Peter Wong, Lola Stoker and Lara Wong Interviewed by Jam Gamble about Accessible Vacations on "A Voice for All"
Click above to view interview
Accessible Vacation Specialist Testimonials
Europe and Mediterranean Cruise
Rome - Trevi Fountain
Thanks for your e-mail, we had a fantastic time. We couldn't have done it without our older son though, as it was quite challenging wheeling W. in some places. Also, getting him in and out of the vans for the day trips required some muscle as well.
The Premier Inn was a perfect spot, it was clean the accessible room was great and we did eat there a couple of times at night and the food was better than we expected. We literally walked everywhere we wanted to go - it was an easy walk to Westminster Abbey and the Palace. We were super close to the London Eye and we just hopped on a boat one morning to go to the Tower of London. We even walked to Covent Gardens and to the theatre, as well I had reserved a table after the theatre at one of Jamie Olivers restaurants which was our favourite. We found in most museums and attractions, they did have good accessible washrooms, so we managed our days around that.
Bob's Limo was absolutely fantastic! It wouldn't work for everyone though, as you would have to be able to transfer into a regular van. They had beautiful big vans, so getting the wheelchair and even luggage wasn't a problem. They were always on time and the first driver we had in Rome, took us on a great 4 hour highlight tour before driving us to the boat. His English was great and he drove us right up close to all the spots, so that we didn't have to go very far with Wes. He was determined to get W. out of the van as much as possible and he explained that in downtown Rome they have a green zone and the big buses can't go into certain spots. He could because he had the van and a permit so he even got us up close to the Trevi fountain which was crowded and I don't think we could have got W. there without someone like our driver with the van. The same for Florence, we had an amazing driver who took us on a scenic tour of the Chianti district on the way to Florence and helped us navigate around the city. She was really helpful again thinking of W. and all of Bob's people he booked were really professional and the vans were really clean etc. We used Bob again in Naples, with a guide this time who could take us into Pompeii and they were great as well. Also, both from the airport and to the airport, excellent service, so I would not hesitate to recommend Bob's Limo for Italy. It was funny but a couple of the guides joked about how they had better do a good job or Bob wouldn't like it , so I think he runs a tight ship.
Sage was good too, although 2 of the three guides we had trouble finding. The first guide for Cannes was right there with a sign and he was a riot. He ended up taking us to Nice too and found us a great restaurant with local food. He gave me his card so that in future, we could just hire him directly. He did have a wheel chair van but the ties didn't work right for W. and we found that putting Wes in the front seat, helped him to see better anyway. The second Sage tour was in Marseilles and for some reason, the guide was not standing out with the sign where the rest of the people were but we found her eventually and she was a good guide. The third in Barcelona which was a 4 hour walking tour, I was the least impressed with. Our instructions were to go to a hotel and stand outside where the person would be with a banner with our name on it. After a half hour of waiting, we e-mailed our contact to find that he was sitting in the hotel waiting for us. He was an okay guide but he repeated himself a lot and didn't seem as into it as the other guides. I think because, Sage contracts out from the U.S. , they maybe don't have quite as good control over quality as Bob does, but Bob isn't really an accessible company,
The ship was interesting, it was definitely a good way to get around and the accessible room was really nice. .... It was also really loud in all the public areas and we just wanted quiet mainly. I guess we were not ready for the casinos and all that stuff. The food wasn't very good in the separate free restaurants but once we figured out the main dining rooms, and especially the more formal one, the food was much better in it. I don't know if all cruise ships are like this or if "freestyle" is different, but we would probably want to try one that isn't quite as 'party" boat the next time. It was definitely a good way to get from place to place though and we would never have seen as much with W. without cruising. ........We wanted to spend as much time in each place anyway, so we really were just on the ship for breakfast and then dinner and we were in bed early because we had to get up early to make the most out of our tours.
The flights were excellent, all on time, very accommodating with letting us take W's chair right up to the plane and then bringing it back again. Even the layover in Frankfurt was really smooth.
