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FACILITIES AND SERVICES FOR PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED PASSENGERS

[Jan 2001 Editor: Some of this information is outdated. The Nieuw Amsterdam was sold in 2000, refurbished and is currently sailing as United States Lines Patriot. The Rotterdam referred to is the ex-Rotterdam V and ex Premier Cruises Rembrandt.]

Holland America Line has great concern and regard for the special requirements of physically-challenged guests. Recognized by publications like the Handicapped Travel Newsletter, the company is at the forefront of the cruise industry in providing the facilities and services to give these guests as much assistance as possible within the limitations of a seagoing resort.

Many disabled travelers find a cruise to be an excellent vacation experience. However, in order to avoid disappointment, Holland America Line requires that it be notified about any special requirements at the time of booking. In certain situations, Holland America may find it necessary to request that prospective passengers seek alternate travel arrangements.

All public rooms on Holland America Line ships are wheelchair accessible. Elevators on board can accommodate wheelchairs as do some public area restrooms.

For guests using wheelchairs, Holland America Line has a limited number of staterooms with roll-in showers in bathrooms equipped with ramps and heavy-duty handrails. Four such staterooms are on board the ms Nieuw Amsterdam, ms Noordam and Westerdam respectively. The ms Statendam, ms Maasdam and new ms Ryndam each have six staterooms equipped for disabled guests. [The same for the new Veendam. - Ed.] The ss Rotterdarm has successfully accommodated disabled travelers for years and there are no plans for adjustments to that ship.

Regular 25-inch wide stateroom doors on the Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam and Westerdam accommodate standard 24-inch wide traveling wheelchairs. Stateroom doors on the Nieuw Amsterdam and Noordam have no sills, and ramps are available to overcome 1" sills on the Westerdam and the slight sills aboard the Rotterdam.

A limited number of wheelchairs can be reserved at no charge by advance arrangement through Holland America Line's Ship Services Department at 1-800-541-1576. Special narrow-design wheelchairs are available for use on the Statendam, Maasdam and Ryndam, as regular cabin stateroom doors will not accommodate full-sized wheelchairs.

Bathrooms in all staterooms, except those specifically designated for the physically challenged, are not wheelchair accessible due to a 5" sill and 22" doorway. However, a portable commode may be placed in the stateroom if a request is made in advance to the Ship Services Department. Bathrooms in all staterooms, except those specifically equipped for disabled passengers have handrails, but not the heavy-duty type.

The maitre d' will arrange for a table in the dining room easily accessible to a wheelchair. Travel agents should advise Holland America of this requirement when making the dining request.

Holland America continues to be responsive to special dietary needs. Foods for those on special diets including low sodium, low cholesterol, low fat, vegetarian and Kosher are available, as are sugar-free diabetic desserts. Guests are advised to make special dietary requests in advance through their travel agents.

HAL will accept both unaccompanied deaf (hearing impaired) and unaccompanied blind (visually impaired) persons. It is requested that:

  • A Special Requirements Information form be completed and returned to the Seattle Medical Department.

  • The passenger agrees to arrive at the ship early to receive special lifeboat instructions in order to familiarize him/herself with the ship's layout and emergency procedures.

  • Also, passengers may have a hearing or sighted companion accompany them for purposes of safety instruction. Visitor passes may be arranged in advanced for this special circumstance. For hearing-impaired guests, the ships have TDD equipment, amplified telephones, visual alert alarms, Closed caption decoders on televisions and an assistive listening system in the show lounge.

Service animals are permitted on board Holland America Line ships. By advance request, housekeeping staff will assist guests by walking the animal on a service deck. Also, if known in advance, the maitre d' will arrange a convenient table in the dining room with space for the animal on the floor. Guests must supply their own pet food and make arrangements for quarantine papers and port clearances through their travel agent. Passengers should be aware that a number of ports, such as those in Hawaii and French Polynesia, do not allow animals to disembark the ship.

Other essential care needs generally present no problem if known about well before the cruise date. Specific requests must be presented at the time of booking.

ON-BOARD MEDICAL SERVICES AND FACILITIES

Holland America Line is committed to providing the highest quality on-board medical care for ship guests and crew members. Every cruise is staffed with one physician, who is an independent contractor, and three registered nurses on call 24 hours a day.

Each Holland America Line ship has an infirmary equipped with most of the emergency equipment used in emergency departments throughout hospitals in the United States. While not a full-service hospital, the on-board infirmary accommodates most emergencies and routine medical procedures. The infirmary has an examination room, the capability to perform simple laboratory tests, an X-ray machine, one isolation bed, an intensive care unit with one bed, and one or two additional beds. A pacemaker, defibrillator, cardiac monitor, electrocardiogram machine, ventilator, oxygen and suction unit comprise the infirmary's mini-intensive care unit.

In most instances, medical staff can support, comfort and care for patients who take ill suddenly on board. They arc generally able to diagnose the illness and recommend a course of treatment, possibly prescribing medications from the ship's pharmacy. However, if a patient is critical, the doctor and nurses aboard attempt to stabilize the patient's condition until transfer to a full-service hospital is arranged. The ships' infirmaries are not suitable for surgery. Due to the limited medical facilities on the ships, the company will not accept reservations for women who will be 30 or more weeks pregnant by the last day of the cruise.

All departments on board work together as a team in the event of a medical evacuation emergency. After the decision to transport the patient has been made with the ship physician, the hotel manager, the captain and the patient's family, the housekeeping department assists with packing and :luggage, the deck department orders the ambulance and the hostess will continue to work with the family. In fact, there is a structured emergency response team on board each ship which runs practice drills monthly.

Acknowledged in the cruise industry as having the best medical program, Holland America Line carefully screens applicants for on-board medical staff positions. Doctors and nurses must be American or Canadian trained and licensed, certified in advanced cardiac life support and experienced in emergency medical delivery.

