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Holland America Recognized as Best Cruise Line for Physically Challenged

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    Holland America Recognized as Best Cruise Line for Physically Challenged

    Holland America Line Captures Awards From Readers of Porthole & Conde Nast Traveler Magazines

    SEATTLE, Nov. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Among the top-ranked premium cruise lines in the world, Holland America added several more accolades to its long list of awards. Holland America ranked among the top three large-ship cruise lines in the much-anticipated Conde Nast Traveler 2001 Readers' Choice Awards. This month, the premium line also received the Porthole Cruise Magazines' Annual Editor in Chief Award for operating the Best Private Island in the cruise industry, as well as top awards for Best Shore Excursions, Best Lecture Series, Best Cruise Line for Physically Challenged and Best Alaskan Itinerary in Porthole's own Reader's Choice Awards.

    "We are delighted that the readers of these two high profile publications feel so strongly about the quality of the Holland America cruise experience," said David A. Giersdorf, senior vice president, marketing and sales, Holland America Line. "These awards continue to validate the hard work and efforts of the crew and staff to provide an experience that travelers continue to value, enjoy, and rave about."

    More than 29,000 Conde Nast Traveler readers judged the large-ship cruise lines in six categories: itineraries, crew/service, cabins/ambience, food, entertainment/events, and recreation/activities. Holland America Line received an overall score of 75.5, which means that 75.5 percent of the respondents judged the premium line as excellent or very good in all six categories.

    With the Porthole Magazine Editor in Chief Award, Holland America won for its private island experience of Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, which has been cited as a role model visitor destination by the Bahamian government for its balance of environmental and cultural concerns. Most Caribbean cruises include a visit to Half Moon Cay, where guests may sail, swim and snorkel in the turquoise waters, bask on white sand beaches, have a beachside massage, and then enjoy an array of traditional barbecue fare. The island also offers a fun time for kids, too, with a variety of age-appropriate activities through the company's Club HAL children's program.

    The four other Porthole awards recognize several important features of the Holland America Line cruise experience:

    -- Best Lecture Series -- To enrich cruise programs of 10 days or longer,

    noted guest speakers featured in the Flagship Forum Lecture Series

    weave art, literature, politics and natural history into memorable

    portraits of places and people. In addition, Alaska bound cruises

    include a resident on-board naturalist to provide insight into wildlife

    sightings and the beauty of the region.

    -- Best Cruise Line for Physically Challenged -- Recognized as a leader in

    providing access for passengers with disabilities, Holland America

    offers facilities and services to give these guests as much assistance

    as possible when they choose to vacation aboard its ships. The line

    offers accessible staterooms, restrooms and public areas and provides

    such equipment as visual alert alarms and closed caption decoders for

    persons with visual or hearing disabilities. Holland America also

    developed the industry's first accessible tenders to allow guests using

    wheelchairs to safely board tenders via hydraulic ramps and lifts for

    shore visits.

    -- Best Shore Excursions -- Holland America leads the cruise industry in

    the number and choices of shore excursions, offering 1,400 shore

    excursions worldwide in which 40 to 60 percent of guests participate,

    depending on destination.

    -- Best Alaskan Itinerary -- As the leader in Alaska travel, Holland

    America offers 115 premium cruises in 2002, including the new

    round-trip Inside Passage sailings from Seattle. The company is

    committed to providing the very best Alaska cruise experience,

    combining superior itineraries with exceptional value and appeal for

    all ages.

    "I'm very pleased about the Porthole awards," added Giersdorf. "They affirm our belief that Holland America's exclusive experiences, premium service, itineraries, and enrichment programs provide guests with enhanced vacations."

    With a readership of more than 750,000, Conde Nast Traveler has become the vanguard of travel periodicals providing information on art, fashion, architecture, culture, cuisine, shopping and other experiences at a variety of destinations throughout the world. Porthole, an international consumer cruise travel magazine catering to experienced and first-time cruisers, reaches more than 600,000 readers worldwide and is known for its explosive four-color photography.

    About Holland America Line

    Holland America's high-value cruise experience features mid-size ships that afford a more intimate cruise experience, staterooms that are 25 percent larger than average, and a 2:1 average ratio of staff to guests. Several on-board enhancements include Internet centers, ESPN programming in the sports bars, Club HAL children's activity program, festive bon voyage and sailaway parties, new production shows such as the lavish new "Barry Manilow's Copacabana," fitness center and spa, new Signature Cuisine dishes in the dining rooms and casual Lido dinner program.

    Holland America also provides many services and amenities at no additional cost: espresso drinks, premium ice cream, popcorn at the movies, alternative restaurants and more.

