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    near the entrance of the dining room so that we wouldn t have to weave through tables and chairs to get to our place While this was convenient there was a large pillar between our tables that made it a little awkward to get all of the wheelchairs around each table The service in the dining room was fantastic Our head waiter Sony waiter Rainer and assistant waiter Dwight went out of their way to see to our needs No request was too big or too small and they were more than happy to help out with things like cutting up food for those who needed it Our first port of call was Charlotte Amalie St Thomas While Royal Caribbean was able to arrange wheelchair accessible shore excursions at 3 of the 5 ports on our itinerary this was the only port where they were able to arrange an accessible excursion for our entire group which included 8 wheelchair users The tour was a 2 1 2 hour island drive that took us up to Mountain Top for a great view overlooking Magen s Bay Prior to leaving for the cruise Royal Caribbean told me that they had 3 wheelchair accessible vehicles with hydraulic lifts reserved for our St Thomas tour However when our group arrived outside the ship at 8 30 a m there were only 2 accessible vehicles waiting for us That was not enough to accommodate the whole group so they ended up calling for an accessible trolley to help out The accessible trolley was able to accommodate more wheelchairs than either of the other 2 other vehicles so the plan was to use the accessible trolley and one of the other vehicles for our whole group So one of the vehicles left and we waited for the trolley to arrive When it did they immediately loaded 2 electric wheelchair users into the trolley I was to be the last person in but unfortunately the lift broke down when it tried to lift me So they closed up the trolley and had to call for the other vehicle to come back and pick me up Once that was done all 3 of our vehicles were finally off to start the tour albeit an hour late The tour went up along the side of the mountain and offered great views of Charlotte Amalie harbor St John and the British Virgin Islands The highlight of the tour was a stop at Mountain Top where we were able to get out and walk wheel around for 30 minutes Inside the visitor centre were several shops a bar where you could order one of their world famous banana daiquiris and an observation deck where you could go outside and see the magnificent view overlooking Magen s Bay The only unfortunate part of the tour was that the 2 ladies in our group that were on the trolley could not get out at Mountain Top due to the broken lift On the bright side Royal Caribbean later refunded their money and at least they still got to see the island and Magen s Bay albeit from the inside of the trolley We made sure they each got a banana daiquiri at Mountain Top too Getting them off the trolley at the end of the tour was an interesting experience They ended up backing up one of the accessible vehicles against the side of the trolley and then letting the lift down inside the trolley It took a little time and precision driving but it worked perfectly The second port of call was Philipsburg St Maarten Downtown Philipsburg is only a 15 or 20 minute walk from the cruise port so most people in our group took a stroll into town for the day There is only one company on the island that has a wheelchair accessible vehicle so I was fortunate enough to have them take my friend and I on a 3 hour tour around the Dutch and the French side of the island Although this company only has one accessible vehicle it was actually quite a modern vehicle which included a hydraulic lift tiedowns and could accommodate up to 2 wheelchairs The cost to hire the vehicle and driver was 100 hour which was expensive for two people doing a 3 hour tour although if you can get a bunch of people to go on the tour with you and divide the cost it would obviously be a lot more reasonable The tour itself wasn t overly memorable There seemed to be a lot of construction on the island and a lot of places looked to be run down likely from past hurricane damage We did make two stops the first one being at Maho Beach This is a world famous beach best known because it is located right up against one of the runways for Princess Juliana International Airport There is no closer place to watch a plane land as incoming planes narrowly miss the beach before they touch down type in Maho Beach on Youtube and you ll see what I mean Unfortunately we were only there for 15 or 20 minutes and we did not get to see any planes land Hopefully next time The other stop we made was at Orient Beach on the French side of the island People who get their kicks out of seeing well fed seniors in all their glory will not be disappointed at this beach Next we docked in St John s Antigua for the day There was no accessible transportation available at all on this island for tourists Apparently any accessible transportation they have is reserved for their local paratransit service So we spent the day walking around the area near the cruise port Most sidewalks were not accessible so I spent most of the time wheeling on the street which wasn t a big deal Our fourth port of call was Castries St Lucia There is a company

    Original URL path: http://www.worldonwheelz.com/Travel%20Reviews/ILCWR%20Group%20Cruise%202009.htm (2016-02-16)
