Which are the most accessible cruises?
How to eliminate worry and stress from your cruise itinerary.
Everybody looks forward to planning their next vacation getaway where they can travel and explore new beautiful destinations all around the world. Are you an ocean lover that enjoys soaking up the sun and listening to the endless ocean waves? Or are you a city explorer that lives for buildings and museums full of fascinating history and culture? In any case, cruising the sea can be one of the best vacations you could experience.
As you all know, traveling in a wheelchair can be challenging and creates concerns – for example, having a cabin room with a wheelchair-friendly shower and toilet, restaurants and theaters with accessible seating, and pools and hot tubs with wheelchair lifts. These concerns are important on your decision to travel. Therefore, planning ahead and searching for cruises with accessible features can prevent you from missing out on exciting adventures that await.
According to the Australian comparison platform finder.com.au, the top nine recommended cruises that excel in physical accessibility include:
- Holland America Line: www.hollandamerica.com
- Princess Cruises: www.princesscruises.ch
- Norwegian Cruise Line: www.ncl.com/ch/de
- Carnival Cruises: www.carnival.com
- P&O: www.pocruises.de
- Royal Caribbean: www.royalcaribbean.ch
- Celebrity Cruises: www.celebritycruises.ch
- Disney Cruise Lines: www.disneycruise.com
- Cunard: www.cunardline.ch
These cruise lines navigate across a wide variety of seas and oceans and include stunning destinations scattered all over the world such as Alaska, Canada, England, Greece, China, Australia, and New Zealand.
Among the majority of the top nine recommended cruise lines are also the best ships for disabled travelers, suggested by the cruise reviews and information site cruisecritic.com. It provides the special features of the ships as well as caveats – check it out. Accessible features provided throughout these ships, in addition to the ones mentioned above, include:
- automatic cabin doors with push-button access,
- lowered closet railings and handrails,
- sink, bath and bed distress alarms,
- lowered playing tables at the casino,
- front and rear wheelchair seating with elevator access at the theater,
- and special wheelchairs to navigate the beautiful sandy beaches.
According to finder.com.au, among the most wheelchair-accessible ports to consider are: Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Melbourne in Australia, Auckland in New Zealand, Singapore, Monaco in France, Barcelona in Spain, Southampton and London in the UK, Athens in Greece, and Naples in Italy. However, ports to steer clear of due to their mobile inaccessibility are, among others: Kona in Hawaii, Benoa in Bali, Bora Bora in Polynesia, Christchurch (Akaroa) in New Zealand, and Liverpool in the UK.
In addition to the features provided, there are many other useful tips for disabled travelers during the booking process and onboard excursion. It is recommended first to check various cruise line websites and read up on cruise line policies. Some lines require those with disabilities to travel with a companion. Most have a department dedicated to assisting disabled travelers. Also, it is beneficial to complete a form provided by this department, describing your needs and limitations.
To save time and ensure all needs are met, it might be useful to hire a travel agent that is familiar with various cruise lines and ships, port access at destinations, and type of accessible excursions available. They can even arrange accessible transportation from the airport to the ship and coordinate accessible hotel rooms before and after the adventures at sea. Sage Traveling and Flying Wheels Travel are travel companies that are specially trained to assist disabled travelers for cruises to Europe and the Caribbean:
- Sage Traveling: http://www.sagetraveling.com/
- Flying Wheels Travel: http://flyingwheelstravel.com/
Their tailored services include also coordinating private tours using wheelchair accessible transportation and renting medical equipment for disabled travelers that do not want to bring onboard their own equipment.
Finally, make sure to review the onshore excursion brochures to determine the accessibility for each excursion. Each destination can present challenges that should be carefully considered such as cobble stone paths, steps, and lack of curb cuts. As the cruise lines continue to develop and upgrade an accessible-friendly environment, disabled travelers will have fewer worries and more choices when booking their next adventure sailing the open seas.
Now it is your turn to add your personal suggestions or recommendations! Have you experienced any mobile accessible cruises or ports? If so, what features have you found the most essential? What were the most helpful tools when planning your cruise? And if you have not experienced or are considering a cruise vacation: what features would you make sure to have while onboard? Feel free to share with us!
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