Even Accessible Travel Agents Stumped

  • Even Accessible Travel Agents Stumped

    Posted by JoanneC on May 24, 2021 at 5:00 am

    Cruising in January 2022 (if everything stays on target for reopening and staying open), and I read about a bioluminescent tour in Puerto Rico, but the only way to see it is via kayak.

    The handicapped-supportive travel agency who chose the trip for its respiratory-challenged clients cannot tell me a thing about the ship-sponsored or independent excursions. No idea if adaptive paddling devices are offered. Just the standard, “you must be able to keep up if you choose this trip – it’s not rated for handicapped travelers”.

    Not having much stamina, I was interested in seeing if I could find local lessons in adaptive paddling on a kayak on the ocean, and I couldn’t find a thing for the Santa Cruz / Monterey ocean areas in California.

    Unless I can test the limits of my stamina in real-world conditions, I don’t want to risk ruining a group outing for everyone else if I can’t keep up.

    For example – in Belize in 2019, we were supposed to be on a handicapped accessible boat with a swim-up / swim-off platform. However, they changed the boat to a cigarette-style jet boat, causing us to have to climb on and off the boat via a rickety ladder. Not cool for someone on crutches, and not cool for people with breathing stamina and strength issues. We were hauled on and off the boat by the crew (well-meaning, and much appreciated by myself and a cousin, however, we were covered in bruises and scrapes by the end of the day).

    As an additional challenge, I found I no longer had the stamina to swim in the open sea – even with a life saving swim belt plus adaptive snorkeling gear – so I had to be tied to the boat by a rope for my own safety. Humiliating, even if I was never going to see these people again in my life.

    But, I tell you all that to ask you this – what do you do to find truly accessible shore / port excursions?

    I love the job the cruise ships do TRYING to provide for most guests, but even ratings which say, “safe for children 3 and above, or 5 and above” don’t take into account the very different abilities many of us may have when trying to access outings and assure that one has a reasonable assessment – from the point of a handicapped traveler, and NOT from the point of an able bodied and highly fit person – about their ability to truly understand and communicate what’s involved in an outing without being surprised at the last minute by equipment and other critical destination factor changes.

    Still hoping to see the bioluminescent bay from the shore / walking distance from the ship, but it becomes challenging to research and get accurate and consistent responses to avoid being ripped off or having a less than enjoyable time, or not making it back to the boat on time prior to departure.


    JoanneC replied 1 year, 9 months ago 2 Members · 10 Replies
  • 10 Replies
  • Ken

    May 24, 2021 at 10:37 am


    Let me see what I can find out about an accessible tour for you. Which ship are you going to be on? How long will you be in port there?

    • Ken

      May 24, 2021 at 10:51 am

      I am going to make a phone call in the morning, I think I may have a tour company that can work with you, but it won’t be a cruise line excursion, it would be independent. I do need to know the times you are in port or are you wanting a pre or post-cruise tour? I am also exploring what might be available in Santa Cruz area.

  • JoanneC

    May 25, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    Oh, how nice, Ken. Thank you !

    I am on the Celebrity Apex from Saturday, 1/15/22 thru 1/22/22. We’ll be in Puerto Rico from Mon, 1/17/22, from 3:30pm to 11pm. So, I’ll want to be back to the ship by about 9pm.

    Because I’m traveling alone for the first time, I’m a little reluctant to travel independently for a shore excursion – especially with things liable to change at the last minute due to any Covid evolutions over the next few months – but I am very appreciative of anything you can find that might be reasonable to choose closer to departure date.

    Not sure if you’re familiar with them, but I’ve arranged the trip through Sea Puffer cruises as they send respiratory therapists with the folks that choose them as a travel agent and may be oxygen-dependent travelers. I’m giving their services a try as I don’t want to be stuck at home just because my disability is progressing.

  • JoanneC

    May 25, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    As for Santa Cruise for adaptive kayaking – wow ! Above and beyond my hopes for finding pre-trip access to test my limits on the open ocean.

    There was a travel agency I found last night that reputes to take folks to the bioluminescence via a motor boat, but I haven’t yet nailed down which option might best suit me for stamina.

    Thank you so much for your kindness.

  • Ken

    May 25, 2021 at 10:25 pm

    Ok, I called Puerto Rico, and then I emailed them and I am waiting on a response, and I emailed California, and I am waiting on a response from them.

  • Ken

    May 27, 2021 at 5:56 am

    Here is the information for the group in Santa Cruz, they seem very helpful.


    PO Box 396
    Santa Cruz, CA 95061
    Nonprofit ID#: 77-0366565

    Website https://www.sharedadventures.org/contact/

  • Ken

    May 27, 2021 at 6:02 am

    Here is the website for a company that does the tour in a boat. https://www.bioislandpr.com/

  • JoanneC

    May 28, 2021 at 12:30 am

    Oh, thank you so much ! Will follow up with the Santa Cruz folks today.

  • Ken

    March 4, 2022 at 5:22 am

    I just wanted to follow up and see what happened.

  • JoanneC

    September 16, 2022 at 4:30 pm

    Due to the increase in Covid variants, I decided not to go through with the cruise in January. Probably a good idea, as I was *finally* put on oxygen full time due to my COPD.

    Hoping to travel more once I buy my own portable oxygen concentrator (trying to get the Rx from a local supply company was maddening, and I had to fight to get a loaner for my trips to MA and FL in July 2022).

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