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    as we walked past all of the other cruise ships in each of the ports we went to they all had ramped gangways and our ship was the only one with steps One of the employees that helped with the transfer actually told me that the Sun Princess was the only Princess ship whose gangways were all steps instead of ramps I don t know if that was true or not but I do know that on any future cruise I book I will always make sure that the gangway on the ship is ramped or else I won t book that cruise It seems to me that in an age where everyone s trying to improve accessibility getting a ramped gangway would be one of the easiest improvements to make It should be standard on all ships Incidentally I had read in a few places that all Princess ships are equipped with a stair climber mechanism that carries wheelchairs over steps Well I saw one sitting there so I asked the guy about it and they are apparently only used for manual chairs and to me look pretty much useless After returning from the trip I decided to e mail Princess to relay my frustrations about the gangway One thing that really impresses me about Princess is their customer service I have e mailed them a few times in the past with accessibility questions and they have always been quick to respond In this case they sent me a quick e mail followed by a written letter a couple weeks later responding to my comments In the letter they basically apologized for the inconvenience I experienced on the cruise and thanked me for the feedback as it is useful for them in evaluating their product They also promised to forward my comments to the appropriate senior management for their review and information for future planning On one hand I was a little disappointed with the letter as it was somewhat general and did not directly address the gangway issue and what their current policy or status is regarding ramped gangways versus gangways with steps I just hope that when they say they will take the comments into consideration for future planning they mean it SUN PRINCESS PICTURES Princess Cays the Bahamas Our first port of call was Princess Cays the Bahamas Unfortunately it required a tender to get people to shore The tenders were not wheelchair accessible but I was told that they sometimes lift people in manual wheelchairs into the tenders depending on the sea conditions and other safety factors It is ultimately the Captain s call if he wants to allow someone in a wheelchair to get lifted into the tender For Princess Cays I was not interested in even asking about the chances of me boarding the tender because I was told there wasn t much to see or do there and I didn t think it was worth the hassle St Thomas U S Virgin

    Original URL path: http://www.worldonwheelz.com/Travel%20Reviews/princess%202004.htm (2016-02-16)
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    problem with the van was that it did not have a raised roof or a lowered floor so tall people like me have to sit hunched over or with your head tilted sideways We decided to a do a 2 hour island tour that included a stop at San Gervasio home to some Mayan ruins San Gervasio was not very accessible at all which explains why wheelchair users are granted free admission Admission was USD 5 50 for everyone else There was an accessible ramp at the entrance for wheelchairs and scooters Once inside there was only one small area near the entrance where a wheelchair could get to The rest was inaccessible due to rocky paths So if you re in a wheelchair you can see everything you are able to see in about five minutes Otherwise it normally takes about 30 minutes to walk through San Gervasio After the Mayan ruins we went for a little drive around the island and saw some of the coastline The cost of the 2 hour tour was USD 50 per person not including admission to San Gervasio My neck was a little sore at the end from sitting hunched over for a couple hours and to be honest the tour wasn t the greatest but it was nice just to get away from the cruise terminal for a while and see some of the island After returning to the cruise terminal we walked into town and I got to enjoy a little sunshine for a bit while my friend did some snorkeling Then it was time for the moment I was not looking forward to getting back on the tender By this time it was 4 30 p m and the water had become increasingly choppy since the morning The tender was rocking back and forth like you wouldn t believe which meant the ramp was shifting 5 or 6 feet forward and back every time the tender rocked from side to side To say that it was not going to be easy to get me on the ramp would be the understatement of the year The ramp was very steep there were ridges on the ramp every foot or 2 that I practically had to get lifted over there was an 8 or 9 inch drop just to get on the ramp and worst of all the ramp was moving They wanted to put me on the tender last so we waited for the boat to fill up with people Of course that meant we had a big audience when it was finally my turn to board I can honestly say that I wasn t really nervous about getting on because I knew they would get me on eventually However it became clear that a lot of people were nervous for me Once again there were about 5 or 6 Mexican workers running the show and figuring out a way to get me on The key was to time it

