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The Healthy Traveler

Trips for People With Disabilities

January 04, 1998|KATHLEEN DOHENY

While other tour operators say they spend lots of time fielding complaints from travelers, Irv Segal reports that his clients are generally quite content.

For 25 years, Irv and his wife, Zipporah, who were both trained as social workers, have run Guided Tour Inc., an Elkins Park, Pa., company that specializes in tours for adults with developmental disabilities. Here is a roundup of tours offered by a variety of companies to people with developmental disabilities, visual impairments, kidney problems and other conditions that can inhibit travel.

Dialysis at Sea Cruises ([800] 544-7604), of Indian Rock Beach, Fla., specializes in cruises only, said president Andy Carrabus, whose mother founded the agency 20 years ago. "We go in and set up, in effect, a miniature dialysis clinic," he said. Also, a board-certified nephrologist travels on each cruise, along with a staff of specially trained nurses. On the schedule for 1998 is a seven-day eastern Caribbean cruise on the M.S. Westerdam, a Holland America ship. Cost is $1,200 and up, including air fare from Fort Lauderdale. Another seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise departs Jan. 11 from Los Angeles on Royal Caribbean's Song of America. Cost is $564 and up.

Wilderness Inquiry ([800] 728-0719) of Minneapolis offers wilderness trips for people with disabilities and their families and friends. "All our trips are integrated," said Corey Schlosser-Hall, director of outreach for the nonprofit organization, which opened in 1978. Typically, about 30% of the tours are made up of people with disabilities of some sort.

Upcoming trips include one to Boundary Waters, a protected wilderness area in northern Minnesota, and trips to go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and dog sledding. Eight five-day trips are planned from January to March. Each costs $655, not including air fare to Minneapolis. Also upcoming is an Everglades canoe trip to the 10,000 Islands area on Florida's Gulf coast.

Accessible Tours ([800] 533-5343) offers trips for the blind and those with other visual impairments. A recent two-week tour to Italy, for example, cost $3,300, including air fare from New York. The company tries to hire guides with a talent for visual descriptions.

Sundial Special Vacations ([800] 547-9198) in Seaside, Ore., offers both domestic and overseas trips for adults with developmental disabilities, according to Jill Conner-Ross, who is co-owner with her mother, Patsy Conner. Upcoming is a 10-day trip to Australia in February. Cost is $1,775, not including air fare to and from Australia. A Disneyland trip in March will span four nights and cost $745, not including air fare.

Travel by Touch, Ltd. ([888] Touch 55), owned by Barry Weintraub and Flora Beck, specializes in organizing trips for the blind and visually impaired. A recent trip was a five-day cruise, on which working guide dogs were allowed.

Guided Tour Inc. ([800] 783-5841), founded by the Segals, hosts trips to domestic locales and to Canada and the Caribbean. One of the most popular is the Mississippi Queen paddle boat trip, next scheduled for Feb. 17-23, which begins in Memphis and ends in New Orleans. A tour of Elvis Presley's Graceland is on the schedule too. The $2,195 price includes air fare from Philadelphia. Disney World is another popular trip, which is offered every five or six weeks, including Jan. 15-19 and Feb. 19-23. Cost is $1,099, including air fare from Philadelphia.

The Healthy Traveler appears twice monthly.

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