Photo by: strakplan (Stock Exchange)

A cruise ship at the harbor of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands

Hello, everyone! I’m back and it’s time for more news from Disabled Travelers. Since the debacle I described last week about accessible travel problems with Canadian airlines, I’ve been thinking a lot about cruises. Cruises are a great way to get from place to place without the hassle of air travel; you get to explore at your leisure and enjoy luxury, wonderful scenery, and a whole slew of activities. So I’d like to spend some time in today’s post talking about wheelchair accessible cruises and disabled travel on the sea. I’ve had the good fortune to make a transatlantic journey on the Queen Mary II, and it’s an experience I wouldn’t trade in for any airplane, no matter how nice it was!

To start with, know that though most major cruise lines are very proactive about making accessibility easy for handicapped travelers, many ports of call outside the United States are not known for much in the way of mobility impaired access. It’s always a good idea to check with cruise companies and find out about individual stops on the itinerary before booking a cruise. The AARP’s Peter Greenberg has a huge assortment of great articles on accessibility in cruises. Peter covers transatlantic cruises and visits to plenty of exotic locales, including Alaska, China, and many more. Definitely worth a look. On top of that, Cruise Critic has a detailed piece on Top Ships for Cruisers with Disabilities.

Caribbean destinations can be some of the most troublesome for travel with a disability. Luckily, this trend might be on the reverse according to MSNBC, which offers an introduction on how to plan an accessible Caribbean vacation and tips on choosing a cruise line with wheelchair accessible ship cabins. Connie George Travel Associates arranges accessible vacations, including cruises, and maintains a blog all about accessible cruising. These resources are a great start for planning handicapped travel at sea. Remember that communication is key when you have special needs on a cruise – check and double-check any accommodations you’ve been promised at least ten days in advance of boarding, even if you’re fairly confident everything is in order.

Disability access is a priority for many major cruise lines, so disability access policies are generally pretty well spelled out – take for example the accessibility onboard page from Royal Caribbean International. CruiseCheap has a thorough overview of accessibility on Princess Cruises. Cunard seems a bit less forthcoming, but provides accessibility information in its FAQ. For those who might need accessibility equipment for an ocean voyage, Special Needs at Sea provides a variety of useful items and works directly with Royal Caribbean International and Holland America. I’ve heard mixed reviews on Holland America’s wheelchair access (this is their page on accessibility), but haven’t ever cruised with them. Anyone have any experiences to share?

Small Ship Cruises has information on small ship cruise companies with wheelchair accessible vessels in their fleet. Small ships are particularly interesting since they offer some destinations and opportunities the big cruise lines simply can’t. There are some amazing destinations covered here, including Antarctica, the Falklands, Africa, and a number of great U.S. waterways, as well as many more traditional destinations.

That’s all for now! Next week I’m looking at disabled travel resources for handicapped travelers who want serious outdoor adventure. Of course, this blog is here for you, and I’d be glad to cover whatever you need. Be sure to let me know if you have any requests. Until then, keep adventuring!


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