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8 of the best cruises for disabled passengers

The most accessible cruise lines sailing the seven seas – because travel knows no limits.

Travelling with a disability or impairment can be daunting and stressful. Questions fly: Are there accessible rooms? Will I need to bring a carer to assist me? Are service animals allowed?

Don’t stress! Many major cruise lines are accessible to make your sail as smooth as possible. So whether you have reduced mobility or are hard of hearing, ramps to board the ship, wheelchair-accessible cabins and captioned movies can be available so you won’t miss out on a thing.

Searching for the best liner to look after you? Try these out:


1. P&O Cruises
P&O offers assistance to passengers with limited mobility both on board and on shore with personalised escorted shore excursions.

  • Available for limited-mobility passengers: Accessible rooms and a limited supply of wheelchairs available on board for embarkation, disembarkation and emergencies.
  • Available for the vision or hearing impaired: Specialised kits for the hearing impaired.
  • Good to know: P&O offers escorted limited-mobility shore tours upon request so you won’t have to miss out.

Go to P&O Cruises website View coupon codes for P&O Cruises


Accessible cruise lines compared

Cruise lineAccessible cabinsAccessible ship areasWheelchair accessible excursionsWheelchair accessible tenders
Holland America LineModified and wheelchair-accessible rooms across its fleetAccessible routes are available through most of the shipAlternate transportation can be arranged for a more accessible shore excursionGuest must transfer out of wheelchair.
Carnival CruisesModified and wheelchair-accessible rooms availableAccessible routes are available through most of the shipYesGuest must transfer out of wheelchair
P&O CruisesWheelchair-accessible rooms across its fleetAccessible routes are available through most of the shipYes, specially designed limited mobility shore tours availableGuest must transfer out of wheelchair
Royal CaribbeanAccessible staterooms across its fleetAccessible routes are available through most of the ship; some ships have pool liftsYes – shore excursions are given levels of difficulty to help determine suitabilityGuest must transfer out of wheelchair
Celebrity CruisesAccessible staterooms across its fleetAccessible routes are available through most of the shipCustomised tours and easy excursions availableAccessible gangway to tender platform on select ships
Norwegian Cruise LineAccessible staterooms across its fleetAccessible routes are available through most of the ship; pool lifts and barrier-free public toilets are available on all shipsSomeGuest must transfer out of wheelchair
Disney Cruise LinesAccessible staterooms across its fleetAccessible routes are available through most of the shipYesGuest must transfer out of wheelchair
CunardFully accessible cabins and non-adapted cabins across its fleetAccessible routes are available through most of the shipYes, limited activity shore excursions are recommendedGuest must transfer out of wheelchair.

What do wheelchair-accessible rooms include?

Wheelchair-accessible rooms are designed for wheelchair maneuverability. They can include widened doorways throughout the cabin, wheel-in showers, lowered sinks and vanities, handheld showerheads, grab bars, shower seats, turning space, lowered dressing tables and wardrobes, ramped thresholds, benches, bath distress alarms and accessible balconies.

What are ADA kits?

ADA compliance kits aid the deaf and hearing impaired. They may be available on cruise ships and in hotels and can feature telephone amplifiers, visual smoke detectors, door knock sensors and text telephones (TDD).

Do I need to bring a companion with me?

If you have reduced mobility and require aid, many cruise liners advise you bring a companion or carer with you to assist you on board and on shore. Depending on your level of mobility, companions may also assist you in embarking and disembarking from tenders for shore excursions.


Are tenders wheelchair accessible?

Most tenders are not wheelchair accessible. If you have some level of mobility and 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.


How do I book a cruise if I have accessibility needs?

If you require accessibility assistance during your cruise, contact the cruise line direct to acknowledge your needs. Cruise lines are more than happy to provide assistance to passengers with accessibility requirements with advance notice.

When contacting the cruise line, you will also need to advise of any equipment you plan to bring, or require on board, to aid you during your trip. This includes wheelchairs, scooters and hoists.

Which ports are best for mobile accessibility?

Not all ports will have the infrastructure to allow for mobile accessibility. If you have limited to no mobility, these are some of the most popular and wheelchair-accessible ports to consider including in your itinerary:

  • Sydney and White Bay, Australia
  • Adelaide, Australia
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Brisbane, Australia
  • Cairns, Australia
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Fremantle, Australia
  • Singapore
  • Southampton/London, UK
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Monaco
  • Naples, Italy
  • Athens, Greece
  • St Thomas, Virgin Islands
  • Princess Cays, Bahamas
  • Alaska (various ports are accessible), USA
  • Castaway Cay, Bahamas

Which popular cruise ports are not mobile accessible and/or are tendering ports?

If you have limited to no mobility, you may consider avoiding cruises that dock at the following ports as they are either not accessible or require tenders to disembark, which can be a bit difficult depending on your condition:

  • Airlie Beach, Australia
  • Bay of Islands, New Zealand
  • Benoa, Bali
  • Bora Bora, Polynesia
  • Christchurch (Akaroa), New Zealand
  • Isle of Pines, New Caledonia
  • Lembar, Lombok
  • Lifou Isle, New Caledonia
  • Mare, New Caledonia
  • Moreton Island, Australia
  • Mooloolaba, Australia
  • Moorea, Polynesia
  • Mystery Island, Vanuatu
  • Port Arthur, Tasmania
  • Port Douglas, Australia
  • Wala, Vanuatu
  • Yorkeys Knob, Australia
  • Catalina Island, California
  • Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
  • Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  • Kona, Hawaii
  • Avonmouth, UK
  • Liverpool, UK
  • Rosyth, UK

Importance of cruise travel insurance for disabled travellers

There's a lot to consider when it comes to planning a holiday, and cruise travel insurance shouldn't be skipped over - especially if you're travelling with any sort of disability or have a pre-existing condition that compromises your ability onboard or may require some medical attention.

