicopter ride over Vancouver. Needless to say, I had to cancel both, realizing that I could not leave my wife in the stateroom for a few hours each trip.

Well, perhaps, the newer ships have better access for the handicap, or is it my fault for not researching well enough? No matter what, it was a big disappointment for my wife and I to take this holiday cruise under our new circumstances.

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