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    Jurassic Park where the scientist and the 2 kids had to jump over and hide behind a big log to avoid a stampede of dinosaurs fleeing from a T Rex We also passed by a couple large footprints used in Godzilla The highlight for me however was passing by a few locations from LOST including a World War 2 army bunker that served as the entrance to one of the Dharma stations on the show the Tempest Hurley s golf course and a grass stone house that I m quite certain served as Richard Alpert s home in Spain back in the 1800s Our tour guide mentioned that LOST had been filming scenes at that house the previous week In fact he said that throughout the whole series they were often filming scenes for the show at the same time that they were conducting tours of the ranch so visitors were often fortunate to see the actors at work while on a tour Unfortunately we missed them by one week Overall the Kualoa Ranch tour was pretty worthwhile if you are into television and movies However if you are a wheelchair user and you are not particularly interested in movies or television you might want to think twice about doing this tour The cost was 21 per person which isn t cheap for a 60 minute tour Another big factor to take in consideration is that it is also a very bumpy ride for most of the tour which means that a wheelchair is going to slide around a lot given that there are no tie downs The rough ride might also be a little much for wheelchair users with back issues Next we drove a couple miles down the road to Tropical Farms better known to many as The Macadamia Nut Farm Outlet Tropical Farms grows macadamia nuts and other fruits right on the property and there is a store there where you can buy a whole variety of macadamia nuts jewelry and souvenirs The property isn t known just for its macadamia nuts though There have also been many television shows and movies that were filmed on location here including Gilligan s Island Fantasy Island and LOST Tropical Farms offers a 60 minute tour of the property called the Alii Tour The tour typically takes visitors around the property in a big bus starting off by showing them the different plant life Then there is a stop at a little amphitheater for a short cultural demonstration and finally they go to the fishpond where everybody gets into a boat for a little boat ride around the pond Unfortunately the vehicles that they use for the tour are not accessible and neither is the boat ride However the owner was nice enough to arrange a private tour for us in our own vehicle So one of their staff members hopped into our vehicle and we drove around the property while he explained the different plant life and things that they do at Tropical Farms Then we stopped at the amphitheater and got out for a private demonstration on how to make fire from sticks The tour would normally end with a boat trip on the fishpond but that was not accessible so we just did a drive by to see the area This is where a lot of television scenes were found including the famous scene on LOST where John Locke blew up the submarine To end the day we made a brief stop at the Nu uanu Pali Lookout This lookout provides an amazing panoramic view of the windward side of Oahu It is incredibly windy up there though so hold onto your hat For the final day of our van rental we headed to Oahu s North Shore Our first stop was along the way at the Dole Plantation in central Oahu The plantation has a number of activities for visitors beginning with the famous Pineapple Express The Pineapple Express is a small train that takes visitors on a 20 minute ride through the plantation to see all of the pineapple fields and other vegetation Other activities include a Plantation Garden Tour and the World s Largest Maze All activities including the train tour are wheelchair accessible While admission to the plantation is free there is a small fee for each of the Pineapple Express the maze and the garden tour Next we made our way to Mokule ia Beach on Oahu s North Shore Mokule ia Beach is a beautiful beach that was used for the plane crash scenes in the pilot episode of LOST It isn t very accessible for a wheelchair user though so we just went for a short drive along the beach before turning around Across the road from Mokule ia Beach is YMCA Camp Erdman a camp for kids As you drive by fans of LOST will instantly recognize the camp s yellow houses as the Dharma barracks from the show We weren t sure if we were allowed to walk around the area so we went inside the administration office to inquire Sure enough they gave us a visitors pass and said we could walk around the property freely as long as we didn t take any pictures of the kids Fortunately there weren t even any kids there at the time so we were able to stroll through the barracks and get a good look at the area that was seen so often on the show Across the street from all of the yellow houses was the Assembly Hall where all of the Dharma registrations took place on the show and where Kate was held captive by the Others The hall was empty at the time so we were able to go inside and have a look around pretty cool if you re into the show that is A couple minutes down the road from Camp Erdman is Dillingham Airfield a very small airport It was depicted in an episode of LOST as an airfield in Nigeria where Mr Eko s brother was shot while trying to stop a drug deal Part of the wreckage from the Oceanic flight 815 plane that was used in the pilot episode is also located at Dillingham Airfield We took a quick drive through the airfield to check out the wreckage although there wasn t much to see since it was behind a fence covered by a big black tarp Next we made the 15 or 20 minute ride down the road to Waimea Valley a large nature park that is home to a wide variety of plant life The park is highlighted by Waimea Falls a very recognizable waterfall for viewers of LOST The waterfall was seen in a few notable scenes on the show including the scene where Kate and Sawyer went for a swim and came across two corpses and a case full of guns It was also the location where Hurley and Kate landed following the Ajira plane crash that brought them