Experiences with accessibility on Royal Caribbean?


From a member of our community:

I am trying to organize a cruise for several couples who have a loved one with ALS. We have never sailed Royal Caribbean but have heard great things. What have other people’s experiences been with Royal Caribbean? Specifically things like accessible features on the ship, accessible port excursions, and accessible rooms.


Royal happens to be my least favorite, but their sister company Celebrity gets it right for disabled passengers every time. On Royal, they separated me and my wheelchair bound friend aff to the side during the boat drill. They offered no seating to me despite using a cane. They kept saying they would get to us, but waited until they checked off all the able bodied passengers before coming to us. I’m assuming if there was need to board a lifeboat, that we would also be boarded last. On Celebrity if you’re using an assistive device the staff offers assistance during boarding, in the dining room, disembarkation and even when searching for seating at the shows. That’s my own take on it. I smiled on Royal out of Galveston so I dont know if that’s any help. I smiled on Celebrity Eclipse and will be on Celebrity Reflection in April.


Royal happens to be our favorite line, and accessibility is very important to us. Royal has a dedicated “special access” department that is VERY helpful - (866) 592-7225. For comparison purposes, we have also cruised on Princess & Carnival. We have never had any issues on Royal. They have always had someone available to push us in manual wheelchairs on & off the ship. When getting off, they have a meeting area for wheelchair users & families, and escort everyone as a group, or in small groups. Depending on the port you sail from, it can get a little confusing getting to the right boarding line, but just ask & someone will be happy to assist. With scooters, boarding ourselves has never been an issue. We book Accessible cabins early to make sure they are available. A lot of the newer scooters will fit in a regular room (it will be tight to move around inside), but you can find door widths online. As far as getting around the ship, everything is accessible. There are several wheelchair areas in the theaters. You can either drive your scooter to your table in the dining room, or leave it right outside. Most excursions are wheelchair Accessible, even those needing to take a tender in. Their shore excursion section lists the ones that are wheelchair Accessible. My only complaint is that, at busy times, it’s occasionally difficult to get an elevator to fit in with a scooter. Let me know if you have any questions, & I can try to help. We have sailed from several different ports, and on quite a few Royal ships. And No, I am not a travel agent, nor do I work for the cruise line. Lol. We just love to cruise. We are both disabled & cruising is the easiest vacation for us.


I love Royal Caribbean. That is the only one I’ve been they are wc accessible ad far as I know


I’ve been on Royal Caribbean several times and in a wheelchair and had no problem in their accessible staterooms. The insides cabins are designed for enough space to turn. If you get a balcony they are hugh. Work with the access desk, they are helpful. It’s the ports that don’t have the services to help wheelchair users. Good luck…


Call the cruise line…they have a team just for those with disabilities. they will help you out


