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5 of the Best Cruises for Accessible Travel

If you or someone you are traveling with has a disability, the accessibility of a cruise ship can be an important factor when it comes to deciding where to spend your next vacation. Most cruise ships are at least somewhat accessible but certain cruise lines and ships offer better accommodations than others.  Both Princess Cruises and Disney Cruise Line have ships with designs and features that make ships more accessible.

Although all US-based cruise ships should be somewhat accessible because of the US Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), some vessels can be more accommodating than others.

Fortunately, many cruise lines and ships are designed to be accessible — offering thoughtful accommodations and specific features that welcome a variety of travelers, including people who use wheelchairs or walkers and those who are deaf and/or blind.  Here are some cruise lines and cruise ships that are great for accessible travel.


Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises has been recognized by many organizations for its focus on accessibility. Princess Cruises launched its first access program in 1992. Today, the company has several ships in its fleet that offer accessible amenities for cruisers and it has been recognized for its efforts by The Western Law Center for Disability Rights and National Business & Disability Council.

One of the fleet’s newer ships, the Regal Princess has 38 fully accessible staterooms and a wheelchair-assistance team dedicated to helping passengers with embarkation and debarkation. The ship features accessible public restrooms, accessible seating in all dining and bar venues, and a main theater that’s equipped for assistive listening.

The cruise line also has certain gangway mechanisms that make it easier for those who use scooters or wheelchairs to get on and off of the ship at each port.  Princess Cruises can also provide you with a sign-language interpreter if you request one before setting sail.  Ships like the Majestic Princess, Royal Princess, and Ruby Princess have similar offerings.


Disney Cruise Lines

All of Disney Cruise Line’s ships offer accommodations for a variety of travelers.  Disney Cruise Line offers amenities and accommodations for a variety of individuals.  On the ship, each wide, accessible room features roll-in showers, grab bars in the bathroom and shower, adjustable-height shower heads, and lowered towel bars and closet bars. All accessible rooms also feature emergency call buttons.  The cruise line offers rooms with wide door frames and open bed frames, which makes it easier for people to get in or out of bed from each side.  There is also dedicated seating for those who use wheelchairs at all dining venues, theaters, and on-deck activities.

Individuals can also request assistive listening systems, large-print communication, scripts to some of the onboard shows, and a sign-language interpreter.

Some of Disney Cruise Line’s trips go to Disney’s private island Castaway Cay and many cruisers have noted that the island is also quite accessible. It has paved paths to the beach and shops and most of the island is accessible for those who use wheelchairs or walkers.  The beach also has sand wheelchairs to help individuals get around.

Carnival Cruise Lines

The Carnival Horizon ship has three types of accessible cabins for cruisers of different abilities. Carnival Horizon, a brand-new ship that launched in 2018, is a popular pick for travelers with disabilities. The vessel has 65 accessible staterooms with three different cabin types to choose from.

Passengers with mobility-related issues can opt for fully accessible cabins with access to the bed from both sides, fully accessible cabins with single-side bed access, or even an ambulatory-accessible cabin that works for people who don’t need the space for a wheelchair or scooter but who may benefit from other accessibility features, like grab bars.  The ship also has a pool lift and multiple accessible public restrooms and restaurants.

Other Carnival Vista-class ships to include the Carnival Vista, launched in 2016, and the Carnival Panorama, a new ship launching at the end of this year — have the same accessibility accommodations and features.


Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises has accessible rooms for people with physical disabilities.  If requested, the cruise line will arrange for your accessible transportation from the airport to the pier at no extra cost. In addition, staff members provide boarding and departure assistance for anyone who requests it.

Celebrity Cruises have accessible rooms that are designed with wide door frames, lowered sinks and vanities, accessible balconies, roll-in showers with a fold-down shower bench, and bathroom grab bars.

In addition to booking accessible rooms, individuals can request vision-related and hearing-related accommodations. The ship also offers customized excursions for people of all abilities to partake in at certain ports.

In addition to accessibility for people with disabilities, each Celebrity ship boasts an autism-friendly environment — in 2015, Celebrity was awarded a silver-level “Autism Friendly” certification from Autism on the Seas, an organization that offers advice to parents of children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

According to the cruise line’s website, among other accommodations, the ships offer sensory-friendly films that are screened at a low-lit, low-volume environment and a toy-lending program for individuals who have autism.  Guests who have autism and their travel group are also able to expedite their check-in process and have priority when boarding or departing the ship.

Royal Caribbean Cruises

Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas ship has dozens of accessible staterooms available for cruisers.  Royal Caribbean has a reputation for its accessible ships that feature spacious corridors and public restrooms with gradual ramp entrances. The company also has entire teams dedicated to making its cruises accessible for guests.

Royal Caribbean’s largest vessel, Symphony of the Seas, is no exception — it offers 46 accessible cabins, some of which have accessible balconies. The rooms, which are wider by design, offer roll-in showers, grab bars, and a lowered sink and vanity. The rooms also have lowered closet rods, a fold-down shower bench, and a handheld shower bar.

Each deck can be accessed by elevator and the public dining areas and entertainment venues have accessible seating. There are also lifts located at the main pool and whirlpool and the casino features some lowered playing tables to better accommodate those who use wheelchairs.

With Courtesy of the Insider.com

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