The company's medical director, Dr. Carter D. Hill, is a diplomat of the National Board of Medical Examiners, the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hill has twenty years of experience in treating infectious diseases and in supervising emergency care and advanced cardiac support services. As a practicing emergency medical physician, Dr. Hill is available to the ships and their staff physicians for consultation.

The infirmary maintains regular hours daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a nurse in attendance. The nurses, who respond to on-board emergencies 24 hours a day, are supervised by Sue Averill, RN, Manager, Marine Medical Services, a certified emergency nurse with 15 years of experience. To be hired by Holland America Line, nurses must have a minimum of four years of recent active acute care nursing experience and show strong skills in emergency, intensive care or cardiac care treatment.

All consultation fees and charges are paid by the passenger on their on-board account through Holland America's convenient "cashless" system. Since most health plans, including Medicare, do not cover the costs of medical care at sea and in foreign ports, passengers are encouraged to obtain supplemental health and emergency evacuation insurance prior to travel.

In addition to the medical professionals on board, Holland America Line officers and staff members who work closely with passengers receive annual CPR training. The dining and bar staff have yearly training in the Heimlich Maneuver to allay any choking incidents.

Although a well-stocked pharmacy is available on board to treat most conditions, guests are advised to bring their own prescription medications with them, in carry-on luggage. Passengers with ongoing medical conditions should bring along a copy of their medical records to assist in diagnosis and treatment. Since ship-to-shore consultations may be necessary, the telephone number of the guest's personal physician is essential.

Oxygen is available on board for emergencies only. Regular oxygen users should arrange for their own oxygen and advise Holland America Line through their travel agent. When oxygen is used in a stateroom a "No smoking -- Oxygen in Use" sign will be posted on the stateroom door for safety purposes.

Although not a part of the ships' regular medical care, emergency dental treatment is available every other week on most cruises, since a licensed dentist is aboard for officers and crew.

Holland America Line frequently accommodates groups of up to 30 individuals with special medical needs such as cardiac or respiratory patients. Additionally, Holland America Line ships are suitable for physically-challenged passengers. For further assistance, guests with special medical ;requirements may ask their travel agent to fax information to Holland America Line's Medical Department at (206) 285-ll68 or call (206) 281-3535, extension 3395.

HOLLAND AMERICA LINE ACCESSIBLE SHIPS

WESTERDAM
The Westerdam sails to Alaska in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter with transition cruises on the West Coast, to Mexico and through the Panama Canal in the spring and fall.

She has four accessible cabins that range from 157 to 280 square feet. The cabin doors are 31.5" with a one-inch sill at the entrance, which can be ramped if required. The bathroom doors are 34" wide with no sills. They have roll-in showers with fold down seats, hand-held showers and grab bars. The toilets are 18" high with grab bars and the sinks are 31" high.

All the public areas and decks are accessible. There are accessible public restrooms on the restaurant deck.

NIEUW AMSTERDAM
The Nieuw Amsterdam sails to Alaska in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter with transition cruises on the West Coast, to Mexico and through the Panama Canal in the spring and fall.

She has four accessible cabins that are 219 square feet. The cabin doors are 27" with no sills. The bathroom doors are 34" wide with no sills. They have roll-in showers with fold down seats, hand-held showers and grab bars. The toilets are 18" high with grab bars and the sinks are 31" high.

NOORDAM
The Noordam sails to Alaska in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter with transition cruises on the West Coast, to Mexico and through the Panama Canal in the spring and fall.

She has four accessible cabins that are 219 square feet. The cabin doors are 27" with no sills. The bathroom doors are 34" wide with no sills. They have roll-in showers with fold down seats, hand-held showers and grab bars. The toilets are 18" high with grab bars and the sinks are 31" high.

RYNDAM
The Ryndam sails to Alaska in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter, with transition cruises on the west coast, to Mexico and through the Panama Canal in the spring and fall.

She has six accessible cabins that range from 188 to 212 square feet. The cabin doors are 34" with no sills. The bathroom doors are 36" wide with no sills. They have roll- in showers with fold down seats, hand-held showers and grab bars. The toilets are 18.25" high with grab bars and the sinks are 27" high.

All the public areas and decks are accessible. There are accessible public restrooms on the Lido, Upper Promenade and Promenade decks.

STATENDAM
The Statendam sails the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, Mexico, and the West Coast year round.

She has six accessible cabins that range from 188 to 212 square feet. The cabin doors are 34" wide with no sills. The bathroom doors are 36" wide with no sills. They have roll-in showers with fold-down seats, hand-held showers and grab bars. The toilets are 18.25" high with grab bars and the sinks are 27" high.

All the public areas and decks are accessible. There are accessible public restrooms on the Lido, Upper Promenade and Promenade decks.

MAASDAM
The Maasdam sails the Mediterranean, Russia/Europe and Scandinavia in the summer with trans-Atlantic crossings in the spring and fall. She sails the Caribbean, The Panama Canal, Mexico and the West Coast in the Winter.

She has six accessible cabins that range from 188 to 212 square feet. The cabin doors are 34" wide with no sills. The bathroom doors are 36" wide with no sills. They have roll-in showers with fold-down seats, hand-held showers and grab bars. The toilets are 18.25" high with grab bars and the sinks are 27" high.

All the public areas and decks are accessible. There are accessible public restrooms on the Lido, Upper Promenade and Promenade decks.

This information comes from the database of: Access-Able Travel Source, a computer Bulletin Board (BBS) information source for disabled travelers. Voice 303-232-2979 BBS 303-274-6444

Holland America Line 300 Elliott Avenue West Seattle, Washington 98119 800-426-0327 206-281-3535 206-281-7110 (fax)


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