Monday Musings: Accessibility, Part 2

Not one to recuperate in the traditional fashion, AK Dad continues to surprise us with interesting and sometimes scary new diagnoses that keep me running around like a crazy woman. Last Friday he decided to allow his blood to stop flowing freely through his veins and landed himself in the hospital with a pulmonary embolism. A weekend spent navigating the maze of medical terminology, drugs, and wrapping m y head around this potentially fatal condition certainly gave me pause…LET’S GET THIS FIXED SO WE CAN GET BACK TO TRAVELING!

Yes, our conviction that every moment AK Fam spends on the road together glimpsing deeper into this big, beautiful world in which we live is a treasure beyond words, and we intend to make the most of it. Every time I’d glance at my email from AK Dad’s dark hospital room, telemetry beeping, and him gasping for air, there’d be another message from one of our summertime trip hosts. AK Dad would have me read it out loud and he’d smile. It’s a beautiful thing to be given the gift of another chance.

One such message of encouragement came from our cohort for all things Alaska Marine Highway, Penny Eubanks, who is assisting us with arrangements for a two-week sail around southeast Alaska in July. While we adored our Holland America cruise in 2009, we felt as if we had only scratched the surface of  family adventure in southeast, especially as Alaskan residents well-equipped to deal with weather, critters, and frequent-flyer miles from Alaska Airlines. AMHS graciously stepped forward for our project, aimed towards promoting Alaskan resident travel aboard the ferry, and we’re ready to sail from Juneau to Skagway, Sitka, Wrangell, and Ketchikan over a two-week period. Let me tell you, this is sounding pretty darned good right about now.

Given our new state of physical (in)ability pertaining to AK Dad, however, we did have some new questions for Penny. Our original plan was to backpack our way around the system, stopping and hiking around with little use for transportation other than the public kind. A little adaptation might be necessary, however, since AK Dad’s elbow is temporarily bent in a 60-degree position and the thought of slinging his sherpa-style pack on his back is quite frightening. So, I asked Penny, how do passengers who need help getting on/off and to their cabins receive such assistance? Will we have to pay extra?

Turns out, AMHS is quite delighted to provide ambulatory-but-limited passengers with carts upon which to place luggage at the embarkation point. The carts are then moved to the car deck, where they remain until somebody comes to retrieve them (i.e. me). No prob, Penny says; just situate AK Dad then come on down to retrieve the gear.

For passengers requiring ADA-compliant cabins or other assistance, AMHS can provide some help. Call 800-642-0066 ahead of time and talk with a helpful representative who will inform ship personnel of the situation. One can reserve an accessible cabin at this time as well. It is the passenger’s responsibility to inform the ship’s purser once aboard to ensure adequate support in the event of an emergency.

I also discovered a great deal for those passengers experiencing a 70% disability, AND a discount for disabled veterans. An AMHS Disability Pass, good for two years, means a 50% savings off regular fares and that of an attendant (if one is required). Certain restrictions do apply, however, so call 800-642-0066 for information and the paperwork, which can take up to six weeks to process.

I think we can do this! That’s the spirit, right?


Posted in Accessible Traveling, General Travel Info, Health and Safety.