disability cruising, Handicap, Traveling with disabilities

A Disabled Cruiser on Princess Cruise Line’s Adriatic & Aegean Cruise

In May 2019, my wife and I boarded the Emerald Princess for a two week journey through the Adriatic and Aegean. The ship was boarded in Rome to visit Italy, Greece and Montenegro, with ports of call in Salerno, Kotor, Corfu, Crete, Mykonos, Athens, Santorini, Sicily and disembarking in Barcelona, Spain.

The Emerald Princess, like all the Princess Cruise ships, are extremely “accessible” and have been for years, so accessibility will not be discussed here. We will instead focus on accessibility in the ports visited.

While the cruise line itself did not offer accessible shore excursions at any of the ports, you are able to arrange accessible tours through private companies on the cruise itinerary. However, due to the cost of the private tours (about $750 per port) and with the assistance of my wife I am able to transfer out of my wheelchair and board a motorcoach, we decided to do some of the cruise line shore excursions. The transfers were not always easy as some of the motorcoaches had very steep steps, so it was slow going at times.

Our trip started out with a flight into Rome two days prior to the cruise to enable us to tour the city before the start of the cruise. For those Americans embarking on a Mediterranean cruise, it is highly recommend to fly to the port of embarkation at least a day early in order to compensate for flight delays, sleep off the jet lag and get used to the time change before the start of your cruise. Most flights from North America to Europe are overnight flights arriving in Europe in the morning, and it can be a very tiring day if you go straight to the ship from the airport.

Rome, Italy – When booking our cruise we wanted to spend 2 days in Rome prior to departure to see the highlights of the city. When booking with Princess Cruise lines they offered two hotels in Rome that they partnered with. One was in the City Center (which was full) and the Hilton Garden Inn Rome Claridge which was in a residential area outside of the city center. One of the benefits of booking a hotel through the cruise line is they arranged private transfer from the airport to the hotel on arrival and transfer for all cruise passengers at the hotel to the ship on embarkation day. Another benefit was a Princess Representative was in the hotel a couple of hours every day to assist with tours or other questions you may have. The hotel was nice and very handicapped accessible. The lifts were very small, as is normal in Europe, with room for the wheelchair only and not any other passengers. The hotel restaurant offered free breakfast, but didn’t open for dinner until 6:30, there was a great sidewalk café outside of the hotel that satisfied our appetite for good Italian food. We also explored a grocery store near the hotel where you took an elevator from street level down to the shopping area.

Since we had been to Rome before, we wanted to visit several places without spending a lot of time at any one location. We decided to take a private tour of Rome by golf cart. It was great. The guide was fantastic, asking us where we wanted to go and suggesting a few of her favorite places that we had not heard of. With the golf cart we were able to pull right up to the various locations to minimize the walking/rolling, we went on the smallest streets and back areas to avoid traffic and save time. The one thing I will say about the ride is that the cobblestone roads did produce a rough ride at times and was hard on the back.

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Golf Cart and our Tour Guide

Of all the places we visited on our golf cart tour all were easily accessible, with most of the building having a ramp to assist in entering, however it should be noted that visiting the Trevi Fountain is difficult for those in wheelchairs due to the amount of tourist crowded around the fountain. One church that was our guide’s favorite, that we had not heard of, was Chiesa di Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola. If you can only go to one church in Rome, this is the one. Prepare yourself to be amazed by the artwork. Your eyes and mind would be trick on a whole new level.

It should be noted, that wheelchair users who plan to tour Rome by wheelchair will find Rome is full of cobblestone streets. There are very few paved streets, and those streets were typically the heavily trafficked streets. So, wheeling around Rome by wheelchair can be a bumpy ride. The cobblestones are generally not so rough that they can’t be navigated by wheelchairs, but it is a very bumpy ride and those who have a real problem with wheeling on cobblestone will want to consider booking transfers with accessible vehicles rather than trying to wheel it on their own.

