The Disability Travel Challenge: Diamond Princess cruise

The Disability Travel Challenge: Diamond Princess cruise

Wheelchair holidaymaker John Roberts is on a mission to test facilities for disabled travellers. Here he tells us about accessibility on cruise ship Diamond Princess.

Editor’s note: Princess Cruises works to US legislation known as ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) which is more stringent than the UK regulations.

It requires Princess Cruises to  make the holiday experience just as accessible for passengers with disabilities as other passengers.

Please note this report is the experience of one man in a wheelchair, and he has to overcome many obstacles when travelling anywhere at anytime. 


Penny Wilson, editor in chief, TWgroup

Embarkation day was upon us and we had no idea what to expect. The porters were there ready to help with luggage, which we had tagged in advance with our stateroom number and name, it was taken from us and put through the x-ray and security system.

I was wheeled by staff through the process of security and customs without any fuss. We were boarded and taken to our cabin via a very steep ramp, but they are really switched on here and the system went well.

A quick orientation left us happy with the cabin we had picked.

The wet room shower was easily accessible over a ramped raised threshold, but access to the washbasin was difficult. It was set in the corner and not easy to get close to.

Some shelves were high and out of reach, and the shower curtain was on a track with a 90 degree bend, making it difficult to pull. It was a real pain.

Our walk around the ship left us confused. It was probably going to take us the rest of the cruise to find our way round especially when you come to an area you can’t access and have to go back and start again.

We think that Princess could do more in respect of mapping for passengers who use a wheelchair. Maps could mark best routes, inaccessible areas and places where help might be needed.

We had to attend the “muster station” with life jacket and go through the emergency drill, all noted on the back of the cabin door. Unfortunately the information is displayed at standing height and makes no mention of what to do in an emergency if you are a wheelchair user and unable to use the stairs.

I asked two crew members and they told me that as it was just a drill, so use the lift. I eventually found out that in a real emergency I should remain in the cabin and wait for crew to come. This is all simple but vital information which should be available in the cabin.

The transfer to the bed was a little uphill, as the beds were a little higher than my chair seat. But it was not too much of a problem with help.

The balcony has a raised threshold with a ramp on either side. This was not too tough with practice, but anyone with low upper body strength would probably need help – keeping heavy doors open and negotiating the ramps was extremely difficult.

General access inside the ship was okay, but sometimes I had to negotiate two or more lifts, heavy doors or a ramp to get where I wanted to go.

John Roberts is a pseudonym

Where else has John visited?

The small map on the right shows where John has been in the Cairns area.

Click the icons for links to his full reports.


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