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This past month my family of 6 took off for the Alaskan wilderness….OK, maybe a cruise ship buffet doesn’t necessarily qualify as wilderness but let’s face it, there are some similarities. My family has some mobility challenges as one of my teens is a full time wheelchair user and on this cruise, my mother in law used a rented scooter. As always, before any cruise I did a lot of research prior finding out about wheelchair access on Alaskan cruise ships and how we could make this the most successful trip for everyone possible. Here is what I learned in hopes it helps someone else have as fabulous a trip as we did. If you would like a more general information make sure and read Celebrity Solstice Alaskan Cruise Review.
CELEBRITY SOLSTICE WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBILITY ON ALASKAN CRUISE:
- Landing in SeaTac is very easy. You can reserve a wheelchair accessible taxi that will fit 4 people (including chair user seated in chair) and 4-5 pieces of luggage through Yellow Cab or simply go to the taxi stand upon arrival and they will get you one. The ride to our hotel was roughly $50.
- Highly recommend the Hampton Inn in Seattle for an accessible solution for pre and post cruise stay. They were great to deal with and it is 4-5 blocks to the Space Needle and Monorail stations. They have a shuttle to the cruise port.
- You can order a scooter to be delivered to your stateroom for your cruise through Care Vacations. Our rental for a 7 day cruise was $269. The scooter is delivered prior to sailing (it was at the door when family first went to room) and you leave it on the ship when you disembark. You may use it at all docked ports. My in-laws were able to maneuver it into a standard balcony room but you would need to be able to walk once inside the room. If you cannot step up or need extra space in a bathroom the non-accessible room will not work for you. If you do have the mobility to handle a 6 inch step up you will likely be able to make a standard cabin work for you.
- You can order a scooter in Seattle through Access Medical Equipment. They will pick up and drop off at the hotel. They were very prompt and helpful with customer service. Be careful with some of the very steep hills in Seattle. Cost was $65 a day.
- If you cannot leave your chair and walk down several steps you will not be able to get off the ship in any tender port. I can’t stress enough how important it is when you book a cruise with a full time chair user that you look at the schedule for where a ship will dock. BUT (and this is a biggie) you must understand that even though a ship is scheduled to dock it can for many reasons (tides, schedule, maintenance) be forced into a tender situation and you will not be able to get off. When I booked this cruise we were set to dock in Juneau but a few weeks before we were changed to tender status and subsequently our son could not get off. We are experienced cruisers and know this is a risk. It sucks but it’s also nice to have a half empty ship to play on. Call the cruise line or the port directly to stay updated on this info. Our cruise also stated that they would not tender electric scooters or wheelchairs in Juneau.
- We had no accessibility issues with the Celebrity Solstice in either a manual chair or rented electric scooter. One hot tub in the Solarium has a handicapped lift as well as one one near the outdoor pool (brrrr). We had cabins 7143 and 7145 and opened the balcony between the two. Plenty of space for scooter and manual chair to maneuver in.
- My only true wheelchair complaint with the Celebrity Solstice was the clueless and disinterested Shore Excursions staff who told us it would be impossible to get wheelchair transportation in Victoria, BC since I hadn’t prebooked with them. Completely false. We rolled off the dock and right into the same accessible taxi’s you find all over the US. In fact, it was probably faster than in Seattle. Ride from dock to downtown was $10 CAN for 4 of us. Victoria is as accessible as every major US city. The Empress Hotel valet was kind enough to call for an accessible taxi for our ride back.
Here are some pictures specific to wheelchair accessibility on the Celebrity Solstice:
We really had a fabulous time on the cruise regardless of mobility issues. I would suggest that if you are traveling with someone renting a scooter for the first time that they take it out on the first day around the top enclosed decks and practice. It’s a bit tricky to get used to. Manual chair users that do this everyday should encounter little to no issues with accessibility in the common areas or accessible cabins. Just, as always, have your homework done on the ports you are visiting and your sense of humor.