I used Freedim of the Seas for a graduation cruise for my granddaughter and was not impressed at all. I used RCC line only because it had a cruise that fit into our two week window of opportunity between college graduation and her summer job. I normally travel with Holland America. There was a real world of difference between the two lines. I have always experienced wonderful services and accessibility with HAL as my accessible stateroom was always great and their public accessible restrooms were comfortable and large. A staff member was always right at my side whenever I reached the casual dining area on the Lido deck. I used a mobile scooter to get around on board and when leaving the ship at various ports. Once I reached the Lido restaurants I parked the scooter and used a cane to see my breakfast or lunch choices and a staff member was right at my elbow to carry any plates, etc to my table. Likewise my beverages were brought to my table and by day 2 it seemed they knew exactly what I wished to drink and it magically appeared. On RCC my first hunch experience was horrible in their comparable casual dining area. Not a single staff member ever cane to my assistance and my granddaughter brought me sonething to eat and to drink as no one ever offered to do so. I ended up having her decide my meal and drink as it was so crowded I couldn’t use a cane for fear of falling and in the scooter I sat so low I couldn’t see any of the food choices. The next 2 days we had breakfast in our stateroom and lunch in the formal dining room where it seemed tte exact same menu was served daily. We chose to eat at our ports of call after that with the exception of one day where we decided to have pizza from one of the shops along their Promenade. Huge mistake- after receiving our slices of pizza we discovered it was microwave pizza and was like cardboard. We dumped them in the trash and had pastries and coffee from their Starbucks shop. My granddaughter has severe food allergies and neither the Ben and Jerry’s or the cupcake shop, both on the Promenade could tell her which items had nuts. We ended up at a two top table each night for dinner. Though we had great waiters and a lovely female matre’d who did help with the food selections with regard to her allergies, we missed out on meeting new people from other places, always a favorite of mine while traveling. There seemed to be no scheduled entertainment in the evenings and the only thing we did was some penny slots in tte casino. We enjoyed ourselves on the ship and dined at several local places as we visited various ports. That was anothercthibg also; when leaving or returning to a HAL ship there were always crew members there to assist me with my scooter; not so with RCC. I also found their handicapped public restrooms were not great. They often were poorly designed and one in particular was exceptionally hard to access as the accessible stall was almost behind the entrance/exit door. Quite frankly I never have traveled with RCC again and don’t plan to do so. I will continue to prefer HAL over the other lines for the personal care I always have received; I also find that I prefer the smaller size of their ships to the humongous ones in RCC’s line. HAL also seems to cater to the middle aged to older traveler but they do have families traveling with them and their newest ships have family stateroom and even staterooms for single travelers. I took my daughter on a 22 day Pabama Canal cruise, east to west coast and tte 2nd morning she commented she thought she might be the youngest person on board. Later that evening she met another young woman from Ontario, who was her age, and she found her seated at our dinner table. They struck up a conversation and did a few a activities together. We met great folks from all over the world at our various evening meals. Hope this helps your decision and I wish you safe travels. Bon voyage!


Keep the group small. Worry about the port excursions first.

Are the loved ones able to walk or transfer from their manual chairs? Power chairs not recommended… Most ports are too small for today’s ships so you have to transfer to a smaller boat. Main reason I don’t take cruise, I got stuck on the ship the whole time Cabin fever can happen on even the biggest, most luxurious ships That was 11 years ago. Has the world outside of North America changed that much? How accessible are the destinations?


