She Inspired All Of Us, Mobility Impaired But No Holds Barred: Antarctica Explored, A Photo A Day

Wheelchair Antarctica
No Limits! Bound to a wheelchair, a guest from Germany shows her delight as she prepares to tour glaciers by Zodiac. There are actually two wheelchair guests in the Zodiac, and while neither were able to participate in landings (stepping ashore in Antarctica) both were able to observe the beauty of Antarctica up close in Zodiacs. © 2014 Avid Travel Media Inc.

I received an email from a reader the other day. She writes:

Ralph, I travel to the Magical White Wonderland vicariously with you in every posting, as I am longing to go. I have held off this long as I am not sure whether it would be worth my while as I am almost chained to a walker. I did, however, see a photo on one of your voyages where someone in a wheelchair was ecstatic that they had been transported somehow onto a Zodiac and taken to the shore. In your opinion, is an Antarctica cruise still worthwhile for someone such as myself? And if so, is there a cruise line/ship you would particularly recommend? I am not in a wheelchair (yet!) and can navigate short distances with a cane, but for anything else I really need my walker. Your thoughts please? Thank you, Catherine

I wrote to Catherine that I would absolutely consider the trip if I were her. Yes, the lady in the wheelchair (there were two people in wheelchairs, by the way) was ecstatic. The photos barely reflect her true enthusiasm for the whole trip. Incidentally, I learned that she was a star athlete when she was young, and a botched surgery put her in the wheelchair for life.

I have never met a more positive person, so the first thing that she took with her to Antarctica was a positive attitude that impressed all of us who met her. If you go with a positive attitude and your cane and walker, and you go with a cruise line that will take care of you, such as Seabourn, I think you would really enjoy the trip.

If you did nothing more than to observe Antarctica from the ship, you would likely come away having had a satisfying experience. Now, here is a big caveat. The wheelchairs did not go ashore. It’s too difficult to “land” on the beaches for wheelchairs. The two women did Zodiac cruises along the shorelines, past glaciers and wildlife along the shoreline. And on most days, the sea was too choppy – not bad choppy – but too choppy to safely get them into the Zodiacs. Even with a cane, I think going ashore may be difficult for you with limited mobility.

There are cruise lines that offer “drive-by” cruises and if you’re not doing “landings” they may suited for you as well. The best advice I can give is talk with a good travel agent who can explore the options with you.

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