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13 Tips for Disabled Cruisers in Europe

By John Sage

Europe disabled cruises are much easier and much more enjoyable if you know what you’re doing.

These 13 Tips for Disabled Cruisers in Europe will help you navigate a few of the challenges that disabled cruise passengers encounter.

1) Research port accessibility before booking your cruise – Not doing this is a common mistake that disabled cruisers make. After they book their cruise, they start looking into accessibility of the ports only to find out that they are going to have to miss out on a few ports completely because they’re not accessible.

Sage Travel Tip: With so many accessible European ports
to choose from, there’s no need to choose a cruise itinerary
that includes ports that are not accessible.
2) Explore the ship on your first day – You’re going to be living on the ocean for a while. Why not find out everything the floating city has to offer? Pools, casinos, restaurants, and shopping are just a few of the common features on modern ships.

While exploring, you should also look into the Europe cruise ship disabled access features. Cruise ships often have multiple pools, and some (like the pool shown below on the left) may be more difficult than others for wheelchair users to enter. Some parts of the sun deck may have lounge chairs too close together for a wheelchair to fit, and you may want to know about these areas while the chairs are still empty and can be moved out of your way.

If you’re down on the promenade deck (shown below on the right), you may want to know where the automated doors are located….when it gets windy, the manual doors can be tough to open!


3) Larger groups are cheaper per person – Most excursions provided by the cruise lines use motor coaches that don’t have wheelchair lifts. Consequently, at least some of your Europe disabled cruise days will be spent with private tour guides. If you can split the cost of the tour four or six ways, each person will pay less. After you book your accessible excursion, create a post on to see if there are any other disabled passengers who would like to split the cost with you.

4) Find out about tender vs. dock – In each port, cruise ships will either pull up to the dock, or they will shuttle passengers to shore using small boats called tenders. Tender wheelchair access is much poorer than using the docks. Check the cruise itinerary to see which ports on your Europe disabled accessible cruisewill be docked and which ones will use tenders.

In many ports, the first ships to arrive in the morning will get the dock and the later ones will use tenders….confirm with the cruise line whether docking is a possibility or a certainty.

5) Be skeptical of accessibility information you find on travel forums – Everyone who participates has the best of intentions. Unfortunately, there is a ton of incorrect Europe disabled cruise information passed along as fact and it’s difficult to tell who are the expert posters are and who are the posters who just sound like experts.

Confirm accessibility information that you get from travel forums with multiple sources. Also make sure that the information you are reading is not out of date.

6) All accessible cruise cabins (even interior ones) will be large enough for wheelchair users – Each cruise ship has a certain number of accessible cabins. These cabins have larger bathrooms (typically with roll-in showers) and can sometimes be 50% bigger than normal cabins.

Unfortunately, some passengers know this and take advantage of it. Accessible cabins should only be used by wheelchair users who can not fit through the standard bathroom door width.


7) Factor in accessible driving tours into your budget – Many ports aren’t actually that close to the attractions. If you arrive in Warnemünde, you’ll find that accessible Berlin is 3 hours away (each way). From the Livorno cruise port, you have many Tuscan options (Pisa, Lucca, Florence, etc…), but they are spread out.

Rome is an hour and a half away from Civitavecchia port. Expect to spend more money on tours that involve driving. Also expect that a good accessible driving tour (such as one that explores the Tuscan countryside) will be one of your favorite excursions.

8) Verify which of your ports require taking a shuttle bus to exit the port – Some ports combine commercial docks with passenger docks and don’t allow anyone to walk or roll out of the port due to safety reason. Before you put down a cruise deposit, confirm with the cruise line whether or not a shuttle is required to exit the port. Also verify whether or not these buses have wheelchair ramps (example of the accessible Athens port shuttle is shown on the right).

9) Maximize the limited amount of time you have to see a city – Cruise ships will arrive in port as early as 6 am. While you certainly don’t want to get an early start every day of your trip, you may want to prepare for a long day on occasion. This is especially true of large cities like Rome where you can’t even visit half of the city’s wonders in a day.

10) Spend some time sightseeing before and after your cruise – If you choose interesting embarkation and debarkation ports, it will be easy (and worthwhile) to spend a few days sightseeing at a slower pace before or after your cruise. It’s easy to spend 4 days in Rome3 days in Venice, or 5 days in London before or after your Europe accessible cruise!

Venice and London make great pre-/post-cruise destinations. 

11) Visit multiple continents – Is there any easier way to visit multiple continents than a cruise? You could start your Europe disabled cruise in Venice, dock in Kusadasi to visit Asia, and spend a day in Africa in the port of Tunis….all without ever having to unpack your suitcase!

12) Choose a cruise with a day at sea (or two) – Spending a full day in a great port can make for a tiring day. Particularly when you’re visiting cities back to back to back (like the very popular Naples-Rome-Florence trifecta). You will enjoy your vacation more if you have some time to rest and relax. Pick a Europe disabled cruise with a day or two “at sea” to get a great mix of sightseeing and relaxation.

13) Get more off the beaten path on your second time in a city – Ports such as Rome, Naples, Livorno, Athens, and French Riviera, etc… have much more to see and do than is possible in a single one-day visit.

Sage Travel Tip: Be sure to explore the attractions that are
off-the-beaten path to feel like more of a local!
If you’ve already been to the Vatican and Colosseum,
check out the Capitoline Museums and the Borghese Gallery.
Already been to Pompeii? Drive to the top of Mt. Vesuvius or along the Amalfi Coast!
Florence is the main draw for Livorno,
but Lucca and San Gimignano are great small towns.
If you’ve already checked the Acropolis off your list,
take a scenic drive to see the Temple of Poseidon or go on Greek Cuisine tour.
If you’ve already visited Monaco or Nice,
a scenic drive of the coast is possible with an accessible French Riviera driving tour.
Take a visit to the island of Burano in Venice or the National Archeological Museum in Istanbul!

Book a Cruise Package and Get 50 Off Each Shore Excursion


Read more:

Accessible Cruising in Europe
Accessible Cruise Travel vs. Accessible Land Travel
Choosing Your Accessible Cruise
13 Tips for Disabled Cruisers in Europe
Top 20 Accessible Mediterranean Cruise Itineraries
Accessibility Reviews of European Cruise Ports
Are Cruise Tenders Accessible?
Accessible Mediterranean Cruise Excursions
Discount Accessible Cruise & Excursion Packages
Cruise Port Accessibility Reviews
Athens (Piraeus) Cruise Port Accessibility
Barcelona Cruise Port Accessibility
Civitavecchia (Rome) Cruise Port Accessibility
Istanbul Cruise Port Accessibility
Kusadasi Cruise Port Accessibility
Livorno (Florence) Cruise Port Accessibility
Monaco Cruise Port Accessibility
Mykonos Cruise Port Accessibility
Naples Cruise Port Accessibility
Sorrento Cruise Port Accessibility
Venice Cruise Port Accessibility
Accessible Mediterranean Cruise Excursions
Athens Accessible Cruise Excursions
Barcelona Accessible Cruise Excursions
Civitavecchia (Rome) Accessible Cruise Excursions
Ephesus (Kusadasi & Izmir) Accessible Cruise Excursions
French Riviera Accessible Cruise Excursions
Istanbul Accessible Cruise Excursions
Livorno (Tuscany) Accessible Cruise Excursions
Mykonos Accessible Cruise Excursions
Naples Accessible Cruise Excursions
Venice Accessible Cruise Excursions
Discount Accessible Cruise & Excursion Packages

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