back to the island and where Jack dove from the top of the waterfall as he came to help them There is a big concrete viewing area with bleachers alongside Waimea Falls and visitors are even allowed to go for a swim in the water It is a bit of a jaunt to get to the waterfall though It is located at the end of the park which is probably a good 15 or 20 minute walk from the entrance However the path along the way is completely paved as you pass through many different types of plant life to get there Admission to Waimea Valley was 13 per adult On the way out of Waimea Valley we decided to pick up some food from the snack bar and head across the street to Waimea Bay Waimea Bay is known internationally for its big waves and surfing competitions It isn t the safest place to go swimming but it is a fun place to hang out on the beach and watch the surfers Our final stop of the day was the Turtle Bay Resort It probably wouldn t be of interest to most tourists but a lot of scenes from LOST were filmed on location there and some of the cast actually stayed at the hotel during filming So we thought we would check it out and perhaps even get lucky and catch them filming there Once inside the lobby I asked a couple different bellmen about LOST and they did say that many scenes from the show were filmed in the lobby and throughout the hotel although they didn t really know any details since none of them actually watched the show However another employee did tell us that they were expected back at the hotel the following week to film more scenes for the show So we were a week late to catch them filming at Kualoa Ranch and a week early to catch them filming at the Turtle Bay Resort It wasn t meant to be I guess Several scenes were also filmed outside on the resort grounds including some beach scenes and the scene where Walt was hiding from the smoke monster in the big banyan tree Those areas aren t accessible for wheelchair or scooter users though In the end the resort wasn t really worth the stop if one is only going to see LOST filming locations as there was a small fee to park the car there and the outside area was not very accessible With our van now gone we spent 2 of the last 3 days just hanging out in Waikiki While the main attraction is the beach there are other things to do in the area as well There are many restaurants to choose from and shopping opportunities abound The most popular shopping areas include the International Marketplace home to over a hundred shops and vendors selling their wares under a massive banyan tree the Royal Hawaiian Center which is also home to over a hundred shops and restaurants and Waikiki Beach Walk a new development on Lewers Street that is home to restaurants retailers hotels and entertainment In keeping with the theme of the previous couple days we also went for a walk around Waikiki to check out some filming locations that were used in LOST Our first stop was the Ala Wai Marina located right at the end of Waikiki Beach This is where Penny s boat was docked on the show The scene where Ben shot Desmond was filmed there as was the scene where Charlie and Desmond crashed the car into the marina in Season 6 This marina was also used in the opening theme song of Gilligan s Island Viewers of the show may recall the S S Minnow departing the marina for a 3 hour tour Across the street from the Ala Wai Marina is the Ala Wai Canal On LOST this canal served as the location in South Korea where Jin Sun first met Right next to the canal is the Hawaiian Convention Center All of the scenes depicting Sydney Airport were filmed in the lobby of the convention center We spent the other full day that we had in Oahu at the Polynesian Cultural Center a park in northern Oahu dedicated to sharing the history and culture of 7 Polynesian islands Samoa Tahiti Fiji Hawaii Marqueses New Zealand and Tonga Each island has a different area in the park where they have cultural demonstrations and periodic shows during the day The one can t miss show is always the Samoan show where a funny guy does a fire making demonstration and another boy climbs a really tall palm tree in just a few seconds Other events that should not be missed at the center include the Rainbows of Paradise canoe parade the Ali i luau and the evening show currently called Ha Breath of Life which in my opinion is the highlight of the whole day The Polynesian Cultural Center is located approximately 45 minutes away from Waikiki but the center does arrange round trip transportation from hotels in Waikiki A wheelchair accessible bus with a hydraulic lift can be arranged with advance notice HAWAIIAN CRUISE At the end of the first week we were off to Honolulu Harbor to board Norwegian Cruise Line s Pride of America for a 7 night Hawaiian cruise I chose this particular cruise because it offered a great way to see the highlights of Hawaii in a short amount of time The cruise itinerary called for two days in Maui two days on the Big Island and two days in Kauai The ship was in port every day so it would probably not be a good cruise choice for people who enjoy their days at sea to relax and experience everything that the ship has to offer onboard However it is an ideal itinerary for people who want to see as much of Hawaii as they can in a limited amount of time Upon boarding the ship it didn t take long to see how the Pride of America got its name We first made our way through the Capitol Atrium which was clearly designed to look like the rotunda of the US Capitol building In fact all of the main public rooms on the ship were themed and named after different things that are distinctly American such as the Hollywood Theater the