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Are Cruise Ships Handicap Accessible

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Which Cruise Ships Have The Best Cabins For Wheelchair Users

Wheelchair Access on Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas

With decades of experience working with disabled travelers and sailing on many ships across multiple cruise lines, Kerper has a good idea of which ships work better than other for travelers in wheelchairs. Both she and her customers give Royal Caribbean top marks for its customer service to disabled people.

Im a big fan of Royal Caribbeans accessibility, she says. Celebrity, Norwegian, Holland America, and Princess are also very good. But Im not a fan of Carnival. The cabins arent spacious enough and the pool decks arent accessible.

As a rule of thumb, the newest ships on any line are always the best in terms of accessibility, with the largest variety of wheelchair-friendly cabins.

Do Cruise Ships Have Wheelchair Accessible Staterooms

Travelers who require wheelchairs or struggle with mobility issues can be apprehensive about their first cruise. They wonder if a cruise ship can accommodate their needs, especially when it comes to onboard accommodations. After all, the ship is going to be their home for the duration of their vacation.

Never fear! Cruises are a top choice for disabled vacationers for a reason, and with the right ship, you can have a successful and satisfying trip. Here, we answer all your questions about accessible cabins on cruise ships.

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How Can Disabled Travelers Ensure They Book The Right Cabin

Find a travel agent, like Kerper, who is knowledgeable about cruising with a disability. Not only will these agents have personal knowledge about the nuances of accessible cruise cabins, but they will have contacts at the cruise lines accessibility departments who can provide them with answers to questions they don’t know. Regular travel agents and cruise line reservation agents dont always have details beyond whats printed in the brochure about the set-up of a cruise ships handicapped rooms.

With the right itinerary and ship, 95 percent of disabled travelers have an outstanding experience on a cruise vacation, says Kerper. Youre not spending extra money to use a knowledgeable agent. But having someone help you pick the best ship and cabin for your trip can mean the difference between an okay and an amazing vacation.

Getting Around The Ship

Frequently Asked Questions About Going on a (Wheelchair ...

As we mentioned above, cruise lines have come a long way in making their ships accessible. Whether it be modified elevators to lowered Guest Services desks, there has been a lot of effort put into making the ships more friendly for passengers with disabilities.

In general, guests in wheelchairs or scooters should have no problem getting nearly everywhere on the ship.

Youll find that many cruise liners have automatic doorways when accessing public decks especially in the high-traffic corridors. Ships are also equipped with banks of elevators to get you from deck to deck.

If mobility issues are extremely important to you, then youll appreciate Carnivals page on the topic. This page includes different deck plans that identify all of the accessible routes through each ship, along with cabins and restrooms that are accessible. It also shows how serious cruise lines take accessibility.

Keep in mind that public areas are also made to accommodate those with disabilities. For example, Royal Caribbean offers lifts for at least one pool and one hot tub on board each ship in its fleet. The cruise line also offers lowered playing tables and slot machines in the casino. Carnival offers pool lifts on a handful of its newest ships.

Of course, even on the biggest cruise ships space can sometimes be tight. However, in general ships are made with mobility issues in mind.

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Where Can I Store My Walker Wheelchair Or Scooter In My Cabin

You must store your assistive device inside your cabin. Most cruise ships do not allow passengers to park their wheelchairs or cruise mobility scooters in the ships hallways, where they can obstruct exit routes.

Cruise lines recommend that passengers with mobility impairments bring or rent a wheelchair or scooter that can collapse or fold to fit under the bed or in the cabins closet. While this might be necessary if you’ve booked a regular cabin, most handicapped accessible rooms have plenty of space to store a wheelchair or scooter, as well as outlets by the bed for charging motorized equipment.

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Disabled Access Provisions By Cruise Line

Disabled access provisions differ from cruise line to cruise line, so its important to know exactly what facilities are offered before making a booking. Here, we provide a breakdown of the disabled friendly services available on the worlds most popular cruise operators. Please be aware that each of the cruise lines listed reserves the right to change their policies at a minutes notice, so its vital you check with your selected tour operator before making a reservation.

