Getting Around The Ship
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.
Special Accessibility Coordinators Before And During Your Cruise
Norwegian Cruise Line has a dedicated team of experienced travel professionals specifically trained to assist guests with disabilities and special needs, before, during and even after your cruise.
The Access Desk
Within our Reservations Department, an exclusive team of experienced professionals operate to help facilitate your travel. After receiving your Guest Special Needs Request Form , these specially trained in Norwegian Cruise Line’s policies and procedures, will document your reservation with information concerning your service requests. These details will be communicated to our cruise staff who will take care of the accommodations and prepare for your vacation.
A member of the Access Desk will speak with you about each and every aspect of your cruise, from transportation to and from the vessel, your stateroom, shore excursions and any other expectation or need that you may have.
Once you have boarded, you will be met by staff who will have all of the information that you conveyed to Norwegian Cruise Line either directly or through your travel professional. Staff will be available throughout your cruise to see to your needs. Norwegian Cruise Line has Access Officers who will be the primary point person working to make sure all your needs are met. Norwegian Cruise Line also has a centralized internal corporate resolution staff to assist the Access Officer, available by telephone 24 hours a day.
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.
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Mobility Scooters For Cruises What To Expect & How To Prepare For Your Next Cruise
If youre planning a trip on a cruise with a mobility scooter there are a few things that you should know before embarking on your nautical vacation. We created this article to help educate our followers when it comes to the best mobility scooters for cruises, the rules and regulatory bodies that deal with cruises and accommodating mobility scooters as well as what to expect when you are about to board and when youre on board a cruise with a mobility scooter.
Its crucially important to know that each cruise line is different when it comes to their level of accessibility. Its important that you call the cruise line youre going to go on to ask about the process for bringing a mobility scooter on a cruise ship as well as asking for as much information about the individual cruise lines accommodations for individuals traveling with a mobility scooter on a cruise. Royal Caribbean, for example, has mobility scooter accessible rooms on all ships within their fleet. These state-rooms have main room and bathroom doors that are at least 32 wide which is enough for most mobility scooters and wheelchairs to fit through. Royal Caribbean also offers Whirlpool lifts, Pool lifts, low elevation slots in the casino and even accessible lowered desk stands at the guest relations office of all ships. Below is an example of a main door opening that has automatic sensors, which is a standard for all main doors and bathroom doors.
Choosing The Right Cruise Ship
Accessible features vary from one cruise line to another, and even ships within the same class can be different. When choosing a ship, newer and larger is generally better, but don’t discount older vessels. Many cruise lines use the opportunity to make ships more accessible to travelers when they undergo major renovations and upgrades. While oceangoing vessels tend to be more disability-friendly, some river cruise ships are also able to accommodate passengers with disabilities, but with limitations.
Most lines also have dedicated departments to assist passengers with disabilities. They can advise the size of a ship’s stateroom doorway and whether you will need a collapsible wheelchair or scooter. This department can also notify passengers which areas, if any, will not be accessible by wheelchair or scooter and if it’s possible to travel with a seeing-eye or hearing-assistance dog.
For example, Celebrity Cruises will help arrange for transportation from the airport to the pier and then assist with boarding. Celebrity’s customer service and reservation agents are also Certified Accessible Travel Agents with Special Needs at Sea, a company that rents mobility and medical equipment to cruise passengers. With this knowledge, they can assist in getting the appropriate equipment onboard the ship for their passengers.
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Other Needs Andadditional Assistance
Norwegian Cruise Line welcomes guests with medical, emotional or any other challenge to Freestyle cruising. If you have a need that has not been discussed, we encourage you to contact us at the Access Desk regarding your special requirements or requests and our policies and procedures.
Children with Disabilities
Children with disabilities are welcome on all Norwegian Cruise Line vessels. Please contact the Access Desk to discuss Norwegian Cruise Line’s policies and procedures regarding children with disabilities and how we can assist you in making your child’s cruising experience safe, fun and comfortable.
Cognitive, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Guests with cognitive, intellectual and development disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease are encouraged to contact the Access Desk to discuss your cruise. Upon request, every effort will be made to meet your cruising special requirements, including:
- Boarding and disembarkation assistance
Which Cruise Ship Cabins To Avoid
After analyzing their deck plans, we’ll list here the most famous ships and their “worst” cabins. The “bad cruise cabins” issue is not about amenities, but about location – and noise. Cabins located nearby the ships’ elevators or with some public areas above , or near public bathrooms may present some noise concern during the day or late at night.
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Plan For Excursions That Are Wheelchair Accessible
As daily excursions are generally included in the river cruise fare, you won’t get value for money if you can’t join many of them. Usually, there are some options for wheelchair users and passengers who can navigate a few steps and go on short walks, but not every tour or attraction will be available to you.
Because Europe’s rivers are historic working waterways, many important cities and wine-growing towns line the banks. This is good news for disabled travellers because it means that museums, churches, shops, restaurants and other attractions are usually very close by, with no need for bus transfers. Viking, in particular, has prime central mooring spots as it owns its own docks. Look for cruise lines that grade their guided walking tours according to fitness levels slower walks that don’t involve any steps are usually suitable for people in wheelchairs and with restricted mobility.
The bad news is that many of Europe’s old towns have cobbled streets, which can present problems. The cruise director will be able to advise which tours are suitable for different individuals, based on their mobility. He or she will also be able to suggest places where disabled passengers can rest, or see an alternative attraction with wheelchair access, if parts of the trip involve long walks and uneven steps.