Liberty dining room and the Mardi Gras Lounge We stayed in a wheelchair accessible balcony cabin Upon arrival I was happy to see that the medical equipment that I had arranged to rent was waiting for us in our cabin Access in the cabin was quite good as the bathroom had a nice roll in shower and there was plenty of space to move around in the cabin The balcony was also accessible although it was a little small and the ramp leading out onto the balcony was somewhat annoying to have to go over all the time since it was a little bumpy However given that the ship was in port every day and we didn t spend much time at sea I didn t end up spending much time out on the balcony anyway The first port of call on our cruise itinerary was Kahului Maui The ship was scheduled to arrive in Kahului early in the morning on the first day dock there overnight and then depart at 6 p m the next day which meant we had two full days to spend on the island Rather than booking organized day tours to see some of the island which I had done on a previous trip see Maui 2002 I arranged to rent a wheelchair accessible van so that we could drive around and see some of Maui on our own for a couple days The van rental company delivered the vehicle right to the cruise pier and since we had our disabled parking placard with us a necessity when renting an accessible van see Travel Tips the security guard gave us permission at the end of the first day to park overnight in the lot next to the cruise terminal entrance Of course he first gave our vehicle a thorough inspection and we had to fill out some documentation but it was definitely convenient At the end of the second day we just left the van in the parking lot across the road from the ship and the van rental company picked it up later Our first stop in Maui was only a 5 minute drive down the road at the Kahului Heliport where we had arranged to do a couple helicopter tours In my opinion the only way to see the true beauty of the Hawaiian Islands is by helicopter because there are so many things that cannot be seen by land such as countless waterfalls pods of humpback whales and even red hot lava on the Big Island I had previously taken helicopter tours in Kauai see Kauai 2002 and the Big Island see Big Island 2002 and they were spectacular So this time I wanted to see Maui by air Since the process of transferring into a helicopter is a huge hassle for someone like me 6 2 tall with little mobility from the chest down it was something that I only wanted to do once However there were no helicopter tours that covered the whole island in one ride It was possible to cover the island in 2 different rides though The helicopter company we used offered one tour that covered Haleakala volcano and eastern Maui and another tour that covered West Maui and the nearby island of Molokai I don t like to miss out on things so I was able to arrange to do both helicopter tours back to back so that I only had to transfer into the helicopter once to see all of Maui and Molokai At the end of the first tour we just touched down at the heliport to drop off a few passengers and then we picked up a couple more and lifted off for the next tour Boarding the helicopter was an interesting experience as this particular helicopter company actually owned a portable chair lift specifically for people who cannot step up into the helicopter seat They assisted me with a 2 person transfer from my wheelchair to the lift and then they raised the lift up alongside the helicopter seat It was not an easy task getting me into the helicopter seat though I was pretty much flopping all over the place as they tried to get me seated decently While I never did get very comfortable the hassle of transferring and sitting uncomfortably for a couple hours was a small price to pay to be able to see Maui and Molokai by helicopter just once The scenery was spectacular as we flew

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    minivan to take us to our hotel They were the only wheelchair accessible taxi company I could find in Maui and they required reservations at least 24 hours in advance We stayed at a hotel in Lahaina Our unit included a bedroom with two twin beds a living room and a kitchenette It was very accessible There was a nice roll in shower and plenty of space under the bed to accommodate a hoyer lift We rented a hoyer from a local medical company who delivered it to and from the hotel It was nicely waiting for us upon our arrival at the hotel Lahaina itself was very accessible There were curbcuts generally everywhere and most stores were accessible although not all There was only one beach in Lahaina and it was very small with not a whole lot of people but that was fine by us For those wanting a nice beach Ka anapali Beach is 4 miles north of Lahaina It is a big touristy beach 3 miles long and lined with hotels and resorts On our first night in Lahaina we went to the Old Lahaina Luau It is generally regarded as the best luau in Maui We made reservations a month in advance because they always sell out In fact they turn away people every night who just show up hoping to get in We walked to the luau all the way from our motel It was quite a ways probably a bit more than a mile but easily walkable if you don t mind the exercise Anyway the luau was really good It was totally accessible and the food and the entertainment were great We took three island tours with a sightseeing company that had a wheelchair accessible bus I was told the bus should be reserved at least 2 weeks in advance The first tour picked us up at 3 a m and brought us to the top of Haleakala volcano to see the sunrise I was told the sunrise is phenomenal from up there Even when it is overcast and raining down below the viewing area is usually above the clouds so it doesn t matter Unfortunately we went on a bad day because when we got to the top we were still in a huge cloud of cold misty rain and fog and could not see 10 feet in front of us so we didn t see a thing We waited around for an hour hoping it would clear but it never did so we ended up going back to our hotel having seen nothing We were told that this doesn t happen too often but that it does happen no kidding Oh well it gives me an excuse to go back to Maui The second tour involved going up Haleakala again this time during the day as well as a drive through Wailuku and the Iao Valley Thankfully for us it was a crystal clear day this time so we actually