At the end of our golf cart tour our guide was kind enough to drop us off just outside the Vatican to visit St. Peter’s Square and St. Peter’s Basilica. To enter the Basilica, there is an elevator on the right side that took us up to the main entrance. There were a few main doors leading into the Basilica, one of which was ramped for wheelchair access. After spending some time inside of the Basilica, we went back outside towards the elevator and saw the Vatican gift shop. It was so crowded in the small shop a person could hardly walk, let alone get a wheelchair in the store, so we went to the attendant and informed him we were ready and he rode us down the elevator.

One thing about the Vatican and the surrounding area outside of the Vatican, the cobblestone is hard to walk on; there are no benches to rest on; and it is hard to find a handicap restroom. The stores all had one to three steps to enter and once inside not very accessible.

The next morning, we had to place our luggage outside our room by 9 am and it was loaded onto our transfer by the Princess Representative, we checked out of our hotel and were on our way by 10:00 for the ride to the port. It was about a 1-hour drive from our hotel to the port of Civitavecchia. Upon arrival, the process to board the Emerald Princess was smooth and swift.

 
Day 1 – Salerno, Italy – From Salerno you can visit: Pompeii – visit the ruins of a once thriving city that was completely buried by the Mt. Vesuvius eruption in 79 A.D.; Sorrento – picturesque town that sits on the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naples with stunning views and seafood delicacies; Capri – the gorgeous island destination off the Sorrento Peninsula that has been the getaway for the rich and famous since Roman times; Amalfi Coast – offers miles of beautiful scenery and dramatic cliffs that meet the sea; Positano – pastel houses tumble down the cliffs to a beach dotted with fishing boasts; Herculaneum – discovered in 1709, it was buried under mud in the 79 A.D. eruption. Excavation has revealed a well-preserved Roman city; Mt. Vesuvius – This volcano destroyed the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Now formant, it has many walking trails and a summit open to visitors.

Cruise ships dock at the Port of Salerno, where it is a 15 minute shuttle ride into the center of town. Since it is an active industrial port, walking is not permitted inside the port area and a free shuttle takes you away from the port. The disabled cruiser that hires accessible transportation will be picked up at port side, all other private transportation is located out of the port area.

We wanted to be able to see the landscape and enjoy the beauty of the Amalfi Coast so we booked the Amalfi Coast Cruise to view it from the water. It wasn’t as good as we expected because it rained on the trip to and from Amalfi Village (where we spent 1.5 hours of free time). The boat was crowded and unable to get close to a window to see the coast, but worse of all the boat was not handicapped accessible.  A steep, narrow ramp was used to board the boat (wheelchair would not fit had to walk) and the boat workers would not assist. Amalfi Village is a lovely little town, but very crowded and the Amalfi Cathedral is exquisite (at least from the outside as there are 62 steps leading to the entrance, so we didn’t go inside). The town itself has cobblestone streets that makes it tough to walk/roll on. The streets are narrow and sloping, it feels like you are always going uphill.   When you meet a car on the narrow streets, you have to hug the sides or risk being run over. Shops all have a step or two to get into them, most shop doors are too narrow for wheelchair. Would definitely visit Amalfi Village again, but not the Amalfi Coast Cruise excursion.

Day 2 – at sea

Day 3 – Kotor, Montenegro – Kotor is a tender port. People in wheelchairs or motorized scooters were not allowed to go ashore. You needed to be able to transfer from the ship to the tender on your own. To board the tender, the passenger elevator stopped one deck above the opening in the ship where they were loading people onto the tenders. Everyone actually had to walk down several steps to get to the opening in the, but one of the crew members directed me over to a small service elevator which took me down several feet to the bottom of the steps. Ship tenders and private boats were used to transfer us to the shore. To enter the private boats you had to descend 2 steps and they did not have a handrail to assist with getting in and out of boat which made it difficult, but the crew was there to help.

