Cruising is considered an excellent vacation idea for people who have mobility issues or use a wheelchair. You will find cruising to be more comfortable and convenient because of access to things like bathrooms with grab bars, wider doorways, and plenty of room to turn around.
Newer ships have better accessibility facilities compared to older ships that have less accessible facilities, such as narrower isles that make it hard for you to move around in your wheelchair. Although they have great amenities, there are a few things that you need to do to ensure that your cruise goes on smoothly.
- Check to know whether the ports in your cruise are tethered or docked. You can do this by calling the cruise line or checking their website
- Book early. Although ships have a lot of rooms, there are fewer rooms that are wheelchair accessible. Cruises to some areas fill up fast, so the earlier you book, the better your chance of getting a wheelchair-accessible room.
- Find out whether you can rent mobility equipment from the ship. Most cruise lines will have all the items you need ready for you in your stateroom. Call well in advance as they may have a limited number to rent out.
- Inquire if the shore excursions are wheelchair accessible. You will probably have fewer options to choose from. However, companies in some destinations offer great wheelchair-accessible shore excursions.
Carnival’s Alaskan Cruise
Cruising to Alaska is one of the most popular cruises among major cruise lines, and Carnival is one of the best there is. It has three ships that leave from different ports; Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco. It takes them a different number of days to get to Alaska.
They also tend to visit the same destinations, with Ketchikan, Icy Straight Point, and Skagway being the most popular wheelchair-accessible excursions. You’ll also have a front-row seat to stunning nature views of wildlife and mountains. The harbors along the way are beautiful.
On this cruise, you get to enjoy watching movies, cartoons, and events on an outdoor screen, enjoying the sunset in a hot tub and pampering yourself in the spa.
When booking your cruise, you’ll be required to fill out a mobility questionnaire to ensure you get a room that suits your needs. Apart from wide doorways, turning space, no stairs, and bathrooms with shower seats and grab bars, pool lifts are in the newer vessels. With arrangements, you’ll be able to be picked up from the airport.
Norwegian’s Hawaiian Cruise
Norwegian is quite famous when it comes to how it takes care of passengers with accessibility needs. They offer transport to and from the ports of call. When cruising to Hawaii with Norwegian, you'll have the option of 7-day round trip cruises and 16-day cruises.
You’ll be aboard the Pride of America ship if you decide to go with the seven-day option. You can book this cruise at a suitable time for you, as it runs all year round. You get a chance to visit four Hawaiian islands starting from Honolulu, which is a major tourist attraction.
After Honolulu, the next stop is Kaluhui, a commercial shopping center where you can buy souvenirs. Prices here are cheaper than buying from the souvenir shop in the vessel. The next stop is Hilo, you finish off with Kona, which boasts many natural attractions like Kua Bay, Mauna Kea Summit, and Makalawena Beach.
The 16-day cruise, on the other hand, ends in Vancouver and you get to enjoy the islands on the way and the numerous activities. Norwegian vessels are friendly to people with mobility issues. They have staff, referred to as Special Assistance Coordinators, dedicated to assisting with whatever you may need.
Disney’s Caribbean Cruise
If you are looking to enjoy a family-oriented cruise to the Caribbean, Disney offers a great opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking scenery. With fun activities planned, such as Broadway-quality entertainment on the ship and port adventures off the ship, you get to enjoy the best of both worlds.
You can choose to depart from Miami, FL, Port Canaveral, FL, New Orleans, LA, and Galveston, TX if you are on the 4-night cruise aboard Disney wonder. For seven-night cruises, you board the Disney Fantasy, which has four ports of call in Miami, FL, Port Canaveral, FL, Galveston, TX, or San Juan, PR.
You get to explore Disney’s private island, which is wheelchair accessible. On the private island, you will find sand wheelchairs available. You'll also find that all the amenities in your room suit your accessibility needs. They include:
- Open bed frames that can be accessed from both sides
- Wide doors
- Roll-in showers
- Pool lifts
- Low closet and towel bars
Disney has a limited number of wheelchairs that are used only during emergencies, embarking and disembarking. If for some reason you are unable to bring your wheelchair, get in touch with a third party to rent their wheelchair for the cruise.
Royal Caribbean’s Bahamas Cruise
Royal Caribbean is known to have spacious ships that make it an easy choice for wheelchair users. The company offers some of the best wheelchair-accessible cruises. With this cruise, you can choose from a wide range of options for the number of days you want to cruise. Your port of call depends on how long you are cruising.
Royal Caribbean only has complimentary wheelchairs that you can use when embarking and disembarking. You can choose to rent a wheelchair from Special Needs at Sea or Scootaround to use during your cruise if you are unable to bring yours.
To ensure you reserve an appropriate room, fill out the special needs form available on their website at least 30 days before you are set to sail. You will be able to enjoy many activities, including casino games. The casino tables are lowered and there are automatic doors and pool lifts.
During your cruise, you will visit Nassau, a docked port. You will be able to get off and explore the beautiful beach, get some shopping done, and even visit historical landmarks. At the Nature Center in CocoCay, you’ll have a chance to bird-watch.
Carnival’s Caribbean Cruise
Apart from the multiple ports of call available, you also get to choose whether you want to dock in the Southern, Eastern, or Western parts of the Caribbean. Longer trips, usually lasting up to 14 days, dock in the Southern Caribbean, while the short trips, usually 4 to 7 days, end up in the East or West Caribbean.
For the short trips, your point of call will either be Cozumel or Key West. The ships for this trip are Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Sensation. Stops for the longer cruises are different from those for short cruises. They also depend on the ship you are on. If you are looking to dock at a specific harbor, ensure you book the right ship.
For example, if you choose to go on a five-day cruise, departing from Port Canaveral and docking in the Eastern Caribbean, you will be in Grand Turk on the third day and in Amber Cove on the fourth day before heading back to Florida.
If you encounter any problem in booking a fully accessible room, you can get in touch with a special team that handles accessibility matters. They will answer all your questions and ensure you get an appropriate room.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Cruise Ships Wheelchair Friendly?
Many cruise lines have specially designed staterooms in their ships that are modified to suit the needs of wheelchair users. Some modifications include wider doorways, closet rods, grab bars in the bathrooms and enough room for wheelchairs to turn. However, some are not friendly to wheelchair users.
What is the Best Cruise Line for Passengers with Disabilities?
It’s difficult to choose a specific one that stands out. The best cruise lines include P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival, and Disney. They have accessible cabins, and some provide passengers with wheelchairs and scooters.
Can You Rent a Wheelchair on Cruise Ships?
There are cruise ships where you’ll be able to rent a wheelchair, in some, you will not be able to rent. For those where you cannot rent, you can organize with a third party to rent a wheelchair from them.
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