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    t want to deal with the hassle of transferring into a manual chair which I didn t have anyway so we took just took a Waimea Canyon tour instead The tour was great It took us to a lookout point where we could get out and view the massive Waimea Canyon This is an absolute must do for anyone visiting Kauai The last thing we did in Kauai was take a helicopter ride It was phenomenal easily the highlight of our trip to Kauai To me the only way to see the true beauty of Kauai is by air since so much of the island is inaccessible to vehicles The ride took us over most of the island going past green valleys and waterfalls through Waimea Canyon and along the Na Pali coast The people at the helicopter company were really good They led us out to the helicopter and then one guy helped my friend pick me up out of my chair and transfer me into the helicopter It was a little bit awkward for them as the helicopter was a couple feet higher than the seat of my chair not to mention I was close to 200 lbs However they said that they were quite used to helping disabled people get into the helicopter There was apparently only one helicopter company in Hawaii that had a lift to help transfer into the helicopter and that was in Maui From there we went on to the Big Island We flew into Kona Airport which did not have jetways unlike the airports in Lihue Honolulu and Kahului However there was a lift They brought my wheelchair up on the lift and right into the plane where they helped transfer me into it Just a note about Aloha airlines I have flown with them 4 times now once on my Maui trip and three times on this trip I would have to give them mixed reviews On one hand they have been great because they have bumped me up into first class on every flight I have taken with them without me even asking This makes it easier for them and me They give me the seat in the very first row and I basically just drive my electric chair right into the plane and then they transfer me right into my seat before taking my wheelchair away This is very convenient and avoids the hassle of dealing with an aisle chair The only problem I have had with Aloha has been with the way they have handled my wheelchair I don t recall having a problem with my wheelchair after my flight from Maui earlier this year but I did notice damage to my chair on all 3 flight segments this time around I noticed after our flight from Honolulu to Kauai that I wasn t sitting as comfortable in my chair It seemed like my backrest had been bent back because it always felt like I was sliding out of my chair I wasn t sure though However I became sure after our flight from Kauai to the Big Island This time my backrest was clearly bent back In addition they took my tilt box off the side of my joystick and reattached it on top of my joystick even though I put a clearly labeled piece of tape all over the tilt box that read DO NOT REMOVE I even told them when they took my chair not to touch it but they did it anyway I had the tilt box tied to my joystick with some black plastic wire and they actually cut it off and reattached it in a different place with a different piece of wire I immediately filed a damage claim with Aloha services near the baggage claim Even though my chair appeared to be easily fixable I wanted to be sure I got the claim on record with them in case I discovered a more serious problem with my wheelchair after I left the airport I told the lady about the bent backrest and the tilt and I suggested that it must have been sitting very awkwardly during the flight and she said something to the effect of well yes they have to tilt the chair on it s side because it doesn t fit in the cargo area of the plane if it s upright That was news to me On our last flight from the Big Island to Honolulu my joystick box was totally bent sideways I have a feeling that on the last flight my chair was probably tilted sideways on the 2 side wheels while on the first 2 flights the wheelchair was probably tilted on the 2 back wheels with the 2 front wheels in the air and the top of the backrest against the ceiling carrying the weight of the whole wheelchair It scares me to even think about it It s frustrating it seems like baggage handlers have no idea they are dealing with a 13 000 piece of equipment I decided to write a letter to Aloha Airlines to find out exactly what their policy was for storing electric wheelchairs I was impressed by their quick response They sent me a letter and explained their basic policy regarding electric wheelchairs as follows Because these wheelchairs do not collapse it is not possible to load them in the upright position in our cargo holds The maximum height inside the Boeing 737 aircraft is roughly 44 tapering to lesser heights the farther you go left and right inside the hold Because of the height limitations we instruct our baggage agents to carefully tilt the wheelchair against other baggage but to never stack baggage on top of the wheelchair Additionally and more importantly our agents remove spillable type batteries from wheelchairs Because the wheelchairs often times need to be tilted on their sides to fit in the cargo hold the danger of having fluid leak from the batteries