Kotor is a triangular fortress-port nestled between the Montenegrin Mountains and a beautiful inlet of the Adriatic. The top points of interest in Kotor include: St Tryphon Cathedral – completed in 1166, it boast fascinating Romanesque and Byzantine architecture; Budva – 2,500 years old it is one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast; Njegusi – situated high in the mountains and offering panoramic vistas of the coastline; Perast & Our Lady of the Rocks – due to its busy shipyard, Perast flourished in the 1700’s. Our Lady of the Rocks Island is home to the charming ‘Gospa od Skrpjela’ church.

Since we wanted to see Budva and some of the scenery of Montenegro, we took the Kotor, St Tryphon Cathedral, Budva & Scenic Drive excursion. We boarded the motorcoach on the docks and enjoyed the mountainous and forested scenery during the 30 minute ride to Budva. What they don’t tell you about excursions to Budva is that it about a mile from the spot that the motorcoach drops you off to the historic center of Budva. The tour guide was really pushing us along and didn’t have a concern about us stragglers, so it was a job to keep up. The medieval town of Budva was quite exquisite with its narrow streets, Balkan architecture and the view of the Adriatic Sea coast. The streets are your typical cobblestone, so you’re in for a bumpy ride, the shops are small usually with one step up and the doors are narrow so those confined to a wheelchair may have difficulty entering some shops. We decided to leave the tour group early so we could take our time on our own back to the motorcoach, luckily we remembered all the correct turns to make on the way back to the motorcoach.

Travelling back to Kotor we were stuck in a traffic jam for about 45 minutes to get back to the port to begin our tour of Kotor. You will need to keep this in mind for any travelling out of the city, as traffic and tourist brings movement in and around town to a crawl. When we returned to the port our tour guide was off into the historic town before everyone was even off the motorcoach. Instead of being rushed along we decided to tour on our own and save the visits to the cathedral when we visited the port later in the cruise. City streets were composed of large smooth cobblestone which was not difficult to walk/roll on.   Shops in Kotor had a step up to get into with very narrow doorways. Very crowded in town and people seemed willing to walk over you, than go around you. Public bathrooms are not handicapped accessible and you needed to go down stairs to use them. They charged 50 cents for access to the bathrooms (they had a guard there watching to make sure you put the money in the box).

Day 4 – Corfu, Greece – Corfu is the second largest of the Ionian Islands and lies at the entrance of the Adriatic Sea. According to archaeological findings the island has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Era (70,000 BC). The top points of interest in Corfu include: Corfu Town/Old Fortress – a maze of cobblestone streets full of old taverns, cafes and shops, with a 15th century fortress as the backdrop; St Spyridon Church – 16th century church with prominent bell tower and jewel-adorned silver sarcophagus; Paleokastrista View Point – Olive, lemon and cypress groves line the small coves nestled in the rugged coastline of this small seaside village; Monastery of Virgin Mary – located above Paleokastritsa is this ancient cloister; Achilleion Palace – neo-classical palace built as a summer retreat for Empress Elizabeth of Austria.

In Corfu we were on the Paleokastritsa, Monastery & Corfu Town excursion. The first scheduled stop was to be a 40-minute drive to the Monastery of the Virgin Mary, however we went straight to the seaside village of Paleokastritsa because the road to the Monastery was not passable by larger vehicles due to a landslide the year before and has not been rebuilt. The village of Paleokastritsa is a quaint seaside village with a couple of shops and restaurants, but not much else. The only other activity were small boats that were offering tours of the water caves in the area.

From there we drove into Corfu Town and stopped across from the Old Fortress. Traffic can be quite busy with lots of tour motorcoaches trying to get into Corfu Town. The sidewalks are very narrow, only one person can pass at a time from the tour motorcoach going to the old fort. We then walked/rolled to tour Old Corfu Town where we strolled the smooth and flat Esplanade (planted with palms and eucalyptus by the French) which is loaded with coffee shops. We then visited St Spyridon church (the final resting place of the patron saint of the island) which is three steps up from the roadside.

