Your Guide to Ship, Port, Ocean and River Cruising Accessibilities
The cruise industry is growing rapidly and due to its ease of access and all-inclusive nature, it attracts people from across the globe. Travellers with limited or no mobility are no exception to the crowds of people who cruise every year. Almost all of the world’s major cruise lines are making every effort to make the incredible holidays they provide an accessible reality for everyone. This is part of what makes a cruise vacation an ideal way to travel for those facing mobility restrictions. While some services may vary between the different providers, you’re sure to benefit from extra assistance along the way. Pair this with the benefits provided by a knowledgeable CruisePlus Travel Consultant and you’re sure to love every minute of your vacation.
If you’ve already booked your trip and have yet to disclose any medical requirements to the cruise line or your travel agent, we advise you do so as soon as possible. A CruisePlus Travel Consultant is able to facilitate all the necessary prior arrangements you might need on your holiday. This can include but is not limited to equipment rentals, dietary requirements and even ASL interpreters for those with hearing impairments. Travellers can also inform their travel consultant or travel provider if they prefer to bring their own equipment, but be aware that some restrictions may apply.
- Request travel assistance for both the airline and cruise provider well in advance
- The medications you require may not be available in the country you’re travelling to, speak with your healthcare provider for the best course of action
- Not all travel insurance is created equal. Speak with your travel professional about the options available to you
- In most cases, passengers can bring their service animals on board but bear in mind there are restrictions.
- Choose an itinerary and cruise line that best fits your specific needs
Ocean Cruises: Accommodating and Built for Comfort
Persons with mobility requirements often receive priority access when embarking and disembarking the ship and may receive assistance to do so if requested and necessary. Ocean cruise ships are designed without architectural barriers, allowing freedom for the cruise lines to easily renovate and retrofit facilities allowing those who face mobility challenges to travel with relative ease and comfort. The designs often follow the indications of the Disabilities Act of the United States of America. The act states, all public areas are to be built without architectural barriers therefor providing easy access even to people with reduced mobility. Floors are to be made in a linear and uniform manner, with the exception of where there is an obligation to install ramps for those who need the wheelchair, and the width of the doors and corridors are designed in such a way that a wheelchair or other mobility-assisting equipment could pass through without issue.
Every room that’s designated as accessible is organized in such a way to allow easy and convenient access to all available amenities: air conditioning controls, key card readers, switches, hangers etc. are placed next to the beds or at a reduced height so as to be easily reached by the guest. Bathrooms are also organized to facilitate wheelchair access in an effort to provide the best possible customer experience on board. The width of the cabin door, the size of the bed starting from the floor, the height and size of the bathrooms and toilets are also adapted to assist these particular travellers
On the majority of ships, common areas including the different restaurants and bars are wheelchair accessible. Corridors are large and spacious so that people can easily navigate every part of the ship. In addition, there are also automatic doors, elevators and railings giving access to all entrances. In any case, the crew will always be available to assist any passengers with specific needs if required and make sure to make themselves available to help in any way they can.
River cruises can often be more luxurious and all-inclusive compared to their ocean counterpart and we are often asked if river cruising is suitable for persons with mobility issues. The fact of the matter is that it really falls on the cruisers best judgement to determine if it will be the right fit for them and their particular challenges. River ships often have very narrow hallways and public spaces making them difficult for passengers that rely permanently on a wheelchair. There are a few exceptions as AmaWaterways, Emerald Waterways and Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours do offer conveniently located wheelchair accessible rooms onboard select ships. Some river cruise lines may require you to travel with a caregiver, so it’s best to check these details with the cruise line or your experienced CruisePlus Travel Consultant.
River Cruise Lines: What they offer
On all AmaWaterways ships, the doors are wide enough to allow access by wheelchair. On the specific ships AmaSerena, AmaSonata, AmaPrima and AmaCerto have staterooms which feature wider doorways and modified bathrooms specifically for wheelchair access
Each ship offers an elevator that services all floors, with the exception of the lower and sun deck. However, the ship’s staff are always happy to assist with access to the sun deck.
Passengers are encouraged to bring their own collapsible wheelchair that can be stored in their stateroom.
Two of Emerald Waterways ships each have one accessible stateroom on board. The EmeraldSky and EmeraldStar both have their accessible rooms located near reception making it easy to
access and find their room.
Elevators found on board Emerald ships service the passenger decks but do not go to the sun deck. It’s important to note that assistance can be provided by the always helpful staff when accessing some more difficult areas of the ship.
Only collapsible wheelchairs can be accommodated on board along with walkers and canes.
Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours
Scenic Cruises & Tours accessible staterooms are located close to the reception area on all ships. Expect a wide, wheelchair accessible door, a wheel in shower with stool and railing.
Elevators service the passenger decks but not the sun deck which may be accessible with the assistance of the helpful crew.
For those with no mobility and must use a wheelchair permanently there may be limitations or unique challenges on which excursions you’ll be able to take part in. For example, the cobblestone streets found in Europe often make it difficult to travel through city and village streets in a wheelchair, with a cane or a walker. With that in mind, there are still many excursions available for those with little or no mobility. The sheer number of tours and excursions available either privately or offered by the cruise line ensure that there is something for everyone to enjoy. It’s very important that you seek the advice of other travellers, the cruise line or a professional travel agent when planning any shore excursions. Their expertise will alleviate much if not all of the guesswork involved with the planning process and nobody wants to be stuck on their adventure watching from the deck because they weren’t prepared.
River cruising provides a slow-paced, intimate and luxurious experience and with proper planning and expert advice persons with mobility issues can enjoy it to the fullest. While the challenge of planning an accessible vacation is enough to turn some people off the journey of a lifetime, at CruisePlus Travel & Tours we’re happy to take care of the details leaving you to simply enjoy the holiday without worry.