Are cruise ships really accessible to folks with mobility issues? Absolutely! More than 90 major cruise ships sailing worldwide have wheelchair-accessible cabins with widened stateroom and bathroom doors, elevators that support wheelchairs, accessible tables in the main dining room and pier assistance on request. At the bottom of this page, you can search for the cruise of your dreams on any of these ships. But first, here are several important issues to consider:
U.S. ports are the most accessible because their pier facilities comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Outside of the United States, port accessibility is less predictable.
Many people are able to drive to U.S. or Canadian departure ports, saving money on airfare and avoiding the hassles of flying.
Always arrive early at the airport.
Ask a security officer for help with your mobility aid and carry-on items as you go through the security checkpoint. Let the security officer know your level of ability (e.g., whether you can walk, stand or perform an arm lift) and whether or not you can walk through the metal detector.
Check your chair or scooter at the boarding gate and request that it be brought to you at the gate when you arrive.
Consider using gel or foam-filled batteries, also known as dry cells, in your scooter or power chair. The ground crew may remove standard acid-filled batteries, or wet cells, and pack them in special containers for transport.
If you use a folding, manual wheelchair you can request that it be stowed in the onboard coat closet (if the plane has one). There is only space for one chair in these closets, and the service is available on a first-come, first-served basis. You should arrive early to make your request.
Make sure your name, address and a gate-delivery tag are on your equipment if it's stowed in the plane cargo area.
Request a stateroom close to an elevator bank for easy access. Most cruise ships have two or three banks of elevators to service their many decks.
Many destination cruise ports lack sufficient pier space to accommodate all cruise ships, and some ports have no pier at all. If your ship cannot dock at the pier, it will drop anchor offshore and passengers will "tender" into port via small boats. Guests who use wheelchairs may have to be helped down temporary stairs and/or carried on and off these boats. If conditions don't permit safe transfer to the tender (for example, if the seas are rough), the ship's officers may prohibit a guest from being carried aboard a tender if they feel it would compromise the safety of the passenger or crew.
Cruise passengers with limited mobility should evaluate shore excursion choices carefully. Some lines will arrange tours that can accommodate people with disabilities, and some provide accessibility ratings in their shore excursion booklets. Your Vacations To Go travel counselor (800-998-6902) can work with you and the cruise line to determine which cruises offer accessible shore excursions.
Equipment Rental and Delivery
If you require the use of a mobility device such as a scooter or wheelchair but prefer not to travel with your own equipment, we can recommend a reliable vendor who rents quality equipment and can have it delivered to the cruise ship.
To see images and specifications for the mobility equipment that is available for rental and delivery, click here.
Find A Bargain on Accessible Ships
Tell us where and when you want to cruise and check any mobility-related ship features that are important to you, and we'll show you the very best discounts on all the accessible ships that meet your requirements. Select as many options as you wish, but remember that in general, the more selections you make, the fewer matches will be found.
The Special Needs department at Vacations To Go is open Monday through Friday, 8am to 7pm, and
Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 6pm, Central Time.