For mobility-restricted travellers, finding the right cruise line that addresses and accommodates their special needs is key to experiencing an enjoyable and memorable sailing.
Cruising offers an amazing vacation at sea filled with relaxation, entertainment, and of course, adventure. However, with cruise lines now elevating the standard of accessible travel, there are lines that stand out in accommodating cruisers with mobility restrictions. Based on factors like accessible staterooms, ship amenities, and shore excursions, here are Cruise Passenger’s best cruise lines for mobility-challenged passengers.
In this article, we spotlight the top-rated cruise lines among travellers with mobility issues, from impaired vision to full-time wheelchair users. Based on extensive research and passenger reviews, we identify the leading cruise operators that go the extra mile for mobility-restricted guests. From specially equipped staterooms to considerate, trained staff, these cruise lines make accessibility a top priority.
Royal Caribbean offers some of the most spacious accessible staterooms in the cruising industry. The line’s accessible staterooms range from 14.77sqm to 27.68sqm. In addition, RCL also has a 1.5-metre turning radius in its sleeping areas, bathrooms, and even sitting areas for mobility-restricted cruisers to easily manoeuvre.
Additionally, the line’s accessible stateroom offers wider doors, ramped bathroom thresholds, grab bars, roll-in shower bench and handheld showerheads. Some staterooms even have accessible balconies.
Moreover, Royal Caribbean also has accessible shore activities. The line’s Perfect Day at CocoCay shore excursion in the Bahamas is a friendly island for the mobility-restricted. Additionally, there are complimentary beach-access wheelchairs available throughout the whole island. Furthermore, there are also accessible trams on regular rotation throughout the island.
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line has an extensive inventory of accessible cabins fleetwide. The line’s Carnival Horizon has 65 accessible cabins and the Carnival Panorama features 75 accessible staterooms. In addition these accessible cabins feature wide turnaround spaces even in the bathroom.
The line also features four types of staterooms for mobility-restricted passengers. It has the Fully Accessible Cabins (FAC) and the Fully Accessible Cabins – Single Side Approach (FAC-SSA) for guests with limited to no mobility who need to use wheelchairs or scooters regularly. The Ambulatory Accessible Cabins (AAC) on the other hand, are for cruisers with mobility restrictions but need not use a wheelchair or scooter regularly. The fourth one is the Standard Cabin which has wider entry doors and bathroom doors.
As for shore excursions, Carnival Cruise Line also has a list of accessible shore excursions where passengers with mobility restrictions could enjoy and experience.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line is in keeping with its ‘Freestyle’ mantra which also extends to giving an impressive accessibility policy for all cruisers regardless of physical conditions.
The line’s ships feature up to 27 wheelchair accessible staterooms having extra-wide entry doors, grab bars, and raised beds. In addition, service animals are also permitted. Each vessel also features accessible restrooms in public areas.
Although shore excursions may not always be available or accessible for guests with mobility restrictions, the line continues to work with companies providing accessible shore excursions.
Since the introduction of the Princess Access program, Princess Cruises has been very consistent in raising the bar higher for accessible travel. In fact, the line is highly regarded for its impressive accommodation of cruise passengers who are mobility-restricted.
The line features more than 350 wheelchair-accessible staterooms with much wider entry doors, roll-in showers, hand-held showerheads, handrails, closet railings and lowered sinks.
In addition, Princess also boasts spacious lifts ranging from 91cm-106cm (36-42 inch) doorways. There is also a fleetwide wheelchair seating in the ship’s public areas.
Disney Cruise Line
Disney Cruise Line goes above and beyond creating a magical, inclusive experience. The line features highly accessible staterooms fleetwide that include at least 91cm (32-inch) doorways, open bed frames and ramped bathroom thresholds. Additionally, Disney’s accessible cabins also have bathroom grab bars, adjustable-height shower heads and emergency call buttons.
Moreover, the vessels’ public areas including restaurants, shops and theatres are all wheelchair accessible. Additionally, public restrooms are also available fleet-wide. Furthermore, the line also features pool lifts available fleet-wide for cruisers with mobility restrictions to enjoy onboard activities.
Disney Cruise Line also provides thoughtfully curated accessible Port Adventures in partnership with Accessible Travel Solutions. Wheelchair-bound cruisers can now marvel at the stunning Pantheon in Rome, the awe-inspiring windmills in Amsterdam and a lot more. Back in 2019, Disney Cruise Line unveiled over 40 accessible shore excursions in almost 40 ports around the globe.
Holland America Line
Holland America Line is a great choice for cruisers travelling with mobility restrictions. The line features three types of accessible cabins fleet-wide. The Fully Accessible staterooms are designed for cruisers who need to regularly use the wheelchair or scooter. These staterooms also feature turning space, accessible spaces in the entire cabin, and accessible bathrooms. The line also has the Fully Accessible – Single Side Approach also for wheelchair-bound guests. These staterooms provide an accessible route on only one side of the bed in the cabin. On the other hand, the Ambulatory Accessible cabins are for cruisers with mobility restrictions but do not require regular use of a wheelchair or scooter.
The line’s accessible staterooms come with wide doorways, roll-in showers, grab bars, and hand-held shower heads.
The line is also in keeping with its inclusive “Access to Excellence” offering which accommodate cruisers with diverse needs including those who are requiring wheelchairs, scooters, and even service animals. The line only requests for advance notice on the cruiser’s special requirements during booking.
When it comes to shore excursions, there are times when cruisers are tendered to and from the shore using small boats. In addition, Holland America Line has now 12 ships equipped with wheelchair-accessible tenders.