When it comes to manoeuvring into tender boats, getting around the close quarters of a ship while it's slightly moving with the sea or just enjoying the benefits a cruise has to offer it's important to make sure that you're covered in case anything doesn't quite go to plan on board. Medical care on a cruise doesn't come cheap, especially if there isn't a Medicare doctor on board, and having the right level of cover can really save you if something does happen.


Best cruise deals

G Adventures G Adventures

Up to 30% off tours worldwide

Save on sailing trips and small-group adventures worldwide until July 2019 including India, Sri Lanka, China, USA, Cuba, Thailand, Vietnam, Caribbean, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Iceland and more.

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AnyBoat AnyBoat

Sydney New Year's Eve cruises from just $400

Experience New Year's Eve on Sydney Harbour aboard a cruise that'll get you up close to the midnight fireworks display. Dinner, drinks and BYO options available.

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Gate1 Travel Gate1 Travel

Up to $1,100 off European river cruises

Valid on select dates from March 2019 - November 2019. Destinations include Budapest, Munich, Prague, Berlin, Krakow and more. Note: Deposit must be paid by 7 November 2018 to receive discount.

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Groupon Groupon

15% off Sydney New Year's Eve cruise

Valid on 31 December 2018. Includes full cocktail menu, beers, champagne and red and white wine. T&Cs apply.

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Fred. Olsen Fred. Olsen

Up to 30% off Christmas and New Year's cruises

Valid for travel from November - December 2018. Destinations include South Pacific, Caribbean and Australia. T&Cs apply.

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Nexus Holidays Nexus Holidays

Up to $2,500 off Europe and Mediterranean cruise

Valid for travel between April - October 2019. Includes return economy flights with Etihad, 7-nights accommodation aboard MSC Seaview, roundtrip airport transfers, tours and more. T&Cs apply.

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P&O Cruises P&O Cruises

$1 deposits + up to $300 onboard credit

Valid for cruises departing on select dates from 15 February 2019. Destinations include Melbourne, Hamilton Island, Airlie Beach, Suva and more. T&Cs apply.

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Viator Viator

Sydney New Year's Eve tickets from $299

Sydney Opera House Gala, New Yew Year's Eve fireworks cruises, Sydney Tower dinner with fireworks views and more.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

$1 deposits + up to $300 onboard credit

Valid for cruises departing on select dates from 15 February 2019. Destinations include Melbourne, Hamilton Island, Airlie Beach, Suva and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Free unlimited drinks package + $150 OBC

Valid for travel from March 2019 - April 2010 on 7+ nights cruises with MSC. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Up to $600 free onboard credit with Carnival

Valid from 23 November 2018 - 30 December 2019 on select Australia and South Pacific destinations. T&Cs apply.

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Let's Ferry Let's Ferry

20% off Blue Star Ferries sailings

Valid on select dates for travel until 31 October 2019. Destinations include Cyclades routes, Dodecanese routes and Northern Aegean Routes. T&C's apply.

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P&O Cruises P&O Cruises

Up to $200 on board credit on last-minute cruises

Valid from October - December 2018. Destinations include Moreton Island, Noumea, Hamilton Island, Vanuatu, Brisbane, Sydney and more. Cruises start from $315 per person for 3-night comedy cruises. T&Cs apply.

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Veltra Veltra

Up to 6% off Sydney Harbour New Year's Eve cruise

Valid on 31 December 2018. Includes unlimited drinks. T&Cs apply.

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Fred. Olsen Fred. Olsen

Fjords cruises from £679 + up to £100 tour credit

Valid for travel on select 2018-19 sailings. Choose from a complimentary all-inclusive drinks upgrade or up to £100 pp shore tour credit. T&C's apply.

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Fred. Olsen Fred. Olsen

No single supplement

Book select cruises as a solo traveller and pay no single supplement.

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Viator Viator

Melbourne New Year's Eve party cruise from US$170

Valid on 31 December 2018. Includes dinner, wine, beer, spirits and soft drinks. T&Cs apply.

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Popular Cruises coupon codes

Last checked Code description Code
5 Dec 2018 Up to 30% off tours worldwide ********
15 Nov 2018 Sydney New Year's Eve cruises from just $400 ********
7 Nov 2018 Up to $1,100 off European river cruises ********
22 Nov 2018 15% off Sydney New Year's Eve cruise ********
10 Dec 2018 Up to 30% off Christmas and New Year's cruises ********

Stephanie Yip

Stef is the Travel Editor at finder.com.au and has been writing about travel for over a decade. She's visited over 50 countries and has had some incredible experiences, including hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, hitchhiking across Romania and seeing the Northern Lights (twice!). And while she’d never say no to a luxury escape, she's far more likely to stretch her travel dollars as far as they can go by keeping her ear to the ground for unbeatable travel bargains. And she'll tell you all about them, too! Stef has had articles featured on Travel Weekly, Escape and Hostelworld.

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