We knew beforehand that there would be challenges as the question about disabled guests is covered on the Viking River Cruises website.
Q: Will the ship be able to accommodate a disabled passenger? What about the shore excursions?
A: Viking River Cruises welcomes disabled guests but wishes all guests to understand that challenges will exist on board and during shore excursions. Some ships have elevators and some do not; some ships have split-level decks and/or significant thresholds that could make movement difficult. Under appropriate circumstances guests are permitted to use motorized scooters and wheelchairs on board. Shore excursions may require movement over cobblestones or up and down stairs; accordingly, a physically challenged guest will require the services of a responsible adult since crew availability is severely limited in most circumstances.
- As there were usually two or three boats moored alongside each other, it wasn't possible to get her over the raised frames of the boat doorways while she was in the chair. She had to get out of the wheelchair and step over the frames and step up and down the ramps that join the two or three boats together and walk through two or three boats to get to the Kirov. A person who cannot walk would not be able to do this. This could have been overcome with extra, portable platforms at the same level as the gangways that join the boats.
- The cabins are fairly small so Patty had to walk around inside the cabin. It was not spacious enough for the wheelchair to manoeuvre inside so she would not have managed if she was a permanent wheelchair user.
- Most wheelchairs require doorways to be between 32" and 36" wide and her chair only just fitted through the door. A motorised chair would not have fitted through the door.
- A paraplegic or more disabled person would not have been able to access the en suite shower room and toilet as it is raised off the cabin floor. In addition it is too small to accommodate a wheelchair.
- The space between the cabin walls and the spiral stairs was so narrow that we only just managed to get the wheelchair through.
Excursions Included in the Viking Cruise:
Hermitage Visit (entrance up a flight of stairs) and evening performance of Swan lake (not accessible - Patty didn't go).
Pushkin Palace (limited accessibility) afternoon City Tour of St Petersburg.