Most cruise ships make a disabled cruise possible � which is exactly why they’re becoming a very popular choice of holiday for passengers with special needs - whether they are wheelchair-bound, have hearing or visual difficulties, or require specific medical assistance. Cruise lines are aware of their obligations to provide adequate facilities for disabled passengers and over recent years have invested heavily in providing excellent features to ensure cruising for the disabled is an enjoyable and hassle free experience.
The appeal of a "disabled cruise" is clear. You see, almost every ship provides large, accessible public areas with lifts, plenty of sundeck space, multiple dining choices and modern medical facilities. When it comes to cruising for the disabled, most ships have got it covered. Additionally, there are many cruises conveniently sailing round trip from the UK, cutting out the necessity to fly, however if flying is not an issue, specially arranged in-resort transfers are available from the airport to the ship. On the cruise itself, you�ll visit a whole host of different ports of call, with the benefit of only having to unpack once.
Choosing the right ship is important for any disabled cruise - you need to make sure that it provides the right facilities for your individual needs. With an outstanding choice of ships, generally speaking, the newer the vessel the more likely it is to feature purpose-built facilities including staterooms, usually in more than one category and plus better-designed public areas and other useful amenities and provisions, making cruising for the disabled a smooth sailing experience.
For more details please contact Ann Smith, our cruise specialist on 0844 842 1183 ext 1235 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Purpose-built staterooms are usually conveniently located for easy access to public areas and lifts and are designed with wider entrances for wheelchairs with no lip and are generally more spacious for free movement for wheelchairs. In-room amenities are fitted lower than normal to make handling easier at wheelchair height. Ensuite bathrooms include grab rails, roll in showers, shower stools, hand held showerheads and an emergency button. Cabins with baths are also available. Alarm pull rods in bathrooms and alarm buttons beside the beds are also quite common.
Some ships have electrical hoists or lifts to enable wheelchair users to access at least one of the pools and Jacuzzis on board plus dedicated wheelchair positions in the main theatres.
Although the ships themselves may be quite accessible, the same isn’t always the case for ports of call and shore excursions, so the choice of itinerary is also very important. We advise choosing itineraries that feature mainly ports of call where the ship can actually dock at the pier as rough seas and other conditions may make it impossible for wheelchair users or those with mobility issues to leave the ship at certain tender ports where the ship anchors offshore. For those ports that can be accessed, specially adapted shore excursions can be arranged to ensure you make the most of your time whilst ashore.
On a cruise you'll never have to eat alone if you don't want to. Dining is a group experience and whether the cruise line operates a traditional or open-seat dining policy it can be a great way to meet people, and some cruise lines will deliberately seat single cruisers together. At the time of booking, just let your Cruise Concierge know that you wish to request being seated with other single travellers. You don't have to throw yourself into communal activities if that's not what you are after. You can always find a quiet corner on board for some personal time and most ships offer room service for private dining.
Braille facilities are quite standard aboard cruise ships nowadays, with Braille indicators and audio deck announcements in the lifts, as well as cabin numbers in Braille text and closed captioning TV. Many cruise lines will also have Braille menus available in the restaurants.
Guide dogs are permitted on most ships however cruise lines will require advance notice and may also ask for vaccination records, an International Health Certificate or written proof of the dog's training. Special documentation may be required to enter certain ports of call and dogs may not be allowed to disembark at all ports.
Some ships have specially adapted staterooms for hearing-impaired guests that include vibrating alarm clocks and an indicating light system that includes fire alarms, doorbells, smoke detectors and telephones to alert passengers. Those ships that do not have such staterooms provide alert kits, which can be fitted to any cabin, which contain visual-tactile smoke detectors, door knock alerts, wake-up systems and a telephone alert.
Guests who need oxygen or require oxygen therapy can be accommodated on some ships, but generally will have to supply their own oxygen and equipment. Some cruise lines will have exclusive relationships with which companies can deliver and supply oxygen to their ships for use on board or on tours. Let us know that you intend taking oxygen on board, so that we can check the necessary terms and possible restrictions.
Specific dietary requirements can be catered for on most ships. Sugar-free and fat-free desserts are available whilst gluten-free, lactose-free, sodium-free and dairy-free diets can also be catered for however must usually be requested well in advance of your cruise. Please ask for details
Whatever your requirements, it’s more than likely that it can be catered for. Call your specialist Cruise Concierge, Ann Smith who will be happy to discuss your requirements and take care of all of your travel arrangements, to ensure your holiday is thoroughly enjoyable and hassle free.
