Friday, December 12, 2008

What'd ya say?

I was reading a "Venture" magazine today which got me thinking about some of my most used sayings.

In an article about accessibility and air travel, David S. Martin who is Delta's disability program manager quoted, "Knowledge is power" when talking about how advantageous it is for consumers to know their rights as outlined in the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). It stuck out to me because I've said those same words many times and in the same context. "Knowledge is power" and I believe that if you have a disability and you fly, you should get familiar with your rights. Knowledge will empower you if you have a problem. Even just knowing what/who a "CRO" is and when you have a right to involve this person can mean a world of difference.

"A picture says a thousand words" has been a saying at Connie George Travel Associates for years. We use it referring to how important our accessible travel photo gallery is to us. I've seen people who haven't cruised since acquiring a disability start to feel more comfortable with the idea based on their seeing what to expect or seeing others in similar situations enjoying themselves. I've also seen people who are skeptical because they've either purposely or accidentally been misled about access which they didn't find out until they were in a negatively surprising situation. We've used photos to educate suppliers and to advocate for clients with suppliers. In fact "a picture says a thousand words" was the reason we started our site, www.WheelchairCruising.com which is dedicated to being the internet's largest photo gallery pertaining to accessible cruising.

One of my personal favorite quotes is, "When written in Chinese, the word "crisis" is composed of two characters. One represents danger, the other opportunity." Despite having recently learned that it's a myth and not accurate, it's been a favorite of mine for nearly two decades so I'm sticking with it.

In the spirit of being upfront, I should also admit that I grew up in the '70s and used "Duh!" so much that I drove my mother crazy with it. I slacked off for a long time, but it seems to be coming back into my vocabulary a lot more. You'll probably be happy to hear that I mostly reserve it for talks with friends and my kids!

Whether you developed your favorite sayings while embroidering peace signs on the pockets of your jeans or while reading the words of someone who is famous, enjoy using them! You either chose them based on your pull to the saying or you chose something that helped to shape you.

Connie


Sources:
Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) -
http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publications/horizons.htm
"Venture- Your guide to accessible travel" -
http://www.venturetrav.com/

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Celebrity Cruises debuts Celebrity Solstice (part 2)

My last blog ended with the riddle of what is missing from this Celebrity Solstice that is on other Celebrity ships, but that it would be a welcome loss. The answer? Thresholds, sills, lips... whatever you want to call those elevated spots between public areas that for some manual wheelchair users amount to mini mountains and for someone using a walker they are like a car going through a parking lot with speed bumps. The only lip which we personally encountered was going from the Solstice Theatre toward the Galleria Boutiques.

The Solstice Theatre offers excellent accessible seating so be sure to see their incredible new show called "Solstice." Guests will find truly accessible restrooms and well ramped access from outer decks with automatic doors along with additional access surprises in public areas... mostly positive ones.

Along with Celebrity's newer standard access features, we were pleased to finally see a ship cabin with an added electrical outlet and we had the best drainage I've ever experienced in a roll-in shower.

There were a few cabin negatives. Some of the accessible balconies reportedly have a longer ramp while ours was short and fairly steep. However, the sill in the balcony doorway was horrible. To Celebrity's credit they were attentive to our concerns and quick to address the situation. Before one of our clients went on the first official ("inaugural") sailing of Celebrity Solstice only six days later, the ship's crew came up with a fix. Though not the best accessible balcony sills among the fleet's ships, our client was able to easily and safely access his balcony with his manual wheelchair. I've been told that the sills were fixed in all of the accessible cabins.


A second issue is a vanity panel across the front of the "roll-under sink." For some people, there is still enough depth but it would be more practical and accessible if that panel is removed and the pipes wrapped which will probably give another few inches in depth.


Another fix needed is the threshold from the cabin to the corridor. The metal strip is at a right angle rather than beveled. Manual wheelchairs will need to "pop over" them.

I believe these last two fixes are possible and can be accomplished with relative ease and expense. I'll be happy to report in a future blog once we have confirmation that these issues have been fixed.

We have access photos of Celebrity Solstice on site's Celebrity Cruises photo gallery and will be adding more. When booking your Solstice cruise through us, your Access Travel Team specialist will share our "insider info & tips" with you.

Connie

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Celebrity Cruises debuts Celebrity Solstice

I had the terrific opportunity to be invited to a one night pre-inaugural cruise on Celebrity Cruises' new Celebrity Solstice this past weekend. Celebrity Solstice is the first of the new "Solstice-class" ships. With promises of fantastic accessibility by the line's access department, I was excited to be offered a chance to see her. Nineteen hours of exploring, experiencing, writing notes and taking photos. It was short, but great!

We sailed from Fort Lauderdale. If you are a "slow walker" I'd suggest you consider asking for pier assistance. Specifically for someone to push you in a wheelchair onto the ship. There's a long distance from where a vehicle can drop you off until you actually board the ship and the last few minutes will be in a jet way type of area with a killer slope.

Solstice is a beautiful ship. Lots of open spaces that create a welcoming calm and relaxing atmosphere. These open areas will make it a lot easier for people using wheelchairs, scooters and walkers to get around.

She has many small alcoves with sitting areas. My attention was caught by the various types of chairs located around the public areas in lounges, restaurants and unexpected seating areas. Many are very unique and beautiful so they become artwork in themselves. From a practical standpoint, these many spots serve as terrific meeting spots to catch up with others you are traveling with and are a respite for slow walkers not using a scooter who need to get off their feet and take a break.

If you use a manual wheelchair and have cruised on a Celebrity ship in the past, you're going to find something missing from this one but it's something you'll be happy is gone! Watch for my next blog about Solstice for the answer to this mystery and some more exciting news regarding this ship!

Connie

Welcome to our website!

Welcome to Wheelchair Cruising!

This site has been a long-awaited project by the Access Travel Team at Connie George Travel Associates. Our goals with the site are clear.

  • We want you to find your time on this site to be comfortable, fun and helpful.
  • We want to produce the most comprehensive "accessible cruising photo gallery" on the internet for people who have mobility limitations.
  • We want you to see how sincere and dedicated we are to working with accessible cruise vacations.

Expect to see lots of added material with each visit as we'll constantly be growing!

Feel free to contribute digital photos of cruise ship and port accessibility... or the lack of it... for us to consider. We find that many cruise lines are not cooperative about providing photos and many small port tour operators don't have photos to send to us. Therefore we depend heavily on photos we take or which are sent to us by clients.

And speaking of "clients", if you have been working with us we want to thank you for your patronage. If you're a new client, we look forward to a long relationship. And if you're "just visiting", we hope to have the opportunity of working with you to plan your future accessible cruises. We look forward to getting to know you in 2009.

Have a wonderful week! We hope you'll be back soon!

Take care,

Connie & the Access Travel Team