Jeff and I are recently married gay male couple, looking for a great first cruise idea for the two of us and my mildly health-impaired mother-in-law. She can tolerate sitting, lying, walking short distances slowly, with frequent breaks. Jeff and I were thinking a European River Cruise? We would want to have medical access just in case. Our budget is approximately $3,000 per person for all expenses, approximately 10-14 days, during the Spring season.
Thanks in advance
Going on a cruise is a great idea. I strongly recommend cruises by the Holland America Line, especially the ones from:
3. Rotterdam to Rotterdam, that takes you to the Norwegian fjords.
The third one I actually went on with my grandmother who absolutely loved it. There's a lot of "scenic cruising" in all of them for your mother-in-law to enjoy.
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I agree with the person who suggested a Holland America Alaska cruise. I worked onboard their ships for several Alaska seasons and am now an Alaska cruise specialist. Your MIL would feel perfectly comfortable on their classic elegant ships, with lots of activities or simply sitting on deck or in a lounge gazing at the gorgeous scenery. The Indonesian and Filipino crew are extremely gracious and helpful. She would meet other people to play bridge with, or bingo, or attend a cooking demo, or many other activities. It would comfort you to know you're in American waters, never far from health facilities. We even had a helicopter land onboard once for a critically ill passenger, but the medical center onboard is adequate for most problems that come up.
You and your husband would feel comfortable as well, though the nightlife in Alaska is pretty non-existant if that's what you're looking for. There are specialty restaurants, great larger staterooms than average. Bottom line, when you're traveling with 2 parties with different interests and needs,a large ship has much to satisfy both, but I prefer the smaller vessels of Holland America vs the mega ships up there.
I also sell a lot of river cruises. Your budget would be pretty stretched to do that. The elevators onboard most doesn't go to the top or lowest deck, and when docked in port, it can be challenging for someone with mobility issues to transverse several other river boats to get onshore. Definitely not trying to dissuade you, as people LOVE these cruises, just pointing out that they're MUCH more expensive, with less diversity of activities and mobility.
Holland America has some really great deals, and 15 ships all around the world, so pick what appeals to you. But "typical" first time cruises are closer to home, like Caribbean, Panama Canal, Canada/New England, and Alaska. They attract an older crowd in general, but it's certainly not a floating nursing home as some people like to say. They just excel at catering to the needs of elderly people, as well as kids! Any questions, www.alaskaandbeyond.com . Good luck; whatever cruise you select have an awesome time!
Hi Joel! Congratulations to you and Jeff! My parents, in their late 60's, are taking a European River Cruise next fall. My wife's uncle, who is wheelchair bound, took a Mediterranean cruise a few years ago on a big ship. Part of the reason my parents are doing that, is easy access with pick ups to destinations at the "port." I can tell you that my wife's uncle and the other travelers, struggled. I would make sure you have contingency plans set up if she is unable to do some things that you and Jeff are interested in doing. Take some time to do your research on particular ships, itineraries and spots, as there may be certain cities, or land tours, that may be better for your mother in law. Keep in mind that many cities in Europe are not too good for people with disabilities. I know my wife's Uncle really struggled in Barcelona. I would also suggest staying away from big ships where you have to tender to shore as it may not be "easy off, easy on." Best of luck making a decision and safe travels!
I have been on a cruise with my mother and disabled grandmother while she was recovering from a hip replacement. We chose a fairly basic Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean, who I've cruised with a couple times before, and departed from Miami which was an easy, quick and cheap departure point from Canada.
-It was the best compromise for all 3 of us, me being the younger able bodied adventure seeker, my grandmother with very limited abilities and my mother who usually love lounging at resorts.
-We went in March and the weather was great because it wasn't too hot but a break from the tail end of winter.
-The ship we were on was large and comfortable and had all amenities including onsite medical and wheelchairs/scooters when needed and the entire ship was accessible to anyone who was disabled with elevators, ramps etc.
-We didn't feel bad leaving my grandmother on the ship to relax on the deck knowing she had access to staff to help her out while we were out sight seeing during the day.
-There was actually a beach tour one day where they had an special beech wheelchair and my grandmother was able to come off the ship and spend a day on the beach - she wasn't expecting that and it was the highlight of her trip.
-the Biggest pro was the price! We did 7 days around the Caribbean with 5 ports of call, all inclusive, with a room that had a balcony including our flights we each paid approx $1800 (taxes inc).
-With a longer cruise, 10-14 days as you mentioned, a cruise ship can get a little boring with the same restaurants, same activities and same style of entertainment - at least it did for me, though I don't think my mother or grandmother felt that way at all.
-Having limited time at each port, usually 8-12 hours, means you don't get to see a lot and the tours offered by the cruise company can be very "touristy" and are usually overpriced.
-There are days when you are "at sea" and don't dock at all. While there are activities on board and it's good for relaxing I always prefer having the option of venturing out.
-It does feel very scheduled with many meals at set times, and limited times at port so if you're very spontaneous it's not a great option.
I'd be happy to answer if you have any specific questions but best of luck booking your trip!
Europe isn't a great place to travel in general for those who have trouble walking. Many of the streets are still uneven cobble stone and often quite narrow. Infrastructure is older and not very accommodating to those with limited mobility -- elevators and escalators simply don't exist in a lot of places.
Larger cruise ships might be better as they have proper elevators and ramps.
Adding on to my husband's comments: my uncle is not really able to walk without a walker, and even then for only short distances. They have never really had an issue on the boats (look for a handicap accessible room), but it is very tiring if you have to use transfers. Europe can be a challenge as well, make sure to check tourist destinations for accessibility. They are not required like in the states.