Old Corfu Town is a perfect town to visit. The walkways are flat, smooth cobblestone with minimal steps. Most shops do not have a step to get into however the doorways are quite narrow. However, some pedestrian streets are narrow and crowded. The town has lots of souvenir and coffee shops. Definitely a place I would visit again.

Day 5 – Crete (Chania), Greece – Chania lies along the northwestern coast of Crete. Inhabited since the Neolithic Era, Chania is the site of a Minoan settlement the Greeks called Kydonia. The first major wave of settlers from mainland Greece arrived around 1100 BC. The top points of interest in Chania include: Knossos Palace – Dating back 7,000 years, Knossos was the mythological home of King Minos; Heraklion Archaeological Museum – One of Greece’s largest and most important museums displays jewelry, mosaics, pottery, tools, weapons and other artifacts covering over 5,500 years of island history; Akrotiri Hill (Eleftherios Venizelos Tomb) – Looking over Chania lays the tomb of Eleftherios Venizelos. Panoramic views from the hilltop include the town of Chania, the coast and the White Mountains; Chania Old Town – This former Minoan city flourished under the Venetians and its Old Town reflects its success and glamour in the form of superbly restored buildings; Monastery of Arkadi – Surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and pine, oak and Cyprus forests, the 16th century monastery is known for its active and tragic role in Crete’s independence in the 19th century.

In Chania we were on the Akrotiri & Chania excursion. Our first stop was at the British War Cemetery in Souda Bay, this peaceful spot is the final resting place of 1,527 British Commonwealth war casualties who lost their lives during the Battle of Crete in May 1941. The cemetery is handicapped accessible with ramps and smooth sidewalks. The parking lot is very small and crammed with tour motorcoaches, almost impossible for a personal vehicle to get in and out without a long delay behind the motorcoaches. We next traveled to Akrotiri to visit the Tomb of Eleftherios Venizelos perched on a hilltop with panoramic views of the area including the old town area of Chania. The excursion itinerary indicated that the tomb area was wheelchair accessible, but it was not. The sidewalks were rough cobblestone that turned into gravel walkways. There were no ramps for access to the tomb area, you were required to climb about 20 steps. However, the lower area did provide great panoramic views of the old town and old harbor of Chania.

Our next stop was the Old Town and old harbor of Chania. The tour started at The Old Chania Market. The entrances to the market are not handicapped accessible. We entered at the front of the market which had 3 steps to climb. The market is like your typical farmers market with numerous booths selling everything from clothing to fruits and vegetables to souvenirs. We walked thru the market and the back had 15 steps to descend to the street below. There is no wheelchair ramp so individuals with mobility issues were required to walk/roll down the street on the side of the market to meet up behind the market. The walkway and roads were smooth cobblestone and easy to traverse. While visiting the city we toured the Presentation of the Virgin Mary Holy Metropolitan Orthodox Church, which had a wheelchair ramp for handicapped accessibility. We then proceeded to the ancient Venetian port through meandering streets filled with cafes, shops and museums. The shops had narrow entrance and few with 1 or 2 steps at the entrance. The people are very friendly and wanted to help. Old Chania Harbor was beautiful and the imposing lighthouse was spectacular. Would love to visit again and spend more time walking/rolling through this fascinating town with its rich heritage from the Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman empires.

Day 6 – Mykonos, Greece – Mykonos belongs to the island group known as Cyclades. The island spans 33 square miles and is composed primarily of granite. Rainfall is infrequent and locals enjoy almost 300 days of sun each year. The top points of interest in Mykonos include: Town of Mykonos – Charming, whitewashed homes and blue-domed churches are built into the hillside, and narrow, winding streets reveal shops and taverns at every turn; Little Venice & Windmills – these houses are built along the shoreline and offer a sweeping view of the Aegean Sea. The island’s famous windmills occupy the high ground; Delos Archaeological Site – Delos, the birthplace of Artemis and Apollo, is one of the main archaeological sites in Greece. These sacred grounds reveal temples and sanctuaries within their marble ruins; Aegean Maritime Museum – collection of Greek nautical artifacts celebrates the history and legacy of merchant ships that sailed the Aegean Sea.