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Royal Caribbean takes very good care of disabled guests. Their Freedom Class and Oasis Class ships are the largest afloat today and include the most up-to-date amenities you could wish for from specially adapted staterooms and lift accessible pools and Jacuzzis to Braille signs and elevator buttons throughout. Although the facilities onboard are second to none, it is worth noting that these ships are enormous, measuring at least the length of three football pitches, so long distances can be covered to get to certain facilities. Their smaller Radiance Class ships offer a smaller, medium-sized alternative whilst featuring the same specially adapted features for disabled guests.
All seven of P&O Cruises ships, including the new Azura, have wheelchair accessible cabins, which feature wide electric-access doorways into the stateroom, as well as ample floor space for freedom of movement plus ramped access to balcony staterooms. All adapted staterooms also have level entry roll in shower and pull down shower seat with grab rails. Some ships also have hoists to at least one of their swimming pools onboard. P&O Cruises also can offer adapted excursions at most ports of call whilst, if required, equipment can also be booked for you in advance.
Princess Cruises larger Grand Class ships are well suited to welcome disabled guests with a number of additional amenities including some of the most accessible staterooms/suites at sea in a number of categories. For ease of movements the ships also feature an imaginative wheelchair-transportation mechanism, which cuts out the necessity to negotiate the tight gangways. Other adaptions include Braille elevator buttons.
Celebrity Cruises new Solstice Class ships – Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse (sailing from the Southampton) include extra amenities with the disabled passenger in mind including accessible staterooms across most categories, all with automatic opening doors plus pool and Jacuzzi lifts for wheelchair users as well as lowered casino tables. Celebrity’s smaller Millennium-class ships – Millennium, Infinity and Constellation also offer a range of wheelchair accessible cabins in a variety of categories. Unique to this class of ships, Celebrity Constellation also has pool and Jacuzzi lifts similar to her Solstice Class fleet mates.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) welcomes disabled passengers onboard all their ships and provides fleet wide amenities including up to 27 staterooms per ship that are wheelchair accessible with grab bars throughout the bathrooms, shower seats and extra wide doors for easy access. Some of their ships have alarm pull rods in bathrooms and alarm buttons beside the beds. Many NCL ships have Braille indicators in the elevators as well as cabin numbers in Braille text. Their three newest state-of-the-art ships all have electrical hoists for access to the pools and Jacuzzis. Many NCL ships also have dedicated wheelchair positions in the main theatres, and if not, dedicated, wheelchair seating can be arranged.
Holland America is well accustomed to dealing with guests with mobility or other accessibility issues, particularly aboard any of their four Vista-class ships, Zuiderdam, Westerdam, Noordam and Oosterdam. These medium-sized ships are very easy to get around and offer a good selection of easily accessible dining venues, lounges and activities plus a whole host of specially adapted features including purpose-built staterooms across all categories and a unique wheelchair-accessible tender transfer system. Holland America also have a partnership with 'Special Needs at Sea' to provide wheelchairs and special equipment to guests on request.
Cunard's Queen Victoria has 20 wheelchair accessible cabins onboard, all featuring roll in showers, grab rails and shower seat, all areas of the ship are barrier free and accessible. Hoists are available into the pool and equipment rental is also available.
Disabled travellers looking for an ultra-luxury, six-star cruise holiday, can so aboard Crystal Cruises’ two medium-sized ships - Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony. Each ship has a number of wheelchair accessible staterooms in a variety of categories and they will arrange shore excursions with lifts on tour buses where possible. As with all ultra-luxury cruise lines the standards of service are exemplary with the highest staff to guest ratios in the industry so you can rest assure that Crystal Cruises will do their utmost to ensure you have an enjoyable holiday.
With Regent Seven Seas personalised service and high staff-to-guest ratio, ship staff will take very good care of you onboard, actually appointing one staff member to each guest with a disability to make sure he or she is taken care of properly. Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Voyager offer a handful of accessible suites including some complete with personal butler service. They occupy prime locations around the atrium area and design features include wider doors, ramps between the living areas and bathrooms, large shower stalls with seats and grab bars.