River cruises and stairs

This item appears on page 51 of the August 2010 issue.

ITN asked for advice for mobility-impaired cruisers (Feb. ’10, pg. 68). After I stopped being able to negotiate stairs without excessive pain, I stopped going on river cruises.

Even if you see a map of the ship and are assured there is an elevator or perhaps a chair lift to the top deck, there is no guarantee that you can get off at any port stop without negotiating at least one flight of steps up to the city streets.

Large rivers periodically flood, so the banks are built up and stepped to give access to ships at any water level. At the lowest river stage, there often are two flights of stairs and a wide ledge between them which acts as a riverbank.

Sometimes (especially in Egypt), ships mooring at popular docks may tie up three to four deep side by side, meaning passengers also must negotiate on and off those ships before getting to the stairs up to the street.

My criteria is this: if a wheelchair can do it, I probably can. If they say “No wheelchairs” or even hesitate, I say “No, thank you.”


Sequim, WA