Cruise line
Tactile alert system & hearing packs

*Dry cell batteries only **Service dogs not permitted to disembark at any port of call

Carnival Sunshine Cruise Wheelchair Accessible Travel

Wheelchair Accessible Carnival Breeze Cabin to Avoid

Back in August, I told you I had planned my first Cruise aboard the Carnival Sunshine. Because Im disabled, I need wheelchair accessible travel options. Im back today with an update on my trip and how the Carnival Sunshine ship scored when it comes to wheelchair accessible travel.

Lets start with the cabin itself. Since everything we need to do centers around having a room big enough to accommodate not only my wheelchair but myself, my husband, Ethan and all our belongings. The wheelchair accessible cabins have a queen sized bed and a pull down bunk directly above the bed on each side.

4 people can sleep in this cabin. I have a manual chair for size reference. By design, cruise ship cabins are not super large or roomy. However, I found there was plenty of room for my wheelchair to move about between the bed and the storage compartments directly across. You dont spend much time other than sleeping in there and I didnt have any issues with the space at all. I did get a chance to peek in non-accessible cabins and they were nearly identical. If you have a large power chair, you may find it a bit cramped and will probably be doing a few 3 point turns to get in and out.

You can find out more about the Carnival Sunshine, along with deck plans to help in planning a trip with wheelchair accessible options or other disability needs, all on-board experiences, and itineraries at!

Disclosure: I received complimentary passage on the Carnival Sunshine.

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Guests Who Are Blind Or Have Low Vision

At Norwegian Cruise Line, we will attempt to provide our Blind or Low Vision guests with an enjoyable cruise, which means providing personal, customized service to make your cruise fun, safe and happy.

Amenities and Services Available include:

  • Embarkation day meeting with staff member who will see to your accessibility needs during the cruise
  • A vessel orientation tour is available upon request
  • Braille / tactile signage
  • Service animals allowed onboard and must be arranged through the Access Desk prior to the cruise

To get more information or request accessibility assistance on your upcoming cruise, fill out the

or contact us using the phone number at the bottom of this page.

Diet Needs & Food Allergies

One of the biggest perks of cruising is the food. Of course, if you have special diet needs, it might also be an area that causes some worry. It shouldnt.

Todays cruise lines can be extremely accommodative for your diet needs. For example, Carnival boasts that they can can provide our guests with the following special dietary needs: vegetarian, low-cholesterol, low-fat, low-carbohydrates, low-sugar and gluten free.

For most diet needs, you dont even need to alert the cruise line ahead of time. The best thing to do is go to the dining room and let your main dining room waiter know of your needs. They can help answer questions and offer suggestions for meals based on your restrictions. For meals outside of the main dining room, you will have to be vigilant and let the staff know of your needs.

If you have a restrictive diet, its a good idea to let the cruise line know at least two weeks before you sail so they can prepare. The good news is that modern cruising can cover just about any restriction you have.

One other thing to note is that you are allowed to bring pre-packaged foods and snacks with you onto the ship. They cant be homemade and they must be sealed in their original package.

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How Far In Advance Do I Need To Book An Accessible Cruise Ship Cabin

Accessible cabins definitely sell out, says Kerper, but how far in advance they sell out varies by ship and itinerary.

She says Alaska sailings tend to sell out of disabled cabins before Caribbean cruises and recommends booking your Alaska trip a year in advance. You can assume that cruises that are popular with the general public new ships, hot destinations will be popular with handicapped travelers, as well.

The higher-end staterooms will also fill up before inside and outside cabins because there are far fewer of them. She uses Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas as an example. The 5,500-passenger ship has only 42 accessible cabins. Of those, only two are junior suites and one a loft suite. Among her clients, she sees a lot of demand for accessible suites, but there simply arent enough of these rooms to meet the demand. Book as early as you can if you want to nab one.

Which Popular Cruise Ports Are Not Mobile Accessible And/or Are Tendering Ports

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If you have limited to no mobility, you may consider avoiding cruises that dock at the following ports as they are either not accessible or require tenders to disembark, which can be a bit difficult depending on your condition:

  • Airlie Beach, Australia
  • Bay of Islands, New Zealand
  • Benoa, Bali
  • Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
  • Lembar, Lombok
  • Rosyth, UK

Importance of cruise travel insurance for disabled travellers

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to planning a holiday, and cruise travel insurance shouldn’t be skipped over – especially if you’re travelling with any sort of disability or have a pre-existing condition that compromises your ability onboard or may require some medical attention.