The cruise ship docked at Tourlos Pier and a shuttle motorcoach is available to transport you to downtown or for a small fee you can take the water bus to the old port where all the activity is. Where the shuttle bus drops you off to the middle of town is a 20 to 30 min walk/roll depending on crowds. It is better to take the water bus from the cruise ship as it docks at the waterfront right in the middle of town where all the activity is. The water bus is handicapped accessible. The Town of Mykonos Waterfront is flat with moderate cobblestone and shops are level with the street. As you go into the city the streets are narrow with large smooth cobblestone and have an ever increasing incline. There are steps going into the shops and the doorways are small. The path from town to the Windmills is smooth, but the last 500 feet is quite steep to the windmills.

In Mykonos we were on the Mykonos Town & Island Drive excursion. Our first stop was Mykonos Town for a guided walking/rolling tour through the maze of tiny streets, white houses and red-roofed churches and despite the many shops, the town has not lost its charm and kept its Cycladic architectural style. The tour of the city ended up at the Windmills and a great view of Little Venice. From there we drove to the village of Ano Mera in the center of the island to visit the Panagia Tourliani Monastery built in 1542 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. While the monastery is impressive, it is not handicapped accessible. The path from the parking lot to the monastery was steep, with steps. To get onto the property you had to go through a narrow metal door that was 12 inches off the ground on both sides of the door and immediately descend 8 steps into the court yard. To gain access into the monastery you had to climb and additional 3 steps.

We then drove down to Kalafatis Beach for a short stroll along the beach and enjoy the deep blue Agean Sea. The beach did not have handicapped accessibility into the water, however we did pass a beach going into Mykonos Town that did have handicapped accessibility into the water. We then returned to town for a wonderful Greek lunch at Kazarma Restaurant and dessert at DaVinci Gelato on the waterfront.

Mykonos Town is a beautiful town, however the island has changed a lot since we visited there 10 years ago. The island has lots of new buildings and we were encountering traffic jams that were not present in past. Even with the growth, it is still one of my favorite places to visit.

Day 7 – Athens, Greece – Athens is located in the southern portion of the Greek peninsula Attica. In 1400 BC, Athens became a Mycenaean city, evolving into a religious center dedicated to the goddess Athena. In 1834, after the Greek War of Independence, Athens became the capital of Greece. The top points of interest in Athens include: Acropolis – the Acropolis dominates the Athenian landscape with such glorious monuments as the Parthenon and the Erechtheum; The Plaka – under the slopes of the Acropolis, Athens’ oldest district features wonderful boutiques, cafes and taverns; Temple of Olympian Zeus – 700 years in the making, 15 of its majestic Corinthian columns still stand, dominating the center of Athens; Athens Museums – world class collections can be seen at the Museum of the City of Athens, the Byzantine & Christian Museum, and the National Archaeological, Benaki and Acropolis Museums.

I visited Athens about twelve years ago when I was still able to move relative well and climbed the steps at the Acropolis and walked around the Parthenon very cautiously. Knowing I would not be able to ascend to the top of the Acropolis easily and would be unable to move around the top, we were on the Easy Athens City Drive & Old Olympic Stadium excursion. This excursion has space set aside using lift-equipped vehicles for wheelchair-confined passengers. Our first stop was a parking area at the edge of the Plaka. From there you could climb four sets of stairs that had four steps each to a park that gave you a good view of the Acropolis and the Parthenon on top. About a quarter mile from the parking area was a side road to walk/roll to the park without stairs, however, the road was very steep. From there we drove by the Temple of Zeus to the Royal Olympic Hotel for roof top coffee and snacks. The roof top gave you great views of the Acropolis and the Temple of Zeus. The hotel was very nice with a lift to the roof top coffee shop and a ramp from the sidewalk to the hotel entrance.

After leaving the hotel, we toured the city of Athens by motorcoach and stopped at the Old Olympic Stadium which was the site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. Then back to the port. The port is handicapped accessible and had limited shopping before going back aboard the ship.

