Barrier-free up to the open deck

A large group from the “Club Behinderter und ihrer Freunde” from Solingen enjoyed the panoramic cruise on the MS RheinFantasie in Cologne.
“Club Behinderter und ihrer Freunde” (CBF – Club for Disabled People and Their Friends) was founded 50 years ago in Solingen. To mark its anniversary, the women and men in the CBF set sail for new shores. Instead of the River Wupper in their own town, the travel group headed to the Rhine. The group of 75 gathered in Solingen at midday and set off towards Cologne in ten large vehicles. At 3 p.m. it was time to start the one-hour panoramic cruise aboard the MS Rhein­­Fantasie, one of Köln-Düsseldorfer’s large event boats.

A little nervous before the first boat cruise

The travel group included 16 wheelchair users, ten people with physical impairments, 25 carers, volunteer helpers and drivers, as well as members of the CBF association. It was a first for some of the women and men in the travel group from Solingen. “This is my first boat cruise, I’m very excited and also a little nervous,” said 39-year-old Jennifer. Her nerves vanished as soon as the MS RheinFantasie swiftly, powerfully and elegantly set sail for its panoramic cruise from the KD jetty next to Cologne’s old town. The Rhine and its sights on the left and right banks left no room for nerves. In an instant, amazement, enjoyment and fun (and photos!) gained the upper hand.

Lift to all levels

The onboard KD team had reserved tables in the large lounge on the main deck especially for the guests from Solingen. From there, they could discover the 85-metre-long and 14-metre-wide boat individually. Most of them headed for the spacious open deck. Thanks to a lift provi­ding access to all floors, this was no problem even for the guests in wheelchairs. The lift was a little small, however, for a man and a lady with compact electric wheelchairs. To save themselves the effort of manoeuvring, both guests opted for the easily accessible smaller viewing platforms left and right on the level of the main deck.

Making inclusion visible

“This is a wonderful place to be. No crowds, fresh air and a great view,” said a happy Yesim Özen, busily taking photos with her smartphone. In the 49-year-old’s own words, it was a delightful boat cruise in pleasant temperatures. “As a person with physical impairments, it’s important to be able to experience and enjoy something like this, to visit places that at first seem difficult to reach. As a boat like this does.”

“This is essential. Accessibility is a fundamental requirement for everyone to feel equal and really participate in social life. That’s why we at CBF try to arrange and support as much as possible. It’s crucial to be and remain visible so that we can put inclusion in the public sphere even more than before,” stresses Leo von den Steinen, chairman of the association. The CBF provides passenger transport for people with reduced mobility. This may be for visits to the doctor, trips to workshops or days out like this one. “We want to bring together mobility and experiences as much as possible.”

KD team offers support

In this respect, the panoramic cruise on board the barrier-free event boat MS RheinFantasie scores very highly. “I’ll admit, I’m pleasantly surprised at how freely everyone, no matter how limited their mobility, can move around the boat,” says a delighted Leo von den Steinen. Nevertheless, the attentive KD staff are trained to deal with such situations and will help if a small obstacle appears or a corner proves tricky on the first attempt to turn.


Detour to Cologne Cathedral

After the one-hour panoramic cruise on the MS RheinFantasie, the guests from the CBF did not set off home to Solingen straight away. The day would not be complete without a detour to Cologne Cathedral. They did face some obstacles, but these had nothing to do with limited mobility. As the excursion took place on a Saturday, there were many groups of human barriers on the Rhine promenade in the shape of “oddly dressed hen and stag partygoers”.


Weekend trips
with KD Moment

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