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Updated: Aug 24, 2019

Cruising is one of the most popular ways people with disabilities prefer to travel. The cruise ship is a combination of things such as your hotel, transportation, dining room and activity source. Cruising is known as one of the most pleasant and affordable ways to travel. Traveling with a disability can be stressful and challenging at times, but taking a few steps such as preparing ahead of time and alerting the cruise line of your specific requirements will make your vacation go as smooth as possible. Choosing a Wheelchair Accessible Cruise Ship Most cruise ships are wheelchair accessible. However some cruise lines offer a variety of amenities that vary from one cruise line to another. Common amenities include wheelchair accessible staterooms, balconies, shared spaces, elevators, dining areas, special assistance coordinators, assisted ship transfers and tenders, pool lifts and accessible public restrooms throughout the ship.

The best wheelchair accessible cruise ships and for travelers with disabilities are:

  • Royal Caribbean’s Quantum

  • Oasis

  • Freedom

  • Vision and Radiance

  • Disney Cruise Line’s Magic and Dream

  • Celebrity’s Millennium and Solstice

  • Holland America’s Vista

  • Princess Cruises’ Grand

  • Regent Seven Seas Voyager

  • Navigator and Mariner

  • Norwegian Cruise Lines Dawn, Jewel, Epic and Breakaway

While these are the best wheelchair accessible cruise ships to sail on for your vacation, keep in mind that new ships are being created every day. When making reservations it is recommended to inquire about wheelchair accessible staterooms and assure that the room has basic requirements such as grab bars in the bathroom, raised beds, shower seats, extra wide doors for easy access and adjustable hanging rods in the closets.

American with Disabilities Act American cruise ships and vessels that sail under foreign flags that dock in ports within the United States are required to abide by the Americans with Disabilities Act. However, the ADA does not apply to foreign ports. This is why it is so important to plan ahead when traveling to foreign destinations.

Hire a Travel Agent There are travel agents that specialize in planning vacations for people with disabilities. The travel agents are highly knowledgeable and familiar with the needs required for you to have an excellent vacation with as little obstacles as possible. They have the capability to arrange for medical equipment rentals, schedule accessible transportation, organize private shore excursions at destinations and more! If you are an experienced traveler and prefer to make your travel arrangements, make sure the details below are on your planning to do list.

Onboard Considerations When booking your stateroom on the cruise ship make sure you know the difference between accessible staterooms and modified staterooms. An accessible stateroom on most cruise ships generally were built and designed specifically to meet the needs of those with mobility issues. An accessible stateroom has a roll-in shower with a chair or bench and wide entry doors. A modified stateroom usually has low thresholds and a shower-only bathroom.

Tenders and Accessibility to Ports First time cruise vacation travelers may not be familiar with tenders. Generally when a ship arrives at a port-of-call it is able to pull directly up to the dock and provide easy access to and from the pier for all passengers. However, there are times when the ship is unable to locate itself close to the pier. This could be due to a large amount of vessel traffic around the port-of-call, unusual weather and lack of space at the destination. When this happens, the cruise ship is forced to stay a distance away from the destination and tenders are provided for the passengers to exit and enter the port-of-call. These tenders are small boats that are not always wheelchair accessible. Boarding tenders have been proven to be difficult for wheelchair users. Often you get carried down a gangway to a platform and then placed onto the small tender boat. If the seas are rough or there are other factors that make it unsafe for you to be on the tender, you can be limited to staying on the ship and miss experiencing the port-of-call. The best way to avoid this stress is to choose cruise itineraries that have accessible ports-of-call. Learning these details is as easy as asking the cruise line directly or speaking to your travel agent.

Shore Excursions Shore excursions are fun and exciting adventures you get to take once you reach a port-of-call. Sometimes they are included in the cost of your cruise vacation, while other times there is an additional fee. Shore excursions give you the opportunity to experience the land with guided tours so you use your time efficiently during your visit. When booking your shore excursion remember to inquire about accessibility. Depending on which destination you are visiting, a variety of obstacles such as steps, cobblestone streets, tough terrain and steep climbs upwards on a mountain can easily cause you to miss out on an adventure. Keep in mind that some historical attractions at port-of-calls around the world are in hard to reach places and they may not provide a safe way for you to approach the area. Inquiring if the shore excursion is wheelchair accessible will save you time and money.

Schedule Wheelchair Maintenance Plan ahead of time to service your power wheelchair before going on your cruise vacation.  After all, you will want  your wheelchair or scooter to be in good condition and working order to prevent any issues arising on the cruise.  The last thing you would want to happen is to have your chair breakdown with no means during your vacation to get it fixed. To prevent emergency breakdowns of your equipment contact Mobility & More or WSR to schedule service or repair. Mobility & More and WSR offers in-home nationwide power wheelchair and scooter maintenance and repair services and accepts Medicare, private insurance, worker’s compensation, credit cards, money orders and cash payment in all 50 states. Schedule your appointment and call 704-821-7777 to have a licensed technician come to your home and inspect your mobility equipment to make sure it is functioning properly and address any repair issues.

Once you have your cruise vacation planned, you can begin by personally checking your wheelchair/scooter to make sure the battery, joystick, wheels and tires are in good working condition. It is recommended to have a professional, certified repair company inspect your wheelchair or scooter to assure it is safe and in good working order.

Cruise lines offer the opportunity to travel to destinations around the globe. Don’t let obstacles keep you from enjoying your trip. Planning ahead and creating a vacation itinerary that is wheelchair accessible is essential to having a smooth trip and great experience. Always check with the specific cruise line of your choice to learn their specific requirements regarding wheelchair and medical equipment regulations.

Written by - WSR Services

Tags: accessible transportation, cruise, vacation,



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