Travel is for everyone, regardless of who you are or what your abilities are. However, travel can be a very stressful and daunting experience if you have a disability that limits how well you can move around and explore new places. Fortunately, more and more airlines, hotels, cruise ships, and local attractions are prioritizing the needs of differently abled travelers and making accommodations to support every visitor. Cruises are an excellent option for wheelchair users, for example, because of modern ship upgrades and accessibility features that make travel as fun as it should be. To help you plan your next accessible vacation, here are some of the best cruise options for wheelchair users.
YOU'RE ALL SET!
Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.
Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class
Royal Caribbean has several classes of ships that are great for people who use wheelchairs, including the Quantum, Oasis, Radiance, Vision, and Freedom Classes. We especially like the Oasis Class because it is among the largest cruise ships ever built, which makes getting around and navigating crowds much easier. These large ships can pose issues for people who use walkers or canes, so you may want to bring or rent a wheelchair or scooter for use on-board. Royal Caribbean’s seven-day cruise to Scandinavia and Russia is also a top recommendation for wheelchair users. Both Oasis of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas ships have over 30 accessible staterooms, as well as pool lifts.
Princess 7-Day Alaska Inside Passage
Cruises to Alaska are a dream for many people, and it is very possible to take this cruise route if you’re in a wheelchair. Several Princess Cruises ships, including the Star, Coral, Golden, and Island, travel a seven-day itinerary here and leave from Vancouver. The route stops in Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, and it also cruises through Glacier Bay. Alaskan cruises are a wonderful way to experience this harsh and rugged landscape regardless of your mobility. Every Princess ship has at least 31 accessible cabins, and the cruises to Princess Cays and St. Thomas also offer great wheelchair accessibility.
Disney Cruise Line's Dream Class
Disney Cruises are also favorites among wheelchair users, as this company emphasizes its commitments to passengers with special needs. Disney has made improvements to its Dream Class of ships, making this a wonderful option for families with kids who use wheelchairs. These ships also have counselors on-board that have experience with working with kids who have special needs. Dream Class ships have a couple dozen accessible cabins that have automatic doors and sleep four or five people in each room. It’s also convenient for Disney cruisers in wheelchairs to visit the Castaway Cay private island because the boat docks at the island and features paved pathways on the main promenade.
Celebrity 12-Night Israel and Mediterranean
Mediterranean cruises are another dream trip for people from all around the world, and Celebrity cruises offer some great options to travel here. This high-end cruise ship brand keeps wheelchair users in mind with their ships’ design in terms of wide public spaces and specific areas for designed for wheelchair and scooter users. One popular itinerary leaves from Rome and docks in Naples, Catania, Valetta, Rhodes, Jerusalem, Haifa, and Crete before ending in Athens, Greece. Another popular Mediterranean cruise among wheelchair users is the Royal Caribbean seven-night Western Mediterranean cruise that travels to Spain, France, and Italy.
Ruby Princess, Princess Cruises
The Ruby Princess is another accessible cruise ship by Princess that’s worth checking out for your next trip. You can find a very detailed list of accessible routes by deck on the Ruby Princess on the company’s website. For example, the Botticelli Dining Room is wheelchair-accessible via lifts at the stern, the Dolphin Deck has two long wheelchair-accessible hallways, and the Terrace Pool at the stern is on the Riviera Deck is wheelchair-accessible. The Princess Grand Class is another great option because of its wide doorways, showers you can wheel into, and lowered sinks and closet bars. In total, the Princess fleet offers over 350 wheelchair-accessible cabins with at least 31 on each vessel.
Carnival 7-Night Southern Caribbean from San Juan
It’s also fun to take a Caribbean cruise to celebrate something special or just treat yourself. One recommendation for wheelchair users is to take Carnival’s seven-night cruise from San Juan and through the Southern Caribbean. These cruises typically make stops in St. Thomas, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, and Barbados. On-board the Carnival Fascination, you can set sail in December or May. All of these ports of call have accessible tour options to help you see the sights from the comfort of your chair. However, keep in mind that Carnival has ports with tenders that aren’t wheelchair accessible, including Belize, Cabo San Lucas, and Catalina Island.
Amsterdam, Holland America Line
Holland America’s cruise ships are also accessible for people in wheelchairs and are very popular with older adults. This means that the staff is accustomed to accommodating passengers with a wide range of abilities, including mobility, hearing, and vision impairments. Amsterdam ships are among the most accessible ones that you’ll find with this cruising company. Also, Holland America’s Vista Class has 28 cabins that are accessible. Cruisers can request accessible toilet seats, hand-held shower sprayers, and other accessibility features as well. Porthole Cruise magazine named Holland America the best cruise company for overall facilities for physically challenged passengers.
Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Cruises
A final great cruise option that we’ll mention here is the Celebrity Solstice Class. People who use wheelchairs full-time are able to tender in port if they like, which isn’t always an option on many cruise ships. However, Celebrity also offers some very accessible shore excursions that include key features like wheelchair lift access. There are around 30 accessible cabins on Solstice Class ships, some that include balcony cabins and butler service. These are also good ships for push-button access for doors and public toilets, as well as grab handles on both the left and right sides. Meanwhile, Solstice ships have accessible routes to the tender platform and pool lifts too.