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Melanie Tangelder

Age: 51

Occupation:RN

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Golden Princess

Sailing Date: January 2nd, 2005

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

This was our first cruise on Princess. Our experience was not very favorable. We had booked three cabins, one was handicapped for our 23 y/o daughter who is paraplegic. Four days before we sailed, we received a call from Princess to upgrade to a suite, eliminating the handicapped room and our cabin. I asked if the room was accessible and was told it was, except the doorway to the bathroom was narrow. We accepted the upgrade. We were suppose to have privileged embarkation with the handicapped situation as well as the suite amenities. When we arrived we were told to wait in line with everyone else. A staff member then ushered us ahead but said that only one person could accompany our daughter, the rest of our party had to remain in line. This is not really a service because whoever went ahead would still have to wait for the rest of their party. We saw at least seven wheelchairs who waited in line because of this policy. Princess did not have ramps available. My son and husband had to carry our daughter up the stairs. Carrying heavy wheelchairs up stairs is an invitation to an accident. We saw one lady get out of her chair and walk up the stairs with great difficulty as she could only lift her feet about two or three inches. Later, there were ramps or the stairs were minimized, so I’m not sure what the problem was.

Our suite was inaccessible. The door to the cabin was too narrow for her chair. We had to carry her into the room, fold her chair and then have her transfer back to the chair. The bathroom had a 4-5 inch step up and there was an additional door between the vanity and shower area. The purser had no options for us as the sailing was full. Finally we had to insist on a maintenance man to come to the cabin. He built us a ramp and removed the door in the bathroom. Her chair was barely able to get through that door. She is petite if it was anyone else it would have remained a barrier. It is completely inappropriate and against ADA law to not be able to enter or leave your cabin. It is a safety issue which should never be compromised. What if there was a fire or other emergency. It destroyed her independence for this cruise. One day while we were on shore, she crawled out of her chair, held the heavy door and crawled into the room. She then had to secure the door with a wedge, then she was able to fold her chair, drag it into the room and crawl back up into it. She’s a resourceful 23 year old girl who can be very determined.

The ship was very nice. The meals in the dining room were wonderful. Our room steward was delightful. When we did our last cruise on Norwegian, there was staff whos’ sole job was to assist those who needed it in the buffet line. We had two offers for help the entire cruise for the buffet. Our daughter can’t wheel and carry a plate at the same time.

Two of my three shore excursions were cancelled. One in Grenada, because the hurricane had damaged the facility. The other was in Caracas. Apparently, there have been issues with going to Caracas for two years. It’s a political problem. So our itinerary was changed to Isla Marquerita. This port is lovely with two beaches very close to the dock. Unfortunately, we were only there from 8-11:30 AM. Princess should notify passengers of issues like this. If there is a problem with a port for two years, there should be an itinerary change.

The entertainment was fair. This sailing went out of San Juan and so there were many Spanish guests. They often had entertainment in Spanish first then later in English. We were often too tired to stay awake till 10:45 – 11:30 to see a show.

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