Oh, and the hotel in Rome was beautiful. I could of stayed there for a long time :) Although, the "accessible room", was not very good at all in the bathroom. I know it wasn't an accessible shower , but the toilet was raised on a pedestal, so it was really hard to help W and the sink was so tall it was almost too tall for us. Interesting Italian design but not good for accessibility. It was still worth it though for one night because the hotel and the grounds were gorgeous.
So all in all, very smooth and we had a fabulous time. Thanks for all your help Lola and hopefully we will be in touch again in the near future. JM - May 2016
Park Royal Cozumel
It is nice to hear from you. We had a wonderful vacation. West Jet did a great job with regards to the flight and the transfers. We really enjoyed the direct flights.
The resort far exceeded our expectations. It was amazing! And, truly all-inclusive - we did not have to spend anything if we did not want to - we are generous tippers for good service so that ended up being our only expense. The staff were wonderful and always attentive to our needs/requests. They even had maintenance staff come and help me tighten a loose screw on my scooter - they came 10 minutes after we asked.
The a la carte restaurants served delicious food and we could have as many a la carte dinners as we wanted. The buffet was also quite good with a lot of variety and the food was always fresh. In fact, the food at the resort was better than our last cruise which I could not believe. They even had a kind of "starbucks" with great coffee, lattes, ice cream etc - also included.
Accessibility was better than expected and the staff made every effort to address the few barriers we encountered and they did so without us having to ask in most cases e.g. I had to go in the back entrance to the a la carte but it was totally fine. Everyone was so so friendly. The room was perfect - spacious with a walk in shower. It was on the ground floor which I do not usually like but they have so much greenery it was like sitting in a lovely backyard when we were on our balcony. It also avoided the elevators which was handy. Thanks for all of your work to secure the room. It turns out there are only 2 rooms with the walk-in shower so we were relieved to be placed in one of them. The resort is not too big and is designed in a relatively compact manner so nothing was far away which was nice too.
The only accessibility challenge was with the pathways. They were ramped appropriately and were wide which is great. However, the paths are made from a rustic kind of stone and are very very uneven/bumpy with the scooter (hence the loose screw!). It seems to be a concern for all guests - many people commented that the paths are a little hard to walk on. While it was a bit of a challenge, I was fine and it would not deter me from going back.
It was also nice to be right on the Gulf of Mexico. The weather was perfect. We were really close to the port and when we were at the beach we could see the ships whenever they were in port.
We went to play del carmen (mainland) for a few hours one day - did not really enjoy it as it was very busy. We are definitely island people! You definitely notice the slower pace when you return to the island.
While we definitely cruise again, the resort was a nice change of pace and fit our budget for this trip very well.
I would like to thank you once again for all your hard work in putting this trip together for us. I look forward to working with you again in the future.
Best wishes, KA - May 2016
Missed Vacation This Year
My family and I are doing well. My son had a viral infection in August and with him, it took a while to get back to normal. So my husband and I decided we are not going on a vacation this year. You know we love the cruises!!!! I missed it this year but we were scared to go away with him in October since he was just sick in August. So I don't know what the doctors would say for next year. We're keeping our hopes up!! Thank you so much for the beautiful Christmas card!!! That's so great!!My family and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!! - GA - Feb - 2016
Accessible Caribbean Cruise
Thanks so much for your email. It is great to hear from you. We had a wonderful trip with lots of relaxing so our goal was accomplished. The cruise went well although we did have a bit of an issue with an excursion we had booked through RCCL's accessible excursion office. We booked a catamaran excursion in St. Lucia and their office informed me (after much back and forth) that there would be somewhere to leave my scooter at the dock while we were on the catamaran. When we arrived on board, the excursions desk informed us that this was not the case and there would be no where to secure the scooter which was most definitely true as it turned out. The catamaran picked us up at the end of the pier where the ship docked. I was having a good week with respect to my walking and we decided to proceed with the excursion so I walked off the ship.