When it comes to manoeuvring into tender boats, getting around the close quarters of a ship while it’s slightly moving with the sea or just enjoying the benefits a cruise has to offer it’s important to make sure that you’re covered in case anything doesn’t quite go to plan on board. Medical care on a cruise doesn’t come cheap, especially if there isn’t a Medicare doctor on board, and having the right level of cover can really save you if something does happen.

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Tips For Cruising With A Disability

Obviously, theres a lot to consider when cruising with a disability, but the good news is that cruise lines are extremely accommodating. If you want some of our top tips for making your vacation better, consider the following.

Sail Newer ShipsAll cruise ships will have accommodations designed for those with disabilities. That said, wed suggest sticking with the newest ships you can. Newer ships will have the latest features , but most of all, new ships can offer more space. Newer ships are built larger than their predecessors, providing more ease of movement throughout.

Book Your Cruise EarlyWhile cruise lines go out of their way to offer accessible features, they are limited in the number of accessible cabins on the ship. And once they are gone, they are gone. For that reason, its a good idea to book your cruise as early as possible if you need an accessible cabin. This will give you the most options possible for your schedule.

Contact The Cruise Line SoonIf you are sailing and have special needs, then its a smart idea to call the cruise line as soon as possible to discuss any accommodations you might need. For instance, those needing a sign language interpreter need to give 60-90 days notice before they sail. Its also a good chance to get any questions you might have answered well before you head to the port.

Choose The Right River Ship

It’s hard to find information about facilities for disabled passengers on cruise line websites and in their glossy brochures. River ships might look pretty similar on the outside, but they can be very different on the inside. If you’re concerned about how mobility issues will impact your enjoyment of a river cruise, make sure you ask about the following areas before booking.

Cabin Size and Configuration: Riverboat cabins are much smaller than hotel rooms, and not every river ship offers accessible staterooms. Several lines offer a small number of accessible or modified staterooms with wide doors, but these might not be available on each of their ships. You’ll want to know if it’s easy to open the door and go inside with a wheelchair, and if there is enough space to store a wheelchair and other mobility aids.

Bathrooms: Although it’s rare to find bathtubs on riverships, the bathrooms can vary. Some shower stalls have fixed doors with limited access, while others have handy doors that fold right back to create one large area of bathroom space. You’ll need to inquire about bathroom configuration — especially if you’re not booking a special accessible room.

Elevators: Most modern ships have elevators, but they vary in the number of decks they serve. As river vessels have to pass beneath low bridges, the sun deck is often only accessible by stairs. Some vessels have a special chair lift to take wheelchair passengers to the top deck, but such lifts are still fairly rare.

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Which Are The Best Cruise Lines For Disabled Guests

Modern cruise liners are equipped with a comprehensive range of facilities to accommodate disabled or less mobile passengers including specially adapted cabins, ample wheelchair access and braille for those hard of sight.

Here, we take an in-depth look at the disabled-friendly amenities and services offered on cruise ships, choose five cruise lines we consider the best for disabled passengers, and provide some help and advice on booking a cruise holiday for a disabled party.

Typical Questions We Get Asked Include

Carnival Magic Interior Wheelchair Cabin. Probably won’t like it.

Who would help me in an emergency?How easy is it to move around the ship?Would I be able to go on any of the shore excursions?Will I be able to take my medical equipment?Would I even be able to get on the ship to begin with?

Many cruise ships are now fully accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities and provide some of the most exciting, inspiring and best value-for-money holidays that you can find. Newer ships offer purpose built accessible cabins, entertainment venues and facilities, wide gangways and lifts whilst moving round the ship, and accessible embarkation and disembarkation. Many older ships have been adapted to accommodate disabled cruisers, meaning that disability is no longer a prohibitive factor in going on a cruise.

As we specialise in holidays and cruises for people with disabilities, there are many ways in which can help when choosing and booking a disabled cruise including booking and guaranteeing accessible cabins, the hiring of equipment, arranging of transportation or anything else you might need to ensure your cruise holiday is plain sailing.

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