    Holland America Line has 10 luxury ships sailing to more than 280 ports of call and scenic cruising destinations on all seven continents, including Antarctica. The company is a member of the exclusive World's Leading Cruise Lines alliance, which also includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Cunard Line, Seabourn Cruise Line, Costa Cruises and Windstar Cruises. In 2002, Holland America Line will offer 360 sailings within a half-day's drive of 40 percent of North American households and departing from 15 North American home ports.

    Affordable air arrangements are available through the Home City Air program and Holland America offers the only trip cancellation program in the industry that offers cash back for canceling for any reason prior to 24 hours before departure.

    CONTACT: Erik Elvejord, CTC, or Julianne Chase, APR, +1-206-281-3535, or fax, +1-206-281-0351, both for Holland America.

    HAL the best?

    As experienced cruisers I find this interesting. While HAL does lead in its installation of tender lifts, we found that they were no better than most other leading cruise companies (Princess, Crystal, Celebrity) in knowledge about how to provide gangway assistance, crew attitude, or offering assistance for such things as buffet meals, etc. on board. In fact, the cruise discussion boards for the disabled have a number of reports of refusal of HAL to provide gangway assistance for those unable to walk at ports. Accessible tours rarely means vans with lifts, but destinations that may be partially accessible if you can transfer yourself onto a regular tour bus or van. Where this is possible (mostly Canada and Alaska) we found Princess as good if not better than HAL. I would rate the cabins on Princess and Celebrity better than HAL (at least comparing the HAL Ryndam).

    On our recent HAL cruise there were probably 20 wheelchair users, but we were one of only two of these wheelchair users that could not at least stand or walk a little. Many others had canes or crutches. Accessibility standards are really set for cruising for the person with limited (but not non-existant) ambulation. In addition, we have found other cruise lines had more accessiblity cabins in a wider range of prices than on HAL. On the Ryndam there are only about 6 fully accessible cabins, and another 6 that are partially accessible, but these are all in only two categories. Many ships do not limit use of these cabins to those with true disabilities (requiring a physician's letter) and because they are larger than other cabins in the same price range they often get booked up by non-disabled people who just want a bigger cabin.

    Anyone considering a cruise would be wise to check out the disabled cruiser's discussion boards on the net and also speak directly to the special services office of the cruise line they are considering before booking for details on cabin features, public space access, and both gangway assistance and accessible ground transportation and shore excursions.



      From what I read not all cruise ships offer shore excursions.
      Can I assume that all gangways on any ship are accessible ?
      If I decide to go on a cruise, I want to be able to go on shore, not sit aboard the whole time.

      Please advise. Thanks.



        Virtually all large ships offer shore excursions, but you will find few of them outside USA ports which have accessible transport for these trips. You can find this out before you go from the cruise line. This is why we usually either arrange our own (via the internet) or take cabs (as long as you can transfers with help) or rental cars. It is another reason that we also do not take the power chair, as cannot easily get this into a cab or van without a lift.

        Access to/from the ship also varies according to the ship and the port. Some are ramps (although can be VERY steep depending on the tide) but most are steps, resulting in needing to be carried or bumped up/down. Most will not accomodate extra wide chairs (more than 18" size or with a lot of camber). Most cruise lines provide this service for people who cannot walk or stand and get 2-4 strong crew members to get you up and down. Some ships can accomodate you more easily from the freight loading door (we always ask) too. Tender ports (where the ship anchors and you take a smaller boat to shore) are a bigger challenge for most as you must be lifted in your chair in and out of the smaller boat, and this can be dangerous in rough seas.

        You really have to do extra research about each trip/ship you take. It pays to get the Berlize Cruise ship guide (published annually) as it has the most complete information, as well as check out the disabled travel and cruise sites on the web, and most important to talk with the "special services" office of the cruise line prior to booking. Ask very specific questions (wheelchair accessible has no official definition on cruise ships) about your needs and don't assume anything. Generally it is best to stick to the larger and newer ships as they offer the best access. There are also a few travel agencies that specialize in cruises for people with disabilities (group tours) so if you are fearful of doing your first on your own you may want to work with one of these companies.


          As far as gangways..I was really disappointed in most ports by either untrained staff or lack of good equipment. I knew I would not be getting off at Bra Harbour, Maine. That is a given even for some ABs. But other than Halifax, Nova Scotia the other ports that we had dock access to were not exactly cut out for wheelchair use. We tried to show pursers how to grab my manual chair to get us down the few steps at the end of the gang way at Sydney, NS and one of them almosy broke his neck trying to lift by grabbing a swing away arm. In Quebec we had to wait for the tide to go down some before we could disembark. Halifax was great! They have a three position gangway that docks to the ship not the other way around. Each section can be raised or lowered as the tide dictates. And Boston? I'm still getting my letter perfectly worded to let the Port Authority of Boston Harbor and Norwegien Cruise Lines know what I think of my inability to get off the ship for the full day we were there. It was possible the second day when we had to get off... Even the ABs were complaining because the gangway was more of a slide than a walkway. The first half didn't even have that grip stuff on the deck just straight and wet metal.

