Crusing is for everyone, so here are some tips to help you on your way!

How Cruising is the Best ‘Abled’ Holiday Ever!

Welcome my friends to another blog. Today’s topic.. Cruising!

All of us love going on a good holiday, right? Unfortunately, due to the current situation, holidaying for most of us has been put on hold. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for your next adventure!

Holidays for me is usually when my independence is challenged. Toileting, manual handling, avoiding stairs, clothing hassles and attempting to ‘walk’ through sand are just some of the things I need to consider. To mimimise the stress of holiday planning, we have always gone for the familiar. We stay at the same apartment building, even down to requesting the same room plan to ensure enough manoeuvring space and no trip hazards.

However that was not the case when my family and I were given the opportunity to go on a cruise! It was a whole new experience, with many unknowns regarding accessibility.

In the lead up to the big adventure, I was super nervous about how I would manage manoeuvring around a big ship, as well possible boarding and disembarking issues. Although I knew that my mobility scooter would make it a tad easier, the unknown still caused more than a little anxiety.

However, now I am able to reflect on our little adventure. So I thought I would share some of the things that make Cruising the best ‘abled’ holiday ever!!!

Embarking and Disembarking

This part I think for everyone can be daunting, especially if you are disabled. However, there was no need for concern….it was an absolute breeze! The Port of Brisbane had a check-in desk that was wheelchair height, perfect for signing documents, receiving your cruise cards and having ID photos taken .

There was a seperate waiting area for us ‘disabled’ cruisers, meaning early boarding before most other guests! If that isn’t great service what is!

Now the fun part….boarding. You are escorted by Port Crew through security. If you are in a wheelchair or have a Pace-Maker or metal implants, you are subject to a pat down instead of going through the metal detectors. Honestly I have been pat down at least three times now at airports etc so it was not that daunting. Engaging in conversation makes things a little more pleasant for all parties.

After proceeding through security, the Port Crew will then escort you onto the ship. Best bit is there are no stairs to get on! It is a long winding ramp with just a couple of bumps along the way. I was anxious about how much movement or rocking there would be getting on board, but this was not an issue at all.

The same thing as disembarking, no stairs, no hassle!


How many times have we all booked a room and then be worried sick about it being the right one? Will it work for our needs? The questions seem to be endless!

Fortunately on my cruise, the room was just perfect, and the bathroom was amazing! No step into the shower or into the bathroom at all! There were plenty of hand rails along the wall of the shower and beside the toilet. I was anxious standing up in the shower with the rocking and was worried about falling on my face, but the positioning of the handrails made this super easy! Also, if preferred, there was a foldout chair attached to the wall to sit.

Oh and the best part! The duress button was actually a toggle that hung by cord from ceiling to floor! If you are wondering why I am excited about that part, the disabled bathrooms in Australia are very inconsistent with layout and duress buttons. Yup don’t get me started on that one!

For all of us, toileting can be a sensitive topic, however it is an essential part of life. So make sure if you need toileting frames etc, that it will be able to fit. I would hate to think what I would have done if my frame wasn’t there and I was holidaying by myself! So just something to consider while you are planning your tip.

So in saying that, here are some of the key lessons I learnt to pass on to you.

1. Book as early as possible, as cruise ships only have a limited amount of accessible rooms.

2. Check with who you book through that the room is configured to the way you need it. My room worked for me, but that is because I could walk around (perfect weather meant less motion). My scooter wouldn’t have been able to fit between the bed and bed stand (check picture above to see what I mean).

3. Provide the dimensions of any mobility aids you may be using. This is required not only for security but it is needed to figure out accessibility…. you need to fit through the cabin door!

The one thing we were not aware of, was not being allowed to take my charging pack for my scooter battery on board. This was due to the power cord because it wasn’t tested or tagged for safety purposes. Safe to say this caused some pre-cruise excitement with the security team. So just make sure that you double check on the cruise’s website that you can take charging equipment if your scooter or wheelchair requires charging. And ensure you have the cord tested and tagged!!

Let’s Talk Accessibility

The best part about cruising is the space!

The most nerve wracking thing about holidays for me is accessibility, and the level of independence you may have while away. Am I right!? Let’s face it, don’t we all just want to have some ‘me’ time and to be able to go anywhere whenever we want?

Prior to Cruising, I had holidayed with my family in a high-rise apartment. Don’t get me wrong, the views are stunning, but it isn’t fun being woken at 4:30am to the fire alarm and having to be carried down 24 flights of stairs. Yep, been there, done that, don’t want to do that again!

So in saying that cruising I think, is one of the best holidays for us wheelchair/scooter users!

1. There are lifts everywhere! I literally mean everywhere. They were located on either side of the ship, but having so many made accessing the eatery, theatre, casino and pool hassle free.

