8 of the best cruises for disabled passengers

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

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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:


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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.

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2. Holland America

Winner of the Best Overall Facilities for Physically Challenged Passengers by Porthole Cruise magazine, Holland America provides accessible experiences for all disabilities. Its fleet even features a specially designed lift system for tender transfers.

  • Available for limited-mobility passengers: Accessible staterooms; wheelchair assistance during embarkation, disembarkation and emergencies; alternate transfers for shore excursions and lifts between ship and tender.
  • Available for the vision or hearing impaired: Room kits with visual and tactile alerts, closed-caption TVs, amplified telephones, assistive listening systems, screen reader computer software, large-print/braille menu and ship familiarisation tours.
  • Good to know: Holland America's Vista class has 28 accessible rooms. A screen reader in the Explorations cafe allows visually impaired passengers to read Internet text.

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3. Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian is so committed to assisting its special needs customers that it has a dedicated Special Needs at Sea team to help personally coordinate your trip.

  • Available for limited-mobility passengers: Accessible staterooms, wheelchairs for embarking and disembarking only and pool lifts on every ship. Barrier-free transportation to the ship on request.
  • Available for the vision or hearing impaired: Pagers for announcement alerts, hearing aids, visually-tactile kits and braille/markings onboard. Cabled cabins with optical and tactile stimuli and sign language interpreters on some ships.
  • Good to know: Sky, Sun and Pride of America have cabled cabins for guests with limited hearing.

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4. Carnival Cruises

Young or old, Carnival Cruises provides accessibility options for all.

  • Available for limited-mobility passengers: Modified and accessible cabins, wheelchairs for embarkation and disembarkation, and accessible elevators and routes throughout the ship.
  • Available for the vision or hearing impaired: Braille signage and large-print menus. Audible signals and portable ADA room kits upon prior request.
  • Good to know: Ports with tenders (small boats which are used when the ship can't access the port) that are not wheelchair accessible include Belize, Catalina Island, Half Moon Cay, Cabo San Lucas and Kona.

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5. Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean pulls out all the stops to make sailing with limited mobility a breeze. Think automatic doors, early boarding and pool lifts. Talk about the royal treatment.

  • Available for limited-mobility passengers: Accessible staterooms, spacious corridors, automatic doors, ramps, pool lifts and accessible transfer vehicles.
  • Available for the vision or hearing impaired: 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 both feature over 30 accessible staterooms and pool lifts.

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6. Celebrity Cruises

Whatever your needs, Celebrity Cruises accommodates for all, including complimentary assistance getting on and off the ship.

  • Available for limited-mobility passengers: Accessible staterooms, accessible excursions, spacious corridors, early boarding, automatic doors and wheelchair assistance during embarkation and disembarkation. Some ships feature pool lifts.
  • Available for the vision or hearing impaired: 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.

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7. Disney Cruise Line

Accessible staterooms and auxiliary aids are just a few facilities this ship of dreams offers its special needs passengers.

  • Available for limited-mobility passengers: Accessible staterooms and public rooms. Bed boards, bed rails, portable or raised toilet seats, shower stool and transfer bench on request.
  • Available for the vision or hearing impaired: Auxiliary aids, stateroom communication kits with bed shaker and TTY. Sign-language interpreters may also be available.
  • Good to know: Dream class ships have 24 accessible rooms and feature youth counsellors experienced in working with children with needs.

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8. Cunard

Cunard is as transparent as a cruise line can be and provides you with a full list of accessible cabins so you know exactly what you'll get when booking.

  • Available for limited-mobility passengers: Accessible staterooms and wheelchairs available for embarkation and disembarkation. Benches and shower stools on request.
  • Available for the vision or hearing impaired: Visual alert system.
  • Good to know: The Queen Mary II has 32 fully accessible cabins and over 100 non-adapted cabins for cruisers with partial mobility. Wheelchair assistance available at Southampton port.

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Accessible cruise lines compared

Cruise lineAccessible cabinsAccessible ship areasWheelchair accessible excursionsWheelchair accessible tenders
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
Holland AmericaModified 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
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 LineAccessible 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

P&O CruisesP&O Cruises

$1 deposits + up to $500 credit on Australia and South Pacific cruises

Plus get up to $500 OBC on select voyages in 2021 and 2022. Destinations include Brisbane, Sydney, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Fiji and more. T&Cs apply.

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Luxury EscapesLuxury Escapes

Up to 61% off domestic holiday packages

Available on select dates until December 2021, including over Christmas and New Year's Eve. Destinations include Adelaide, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Sydney, Cairns, Canberra, Hunter Valley and more. T&Cs apply.

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MSC CruisesMSC Cruises

Free drinks and Wi-Fi on select sailings

Available on 4,7 and 10+ nights cruise to Caribbean and The Bahamas. Plus kids sail free on select cruises when sailing as 3rd or 4th guest. T&Cs apply.

