If you’re affected by limited mobility or impaired seeing or hearing, navigating a cruise vacation may take a bit more finesse. These cruise lines have a reputation for offering services and accessible accommodations to help ease your mind while you plan your voyage.
Winner of the Best Overall Facilities for Physically Challenged Passengers by Porthole Cruise magazine in 2019, Holland America's fleet features a specially designed lift system, fully accessible common areas and a dedicated Special Needs at Sea team.
- To aid mobility: Accessible staterooms; wheelchair assistance during embarkation, disembarkation and emergencies; alternate transfers for shore excursions and lifts between ship and tender.
- Vision and hearing assistance: Room kits with visual and tactile alerts, closed-caption TVs, amplified telephones, assisted listening systems, screen reader computer software, large-print/braille menu and ship familiarization tours.
- Good to know: Holland America's Vista class has 28 accessible rooms, and its Signature class has 30. A screen reader in the Explorations cafe allows passengers with visual impairments to read Internet text.
Call its specially trained Access Desk at 866-584-9756 before your cruise to ask any questions that you may have and ensure your needs will be met on board. During the cruise, its Access Officers are available 24/7 to lend support.
- To aid mobility: Accessible staterooms, wheelchairs for embarking and disembarking only and pool lifts on every ship. Barrier-free transportation to the ship on request.
- Vision and hearing assistance: Pagers for announcement alerts, hearing aids, visually tactile kits and braille/markings on board. Cabins with optical and tactile stimuli and sign language interpreters on some ships.
- Good to know: Good to know: Sky, Sun and Pride of America have cabins hardwired with an alert system for guests with limited hearing.
Browse through Carnival's interactive PDF maps to scout the details of each ship in advance, from room dimensions to accessible staterooms.
- To aid mobility: Modified and accessible cabins, wheelchairs for embarkation and disembarkation, and accessible elevators and routes throughout the ship.
- Vision and hearing assistance: Braille signage and large-print menus. Audible signals and portable ADA room kits upon prior request.
- Good to know: The following ships have pool lifts with a 300-lb weight limit: Carnival Horizon, Carnival Panorama, Carnival Radiance, Carnival Sunrise, Carnival Vista and Mardi Gras.
Princess was an industry pioneer in offering cruises for all abilities, and maintains that reputation today. Each ship has 31 accessible staterooms and ADA -all in one- kits available upon request. Service members are welcome aboard.
- To aid mobility: Accessible cabins and elevators, wheelchair-friendly platforms for embarkation and disembarkation, accessible shore excursions, wheelchair-friendly corridors.
- Vision and hearing assistance: Infrared listening systems in Princess theaters, in-cabin movies with closed captioning, books on tape in the ship library, telephone amplifiers, text telephones, Braille elevator call buttons and arrival sounds.
- Good to know:
Royal Caribbean pulls out all the stops to make sailing with limited mobility a breeze. Think automatic doors, early boarding and pool lifts.
Personnel are available at each port to help individuals in wheelchairs get on and off the ship.
- To aid mobility: Accessible staterooms, spacious corridors for 180-degree turns, automatic doors, ramps, pool lifts and accessible transfer vehicles.
- Vision and hearing assistance: Large-print menus, service animal relief areas, braille/tactile signage and buttons, orientation tours, hearing room kits, assistive listening system and closed-caption televisions.
- Good to know: Serenade of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas ships both feature over 30 accessible staterooms and pool lifts.
You'll fill out a Guest Special Needs Form before the trip, and crew members will be standing by to help — so you can feel free to travel solo, if you please.
- To aid mobility: Accessible staterooms and excursions, spacious corridors, early boarding, automatic doors and wheelchair assistance during embarkation and disembarkation. Some ships feature pool lifts.
- Vision and hearing assistance: Large-print menus, qualified readers (a crewmember who will read written material), tactile/braille signage and elevator buttons on some ships, ADA kit on request and closed-caption televisions.
- Good to know: Pool lifts on Solstice class and Celebrity Century. Tactile signage on Solstice class, Celebrity Constellation and Celebrity Infinity. Accessible routes to tender platform on Solstice class.
Accessible staterooms and auxiliary aids are just a few facilities these dreamy ships offer passengers. Its private island, Castaway, was also designed to be fully accessible.
- To aid mobility: Accessible staterooms and common rooms. Bed boards, bed rails, portable or raised toilet seats, shower stool and transfer bench on request.
- Vision and hearing assistance: Auxiliary aids, stateroom communication kits with bed shaker and text telephones (TTY). Sign-language interpreters may also be available.
- Good to know: Dream class ships have 24 accessible rooms and feature youth counselors experienced in working with children with special needs. It also has ASL interpreters available by request on US cruises, and special European itineraries with ASL interpreters onboard.