A Guide To Accessible River Cruises
The leisurely pace, culture-rich itineraries and lack of facilities for children make river cruises very appealing to the Baby Boomer and senior age group. River cruisers tend to be aged 55-plus with no upper limit — it’s not unheard of to cruise with nonagenarians. Given that target audience, you’d think river cruises would be set up for travelers with disabilities.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. River cruising presents various challenges to disabled cruisers both on and off the ship, and travelers who use wheelchairs or have difficulty walking need to be aware of the possible pitfalls before they book. From a dearth of accessible cabins to shore excursions that can’t accommodate wheelchair users, river cruises aren’t always smooth sailing for disabled travelers.
However, it’s not all bad news. Armed with the right information about wheelchair-accessible river cruises, and knowing exactly what to expect, you can find a river ship that provides a very enjoyable and satisfying experience. It pays to do your homework to get you started, here is our guide to accessible river cruising.
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What Amenities Do Handicapped Rooms On Cruise Ships Not Offer
Details matter when it comes to wheelchair-accessible cruise cabins, as we learned from Debra Kerper, an accessible travel specialist with Cruise Planners and a member of Royal Caribbeans Disability Advisory Board. A double amputee who has been on more than 100 cruises, shes experienced the disconnect between a cabins description and the reality of living in it.
Some ships make their balconies too small, she says. You can get out the door in a powered wheelchair, but you cant fit all the way onto the veranda. That makes the balcony useless for the wheelchair user and a waste of money. She notes that some of Norwegians accessible cabins in the exclusive Haven area fall into this category.
She has also stayed in disabled cabins on cruise ships where the queen-sized bed could not convert to twins or where room for a wheelchair transfer was only available on one side of the bed. Depending on the needs and preferences of wheelchair-bound travelers, certain bed configurations might be unacceptable.
Fully accessible cabins always come with a shower bench, but sometimes these fold-down seats are too small especially for an amputee like Kerper. Shes had to request a large transfer bench for the shower so she could have the stability of a larger seat that she could hold onto.
Kerper notes that it’s important to find out the exact details of what the accessible cabin can offer and what it does not to know if it will work for you.
Adaptations For Those With Hearing Impairments
Some accessible staterooms have been designed with hearing impaired guests in mind, including innovative adaptations like vibrating alarm clocks, and doorbells, telephones, smoke detectors and fire alarms with indicating-light systems. Staterooms without these facilities feature alert kits which can be fitted to any cabin these include visual-tactile smoke detectors, door-knock alerts, wake-up systems and telephone alerts.
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All Of Disney Cruise Line’s Ships Offer Accommodations For A Variety Of Travelers
Disney Cruise Line offers amenities and accommodations for a variety of individuals.
On the ship, each wide, accessible room features roll-in showers, grab bars in the bathroom and shower, adjustable-height shower heads, and lowered towel bars and closet bars. All accessible rooms also feature emergency call buttons.
The cruise line offers rooms with wide door frames and open bed frames, which makes it easier for people to get in or out of bed from each side.
There is also dedicated seating for those who use wheelchairs at all dining venues, theaters, and on-deck activities.
Some of Disney Cruise Line’s trips go to Disney’s private island Castaway Cay and many cruisers have noted that the island is also quite accessible. It has paved paths to the beach and shops and most of the island is accessible for those who use wheelchairs or walkers.
The beach also has sand wheelchairs to help individuals get around.
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.
|Tactile alert system & hearing packs|
*Dry cell batteries only **Service dogs not permitted to disembark at any port of call
What To Expect When Going On A Cruise With A Mobility Scooter
Royal Caribbean is by far one of the most accommodating cruise lines for passengers that have disabilities. With that being said, Royal Caribbean offers priority boarding to all passengers that have a disability or mobility device. So when boarding the ship, you are able to bypass the long lines and move right up to the security checkpoint faster. In the ship, youll find that all access points have ramps and or elevators. Doors are equipped with buttons that can be pressed to automatically open doors in the event that the sensors do not work to automatically open doors. Youll also find that there are many desks, kiosks, slot machines and chairs that are lowered for disability access. The off-boarding process is also just as easy if you have a mobility scooter, you are able to move to the priority off-boarding line to skip the long wait. All in all, going on a cruise with a mobility scooter or power wheelchair is pretty easy to do if you are cruising on a Royal Caribbean ship.
The Complete Guide To Cruising With A Disability
If you have a disability, then it doesnt mean that you cant enjoy the experience of vacationing on a cruise ship. In fact, cruising is a great way to get out and see the world, especially since the cruise lines are extremely conscious about making the accommodations needed for passengers with disabilities.
In fact, given the control that cruise lines have over the building of and the services offered on their ships, its hard to beat a cruise when it comes to accessibility. Unlike a resort that could have been built decades ago before accessibility was a major consideration cruise ships are relatively modern. That means they can offer ease and comfort not often seen in other venues.
However, we know that having a disability means you have to consider how youll perform day-to-day activities that most people take for granted especially when going into an unfamiliar place like a cruise ship. To help you out, weve researched the major cruise lines to bring you everything we can about accessibility issues.
Fortunately, cruising is among the most accommodating ways to travel. Even so, there are some things you should know.
Keep in mind that the information below is general. If you have specific questions not answered, its best to contact the cruise line directly. Weve included contact information at the end of the article.
In This Article…
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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.
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.
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