As. I write this response currently sailing on NCL Bliss and then to RCCL on 3/9 symphony of the seas. The main focus for me in choosing cruise is accessibility and independent travel. I have done approx. 15 cruises in past 10 years since I became injured in car accident and now full time in wheelchair with numerous long term medical issues and SCI. My goal is for the independence cruising provides for me. first thing is to determine where and what the person with ALS can do,wants to do and medical needs. A reservation as early as possible needed to secure an ADA cabin. There are usually less then 30 accessible cabins at the various types on larger new ships(balcony,ocean view and inside cabins). Most medical equipment can be rented from outside companies as cruise lines don’t provide or rent DME. Another thing is to be sure travel insurance to cover medical,air transport as well as trip cancelllation is secured at time of resrvation most medical insurance like (Medicare) doesn’t cover once leave US. Ships are well equipped high level medical care if emergent needed at high cost that is immediately placed on your credit card. My only experience has been with NCL and RCCL.
Cabin large enough tto accommodate me,wheel chair and rental scooter. I don’t travel with my personal electric wheel chair due to concern of it being ruined by airlines as evidenced in how luggage can beafter flight. There is a roll in shower with bench. I have found that NCL crew is more helpful,willing to go the extraordinary help me. I have also been “stuck” in public restroom on RCCL. The cabin doors for ada rooms aren’t automatic on RCCL but are on most NCL ships which allows me to get in and out of cabin without struggling with cabin door. I inquired if the brand new Symphony of seas has automatic cabin doors and have been told NO. I have yet to find any excursions that are fully accessible unlesss you are able to get on and off transportation. My port visits are limited to what is right there to be gotten to via scooter. RCCL had 1 tour in Roartan I filled out the required forms,measurements and medical questions after 4 inquiries to the access desk yet to hear if I “ meet criteria” for the 1 van tour. I have found lift accessible transport non existent after numerous inquires both through cruise lines as well as visitor centers in countries of port stop. By the way supershuttle.com has lift transportation and I have used 2 times with success from airport to port of Miami and San Pedro in California. I was assured NCL and RCCL could provide transfer from cruise ship to airport but 3 attempts to avail myself of this service were a bust ending with me ,luggage and travel companion being placed in wheelchair acccessible taxi paid for by cruising. By the way I have only flown with Southwest to port of entry as free 2 pieces of luggage(helps with medical supplies) allowing on the plane first and have wheelchair staff to “push” from curb thruTSA to gate. An aside is cancellation should pre flight issues require cancelling trip and re booking with out “extra” fees(. I learned this when I needed a 10 day hospitalizations while traveling and cancelling flights). There is so much info I have learned I offer you to pm me for specific responses. I do like entertainment on RCCLbetter (be sure to make entertainment reservations ASAP) as wheel chair seating limited and dependent on how many others need the very limited options to view shows. Overall NCL found room steward and crew more informed on dining options, preferred seating, general access, elevator are useful but dependent for both cruise lines on the other guests and their “manners” in holding elevator door or moving to allow room on elevator, or kids hitting every floor buttons… I think there is sooo much more to share but can’t be captured in this response.
I believe the cruise is possibility for your group if details are kept in mind ie: early reservation,hotel with access(this trip pre cruise hotel ‘ada” room couldn’t allow me to enter restroom due to door placement and scooter didn’t fit in the bathroom after 2 doors being removed. Met with engineers to point out non ada areas. Hotel staff very willling to help removed bed to allow 5 feet turning radius for chair, removal of doors to allow bathroom access)I never trust reservation 800 numbers as they promise you 100% access but often reservation staff never been to property. My choice for travel with my experiences is NCL over RCCL every time.hope trip works out for your group.


I’m an ambulatory user, so I didn’t use the accessible stateroom. However, I did have my chair for everything else. My experience was nothing exceptional. Easy on/off with assistance (the ramps are incredibly steep so I needed help). Plenty of elevators. The staff were all wonderful, giving assistance when needed but mostly just treating me like every other guest. Most of the ship was accessible, but not all of it (the viewing deck on top required stairs and I was unable to access one fairly large area of lounge at the back). There was no dedicated wheelchair seating in the theater, which was incredibly difficult for me though. And I was unclear about emergency procedures. The crew didn’t seem to know what to do with me. If I went with them again, I’d be more vocal about wanting to know what to do in an emergency and where to go. But all around, the cruise line accommodated to my level of expectation.

The stops however were another matter. It took a good deal of planning to figure out accessible stops. Transportation to where I wanted to go was the biggest issue (so a non-ambulatory user would have a great deal of difficulty I imagine). Anything arranged by the ship would indicate if it was accessible or not so if you can go that route, it’s probably best. I will say, they have beach chairs available on their private island. It was the first time I had been able to go down to the water in forever! I absolutely loved that. (And am so grateful to my caregivers for pushing me to get there).


We have not had any issues on RCCL and we cruise exclusively with them. Accessibility varies from ship to ship as it probably does for all cruise lines. Some ships have automatic cabin doors, some don’t. I think it would be difficult to find one cruise line that checks off all the boxes. If people are traveling in two’s the accessible rooms are great. We are a threesome with our daughter being the disabled person. Well, I guess we did have one issue on one ship. We were told our accessible room was for 4 persons but no one mentioned that one of us would be hanging from the ceiling bunk. None of us could get up there so they brought in a cot which made the room crowded with the wheelchair. So that’s one more thing to consider on that long list of checked off boxes!