Why take a cruise? Cruising on various cruise lines is one of the most popular means of travel for those who use a wheelchair or have some other limited mobility. The allure of having a guaranteed accessible space to return to after a day of exploring is the main draw, but not all cruises are created equal. When it comes to booking an accessible cruise it is all in the details, so be sure to ask questions. This is why it is important when planning a cruise to Be Your Own Advocate! You know what you want and need better than anyone, so speak up. It’s your money, so you call the shots.
The two most important questions to get answered are about your room and the ports of call. Some cruise lines charge more for ADA rooms because they strategically place these rooms in a more expensive category while others do not. Be sure the room you are booking has the bathroom setup that you need, whether it be a bathtub or roll-in shower. You should be reasonably comfortable! Not every port of call is wheelchair accessible, especially those that do not have to follow the ADA Law or similar. It’s nice when a cruise boat can pull right up to a port but this is not always the case. In these situations, a tender boat is needed to transport guests on a ship to the port. Some tender boats will not allow power wheelchairs or scooters as they need to be manually lifted. Passengers who use manual wheelchairs may also encounter inconveniences or discomfort in this procedure, some may not be bothered at all. Whatever your situation is, find out about access at each port of call. Relaxing while you cruise is nice but you are also paying for the ability to get off the boat and explore the surroundings.
In addition to the traditional cruise ships, there is a wheelchair friendly private yacht available for rent that sails all over the Mediterranean but is not for those that are penny-pinching. The price is reasonable for what you get and wheelchairtraveling.com provides a 15% discount—so how about planning a group party vacation? Another uniquely accessible ship is the Sea Wolf. It is not as glamorous as the yacht but still very impressive with many adapted features and equipment that allow you to have an adventure of a lifetime in the Glacier Bay and British Columbia waters.
When thinking of planning a cruise, most of us picture one of those ginormous white boats parked at a dock. So what cruise is best for you? There are a number of factors to consider. One of course is what you want to see. Different cruises show you different parts of the world. Most commonly, people want to go on a cruise for warmer weather. From the United States, the most popular cruises are to Mexico or the Caribbean but over in Europe, the Mediterranean is what’s hot. Personally, the top of my list is a cruise to the beautiful wilderness of Alaska to get close to the glaciers and wildlife.
Besides the linked articles already included, there are a few others on cruises written by other wheelchair travelers on wheelchairtraveling.com and perhaps you may be interested in reading one or more. Please feel free to comment. Above is a continuously growing list of wheelchair accessible cruises and if you like to add your cruise story to the travel community please send us an email.