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10 Steps to Choosing the Best Accessible Cruise

Choosing the best accessible cruise for your accessibility needs and personal preferences can be overwhelming and time consuming. When you start looking at all the different cruise lines, cruise itineraries, dates, and the various shore excursions, you will soon find yourself navigating through hundreds of options!  
Many disabled and senior cruisers focus on the wrong aspects when selecting their cruise. They first pick a cruise line based on a friend’s recommendation or their own previous cruise experience. Next, they select an itinerary that they like and book their cruise. Finally, they check the accessibility of the ports. Why is this wrong? By doing things in this order, you could end up staying on the ship throughout most of the cruise because you didn’t check the accessibility of the ports along the route first.
These 10 Steps to Choosing the Best Accessible Cruise are proven to work! They will ensure you focus on the right things in the right order so you can narrow down the options and select the perfect cruise for you, your preferences and your accessibility needs!
10 Steps to Choosing the Best Accessible Cruise! 
1) Which ports do you want to visit? The first step in choosing the best accessible cruise should be figuring out where you want to go. While most travelers can visit any port that interests them, disabled travelers have to do some extra homework. Cruise port accessibility can vary greatly. The best accessible cruise ports have attractions within walking/rolling distance of the cruise dock (Monaco, Tallinn, Oslo, Naples) while the least accessible cruise ports require long transportation time in non-accessible vehicles. There’s no need to spend any of your cherished vacation days trapped on the ship while other people go ashore…
2) Decide on your embarkation/disembarkation ports – Are there any cities that you would like to spend more time visiting before or after your cruise?  The most popular embarkation ports in Europe are Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, Rome and Venice. Enjoy a few days exploring these great cities firsthand with a pre- or post cruise accessible travel package that includes accessible hotel accommodation, wheelchair friendly transfers with lifts or ramps, and fully accessible guided tours.with step-free routes.
3) Choose your accessible cruise length – Cruise lengths vary and should be taken into consideration early on. From 1 day re-positioning cruises between London and Rotterdam, to 3 month long world-wide cruises. In the Mediterranean and Northern Europe, most of the itineraries are between 7 and 21 days. The perfect length depends on several things, including your energy level, the region you desire to explore and your travel budget.
4) Decide on a time of year – Cruise ships generally relocate so that you get the best weather. Nevertheless, taking a Mediterranean cruise early in the season could mean it’s too chilly for pool time, and taking a cruise in early August could mean that your experience in Rome and Naples is scorching and exhausting due to the heat. There are also certain periods to avoid. Visit Venice during high water season, and you could be trapped by extensive flooding (shown in the photo below) throughout the city!
5) Decide on a cruise ship size – Cruise ships come in a variety of sizes. Smaller ships will mean shorter distances to travel onboard and less waiting times to disembark. Since the mega-ships are 1200 ft (360 meters) long, this can make a big difference to disabled passengers who can’t walk long distances. On the flip side, as some of the new larger ships offer impressive accessibility features they may be worth the extra wheeling distances. Please note that some of the smaller ships, including many river cruises, have narrow hallways and entrances and do not allow for mobility scooters onboard. 
6) Pick a cruise line – While many cruise lines are similar, each tries to sell themselves a little differently. Do you want to choose a cruise that is “Fun for All. All for fun” or a cruise that is “A Signature of Excellence”? The most popular companies are Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Carnival (Carnival has fewer European itineraries).  Other popular cruise lines are Celebrity, Princess, and Holland America. Premium lines include Azamura, Seabourn, and Crystal. The best accessible cruise for you will use a cruise line that fits your travel style and accommodates interests of your entire group. You’ll also want to make sure that your preferred cruise line offers accessible staterooms!
7) Choose an itinerary – When choosing the best accessible cruise itinerary, you will need to factor in your accessibility needs and your energy level. “Days at sea” often give some much-needed rest and relaxation. Look at how many hours your ship will dock in each port so you can avoid numerous consecutive long days. Our accessible cruise consultants can help with choosing the best itinerary for you and your accessibility needs.
8) Book your cruise  – Now that you’ve selected your cruise line, your cruise itinerary, your cruise dates, and your cabin type, you’re ready to book the best accessible cruise for you!  You can make your reservation directly with the cruise company, use a local travel agent, or book a discounted accessible cruise and excursion package. When you make the reservation, you’ll need to put down a deposit that is typically refundable before a certain date. Make sure to book early as the limited number of accessible staterooms tend to fill up fast.
9) Book your pre/post-cruise activities – Booking your accessible hotel early will allow you to save money and get a centrally-located place for your stay. If you want to get the best hotels in the summer, you’ll need book 6 months in advance. Other times of year, you should book two or three months in advance. 
10) Book your accessible cruise excursions – If you didn’t book your accessible shore excursions when you booked your cruise, now is the time to do it!  If you’re traveling during the summer, accessible van transportation could get scarce in some ports.  We’ve sometimes had to tell clients that all of the accessible vans are already booked because they reached out to us too late. Make your excursion reservations at least two months in advance if you want to be safe. Do not compromise on your excursions. Once you return home, those are the memories you’ll cherish the most!
Did you Know?
Travel Wisely,
John Sage, Founder and President of Sage Traveling



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