Athens is very crowded with tour motorcoaches and from what I saw of the city, handicapped accessibility is not a high priority around town. However, the major tourist attractions and museums are handicapped accessible.

 

Day 8 – Santorini, Greece – Santorini is a tender port. People in wheelchairs or motorized scooters were not allowed to go ashore. You needed to be able to transfer from the ship to the tender on your own. To board the tender, the passenger elevator stopped one deck above the opening in the ship where they were loading people onto the tenders. Everyone actually had to walk down several steps to get to the opening in the, but one of the crew members directed me over to a small service elevator which took me down several feet to the bottom of the steps. Private boats were used to transfer us to the shore. To enter the private boats you had to descend 2 steps and they did not have a handrail to assist with getting in and out of boat which made it difficult. Since we were on a motorcoach excursion, we tendered into the old port of Athinios, Santorini. Getting off the boat in Athinios was an adventure to say the least. The dock was about 30” higher than the boat and with no stairs, it took 4 boat workers to lift me from the boat to the dock. Getting back on the boat after the excursion was just as exciting, and required as many workers. Those not on a motorcoach excursion docked at the newer Santorini harbor.

Santorini is located in the Aegean Sea approximately 120 miles from the mainland of Greece, Santorini was formed from an intense volcanic eruption over 3,000 years ago. The top points of interest in Santorini include: Fira – perched on the edge of a dramatic cliff, the island’s capital boast a stunning combination of Cycladic and Venetian architecture, outstanding views of the submerged volcano and an aerial cable car transportation system; Black Sand Beach (Kamari) – this seaside village is famous for its expansive and dramatic black sand beach; Oia – this charming Greek village, known for its picturesque architecture, cobblestone lanes, pristine whitewashed buildings and welcoming cages, shops and blue-domed churches; The Mountain of Prophet Elijah – the island’s highest point towers 2,000 feet above the sea and offers panoramic views of Santorini.

In Santorini we were on the Easy Island Drive excursion. Our first stop was a photo stop of the awesome Santorini caldera that was formed by the volcanic explosion in the Aegean Sea. We then headed to a winery for wine tasting, refreshments and beautiful views of the Aegean Sea. The area was handicapped accessible but it was a steep slope from the winery to the motorcoach parking lot. We then proceeded to Mt. Prophet Elijah, 2,000 feet above sea level. Since it was Sunday the monastery was not open to visitors, but the panoramic views from the top was incredible. The parking area at the top of the mountain is not handicapped accessible and was a one lane road loaded with motorcoaches trying to maneuver up and down the mountain so you had to use extreme caution while moving.

From the top of the island, we proceeded down to the coast to Kamari Village and the black sand beaches of Santorini. The parking area and along the road was mostly small pebbles to walk/roll on. The sidewalks were not much better. The area was not handicapped accessible and it seemed you were always walking up hill. Beautiful place to visit with great views everywhere you turn. Most of the island built up around 1970’s and 80’s when tourist started coming to the island. There is no business other than tourism on the island. Prior to tourist only had about 700 people living on the island.

Day 9 – at sea

Day 10 – Kotor, Montenegro – Second stop at Kotor. Tender port, transfer from ship to shore was the same as day 3 of cruise. Right outside of the gates of the port you are bombarded with people trying to get you into a taxi or shore excursions. Some are very persistent and follow you down the street. After our experience with the tour guide last time in Kotor we toured the city on our own.

We visited the St Tryphon Cathedral built in 1166. The cathedral is not handicapped accessible and there are four steps to climb to enter.  The inside is exquisite and there is a museum on the second floor, you must climb stairs to reach the second floor. We next visited the Church of the Holy Spirit – quaint little church in the center of town. One step up to enter the church. Also visited St. Nicholas Church which required three steps to enter. It is an amazing historic Orthodox church with art and icons that are truly wonderful.

