Accessible cruising

After the excitement of cruising and blogging, Kaye has come crashing back to earth this week with a basket full of work to get through. One important question which she felt deserved some time and research, however, was that sent in by subscriber John, asking how user-friendly cruise ships are for someone on a wheelchair. Happily, the short answer is VERY! Cruises offer an excellent travel opportunity for those who are less able, but still raring to go.

On board Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam, I noticed quite a few passengers who either needed wheel chairs, or perhaps intermittent support from a mobility aid. The key to their enjoyment of the cruise was travelling with a companion who is capable of being responsible for their personal needs as well as their adventures onshore. Basically the cruise liners are well equipped, with special cabin arrangements, for those who need extra help. But a physically modified cabin is one part of the discussion; you need a companion who can assist with any other needs.

We contacted both Holland America Lines and MCS to ask their advice for those in a wheelchair who are wishing to enjoy life on the open wave, and reprint their answers.

The smartest policy, as always is to simply ask. So if you are unsure if your needs will be sufficiently met when you go on a cruise, why not call the toll free number for your chosen cruise line and ask about your own special requirements.

Happy sailing.

Holland America Line

As a company Holland America Line makes every effort to accommodate guests with limited mobility needs and comply with all applicable regulations. We seek, to the extent feasible, to accommodate guests with disabilities. If a guest requires help with basic daily tasks such as eating, dressing or toileting, travel with a companion who can assist them is essential.  

We always encourage anyone with mobility needs to contact Holland America Line when making their booking to discuss specifics pertinent to their situation. That way all needs are addressed before they come onboard. If Reservation personnel are advised during the booking process that the guest may have special medical, physical or other requirements, the Special Requirements Information (SRI) form will be e-mailed/faxed/mailed to the travel agent or guest as soon as possible after being advised of those requirements. The SRI form is to ensure that adequate information regarding the special requirements, if any, of the guest is available so that Holland America can, where feasible, furnish proper services and facilities. Guests who are unable to care for their basic needs (e.g., dressing, eating and toileting) must have a capable traveling companion. As a company we make every effort to accommodate guests with limited mobility and comply with all regulations.  

Guests requiring use of a wheelchair on a continuous basis should either bring their own or make arrangement for one from a medical supply company.  Holland America Line has a limited number of staterooms designed to be wheelchair accessible.

Also, please reference:

Or download this brochure:

For a cruise brochure or more information on Holland America Line’s voyages, consult a travel professional or call Holland America Line on 1300 987 322, or visit

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises is committed to providing all of its guests with an unrivalled cruise vacation. MSC Cruises will make every effort to accommodate your needs wherever and whenever possible. We can best accommodate the special concerns of our guests with advance notice. Our crew and staff will be pleased to assist in every way.

Personal Mobility

We advise guests using a wheelchair to travel with someone who is able to assist them both aboard and ashore. Some ports of call require tenders to go ashore and may preclude guests using wheelchairs from leaving the vessel; this decision must be made by the ship’s Master and is binding. Guests must bring wheelchairs for their own use. Only a limited amount of wheelchairs are available on board.

Visual Impairment

On MSC Cruises ships we are determined to make the cruising experience as enjoyable as possible for guests with visual impairments.

Our cabins and suites, restaurants and lounges have been designed to incorporate Braille wherever possible.

Our crew and staff will be pleased to assist in every way.

here are Braille indicators:
– On cabin door plates
– On stairways handrails at landing levels
– On elevator command buttons
– On directional labels in passengers corridors

In addition to Braille, light and voice indicators are available in elevators.

On medium sized ships there are specially fitted cabins which cater for guests who are less able. Those guests needing special arrangements should phone MSC Cruises on 1300 028 502 and discuss their particular needs.

Fore more information, please visit MSC Cruises.