The following blog was written by Adrian and Martin Konstantinov, who are volunteers at United Cerebral Palsy’s national office. They surveyed the websites of several popular cruise lines and other online sources to come up with some opinions on the accessibility of cruises for people with disabilities. The information offered below comes from that research and the Konstantinov brother’s opinions on how certain services may or may not enhance accessibility. If you have been on a recent cruise and can give us a different take by sharing your experience, please log in to our forum and let’s discuss!
For many families around the world, taking a cruise is a relaxing and enjoyable experience. However, for people with disabilities, there might be some misconceptions about the accessibility of cruise ships. According to travelandleisure.com, the Top 5 Cruise Lines of 2014 were Disney Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International. We looked at their websites and other relevant sites to see how these companies might line up, in terms of benefits and downsides for a person with a disability (Please note: These assumptions are all made from researching the cruises online, so there may be some discrepancies in our analysis):
- Disney Cruise Line
Benefits: According to Disney’s website, all Disney cruises provide accessible staterooms and suites for guests with disabilities to stay in. They also provide various services, such as auxiliary aids (at all times). Some other specifics that the Disney Cruise Line offers, in terms of services are special seating areas, assisted hearing systems, allowing guests to bring medicine on board, and several activities for children with disabilities.
Downsides: Disney Cruise Line does not seem like it has many “disabilities.” Its cruises check off most, if not all, of the accessibility boxes and the line’s website clearly explains all of the amenities and services offered by the company (many of which are essential musts for a cruise line catering to people with disabilities).
More Info: http://www.wdwinfo.com/disney-cruise-line/disabilities.htm
- Celebrity Cruises
Benefits: According to Celebrity Cruises’ website, each cruise is designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities. Some services that are provided include early boarding, wheelchair accessible vehicles, boarding and departure assistance, scooter access, lifts for one pool and one whirlpool on all ships, and an accessible guest-relations desk.
Downsides: Celebrity Cruises seems to have all of the necessities, yet there are no staterooms, specifically for people with disabilities listed that might be more accessible than other staterooms on the ships.
More Info: http://www.celebritycruises.com/onboard-celebrity/cruise-activities-special-needs#onboard_mobility_disabilities_tab/onboard-celebrity/cruise-activities-mobile-disabilities%3Fsubtab=true
- Cunard Line
Benefits: Cunard Line offers guests with disabilities several services. These include wheelchair accessible staterooms, public rooms with gradual inclines, itineraries and elevators with Braille, and hearing devices. Furthermore, in each stateroom, almost every object is easily accessible (for more information, see the Cunard Line’s cruise description below).
Downsides: Although there are wheelchair accessible staterooms on the cruise line, these make up an average of 2% on each ship. This means that these rooms will likely fill up and the alternatives probably won’t be as accessible.
More Info: http://www.specialneedsatsea.com/about-us/cruise-lines/cunard-line/
- Princess Cruises
Benefits: Since 1992 with the foundation of its Access Program, Princess Cruises has placed accessibility as a top priority on its ships. Each cruise liner offers ADA Wheelchair Accessible Staterooms filled with wheel-in showers. Furthermore, each elevator has a 36 inch doorway and public areas, such as restaurants are all wheelchair accessible.
Downsides: The major drawback of Princess Cruises is that there are no wheelchairs provided by the Cruise Line for free. Each wheelchair is available to rent (prices range due to different cruise lengths), and there are only a limited number available, so it is not a guarantee that each passenger wanting one will get one.
More Info: http://www.specialneedsatsea.com/about-us/cruise-lines/princess-cruises/
- Royal Caribbean International
Benefits: Royal Caribbean has a personal phone line that guests can call to arrange whatever needs or concerns they have before each cruise, allowing for maximum accessibility and ease through each cruise. They also have wheelchair accessible staterooms, listening devices, and public entry ways that are wide enough for wheelchairs.
Downsides: The major drawback of Royal Caribbean, much like Princess Cruises is that there are no wheelchairs provided by the Cruise Line. Guests are encouraged to bring their own wheelchairs or scooters, but these need to be charged and stored in the staterooms in order to maximize space in hallways.
More Info: http://www.royalcaribbean.com/allaboutcruising/accessibleseas/home.do
As this analysis demonstrates, each of the Top 5 Cruise Lines offer several benefits to guests with disabilities, making them very accessible and providing for an enjoyable experience aboard. Therefore, we recommend each of these cruise lines for people with disabilities as a great way to relax and enjoy a good vacation. Have Fun!