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    up and raised me up to a gangplank type walkway which I booted across to board the ship Sydney Australia was also very good for accessibility although it did not start off great for us Upon our arrival at our hotel the staff realized that all of their wheelchair accessible rooms were being renovated in preparation for the Olympics After trying unsuccessfully to accommodate us in a different room and even a different hotel the manager offered us their premier suite for the whole week at no extra charge Normally valued at 600 800 a night we just had to accept it and make do It was the most expensive room in the hotel It had a kitchen a living room a dining room with a huge boardroom table crystal chandeliers in every room 5 balconies a huge bedroom with 2 king beds and 2 bathrooms with marble floors toilets and sinks There was also a hidden door in the bedroom closet that had a different number on the outside than the front door had This was apparently done so that people in the hall would think it was the door to a different room and therefore if celebrities stayed in the premier suite the celebrity gawkers would be waiting for them by the front door while the celebrities were able to slip out the hidden door Apparently a lot of celebrities stayed in that room including Prince Charles and Princess Diana Since none of the major tour companies ie APT Grayline had wheelchair accessible buses we toured Sydney on our own walking almost everywhere from the Opera House to the Rocks to Darling Harbour There were curbcuts generally everywhere although some were not very good Sydney was also a little hilly in sections especially around Circular Quay and the Rocks I was glad to be in a power chair Most of the ferries in Circular Quay were accessible making it easy to get to Darling Harbour Homebush Bay the Olympic site and Manly Upon arrival at Homebush Bay there were wheelchair accessible shuttle buses which took us right to Stadium Australia and the Olympic venues The various Sydney Harbour cruises were also accessible No one should leave Sydney without taking one of those cruises Sydney Canberra and Melbourne all had wheelchair accessible taxi companies The taxis in Sydney and Canberra we never took one in Melbourne were quite good We didn t have to wait too long for them and the drivers were pretty good One important thing to be careful about when taking them though is that the drivers don t overbill you I noticed but was too stupid to say anything that most drivers started the meter as soon as they stopped to pick us up so by the time he tied my wheelchair down and we actually began driving the meter was already at 4 or 5 Don t let them get away with that Make sure they reset the meter before you begin driving Manly Beach and Bondi Beach were not very accessible for wheelchairs due to the soft sand and also the large number of steps going down to the sand although there was a ramped area on one side of Bondi Beach However you could still sit at the top and enjoy the scenery The Sydney Opera House was okay for accessibility but not great We saw a couple performances with pretty good seats For one show we were right up against the stage on the side It was a little awkward because I was in the aisle and it was hard for people to get by There were also special guided tours of the Opera House for the disabled since the regular guided tours included a lot of steps We also went up the Sydney Tower which provided a great overhead view of the city The view of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House was not that great though as they were largely obstructed by the tall buildings in front of them The trip up to the observation deck was still worthwhile though There is also a revolving restaurant at the top where you could eat dinner We also spent a day taking a bush tour A variety of bush tours were offered but one of them catered specially to people in wheelchairs I made arrangements about a month before we arrived in Sydney For our tour we picked up a guide in our van and he spent the day showing us around the Royal National Park Botany Bay and other sights We made several stops along the way to get out and enjoy the view It was a fairly interesting tour since we got to see things we would not normally see on a regular tour However I did find the tour to be rather expensive although he did provide snacks and lunch On our last day in Sydney we rented a wheelchair accessible van and then made the 3 5 hour drive to Canberra Our hotelb room was quite small but it did have a roll in shower and 2 single beds with plenty of space beneath for a lift or hoist as they call it Down Under We rented the lift in Sydney and brought it with us The next morning we decided to walk from our hotel to Parliament House big mistake It was 100 degrees out and it was a lot farther than I thought We did walk by the Canadian embassy on the way though which was really cool We popped in for a minute and signed the guest book before continuing on to Parliament House Parliament House was fairly interesting We took a guided tour that included a walk through the House of Representatives and the Senate It was entirely accessible From there we took a wheelchair taxi over to the Australian War Memorial which I found incredibly boring However it is one of Canberra s main attractions and many people love it so

