Overview: disabled facilities on UK-based cruise ships

Struggling to find the right cruise ship for a disabled passenger? Jane Archer checks out facilities on ships for the British market, and looks at improvements to accessibility in the cruise sector

Facilities on ships sailing from the UK and ships for the British market

Princess Cruises

  • Sea Princess, sailing from the UK to the Mediterranean this year, has 19 disabled cabins ranging from insides to mini-suites
  • Grand Princess, which takes over the route in summer 2009, has 28, ranging from insides to balcony rooms.

Royal Caribbean International

  • Independence of the Seas, sailing from Southampton this summer and next, has 30 disabled cabins ranging from insides to balconies.
  • All Freedom-class ships have the same facilities.

Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Norwegian Jade, sailing from Southampton, has 26 disabled cabins
  • Norwegian Jewel, sailing from Dover, has 27 disabled cabins
  • Disabled cabins range from insides and outsides to balcony staterooms, mini-suites and penthouses.

P&O Cruises

  • Ventura has 23 inside, outside and balcony cabins for the disabled.
  • Arcadia has 18 disabled balcony cabins plus 14 inside twins with wide doors that allow wheelchair access.
  • Aurora has 22 disabled cabins, ranging from insides to balconies
  • Oceana has 19 – mainly insides and outsides but one balcony room.
  • Oriana has eight disabled cabins – all outside twins.
  • Artemis has four ocean-view disabled cabins.
  • All ships sail from Southampton this summer.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

  • Braemar, Black Watch and Boudicca each have four disabled cabins
  • Black Prince has two disabled cabins.
  • Balmoral has nine disabled cabins across all grades, from insides to ocean view and suites.
  • All sail from the UK throughout the year.

Carnival Cruise Lines

  • Carnival Splendor, sailing from Dover to the Baltic this summer, has a mixture of inside, outside and balcony cabins.
  • Available cabins show up with the prefix H when agents call reservations to make a booking.

Thomson Cruises

  • Thomson Celebration, sailing from Newcastle and Harwich to the Baltic and Norwegian fjords this summer, has four disabled cabins.

Island Cruises

  • Island Star has five disabled cabins.
  • Island Escape has four disabled cabins.
  • Both ships sail from Palma in summer.

Ocean Village

  • Ocean Village, sailing from Heraklion, Crete, this summer has 10 disabled cabins, a mix of insides and outsides.
  • Ocean Village Two, sailing from Palma, has the same facilities.

The best cruiselines for disabled passengers

Princess Cruises: Princess recommends passengers in a wheelchair travel with an able-bodied person. It’s not a requirement, however, and the cruiseline will not refuse a booking from someone who wishes to travel without a companion, or couples who both use a wheelchair.

Royal Caribbean International: A van with a lift is used for disabled passenger transfers. There are hydraulic lifts for one pool and one whirlpool on each ship, plus wheelchair accessibility to blackjack tables in the casino and at the guest relations desk. Menus and the daily Cruise Compass are available in Braille.

Norwegian Cruise Line: Offers Freestyle eat-when-you-want casual cruising for disabled passengers. An NCL crew member will tour the ship with visually impaired guests on the first day to help them get their bearings. Guide dogs are welcome on board.

Holland America Line: Some wheelchairs are carried on each ship. There are elevators and ramps to all public areas. Deaf or hard-of-hearing passengers can request text telephones, amplified telephones, visual alert alarms, closed caption decoders on TVs and an assistive listening system in the cinemas.

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