Tuesday 11 June 2013

Passenger assistance

I don't write about myself too often - this blog is mostly about the Breathe Easy group and its activities. However I have just come back from a cruise in the central Mediterranean, using my portable oxygen concentrator, and found a remarkable lack of assistance, or even concern, for disabled passengers in some of the ports we visited, namely Venice and Valencia.
Both of these ports have just installed new facilities for cruise liners, in the shape of an air bridge into the port buildings.

this gives an idea of the distance we had to walk in Valencia and there is the same distance again to get through the building and out to the buses and taxis. It was a similar story in Venice.

Here is a copy of the letter I have sent to the Venice Port Authority and a similar one to Valencia -


Dear Sir

I recently visited the lovely city of Venice on the P and O cruise ship, MV Oriana. I am a disabled passenger and was dismayed at the lack of facilities to assist disabled passengers within the port area.

If I had arrived in your city by air, there would have been assistance for me in the form of a wheelchair, or electric buggy, from the aeroplane, through the airport to the cars, buses and taxis outside, as there is in all international airports these days. In the port there was no help at all and no one to ask for help either. There was an extremely long walk on return to the Oriana on the airbridge, made even longer by the dogleg at the end of it. I was not the only passenger distressed by this.

The average age of passenger on the cruise I was on was 75 years and this is quite common. Cruising is a gentle way for older people and disabled people to travel, which made the lack of facilities to help us use your port even more disappointing. In the West Indies last year, on a similar aged cruise, with similar distances to walk, there was a small land train in one port, some wheelchairs in others. These were well used and the operators were rewarded by grateful passengers who had enjoyed their time in the islands confident that they would get the help they needed for the long walk back to the ship.

If this is the case in all Italian ports it means that I will be unable to visit Italy again as my medical condition means that I should avoid flying, making cruising the ideal way for me to travel. Please consider having some kind of assistance to help the less able visit your country.    

If anyone else has had similar experiences, please leave a comment or write to the ports concerned. Needless to say, I have received no reply from either of the ports

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