Island should accommodate all people

As a repeat guest on your spectacular isle, which I dearly love, I’ve written letters voicing my concerns about the need for improvements in your meeting the needs of the disabled/elderly visitors.

I’m particularly concerned about the disabled, many of whom are in their current physical state, because they served their country in other parts of the world while fighting for freedom for all. Our system is not perfect, but it’s far superior to the regimes others are forced to endure.

But, this is not a diatribe about wars and why we fight them. This is a plea for equal access for the disabled. I have failed back syndrome, a condition which began to manifest itself when I was 13 (I’m now 75) and has gotten progressively worse throughout my life. Add to me all the disabled vets and you end up with a large number of people whose needs are not being met.

What prompted this for me was being rejected by Napali Coast tour boats because of my disability. What it boiled down to was decreased income for them. In order to accommodate my wheelchair, they would need to cut back on their total number of customers for that one cruise by one! Considering what they charge per capita, that’s a proverbial drop in the ocean as far as their annual income is concerned.

I’m not trying to ignore the massive amount of work needing to be done to undo the damage caused by the storm that hit the North Shore several months ago. However, changes that would benefit the disabled could be incorporated into some of that work.

As far as the tour boat situation is concerned, some minor alterations to the boats themselves plus the passenger’s signature on a form absolving the charter company and boat owner of any fault should the disabled passenger suffer any harm as the result of taking the tour should eliminate any concern re: liability.

This trip, scheduled for January 2019, is our 50th wedding anniversary trip. We scheduled it for that particular time so that we could take a Napali Coast/whale watching cruise. That’s our primary reason for scheduling it for the time we selected. But, as things currently stand, the cruise may end up being impossible, and I’m one very disappointed senior.

Mahalo for taking the time to listen to one elderly lady’s concerns. I hope I helped the plight of many disabled visitors to your little piece of paradise.


Midge Swanson is a resident of Saginaw, Michigan.

  1. Seasick Stu July 24, 2018 6:47 am Reply

    Midge – I don’t know the severity of your disability, and am sorry for any discrimination you have suffered, but a January NaPali cruise is going to be ROUGH AS HELL. We’re talking 20-40 foot swells ON AVERAGE. Maybe even bigger. You won’t see any locals on that boat, I guarantee you! Unless your wheelchair has some serious shocks on it, you’d probably return with an impacted spinal column and broken teeth. Try a helicopter tour. They’ve got plenty of room for you!

  2. Joe Public July 24, 2018 1:00 pm Reply

    Agree. January isn’t a good month to go to the Napali by sea. Take the Helicopter ride, safer.

  3. Midge Swanson July 26, 2018 12:25 pm Reply

    Mahalo for your advice. Will we be able to get the same spectacular views of both the NaPali AND the whales if we go by helicopter?


  4. Vegas July 27, 2018 12:18 pm Reply

    Midge, A helicopter tour will allow you to see 90% of the island where as the boat will be about 35%.
    During the January months which are considered as part of the winter season, the ocean conditions are rough. Unfortunately no boat will take anyone with back injuries due to liability regardless if you sign a wavier, you’d be surprise how many people sign that same waiver, get hurt after not following the rules and turn around and sue the company. .

    1. Midge A Swanson July 28, 2018 4:40 pm Reply

      When would the best time be to take a NaPali Coast / whale watching boat tour and get the best views of both? We thought the time we chose best fit the bill – obviously we were wrong! I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to afford another trip, but if we can, what’s the best 2 weeks to choose? Remember we want the best time to see both!

    2. Midge July 29, 2018 10:15 am Reply

      FYI…we scheduled our 50th anniversary trip with the primary goal being the opportunity to see the NaPali coast AND wintering whales while we were on Kauai. We chose the 1st 2 weeks in January because the ads from the various boat tour companies led us to believe that timeframe was optimal for accomplishing that goal. NONE of the ads warned of the heavy seas found in that area during that timeframe. In fact, they said they wouldn’t take passengers in wheelchairs at any time. I took the cruise in February several years ago and found it to be delightful, except that we didn’t see any whales. AND, the waters were not threatening in any sense of the word. If we should ever be able to return, I’d like to know when we can come & be able to take a NaPali cruise that would allow us to see not only the coast, but whales as well. Given our ages and my health, I doubt that would ever happen unless the boat owners were willing to relax their restrictions for handicapped passengers.

      To “Vegas”: we’ve done the island helicopter tour and found it didn’t compare to the NaPali boat tour. And as far as the waiver is concerned, please don’t try to force everyone into the same mold . We are Christians in the fullest sense of the term. With Christ on the throne of my heart, there is no way I would even consider signing a waiver which I would then contest if I should subsequently be injured. Please make room in your mindset for the few honest people left in this world! And, if someone could direct us to a handicap accessible place where we could do some whale watching, I’d be eternally grateful!!

      Mahalo to all for your insights and feedback!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.