Cruises that consider accessibility allow people with functional needs (commonly referred to as special needs), mobility disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and more to enjoy the ship’s games, shows, dining and activities. Many cruise lines are committed to meeting the needs of their guests with accessibility concerns.
Explore the accessibility resources offered by each cruise line, and start planning your next cruise ship vacation.
What to Look for in an Accessible Cruise
Many cruises have accessibility services to ensure guests with disabilities have a memorable vacation. Let your cruise line know about accessibility needs in advance, so they can prepare everything for you before boarding.
Accessible cruises can offer accommodations for various disabilities, including:
- Mobility: Handicap-accessible cruises have wheelchairs for rent, or you can bring your own. People who use wheelchairs can sit in designated areas at shows and use the pool lift to swim.
- Visual: Guests with visual impairment can use Braille signs to navigate the ship, large-print menus at dining facilities, and visual or tactile alert systems for door knocking, alarm clocks and more.
- Hearing: Cruises accommodate guests with hearing impairment by providing an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, assistive listening devices and televisions with closed captions.
- ASD: Many cruise lines partner with Autism on the Seas to offer cruises designed for guests with ASD. Accommodations can include staff trained in autism awareness, toy lending programs, fidget toys and more.
Top Eight Accessible Cruises for People With Disabilities
Here are the best cruises for people with disabilities.
1. MSC Seaside
MSC Cruises takes travelers to stunning international destinations, like the Mediterranean, Caribbean and the Bahamas. MSC Seaside offers 1-day to 23-day excursions where guests can enjoy the region’s natural beauty and ship’s accommodations.
MSC Seaside offers services for guests with special needs. This ship has one of the highest numbers of accessible cabins among cruise ships — 51 in total. These rooms are designed for guests with disabilities, with features such as:
- Wide doorways with no sills or lips
- Fold-down shower benches
- Accessible balconies
- Lower closet rods
Travelers with visual impairment can use Braille door plates, handrail markings and directional signs. ASL interpreters are available to assist guests with hearing impairment for cruises departing and ending in a United States port. Amenities like theaters and restaurants are accessible for guests who use wheelchairs.
2. Norwegian Sky
Norwegian Cruise Line cruises depart from the United States and stop at must-see international destinations like the Bahamas, Greece, Bermuda or Grand Stirrup Cay, the cruise line’s private island. These 3-day to 11-day cruises allow you and your family to enjoy the sun and sand while staying on a handicap-accessible cruise ship like Norwegian Sky.
Norwegian is committed to accommodating guests with disabilities. Adults or children who need a mobility aid can rent one through Norwegian’s authorized vendor or bring their own wheelchair that meets certain specifications. Guests who use a wheelchair can use the pool lift to swim. You can also stay in an accessible stateroom that features:
- Large entryways
- A high-rise toilet
- Handrails in the bathroom and shower
- A roll-in shower with a bench
3. Holland America’s Koningsdam
Holland America Line offers one-of-a-kind cruises with domestic and international ports. Enjoy a 1-day to 35-day cruise along California’s coast, around the Hawaiian Islands, on the west coast of Canada, or to other beautiful destinations.
Holland America’s Koningsdam is one of the cruise line’s newer vessels with advanced accessibility features and technology. The ship has a wide selection of listening devices for guests with hearing impairment. Guests with visual impairment can use large-print or Braille menus and take a guided tour during embarkation.
This ship has 27 fully accessible staterooms that have:
- Wide, no-sill doorways
- Grab bars in the bathroom
- Roll-in showers, transfer showers or accessible bathtubs
- Fold-down benches
4. Celebrity Reflection
Celebrity Cruises has a wide selection of vacation destinations, including Fort Lauderdale, the Bahamas, Cozumel and Perfect Day at CocoCay, an exclusive private island.
Celebrity Cruises is committed to making its cruise ships and shore excursions accessible. These services include transportation between the airport and pier, assistance at the pier and mobility assistance throughout the ship.
