My holiday with PD

My holiday with PD.

Two years ago I was diagnosed and after understanding some of the ‘fun’ I have to look forward to, my wife and I decided we had better do the big things sooner rather than later.

The first thing I did was book a cruise in the Baltic.

We had sailed around the Baltic previously and really loved it.

Things I considered for this trip were:

All cities were flat. No hills to climb and that’s important for my less than healthy heart, not such a concern for PD.

All ports were tied up alongside with no clambering into tender boats to get ashore.

It also allowed us to get on and off when we wanted to without too much queuing.

Apart from Russia (St Petersburg), we were able to do our own thing and we prefer to wander around the cities on our own. Bus tours don’t impress us.

Most of the cities we visited had cobble stones but I found that it didn’t cause me much difficulty. I think my wife tripped more often than I did.

On board, there was no difficulty. We used the lifts to go up and the stairs to go down. Once again, that’s due to my heart, not PD.

Most cruise ships have a few disabled cabins and from the photos I have seen, they have decent showers and plenty of room for mobility aids. We saw quite a few scooters, wheel chairs and Zimmer frames.

You would need to check the voltages available to charge any battery powered devices.

Eating gives you a choice between dining room and a buffet. We preferred the atmosphere in the buffer and ate all meals there. I was able to carry my own plate OK but found that I couldn’t spend too much time finding a table. Once I had started loading up my plate, I had to choose quickly and get the plate to a table ASAP.

After dinner drinks were no problem – they had plenty of waiters to do the carrying.

The ship had a good medical centre which I made use of after getting a bad cold. Their staff are used to dealing with plenty of ailments.

As we live in Tasmania, the first hurdle is the long flights to get to Copenhagen. It was 36 hours from when we left home to arriving at our hotel. That’s a pain for the fit and healthy.

We had no problems getting our correction of medication through security. On a previous trip I had difficulties with an Asthma inhaler ‘spacer’ but this time I remembered to leave it in the booked baggage. The ‘spacer’ looks like a bottle on the x-ray machines.

The 8 hour time difference between Europe and Australia needs some consideration when you are trying to work out when to take medication but we survived OK.

I discussed medication with my neurologist before the cruise and we decided to stick with Azilect only until after the cruise. One tablet a day is easier than Sinemet 3 a day when travelling.

My main issue is a tremor and this was more evident when tired but didn’t cause any issues. On one occasion we were leaning on a balcony rail watching some activities on the floor below and a rather pushy lady barged in, making me move over for her. She spent most of the time looking at my shaky hand instead of the activities below.

The hotels we stayed in pre and post cruise were older buildings and some of the corridors were very narrow. The rooms were also small. I would recommend a new hotel as they should have more room but you loose the character we prefer.

Travel insurance is a must. I have a few ailments which causes a big increase in the price. As for PD, there were two questions. Do you need help walking and do you have trouble swallowing. NO to both so that was it.

I know I am at the early stages of the disease but I am sure that a cruise, chosen carefully should be a good choice if you are looking for a holiday.

If you are living in the UK, one that starts in Southampton would be tempting.


Hello Jimdownunder. I’m glad you had a good trip and that is really helpful. We are currently planning a couple of trips with similar considerations. Some of it seems pretty much common sense but your comment about modern hotels versus older buildings is something we’d been thinking about. Re. the pushy woman, we’re well used to that behaviour as we live in a beautiful, historical city in the UK with many tourists, often crowded, and some people just don’t think. I’ve learnt to be the pushy woman pushing back to ‘mind’ my husband!

I have a daughter living in Perth WA who likes me to visit. The last couple of times I’ve been over I booked disabled assistance, it was great! I have difficulty standing still for any length of time and manipulating any tools [e.g.knives and forks], at the airports I was whizzed in a wheelchair to the head of all the queues for checking in, passport control and security and from A to B on connections. On the planes [I flew Emirates] the stewards and stewardesses could have been more considerate and helpful - cutting up my food, supplying easier to eat alternatives and just checking that I was OK. I’m looking forward to my next trip, I like long distance flying - sitting watching films and being fed at regular intervals, what’s not to like? :smile: Sue.

I’ve just been on a cruise in the Adriatic, which was ideal, just as the first contributor said. My only problem was at Naples airport, where I had booked assistance, but on the return journey on Wednesday , I was asked, could I walk for 2 minutes, to which I replied, yes. The girl said follow me…she then kept stopping to talk to people, (very tricky for me-stop starting) then handed me and a few others with various mobility issues over to a man who took us to the lift instead of the stairs. After about a 15 min walk, during which my anxiety levels were increasing and some couldn’t keep up, he asked us to wait on plastic hard benches. As the plane was then delayed, we stayed there for about 2.5 hours. No wheelchairs were provided and we were then walked down a ramp to the gate, where we had to stand for 20 mins before boarding a bus to the plane. Nightmare! Avoid Naples airport!