The Kotor Maritime Museum is a comprehensive three-story museum that has a fine collection of naval artifacts, weaponry and ship models chronicling Koror’s glory days as one of the Adriatic’s major naval forces. While the museum is impressive, unfortunately it is not handicapped accessible and you must able to ascend two flights of stairs. Before leaving town we had a wonderful lunch at Pub As, part of the Cattaro Hotel complex.

Day 11 – Sicily (Messina), Italy – Messina is the third largest city in Sicily, and rest at the tip of the boot of Italy, separated from the mainland by three miles across the Strait of Messina. Originally called Zancle, the seaside harbor was colonized in the 8th century, B.C. The top points of interest in Messina include: Mt. Etna – Europe’s tallest and most active volcano has erupted over 130 time in recorded history; Taormina – this has been a coastal resort town since Roman times. You’ll find remnants of its Greek and Roman history, a fine medieval quarter and castle ruins, and many modern shops and restaurants; Messina/Duomo – Marvel at this 12th century cathedral, originally built in Norman times. Then see the world’s largest astronomical clock that springs to life every quarter hour and a grand display at noon.

In Messina we were on the Messina Easy Drive excursion. Our first stop was a photo at Skyline Christ the King cutout, which was across from the Temple Christ the King, that gave you a nice panoramic view of the city. The area was not handicapped accessible as you were required to step up over the curb and cross a small decorative chain fence. After driving around the highlights of the city, we stopped at the Duomo di Messina. A Catholic cathedral with a mechanical clock featuring the noontime movement of bronze statues. It is a beautiful church with attached square, fountain and astronomical clock. Inside the church are various statues depicting Saints and Apostles. The ceilings and roof beams are all decorated beautifully. The astronomical clock is also a very interesting site. Amazing mechanical clock tower that moves every 15 minutes and especially at 12pm. Take a tour of the cathedral’s treasures; they have some magnificent pieces in their collection. The museum is accessed through the gift shop. You have to ascend three steps to enter the cathedral, and descend two steps to enter the gift shop and museum. The museum has a second floor, an elevator is available for handicapped individuals. The square around the cathedral has street vendors and a few shops around the square. The square and road was rough cobblestone and shops required a step up to enter.

After boarding the motorcoach, we viewed the Statue of Neptune, the 16th century statue that depicts the Roman God of the Sea. Then motored along the northern coast to reach Cape Peloro and local fishing villages for photo opportunities before heading back to the harbor. The harbor was very handicapped accessible and Messina is definitely a city I would visit again.

Day 12 – Salerno, Italy – Second stop at Salerno. For port information see day 1 of cruise. From Salerno we traveled 1 and ½ hours by motorcoach to Sorrento to explore on our own. Sorrento is a coastal town in southwestern Italy, facing the Bay of Naples on the Sorrentine Peninsula. Perched atop cliffs that separate the town from its busy marinas, it’s known for sweeping water views and Piazza Tasso, a cafe-lined square. 

The town of Sorrento is hilly and other than the main pedestrian thoroughfare, Corso Italia, which is wide, level, with smooth flat cobblestone, the roads and walkways are narrow, have rough cobblestone, hilly and is very crowded with pedestrians. The disabled cruiser in a wheelchair would have a hard time negotiating the crowd on the side streets. Stores normally had one step to get into them with small pathways in the store that did not allow for wheelchair access.

While walking/rolling through town we visited the Sorrento Cathedral, a Baroque Roman Catholic church with an ornate interior, frescoes & a statue of Pope John Paul II, also has Mother Teresa exhibition. We finished off our day in Sorrento with lunch at Monnalisa Restaurant with excellent food and great service.

Day 13 – at sea 

Day 14 – Barcelona, Spain – day of disembarkation. The port of Barcelona is handicapped accessible and did not encounter any problems from leaving the ship to boarding the plane back to the United States. Only thing I will say about the Barcelona Airport is the terminal for international flights does not have any restaurants or fast food outlets, so make sure you eat before going through security, otherwise you have to rely on airplane food.

Disability-Cruising.com

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