Each of Cunard's three stately ships have accessible staterooms to choose from. Its balcony staterooms have ramp access to the private veranda.
- To aid mobility: Accessible staterooms and wheelchairs available for embarkation and disembarkation. Benches and shower stools by request.
- Vision and hearing assistance: Visual alert system.
- Good to know: The Queen Mary II has 31 fully accessible cabins, and the Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth have 20. Folks with hearing impairments should opt for the Queen Victoria, which has assistance devices available in the Royal Court Theater, Queens Room and ConneXions meeting room — plus VHF devices throughout the ship.
|Holland America Line||Modified and wheelchair-accessible rooms across its fleet||Accessible routes are available through most of the ship||Alternate transportation can be arranged for a more accessible shore excursion||Guest must transfer out of wheelchair.|
|Carnival Cruises||Modified and wheelchair-accessible rooms available||Accessible routes are available through most of the ship||Yes||Guest must transfer out of wheelchair|
|Princess Cruises ||Wheelchair-accessible rooms across its fleet||Accessible routes are available through most of the ship||Yes, specially designed limited mobility shore tours available||Accessible gangway to tender platform on select ships|
|Royal Caribbean||Accessible staterooms across its fleet||Accessible routes are available through most of the ship; some ships have pool lifts||Yes – shore excursions are given levels of difficulty to help determine suitability||Guest must transfer out of wheelchair|
|Celebrity Cruises||Accessible staterooms across its fleet||Accessible routes are available through most of the ship||Customised tours and easy excursions available||Accessible gangway to tender platform on select ships|
|Norwegian Cruise Line||Accessible staterooms across its fleet||Accessible routes are available through most of the ship; pool lifts and barrier-free public toilets are available on all ships||Some||Guest must transfer out of wheelchair|
|Disney Cruise Lines||Accessible staterooms across its fleet||Accessible routes are available through most of the ship||Yes||Guest must transfer out of wheelchair|
|Cunard||Fully accessible cabins and non-adapted cabins across its fleet||Accessible routes are available through most of the ship||Yes, limited activity shore excursions are recommended||Guest must transfer out of wheelchair.|
Designed for wheelchair maneuverability, these rooms usually include widened doorways throughout the cabin, wheel-in showers, lowered sinks and vanities, handheld shower heads, grab bars, shower seats, turning space, lowered dressing tables and wardrobes, threshold ramps, benches, bath distress alarms and accessible balconies.
ADA compliance kits aid deaf passengers and those with hearing impairments. They may be available on cruise ships and in hotels and can feature telephone amplifiers, visual smoke detectors, door knock sensors and TTY.
It depends on your abilities. All cruise lines require that you bring a companion or caretaker if you need help with personal activities like dressing and toileting. However, many cruise lines have staff on hand to assist with mobility and other needs outside of your stateroom.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not to bring assistance, call the cruise line’s customer service team to inquire. Most have a dedicated special needs team that can help you determine the best course of action.
Tenders are boats that carry passengers from ship to the shore in situations where the cruise ship can’t dock directly at port. Many are not wheelchair accessible. If you can embark and disembark from the tender with minimal assistance, you may collapse your wheelchair to bring it on the tender for use on shore. Steps are usually present to embark and disembark from a tender.
However, not all itineraries dock at ports that require tender transfer. So if you have limited mobility, consider calling the cruise line or working with a travel agent to find a cruise that docks directly at each port, with accessible ramps to get on and off.
If you require accessibility assistance during your cruise, contact the cruise line directly to acknowledge your needs. The cruise lines listed on this page are known for providing thoughtful assistance to passengers with accessibility requirements with advance notice.
When contacting the cruise line, you will also need to let them know of any equipment you plan to bring to aid you during your trip. This includes wheelchairs, scooters and hoists.
Since mobility limitations can vary so widely from person to person, working with a customer service representative or agent is the best way to get an accurate understanding of your itinerary options. A cruise specialist should be able to guide you toward cruises with port stops that don’t require tendering, so you can buy your tickets with confidence.
How we chose these cruises
When choosing cruises for this list, we looked at each cruise line’s reputation for ensuring the best possible onboard experience for passengers with disabilities. We prioritized lines with a significant percentage of accessible staterooms across its fleet, and companies that dedicate portions of its crew to assisting passengers with limited mobility. Every cruise line on this list has ships with wheelchair-accessible elevators, public areas and corridors.
Additionally, we weighed stateroom amenities and dining options against the price, favoring companies known for delivering the best value. Finally, we sought out customer reviews on travel websites and personal travel blogs, considering first-person experiences and each company’s overall reputation.
Cruising can be a wonderful way for individuals with a wide range of abilities to see the world. After finding a cruise line that suits you, check for discounts and deals that can help you save money on fare.