Rolling on the river, on an accessible European riverboat

Q&A

September 30, 2007|By Mercury News

I'm interested in handicapped-accessible riverboat cruises. I know of a few in the United States, but are there similar cruises in Europe?

Handicapped-accessible cruises are not as common on European rivers, but we tracked down a few that might interest you. Before you book, call the company to discuss your physical limitations and ask if the cruise is appropriate for you.

Eurorivercruises (euroriver cruises.com), based in New York, offers three cruises on ships with handicapped-accessible cabins. However, each ship has just one of these cabins and no elevators. If you can navigate stairs, they might work for you. One is a seven-day Peter Deilmann cruise (deilmann-cruises.com) on the Dresden, which sails the Elbe River between Prague, Czech Republic, and Hamburg, Germany. The other is offered by a French company that changes its itinerary but does the Holland waterways in the spring. Cruises are six nights or less.

We also found a barge cruise that sails the Burgundy canal in France. Offered by GoBarging (gobarging.com), it's a six-night cruise that runs from April to October. Two of its four cabins have wider doors, hand rails and roll-in showers. There's a wheelchair lift from bank to barge and elevators.

My wife and I are taking a Mediterranean cruise on Princess with stops in Athens, Greece; Istanbul, Turkey; Naples, Italy; Rome; Florence, Italy; and other great cities. Since this is our first trip to Europe, what should not be missed?

Because it's your first time, you'll want to hit the high points: the Acropolis in Athens, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, the Vatican in Rome. But a lot also depends on what your interests are and whether you want to pack a lot into each day or concentrate on one or two sites and activities in every port.

Before sailing, go to Princess Cruises' Web site (princess.com) and check out its shore excursions for your cruise. Even if you choose to explore a city on your own (some excursions can stretch your wallet), the site will give you an idea of popular places to go and things to do.

But if this is your first time, these should be on your don't-miss list (in addition to those mentioned above):

In Naples, visit the ruins of Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast, with its beautiful scenery and rugged coastline.

In Florence, see Michelangelo's David; in Pisa, Italy, the Leaning Tower; in France, Provence.

San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News

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