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G AdventuresG Adventures

Up to 30% off 7-dai Thailand sailing

Available for travel from January 2021 - June 2022 and includes accommodation, meals, guides and transfers. Plus get an extra 21% off when you choose My Own Room. T&Cs apply.

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G AdventuresG Adventures

Up to 30% off 8 days Croatia sailing

Available for travel from January 2021 - June 2022 and includes accommodation, guides and transfers. Plus get an extra 21% off when you choose My Own Room. T&Cs apply.

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MSC CruisesMSC Cruises

Up to $400 OBC + Kids sail free on worldwide cruises

Available on 3, 4 and 7 nights cruises from 2021-2022. Destinations include Bahamas, Caribbean, Spain, France and more. T&Cs apply..

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G AdventuresG Adventures

Up to 30% off worldwide sailings

Available on select sail dates in 2021 to India, Cuba, Croatia, Maldives, Thailand, Greece and more. T&Cs apply.

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Let's FerryLet's Ferry

Greece: 20% off trips with Blue Star Ferries

Available on economy class on select travel dates. T&Cs apply.

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Greece: Blue Star Ferries tickets from EUR€20

Available on select travel dates for economy class. T&Cs apply.

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Up to 20% off Adriatic routes with Minoan Lines

Available on select dates until 31 December 2021 on trips from Italy to Greece. Must be booked 21 days in advance. T&Cs apply.

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Let's FerryLet's Ferry

Up to 20% off Superfast Ferries

Available on select dates until 31 December 2021 from Italy to Greece. Must be booked 21 days in advance. T&Cs apply.

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UniworldUniworld

Up to $750 off River Heritage Club members

Available on select 2021 dates. Destinations include India, France, Portugal, Spain, Egypt and more. T&Cs apply.

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UniworldUniworld

Up to 10% off 2022 worldwide cruises

Available on select travel dates when you pay in full within 3 days of booking. Destinations include France, Amsterdam, Paris, Egypt, Vietnam, Cambodia and more. T&Cs apply.

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UniworldUniworld

Up to $1,500 off Europe river cruises

Available on cruises in 2022. Destinations include Vienna, Prague, Paris, Amsterdam and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseDirectCruiseDirect

Up to $550 savings + up to 40% off Australia cruises

Available on select cruises departing from 2021-2022 with Royal Caribbean Cruises. Destinations include Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Vanuatu, New Zealand and more. T&Cs apply.

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Priceline.comPriceline.com

Free gratuities, drinks and Wi-Fi on board with Celebrity Cruises

Available on select travel dates. Destinations include Mexico, Puerto Rico, Alaska, Canada and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseDirectCruiseDirect

Up to USD$1,500 OBC with Princess Cruises

Plus get free drinks, upgrades, tips and Wi-Fi on board. Available on select voyages in 2021-2021 to Melbourne, Sydney, Vancouver, Los Angeles and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseDirectCruiseDirect

Up to USD$2,600 OBC on Celebrity Cruises

Available on select sail dates in 2021 and 2022. Destinations include Bahamas, USA, Vancouver, Alaska, Mexico, Galapagos and more.

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CruiseDirectCruiseDirect

Up to 60% off second guest with Royal Caribbean Cruises

Plus get up to US$1,000 OBC on sailings in 2021-2022. Destinations include Bahamas, USA, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Japan and more. T&Cs apply.

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Priceline.comPriceline.com

Up to USD$1,000 OBC on worldwide cruises

Available on select travel dates with Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and more. Destinations include Bahamas, USA, Canada, Spain, Italy and more. T&Cs apply.

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G AdventuresG Adventures

Up to 24% off 7-day Maldives cruise

Available for travel from January 2021 - March 2022. Package includes accommodation, meals and more. T&Cs apply.

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Destination InternationalDestination International

8-night New Caledonia cruises from $690

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P&O CruisesP&O Cruises

Short break cruises from $312

Available on select dates in 2020 and 2021. Destinations include Auckland, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and more. Sample rate is for a 3-night Comedy Cruise.

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CruiseDirectCruiseDirect

Up to 30% off + Kids sail free with Norwegian Cruise Lines

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CruiseDirectCruiseDirect

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Available on select dates in 2021 with Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line and more. Sample rate is for a 3-night cruise with Royal Caribbean.

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CruiseDirectCruiseDirect

Europe cruises from USD$549 with Costa Cruises

Plus get free drinks and 10% off shore excursions on select voyages in 2021. Destinations include Barcelona, Croatia, Italy, Amsterdam and more. T&Cs apply.

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TourRadarTourRadar

Up to 50% off worldwide cruises

Available on select travel dates to Croatia, Greece, Egypt, London, Turkey, Italy, France and more.

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