It was an amazing excursion that went along the coast to the Pitons and it stopped for us to get a swim in the sea which was lovely. The tour operators were fantastic. I am so glad we did not miss it. While it was definitely an error on the part of the accessibility office, the excursion desk staff person on board was wonderful. She offered to try to find another
excursion and said that if I was unable to walk off on the day of the excursion, they would provide a refund. The staff also followed up to ask how the day went which was much appreciated. This is the second time something like this has happened to us with RCCL and interestingly, it happened in St. Lucia last time. It seems like the main office does not have a good sense of the capacity of the tour operators or the ports.
Other than that there were no other major concerns. Our cabin was great and the food as well as the service was very good. It would have been nice to have better shows but I have a feeling that is something only offered now on RCCL's bigger ships. We loved the ports (even though some were repeats). The only exception was Grenada. RCCL really only had eco tours or long tours if I recall and we opted not to do an excursion. It turns out the port area was not so nice and the locals were rather aggressive trying to sell their taxi services (even though the scooter would obviously not fit). However, we spent most of the day on the ship which was quiet so it was no problem whatsoever.
I have a feeling we will be ready to try another cruise line next time and will focus more on the itinerary. We have dreams to do Alaska and South America down the road although we are not ready to book right now - unfortunately. Scotland is also still a possibility. There is a cruise through RCCL from Argentina that goes around the Horn that looks amazing. We will be keeping our eye on that one for the future :)
Thanks so very much for your help. We will certainly keep you in mind for future vacations. It is my hope we can work together again sooner than later! KA and DA Dec 2015
Accessible Mediterranean Cruise
Lola Stoker was extremely knowledgeable, understanding, kind and patient when booking our cruise vacations. She understood our needs as we have a child who is physically challenged and uses a wheelchair. She booked our entire trip on both vacations from air fares with accessible seating, wheelchair accessible ground transfers to and from airport, clean, accessible hotels and accessible stateroom on the cruise lines. Lola Stoker was extremely knowledgeable, courteous, kind and patient when answering our questions and booking accommodations for my son's special needs. I would highly recommend Lola Stoker when booking your vacations!!. - Jan - July 2015
Accessible Baltic Sea Cruise
Accessible Disney Cruise
"My family and I are very pleased to have had Cruise Holidays | Luxury Travel Boutique book our cruise vacation. Our son is physically challenged and uses a power wheelchair. Cruise Holidays booked, organized and coordinated our entire trip including an accessible stateroom, accessible hotel rooms, accessible transfers and air."
"Cruise Holidays made all the arrangements necessary with the airline for my son to take the equipment he needed onboard the flight. They also made all arrangements for special rental equipment to be delivered to and picked up directly from the ship."
"Thank you, Cruise Holidays for making our trip enjoyable and exciting!!"
"We would definitely recommend Cruise Holidays for all your travel needs"
Jean D. Dec. 2013
Our Mission Statement
Cruise Holidays | Luxury Travel Boutique' Accessible Vacation Specialists are committed to helping persons with disabilities find vacations that are accessible to each individual. We are certified by Special Needs at Sea and the Special Needs Group and support a number of community associations and charities the help children and other persons with disabilities. Please view our Community Involvement page for updates on our activities in support of persons with disabilities.
Cruise ships have been at the forefront of accessible travel for many decades and continue to adopt accessibility features to make travel easier for persons with disabilities. As parents of a daughter with a physical disabilitiy, the owners of Cruise Holidays | Luxury Travel Boutique are keenly aware of the travel needs of people with disabilities and are constantly researching cruise holidays with accessibility in mind. As a result, Cruise Holidays | Luxury Travel Boutique is uniquely positioned to advise people with physical disabilities about cruise vacations that best fit their specific needs.
Cruise Holidays | Luxury Travel Boutique' Accessible Vacation Specialists have the expertise and perspective to make sure that a cruise vacation for a person with a disability is enjoyable and that the accessibility has been carefully considered in the planning process. We are commited to providing the same level of personal service and value to all our clients.
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