2. Every common area on the ship has wide and open walk (or wheel) ways which makes cruising a breeze. Hallways are long and narrow, so be mindful when going to your room. You would hate to have a traffic jam in a hallway! I can vouch however, that a mobility scooter can fit past the cleaners trolley….with only a little touch up paint to the walls required!

3. However the best thing of all, no roads to cross or ridiculous steps to avoid which means you can go anywhere you like! If that isn’t the epitome of freedom, I don’t know what is!

Just a side note, the pools didn’t have a hoist, so just check with the cruise company before booking if it’s an option. Heavy doors for me are impossible so take a good look around the ship and see where you can go freely and where you might need a hand.

The Eatery does get very crowded pretty quickly. So my advice would be to grab your meal as early or as late as possible to avoid the crowds.

A few other restaurants included have table service however they need to be booked as soon as you board. And I mean literally as soon as you board! I was able to drive my scooter into the restaurant and transferred from there to the dining chair. The crew were fantastic…one offering to move my scooter out of the way after I was seated. It gave everyone a good laugh watching the waiter try to run over his colleagues toes.

Make the most of it and have fun!

drinks are one of the best parts to any cruise! Don't stress about the potential kilo's that you will gain!

The most important piece of advice I can give you is to let go and have fun! And this my friends is how you can do it.

1. Your cruise card goes around your neck, so you don’t have to carry anything! You can have a companion or family member grab your drink for you. They just need to say they are your carer when handing over your card and the crew will happily give them your drink! Dad did get a few odd glances when it was my face appearing on their screen instead of his when they scanned my card!

2. Attend a show or get down at the club! I most certainly had a groove in my scooter during the Gatsby Night. Oh and don’t be afraid to join in on the themed nights! They are the best fun. Have fun dressing up, and dress your chair, cane or walking stick! It can be your unique accessory that will have you be the talk of the town for the right reasons!

3. However, one thing to be mindful about is where you are cruising to. Some Ports aren’t accessible for wheelchairs. This is because they have tender boats to get to land which requires going downstairs. However staying on board isn’t a bad thing, because you pretty much have the ship to yourself! So enjoy going to the bar, coffee shop, buffet, casino or spa whilst there are no ques! And don’t forget to enjoy the view!

Enjoy the View

The last piece of advice I can give you is to truly relax and enjoy the view.

Cruising is such a relaxing holiday, especially since you really don’t have to lift a finger. Once you establish what areas on board that you can roam around, you will enjoy a freedom like nothing else. Especially going to the bar during quiet hours, the crew will happily bring your drink to you!

Take a moment to watch the ocean on the top deck, have a drink before dinner, watch a show in the theatre, and just be present. Enjoy the feeling of freedom!

Cruising can be for Everyone!

I have mentioned a lot about the physical aspects on a cruise, but I have failed to mention what kind of things are on a cruise for people with hearing or visual impairments!

It is amazing just how accessible this form of holiday actually is! (on a side note, all the advice below have come from my experiences on a P&O Ship, although I have left links that take you to other cruise companies that discuss accessibility).

1. I would highly recommend cruising with someone who can assist you. This is only because P&O don’t have any designated medical or support crew for ‘caring’ purposes.

2. All P&O ships have an array of hearing impairment aids! These include; Text Telephone, Vibrating bed shaker, Door Knock transmitter and Telephone handset amplifier. So it is safe to say that these guys cater for an array of needs!

3. Braille is available in all lifts and all contain voice alerts when you have arrived at a floor level. Assistance dogs are also allowed on domestic cruises. However, you need to obtain approval from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (Australian of course), which can take up to 30 days to be approved.

I have found some other resources from other cruise companies which I will link, so you have some wider information across a variety of cruising companies.

All in all friends, I strongly recommend cruising (post COVID of course!) if you want to have a great level of independence. It was a fantastic holiday, drinking endless mocktails by the pool or enjoying some amazing New Zealand ice-cream. Trust me you will feel no guilt about the 5 kilos you put on!

I would love to hear your stories about cruising or any other holiday experience you may have had. Please feel free to include any tips which will help our Living Abled community during their next holiday adventure!

Till next time,

Rhi xo

8 thoughts on “How Cruising is the Best ‘Abled’ Holiday Ever!”

  1. Susan Foster

    One thing you didn’t mention on P and O be sure to ask for disabled when questioned during booking if you need disabled or if just handrails and shower seat would be suitable. I said yes that would be ok but it wasn’t. There was a quite high step into the bathroom. I had to use my walking stick to get up and down the step and if the floor was damp was very dangerous. I almost fell a few a few times going down as well as it was so high. That said it was the only problem the whole cruise.

    1. Hi Susan,

      Wow I am sorry that happened to you. I am glad that you enjoyed the rest of the cruise! Thankyou for letting the Living Abled Community know about your experience. I am hopeful that you won’t have to go through that again. -Rhi

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