Celebrity Reflection is the cruise line’s largest vessel and offers 30 accessible staterooms. Some accessible cabins are suites for families. Features of accessible cabins include:
- Automatic or extra-wide doors without sills
- Grab bars in the bathroom
- Lowered sinks and closet rods
- Roll-in showers with a handheld showerhead and fold-down bench
Throughout the ship, guests with disabilities can take advantage of automatic doors, wide gangways, Braille signage, assistive listening systems, pool lifts and wheelchair seating areas.
5. Carnival Horizon
Carnival is known for their exciting cruise vacations that offer fun for the family. The Carnival Horizon takes guests on 4-day to 14-day excursions. The cruise starts and ends in Miami and tours the Western Caribbean and Southern Caribbean. Along the way, you’ll stop at Grand Cayman, Aruba, Montego Bay, Cozumel and other tropical destinations.
Carnival offers facilities and services for guests with disabilities to make the cruise fun and memorable. Individuals who use wheelchairs have designated seating areas in dining areas and the main theater. ASL interpreting services are available on select cruises for guests with hearing impairment.
Carnival Horizon has 65 accessible staterooms with:
- Beds approachable from both sides or one side
- 32-inch wide doors with no doorsill
- Roll-in showers with grab bars and a fold-down bench
- Accessible balconies
6. Princess Cruises Regal Princess
Princess Cruises takes guests to exciting destinations, like the Western Caribbean, Honduras, Cozumel, Belize and more. Some cruises stop at Princess Cays, the cruise line’s private beach in the Bahamas. This island has ramps to make the amenities accessible for guests who use wheelchairs.
Princess Cruises has a long history of accommodating individuals with special needs. They launched an accessibility program in 1992 and were the first cruise line to have an access compliance manager to oversee accessibility efforts.
Their ship Regal Princess has 38 accessible staterooms with:
- Roll-in showers with grab bars
- Shower stools and toilet risers available upon request
- Lowered closet rods
- Wide doors without sills
Elsewhere on the ship is wheelchair seating in dining areas and theaters, assistive listening systems, Braille cabin directories and more. ASL interpreters are available for guests with hearing impairment.
7. Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas
The Royal Caribbean offers accessible cruises to the Bahamas on the Mariner of the Seas. These 3-day to 14-day excursions take guests to Nassau, Key West and Cozumel, where they can enjoy the beaches and sunshine.
Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas has resources for individuals with disabilities. The ship offers accessible staterooms with features like:
- 32-inch wide doors
- A 5-foot turning radius
- Roll-in showers with benches
- Lowered sinks, vanities and closet rods
Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas hosts an Adventure Ocean program, which offers immersive experiences for children. Royal Caribbean can provide accommodations so children with disabilities can participate.
8. Disney Fantasy
Disney offers a variety of magical and memorable cruises for families, with ports of call in the Eastern Caribbean and Western Caribbean. Many Disney cruises going to the Caribbean stop at the private island Castaway Cay, which has paved paths and sand wheelchairs.
A cruise on Disney Fantasy is an accessible vacation option with various accessibility services to meet the needs of travelers with disabilities. Since Disney cruises are family-focused, Disney Fantasy is a great option if you have a child with functional needs. Disney Fantasy offers various activities for children with disabilities, like themed sea parties, character events, shows and more.
The 25 accessible rooms on Disney Fantasy allow individuals who use wheelchairs to navigate easily, with features like:
- Lowered, ramped doorways
- Roll-in showers
- Lowered rods in the bathroom and closet
- Open bed frames
Get Ready to Cruise With Products From Enabling Devices
Handicap-accessible cruises are a fantastic way for children and adults with disabilities to experience the joy of a cruise ship vacation. Enabling Devices has tools, toys and assistive technology to help your family member with a disability fully participate in the world. Some products to bring on your cruise include:
- Sensory products that engage the senses to stimulate or calm the user.
- Mounting systems to hold items for people who use a wheelchair or have mobility needs.
- Switch-adapted toys and games designed for children with functional needs.