Nautilus Tours and Cruises closes

I was saddened yesterday after I read the email that told of Nautilus Tours and Cruises closing their travel agency for wheelchair travelers. After I started Accessible Journeys in 1985, Nautilus came along as another go-to agency for travelers with wheelchairs.

Back then, like it is today, it was a small accessible world.  There were only a few agencies in America and a handful of travel agents who were responsible for mapping out the adventures of wheelchair travelers in America.

Nautilus was started in 1988 by Lou and Yvonne Nau. Their agency created wheelchair accessible adventures and cruises almost everywhere and they are fondly remembered by many of their clients. In 1995 they decided to retire and asked Joan Diamond and Jill Bellows to continue the company.

Joan had specialized in travel for persons with disabilities for over 20 years and she served as the Western Regional President of SATH (Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality. Jill had been in the travel business for over 30 years, was a Master Cruise Counselor and was also a teacher in the tourism department of Los Angeles City College.

During Joan and Jill’s time, Nautilus they specialized in travel arrangements for persons with physical disabilities, their families and friends and they developed and escort tours and cruises of Scandinavia, France, Italy, Holland, Alaska, Belgium and Ireland.

When I received a return email from Joan, she told me the decision to close Nautilus was due to her health and Jill’s health, and that has made it impossible for them to maintain a business.  As for Nautilus continuing as a business venture, Joan told me there are no forward clients, no refunds necessary and no consumers adversely effected.

As for Joan, she’s not retiring.  She plans to continue to specialize in travel arrangements for persons with physical disabilities and she will also be attending the SATH cruise.

Nautilus joins two other pioneering travel agencies for travelers with wheelchairs that are no longer in business; Evergreen Travel run by Betty and Jack Hoffman and Whole Person Tours  run by Bob Zywicki.

Brazil with access by 2014

The old traveler’s tale that access is best if you “follow the Olympics” is true.  The same is coming true for soccer, or as some call it “football.”  Talking about Brazil’s success in obtaining the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, Joseph S. Blatter, President of world football’s governing body said the vital issue for the competition’s Organizational Committee (OC) is to tackle accessibility.

According to FIFA “Never before has there been so much cooperation between a host nation’s Organising Committee and that country’s Paralympic Committee,” said Andrew Parsons, the President of the Brazilian Paralympic Committee.

“We feel flattered that they have come to us. It’s a crucial time, because we’re discussing the laying down of technical rules concerning accessibility for sporting events in Brazil. This affects a very large section of the population, which is made up of the physically handicapped, the elderly, the obese and those recovering from injuries. These people are consumers and their rights as citizens are being respected.”

The article went on to say “Over and above the discussions concerning accessibility during Brazil 2014, the CPB President also sees the next FIFA World Cup as an opportunity to set down a marker and leave a legacy of accessibility for future generations. It’s important that issues like this are covered at a World Cup, because a big event always leaves its mark.”

In closing, Parsons said “We can help educate the country and create, via the World Cup, a culture of accessibility and an architectural concept which takes this issue into consideration. We’re happy to take a solid step in that direction and move on from talk to action.”


Jet lag and the seasoned traveler

HJM & Friends at 2010 WTM, London

I’m just back from WTM (World Travel Mart) and I’m still in the midst of handling my jet lag.  In some part, telling you have jet lag means you secretly want your listener to know you’ve been someplace far away and mysterious, or that you have done something so adventurous that you can’t help yourself with your desynchronosis; in other words, you have jet-lag and any confusion in your mind is not your fault.

On the other hand, if you’re like me and in the travel industry, most listeners assume that I’m immune to such oddities because training obviously allows travel professionals to exert better control over such things that would annoy the average human being. It’s akin to believing that boxers somehow learn to enjoy punches in the face, just like tour operators somehow learn to enjoy sleep deprivation, dehydration and constipation.

I first heard about jet lag was when I was growing up and the phrase was the buzzword for a whole generation of people who didn’t know a thing about intercontinental air travel. Back then, my only experiences with time zone alteration came from falling asleep in the back seat of my parents car on the ride to Beach Haven, NJ on a long weekend ride. Nowadays my travels are much broader. In just a half a day’s time on my watch, I can travel from home and settle-in in New Delhi, 12 hours ahead of where I started. And in a full days’ trip on a jet from Philadelphia, I can cross the international dateline, sip coffee at our favorite romantic cafe inside Darling Harbour, Sydney Australia, and still have a few hours to spare in my 24-hour day.

Dealing with jet lag in the modern world incorporates much more than merely readjusting our internal biological time clock and getting back to our normal sleeping habits, jet lag also refers to the amount of time it takes for the traveler to reconnect with their family, friends, neighborhoods and colleagues who carried on with their lives while the traveler went-out in search of overseas treasures and tales of wonder from other lands.

For a seasoned traveler, recovering from jet lag is a gradual process that can take more time than the average traveler imagines. To catch up with others, reply to emails, pay bills and reintroduce myself into the busy lives of others, I find I need two days of jet lag for every day I’m away from home. When I reach that point after my trip, I find my life’s back to normal again.

My friends and neighbors know I have jet lag when my brain’s confused over when I should eat and when I should sleep. I’m in pajamas at dinnertime, I prefer breakfast cereal for lunch and most of my emails come from Ridley Park when most of Pennsylvania’s population is fast asleep. Secretly, I want them to know that I’ve just been someplace far away and mysterious and that I’ve done something so adventurous that I can’t help myself. As for the fact that I’ve been gardening by the light of midnight moon ever night this week; well that’s my desynchronosis, and that’s not my fault.