          Other than Boston most the gangways were reasonable but to make them even there were two or three steps at the end and those, as I said above, can be rough unless you can stop someone long enough to tell them where to grab. Once off the ship I had ground plans I made on my own.

          Oh, I had a friend check out one of the suite yachts that Seabourn uses and is small--208 people, for accessibility. He said it was reasonable but the elevators would be too small for chairs. Looking at his pictures I'd have to agree. They do show 4 HP rooms though so the walking wounded might want to look at those. Seabourn is normally very expensive though and the price is pretty much all inclusive.

          And I agree with KLD, if they don't require a doctor's note of need, ask a lot of questions about the room you'll be getting. Norwegian's Sun had huge HP rooms and I still would recommend them to anyone wanting to try a first cruise. And in my previous write up I forgot one point: the HP room had a 110 outlet in the room and it looked like it would handle a power chair's battery recharger.

          The one thing we really liked, and the main reason we tried a cruise, was we could leave and return to the same port. No hassles with flights for us (although they did change the departure from NYC to Boston). Plenty of parking at both ports.
          Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

          Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.



            Sue, you are so right about the training of the crew. I find that I must be constantly at the side of the crew telling them where to hold and where not to hold on to the chair, and even on a 17 day cruise I had to repeat this every time we got on/off the ship. They were constantly trying to lift the chair by removable armrests or leg rests. Once they tied a rope to the chair to help haul it, and I had to untie it myself from the leg rest and had to show them how to attach it to the crossbar instead. It was even more fun off the ship when directing non-English speaking tour people getting into vans or buses. My Spanish is limited (I got real good at pantomime and saying "Aqui!" and "No Aqui!") but my Portuguese is non-existant.

            Until there is a more definate decision about ADA application to cruise ships (doubt if it will be in this administration) the access in American ports will probably not improve. I know that it has gotten a little better in San Diego only due to a lot of pressure from the disability community and Accessible San Diego (thanks to Wes Johnson).

            The real reason you need to have an AB companion on a cruise is not because they will need to lift you, but to throw their body between you and the well-meaning but uninformed staff (I know...I do this all the time for my mom!). Of course this also pretty much applies to airplane transfers as well....


              Because we were on the Sun's inaugural cruise we had a rather lengthy review they wanted us to fill out on how we liked the ship and crew. Since Norwegian is based out of Miami I suggested their main crew supervisers contact either the local CIL or Jackson Memorial Hospital to be trained by OTs on how to handle and NOT handle wheelchairs. I almost lost 4 fingers when an over efficient waiter grabbed my chair from my husband and flew me to a table at lunch one day. He flipped the regular dining chair out and me in. He didn't have a clue he was mashing my toes into the center support under the table or my knuckles were scrapping along the arm of the dining chair next to me. I kept trying to explain I would prefer positioning myself to the waiter on my right and my husband on my left. After the third finger mashing I just barked "back off" to both. LOL

              The waiter finally got it and asked if I'd been hurt. I assured him I would be fine but that I needed more space and there is a thing under the table and I would need to swing my foot rests around it. My husband just said he couldn't hear me or understand me because I kept turning to the masher trying to save my limbs! After that I made Jay promise not to let go of my chair no matter what. But yes, the biggest problem is when a few steps at the gangways need to be manuvered over and overly helpful staff grab whatever they want.

              BTW, the Norwegian Sun will be spending all its time in the Caribbean coming 2002 because of pressure from travel agents. It's a shame because I did find the Canadians to be very helpful and they are really doing a lot to build a tourist industry because of the collapse of the fishing areas off the Grand Banks. I was just amazed to find a lift equipped shuttle bus in Newfoundland and sidewalks being replaced and curb cuts put in.

              If anyone has done the Carribean from a port on the east cost I'd love to hear the details. I know most ports on the islands are by tenders and I'd prefer to go where there are real docks. Any info you have Kathy I'd love to hear or if you know where I can get further info. I'd love to see the larger islands like over near Curacau and the Dutch Antilles. Also Martinique and Gaudalope. I already got the low down on Puerto Rico from my friend who did the Seabourn cruise and it sounds wonderful and inaccessible. [img]/forum/images/smilies/frown.gif[/img]

              Oh, and for those who travel the USA by van or car during the spring, summer and fall, there is an accessible ferry across Lake Michigan between Ludington, Michigan and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Vans with dogs are loaded last and first off so they are warm or cool as long as possible. Service animals are allowed on decks and there is a lift along the stairway to get wheelers upstairs and a crewman will be with you on the trip up. The museum and gift shop have doors too narrow to get through but people will bring you things to check out. There is an accessible bathroom. And since this is a good size ferry, no waves knocking you around. :-) Free movie on one side, free bingo and prizes on the other. Also two bars and a buffet for sandwiches, etc. The 4 hour trip so beats driving through Gary, Indiana, Chicago and Milwaukee!

              Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

              Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.


                Holland American the Best?

                When I took an Alaskan Crusie with Holland America they would not help me off the gangways at all, as a result I felt like I had missed more than half of the cruise experience. Royal Caribbean however were very helpful when I took one of there ships, their staff carried me down gangways and lifted me on to tenders. FYI I use a manual wheelchair.



                  Suzin, how long ago was this? I have heard the same thing about HAL from people who last cruised with them 1-2 years ago, but apparently they have only recently changed their policy on this. I still don't know that I would rate them #1, but it does appear they have cleaned up their act some recently as we had assistance up/down the gangway at all our ports in South America on the Ryndam.

                  The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


                    I'm glad to hear that!

                    SCI Nurse,

                    I took my cruise with Holland 4 years ago...I am so glad to hear they are willing to help with the gangways because other than that I really liked the ship and the crew.


                      Have you been on these?

                      We're looking into another cruise this Fall. Right now the only two that leave the Port of Balttimore are the Carnival Legend and the Celebrity Horizon. Anyone have experience witth either ship? I called both lines and the one thing missing that we both loved on the Norwegian Sun were rooms with verandas that were also HP. I can live without the veranda but my husbnad loves that part! Well...I did too, I guess. [img]/forum/images/smilies/tongue.gif[/img] We take along binoculars and a camera for birds and other ships.

                      The Celebrity line goes by square feet and it's rooms appear large enough although without the veranda. Carnival was no help at all and I'll call them back to see if they have someone more helpful. Celebrity does have a walkway that goes out tto tenders at Belize and Cocobay Cay their own island. So all the western Carribean is supposedly accessible. So please, any pointers on these 2 ships? Maybe a good place where we can hang outside and watch the ocean flow by that's not in the room? And how formal is formal for a wheeler at dinners? TIA.
                      Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

                      Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.


                        I was on the Horizon last October leaving out of Philadelphia to Bermuda. It's my understanding the ship usually sails out of New York but was moved because of 9/11. There's only four accessible rooms and they are on the fifth deck. The rooms are fantastic, very spacious, sleep 3-one by bunk bed-and have a large bath with plenty room. They will also provide a shower chair if requested. If Celebrity operates all there cruises like they do on the Horizon, I highly recommend them, the food and service was excellent. I should add that the gang-plank action could use alot of improvement though and not all decks are easy access, but the crew is more than helpful, sometimes to the extent of being to helpful.



                          Have not been on the Horizon, but our experience on Celebrity (Zenith) was one of our very best cruising experiences, and our accessible cabin amoung the best we have ever had. Didn't miss the veranda as we were in the cabin very little except to sleep. Lots of accessible deck space outdoors in other areas. Celebrity is owned by Carnival, but is their more "up-scale" line.

                          Dress for wheelers at formal nights is no different than for ABs. My mother (who is in a chair) has a black chiffon skirt she wears for all formal nights, and several different dressy tops (sequined, etc.). I do pretty much the same, but prefer velveteen slacks. Men wear either dark suits or a tux or dinner jacket. Some ships will rent the tux which makes it easy as you don't have to pack and unpack it or carry in your luggage. I love the way a may looks in a tux!

                          "Informal" is more like what you might wear for a formal wedding or dressy dinner meeting here. A jacket and tie are usually required for men. "Casual" generally is similar to day wear except no shorts or jeans (generally not T-shirts), and many men wear a sports shirt (no tie) and sports jacket, although the jacket is usually optional.



                            When we wre docked in Hamilton, Bermuda, the Zenith was also there, it's exactly the same as the Horizon. This was my first cruise so I really can't be a good judge of cruise lines, but Celebrity really does a good job of providing a pleasant experience.


                              When I read the dress code for Celebrity, KLD, it specified evening gown or cocktail dress. I was thinking of a womans tux or velvet slacks and a sequined top. But we are now going to do a 6 day to Bermuda in October round trip from Baltimore. No flying and lugging bags! And the ship is the new Legend that just left dry dock in Helsinki and will go into service in August. Carnival also has casual restaurants so if I can't convince (ok, nag to death) my husband to get into a tux we'll survive. [img]/forum/images/smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] The poor guy lives in dark suits most the year and really just wants to relax, eat, drink and read. I plan on a shopping spree at Nordstrom's myself... $$$$$$$$

                              Oh and the accessible staterooms have balconies, big ones! But no doctor's notice that you are disabled is required. Just fill out a sheet that specifies the size of the wheechair and any restrictions.
                              Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

                              Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.