    Original URL path: http://www.worldonwheelz.com/Travel%20Reviews/australia-hawaii%202000.htm (2016-02-16)
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    gruesome scenes This was accessible but not from the upper level A staff member had to escort us outside down a ramp and around to the side of the building where there was an accessible entrance Next we passed along the front of the Parliament Buildings and across the street to the Royal B C Museum The museum contains numerous exhibits that explore hundreds of years of British Columbian history To be honest I was quite bored at the museum but I suppose there are some people out there who may find it interesting I was more interested in Thunderbird Park next door and that was free The park is home to a unique collection of totem poles and big houses After a short tour through Thunderbird Park we got back in our van and made the 45 minute drive to the world famous Butchart Gardens The 50 acre gardens contain hundreds of thousands of plants that are a site to see year round Highlights include a Rose Garden a Japanese Garden and the most popular Sunken Garden There was a dining room on site as well as a gift shop It took us about two hours to tour through the gardens Admission was 23 per person but worth the cost The next day we took the ferry back to Vancouver where we spent the day before heading to Calgary This time we stayed at a hotel close to Canada Place Our room was very small although the bathroom was a decent size There was a slight lip leading in to the roll in shower The elevator in the hotel was a bit of an issue as you really had to make a sharp turn upon entering the elevator in order to fit in Those with wider wheelchairs or scooters could have difficulties Parking was 18 at the hotel but they did have a continental breakfast Early the next morning we began the long drive to Calgary Normally about an 11 hour drive it took us 14 hours in total as we made a slight detour to make a 2 hour stop at the Hell s Gate Airtram Hell s Gate is a 2 5 to 3 hour drive from Vancouver and is a worthwhile stop for those who have time There was accessible parking right up against the main building The accessible tram takes you down over the Fraser River rapids to river level At the bottom there is a restaurant a fudge factory and a shop There is also a suspension bridge over the river where you can look straight down at the surging rapids It was a little tough getting on the suspension bridge in a wheelchair The ramp leading down to the bridge had numerous ridges to go over and the walkway out to the bridge had uneven parts but it was definitely doable for those with perserverance After a long day of driving we finally arrived at our Calgary hotel The hotel was excellent There was free parking and a continental breakfast available every morning Our accessible room was huge and the bathroom included a roll in shower It was the only room in the hotel that had one Across the street there was a train depot where you could catch the train into town for 2 It was completely accessible On our first full day in Calgary we were supposed to take a day tour out to Banff and Lake Louise with a local sightseeing company They had just installed a hydraulic lift in one of their vans and I was going to be their first wheelchair bound client However when they arrived with a van full of people there were a couple problems We looked in the back of the van and there were four spots on the floor for tie downs but there were no belts Worse yet the driver did not realize what those tie down spots were for so the back seat was situated almost in the middle of the front and back tie down positions which left little to no space for a wheelchair Only a couple of modifications were needed to solve the problem the back seat should be taken out for wheelchair clients and tie down belts should be installed I pointed this out to the driver so hopefully they have since made changes Needless to say we did not get to do the tour with them that day nor did we get to do the city tour they were supposed to take us on the next day Fortunately we had our own van so we just toured on our own We immediately got in our van and drove 2 hours west to Lake Louise located about 30 minutes northwest of Banff The uniquely green lake is the most famous and most visited attraction in Banff National Park There was accessible parking onsite and an accessible pathway went around much of the lake Almost as big an attraction as Lake Louise is the Chateau Lake Louise a famous resort that overlooks the lake After about an hour viewing the lake and walking through the hotel we drove down the road to beautiful Moraine Lake Once featured on the back of the Canadian 20 bill the blue lake is another site that should not be missed There is a restaurant on site that serves meals although I felt a little robbed after we ate there For the amount we paid we did not get a lot of food at all and I am not a big eater In the afternoon we stopped in to Banff to visit a couple sights before returning to Calgary We started at Bow Falls a small waterfall near the Banff Springs Hotel After a brief stop we drove over to Cave and Basin National Historic Site The site marks the birthplace of Canada s National Park system Inside the cave are warm mineral springs The site is only partially accessible but that was

    Original URL path: http://www.worldonwheelz.com/Travel%20Reviews/Vancouver-Calgary%202005.htm (2016-02-16)
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