Reply To: (Teen) Family to Greece: Athens, Crete, Naxos — w/c ferries?

  • duxinco

    December 21, 2019 at 2:25 am

    We are still a ways from this trip (will be summer 2020), but I have booked our ferry / plane to / from Naxos (and Athens). (I also have our lodging in both places.)

    This is what I’ve learned:

    Blue Star Ferries have elevators, have Special Needs cabins, and staff can be alerted beforehand about a w/c traveler so will be ready to offer assistance. Blue Star will NOT share photos of the Special Needs cabins (and I have thus far been able to find any photos online) but will share that the cabins are larger, their attached bathrooms are level (no step up as the other cabins have) and Accessible, and the Special Needs cabins are for 2 people, but even if you are traveling as a family (like us, let’s say) with one person in a w/c and the other their caregiver, they still only count as ONE; the other half of the cabin will be sold to another w/c user and potentially their caregiver, for potentially four people in the cabin.

    Now, for *my* family and *our* particular needs (and Needs), I have booked a 2 person Lux Outside cabin (basically a first class cabin with windows) and 2 Business Class seats. The Lux, Pur, and standard cabins have attached bathrooms with a step up and are NOT w/c Accessible (Outside means with window, Inside means interior, now window). My Special Angel has no ADLs (Activities of Daily Living) and requires personal care (diapering), so for us, this is fine. We will be able to use the bed(s) to lay him to change his diaper, give him any meds via his g-tube, let him have a rest if he’s had a seizure, for example. I purchased the 2 Business Class seats (which is basically large, quiet lobbies with armchairs, sofas, coffee tables spread apart) so that we parents can either wheel or help our son walk in there, not be trapped in the cabin. My older son likes to sit looking at the scenery while listening to his playlists (teens and their phones!), so he may also be in there or he may set himself outside on an Economy chair — he has options, and so do we (parents and our Special Angel).

    To get to the exterior decks there is a significant “lip”, which makes a w/c impassible. This is obviously a case-by-case situation; for our son it’ll be fine because we can help him stand, help lift him over the lip, and lift his lightweight (24lbs) lightweight travel chair up and over. But for a power chair this won’t work. This is what I’ve seen on videos and what I was told by Blue Star: I will report back if there are ways to get outside without that “lip.”

    I chose for us to take a daytime ferry, not an overnight, because for us being on the Aegean and seeing it is part of the trip, however there are overnight ferries so that might be better for others, especially for longer ferry rides.

    To return to Athens we will fly back with Olympic Air. I was told that I will need to provide them a detailed med list, including milliliters of bottles and MDs’ prescriptions. This seems INSANE to me but whatever — they are called lifesaving meds for a reason. But if that’s required then that’s what I’ll do. (Dealing with Lufthansa’s Medical Desk was infinitely easier.)

    I have rented a level apartment a block from Agios Prokopios on Naxos with one step to enter the apartment itself. It is NOT advertised as an Accessible accommodation but again, I am addressing my family’s very specific Needs and for us it should work. (I had a lot of back-and-forths with the owners.)

    Needless to say I’ll have tons more to share after our trip, but I am encouraged by what I’ve thus far learned, specifically about the elevators on Blue Star ferries, their Special Needs cabins. We are off to Puerto Vallarta for the winter holidays so I’ll see you next year!

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