Here comes the Costa Victoria!

Here comes the Costa Victoria! Photo by: oziris (Stock Exchange)

Hello, everybody! Today’s Disabled Travelers blog is dedicated, once again, to accessible cruises; it’s been a tough nut to crack, but I’m finding new ways to make it easier to choose your cruise line.

Last time, we shared some new handicapped travel resources for ocean voyages, including a great new website with lots of articles.

Now, I’m going to put the accessibility information for major cruise lines “at your fingertips” by rustling up each company’s hub for disabled travel info, and giving an overview.

Carnival: All of Carnival’s ships have certain adapted services for the blind, hard-of-hearing, and mobility impaired access – and the newer ships are truly top of the line. Accessible elevators on all ships allow for use by passengers in wheelchairs; tactile controls and audible signals help out with navigation. Braille signage and cabin kits for the deaf are also offered. While on deck, accessible routes are posted and accessibility maps are available for every ship in the fleet right from the website! Not comfortable with long voyages, or maybe shore excursions aren’t your thing? No problem – choose a “Cruise to Nowhere”, which allows you to enjoy the famed shipboard hospitality and entertainment of Carnival without shore trips, and can be as short as 2-3 days.

Celebrity: Celebrity has a complete compendium of information covering wheelchair users, the blind or deaf, adapted tours for shore days, and handling your medical needs while onboard. Wheelchair accessible staterooms feature wall-to-wall adapted furniture and barrier-free paths, including ramped bathroom thresholds, grab bars, roll-in showers, and other useful features. One thing you can be sure of when going on a cruise is that ship staff members have measurements for every door and passage, so you’ll easily be able to tell if your “ride” can be accommodated by Celebrity and most other lines.

Disney: Looking for accessible cruises with more family-oriented fare? Disney may just be your best bet at sea. On land, the Disney properties are known for thorough attention to accessibility for visitors with all kinds of special needs, which recently included upgrades to parks worldwide to make them even more accessible for the deaf. At sea, accessible accommodations on Disney ships are first class, and all events onboard feature special seating areas for wheelchair users. Just be aware that beach wheelchairs used on some excursions are on a first-come, first-served basis; if you have a favorite beach chair, you might make arrangements to bring it along with you.

Princess: With luxury cruises going to such destinations as the Caribbean, Hawaii, the South Pacific, the Mexican Riviera, and more, not to mention their amazing world cruises, Princess Cruise Lines is one of the leaders in providing a true luxury experience. First-time and veteran cruisers alike will find something to love here. The same goes for handicapped travelers, who’ll benefit from Princess Cruises’ partnership with Special Needs at Sea, the premier medical supplier for ocean voyages. Princess does have a few issues – for example, collapsible wheelchairs are recommended since door measurements are not standardized, since every ship is a little bit different – but these are easily remedied thanks to SNAS, a truly international outfit.

When it comes to disabled travelers, the fact is that not all cruise lines are created equal. These are some of the best choices, though, and I hope I’ve made it a little bit easier to get the information you need for your next vacation. Remember, there’s no substitute for getting in touch with your would-be ship line directly if anything looks amiss; if the customer service isn’t all you expect, then you know all you need to know!

Bon voyage – and adventure on!


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