How To Take A Wheelchair On A Cruise Ship

Wheelchair users often believe that cruising on the ocean is either difficult or impossible.  This is not true!  The leisure cruise industry has made significant advances and the majority of U.S. owned cruise ships are fully accessible.  Ships are equipped with elevators and accessible state rooms with space for a wheelchair to be maneuvered and operated.  Wheelchair accessible staterooms are offered with roll-in showers and lowered sinks/cabinets/switches.  We answer the top three most frequently asked questions about cruise accessibility here:

How do I secure an accessible stateroom?

Wheelchair accessible staterooms can be reserved during online booking or through your travel agent.  Be sure that your cruise booking confirmation lists your guaranteed reservation of an accessible room or suite.  Cruise ships offer a limited number of rooms with accessibility features, so it is critical that your accessibility request is confirmed at booking.

How do I board/disembark the ship in a wheelchair?

Docking stations are equipped with accessible ramps or lifts which allow wheelchair users to easily board/disembark the ship at port.  At some ports of call, the ship will be anchored offshore and a lift will be used to lower the passenger and his/her wheelchair  onto a ship’s tender, or smaller boat used to ferry passengers from ship to shore.  In some rare cases, particularly in remote beach/island and arctic destinations, a port of call will not be equipped to accept wheelchair travelers.  To determine if your desired cruise itinerary includes inaccessible ports of call, contact your cruise line or travel agent.

How can I be sure my ship is accessible in advance?

Most simply, ships which offer wheelchair accessible staterooms are accessible.  For specific information on the accessibility features of a particular ship, contact the cruise line or your travel agent.  While ships may have some limited areas which cannot be accessed by a wheelchair, the majority of ships operated by U.S. carriers are fully accessible.  Ships which have entered into service or been retrofitted recently will be among the most accessible on the seas.