One of the best accessible cruises is to Alaska, whether using a manual or power wheelchair or scooter. I recommend doing the land tour first followed by the seven night southbound cruise. Why? When you are on tour, you will be on a schedule and your time will be governed by the daily itinerary. Once they are on the ship, you can relax and enjoy the next seven days at their own pace. Please bear in mind, the land portion does include time on your own so, anyone who needs it, will have time to rest. These tours usually begin in Fairbanks or Anchorage and I highly recommend arriving a day or two prior to the start of your tour. This will give you time to recuperate from a long flight, adjust to any time changes and do some sightseeing on your own.
Many of the land tours include an excursion on a scenic train with a domed observation car which is often accessible by means of a lift. A day trip to Denali National Park is always a highlight. All tours in the park are by school bus and lift equipped buses are readily available for those who need them. Motor coaches used for your tour are lift equipped and you will have wheelchair accessible accommodations in the hotels and lodges. I encourage you to take a cruise that has no tender ports so that you will have easy access to land. The most popular ports are Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Sitka and Victoria. This is just a synopsis of what an Alaskan Cruise Tour can offer you. This trip is appropriate for people with all levels of disabilities.
Sitka now has a dock allowing disabled cruisers to enjoy the Russian heritage of this delightful town. Sitka is also home to a very informative Raptor Rehabilitation Center and the best kettle corn I’ve ever had! Russian Nesting Dolls are very popular souveniers and enjoyed by children and adults.
Ketchikan is a charming fishing village with an illustrious past and the locals will be happy to regale you with stories and folktales. This is a great port for a salmon bake or a visit to the Saxman Indian Village where you will learn the history of the Totem Poles, see a demonstration of Totem Pole carving, watch a folkloric show put on by the Saxman Indians and sample some homemade Indian Fry Bread.
Skagway is famous for the White Pass & Yukon Railway which is an old narrow gauge train that travels high overhead on a trestle bridge. The good news is that there is a fully accessible train car so everyone can enjoy this thrilling ride. After your train ride, be sure to stroll into town and join the Arctic Brotherhood and hear the story of the infamous Soapy Smith. Enjoy the authentic feel of this gold rush town and watch the old fashioned street cars and locals dressed in costume.
On to Juneau, the capital of Alaska. Try to overlook the prevalence of jewelry stores from the Caribbean and shop in stores which proudly display signs that read, Owned & Operated by Native Alaskans. This is a great port from which to ship home Alaskan salmon and halibut and perhaps, try your hand at fishing. Whale watching is also very popular in Juneau and the boats are accessible. I’ve had many disabled clients take a helicopter ride, land on a glacier and then enjoy a spin on a dog sled. Now that’s a once in a lifetime experience! If the weather is good, stroll over to the Mt. Roberts Tramway and take a ride high over Juneau in the fully accessible tram car. No visit to Juneau is complete without a stop at the famous Red Dog Saloon where everyone gathers before heading back to the ship. Have a drink and sing along with your fellow cruisers and crew. Lots to see and do in Juneau!
If your ship stops in Victoria, a visit to the lovely Butchart Gardens is a must. Magnificent flowers and shrubs are all accessible by paved walkways. If you’re thinking about indulging in High Tea at the famous Empress Hotel, be sure to make advance reservations.
Wonderful article and ironically the Celebrity Silhouette was berthed at the Atlin Terminal here in Prince Rupert, BC. I am happy to let you know that Prince Rupert now has a dock allowing disabled cruisers to disembark and enjoy our city and incredibly warm and friendly citizens with ensure they have a wonderful time while they are here. There is much to do and see here including whale and Grizzly watching. We also have a museum often compare the the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia (albeit much smaller.
We’d love to welcome you
I would be interested in getting some information on w/c traveling to Prince Rubert. We love B.C. and would love to visit your city one day, possibly summer of 2015 when we visit Vancouver Island again.. Please contact me at email@example.com. Thank you so much.. Looking forward to hearing from you…
Great post and very helpful as we have been wanting to travel to Alaska, but haven’t felt confident enough to do so worried about lack of w/c accessibility. My daughter is in a custom manual w/c and can not be transferred to a regular chair to sit in which many places require that..
I am loving everything I am reading here, but what is the cruise line? How do I book a cruise? Thank you for any information. This sound amazing and just what we are looking for!
Sher Doxzon: Please contact the tour directly or I can recommend a travel agent for you.
I’d like to contact the tour directly. Whom do I contact?
And is mid-June an ok time to go?
I cannot say from experience but I have heard from a few people now that the 7-Night Disney Alaskan Cruise with Disney is wonderful. Check it out: http://disneycruise.disney.go.com/cruises-destinations/alaska/itineraries/7-night-alaskan-cruise/
Sher Doxzon, I cruised Alaska in 2012 aboard Princess Cruise Lines Golden Princess. Being a full-time wheelchair user myself, I found the ship and their assistance outstanding. Our cruise was round trip out of Seattle and called on Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Glacier Bay (sea day) and Victoria, B.C.. Most of the Alaskan ports have tides that can vary greatly which will make embarkation/disembarkation difficult with the steep slope of the ramp. At each port the Princess Security team was so helpful in getting me on/off the ship. Dining and entertainment venues are all accessible and most have accessible restrooms close… Read more »
Hi, I’m visiting Alaska this summer with Princess Cruises – a round trip from San Francisco. Are the helicopter rides in Juneau wheelchair accessible? Thanks. I’m wheelchair bound and can not walk at all. I use a power wheelchair. Thank you.
Nothing has been adapted, so it is possible as long as you can work with what is. If you could transfer to the ground first and then to the seat with a little assistance, I don’t see why it is not possible. I cannot walk and that’s what I would do.
Good day, my husband and I are going to Alaska in May. I am a paraplegic and want to go on a dog sled. Does anyone have suggestions of tour operators they have used in the past? Please advise.
Celia: I don’t think there is anything yet that has been specially adapted in Alaska. Currently, the only place I know is in Canada. This article is about an accessible tour company and there is a video at the end of it showing what I am talking about: https://wheelchairtraveling.com/staging/adapted-snowmobiling-tour-in-quebec-canada/
Hi guys, we had a fabulous time in Alaska. We did dog sledding in Juneau (I am a T12 paraplegic). One of the best experiences of my life, if you want more info you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
They had a lift to get me into the helicopter and assisted me onto the sled on the glacier – very helpful.
Helicopter ride in Alaska, now that’s one for the bucket list!
Rupa: I would look at this article below first. The gentleman who wrote it is writing a second part too. You will find this helpful. There is a train in Alaska that is accessible and is a beautiful drive too. Here is the article: https://wheelchairtraveling.com/staging/amazing-accessible-alaska-adventure-juneau/
I’d love more info on the helicopter ride and dog sled opportunity for those who are disabled. I’m flying my mum over from the UK to join us on an alaska cruise, I’m struggling to how to make this excursion possible