How does embarkation work?

Hello! I am going on my first cruise on NCL in November with my daughter. I’m a frequent wheelchair traveler and I have everything planned out except the day we go to the port. Can someone explain the process once I get there? Will we wait in line with our luggage? Does someone take it from us? How does security work? Will I need to get out of my powerchair? Does it work like a TSA pre check? Will I use my chair to board or use one of theirs? I want to be prepared and not worry about fumbling with ‘stuff’ if I get separated from my daughter. Any other tips are welcomed. Thanks!! :passenger_ship::anchor::desert_island:

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Most cruise lines work the same. Your tagged luggage is taken from you at the port outside the terminal and will be delivered to your stateroom. You can keep your carry on with your important stuff with you. You will go through a check in (usually very easy as you have probably done all the paperwork ahead of time on your computer or app.). Then you will go through a regular bag X-ray and if you can’t walk through the scanner they will do a quick pay down while you are in your chair. Then off to the ship and happy sailing! Not hard at all. Have fun!


It should be as smooth as silk. As above, luggage will be taken by the porters as you exit your vehicle. Make sure your tags are attached and filled in. If you don’t have tags, the porters will have blanks you can use. Your travel agent should guide you with all of this. You never have to leave your chair if you don’t want to. I trust you have booked an accessible stateroom. Get your travel agent involved


Thanks and yes, I booked an accessible room. I’ve never used a travel agent though. Searching and planning or not planning (before my chair) is part of the fun!


@ptcltdmarlene Thanks for the info!!

You will not have to transfer from your chair. I have a power chair - Permobil F3, which is an amazing chair, but not one you should fly with. My chair has a plate mounted under it which lets me roll into my car and lock in to a mount on the floor of my van. It’s a good system, but it leads to one problem - the chair has a significantly reduced clearance. I tried taking it on a Carnival cruise but even though I had an accessible room, I had problems. I could not clear thresholds at the top of the ramp boarding the ship and had to be muscled over it. I also couldn’t clear the threshold to get out on our balcony. It also makes it impossible to clear some thresholds going in to many buildings. I’m going on another cruise in February in a new folding power chair with much better clearance. Will let you know. For the record, cruising is a great way for a paraplegic to see the world. You get to visit multiple places without the hassle of moving from one hotel to another.


My husband uses a lightweight electric chair and he stays in the chair. Luggage is dropped off except small carryon. Cruising is great and you will be well taken care of.


Have never used NCL as I yravel with Holland America. When I arrive at the port I am usually given priority boarding. I have not been since I have become chair bound but I would think they would assist you in your every need. I am always so thankful to HAL staff as they always are at my elbow to assist when I need it


Most cruise lines give priority to wheelchair users in the check in process. You tend to skip a lot of the long lines. Security screening is very similar to airports but not as intrusive as a regular TSA check of a wheelchair flyer. They will run your carry on through the scanner and perhaps wand you with a metal detector.


Hi Julie,

I’ve traveled NCL 3x’s now with my travel mobility scooter. You never have to leave your chair if you don’t want to. First I’d recommend with any cruise that you contact the accessiblity group for that cruise line in advance so that they have all of your needs / requirements and are prepared for you well in advance. This is also where they’ll specifically advise you as to their cruise lines policies as it pertains to ADA accommodations from embarkation, throughout the cruise up until disembarkation. Here is the line for the page where to find the form to complete.

You don’t need a travel agent, but you want to be sure you regularly email the accessibility group, as they can answer more specificly to NCL and any latest changes. As for the pier, once at the port I’m usually traveling with a family member who handles the luggage, a large suit case and carry on. We prefer to carry on all our luggage, that way we can unpack right away and are not waiting on things to arrive. Also, at the pier the porters are not always employees of the cruise line. So for security reasons and not risking missing luggage, we also don’t allow anyone to “insist” on bringing our luggage on board, or off… but that’s me (off for the same reasons). If they’re pushy, I tell them that I have medical supplies mixed in with my other luggage (which is also the truth), that makes them instantly back off!

Not all ships are the same, even within the same cruise line. By that I mean, on NCL I’ve sailed two of their newest ships and one older one. I found that the older the ships (with any cruise line) it’s more difficult to navigate with a mobility chair/scooter. Reasons are because the older ones tend to have steeper gana ways and sectioned areas where the emergency doorways seal tight in the event of emergency (water, fire etc…) to keep the ship safely afloat. Anytime I have had to reverse and speed across one of these steeper/higher crossing points (thresholds), it was definitely additional wear and tear on my mobility scooter. I found myself racing across some, because I’d otherwise get stuck! They were like speed bumps, except in a car you’d go slower not faster. So, I’ve made it a point (rule of thumb, not not sail on older cruise ships) I try to sail on the newest or close to the latest category for NCL that would be at least the “Breakaway class” or higher, and nothing less. On the newer ships I sailed through all entrance ways and sections of the ship without issues.

NCL’s access group will also review what ports will have a tender, and at those locations they don’t typically allow wheelchair users and you must be able to navigate at least a few stairs. They will not allow any mobility scooters or wheelchairs and are generally not allowed to lift anything over 50 lbs. This is where, if you can use a cane in those instances, or a walker with a small sitting area, or collapsing chair that weighs less than 50 pounds, that would be helpful, or you may have to skip that port on the itinerary. This is only the case where the island is too shallow for the ship to dock and they have to use the smaller tender boats to bring guest back and forth. They also don’t want to risk you falling if you aren’t able to manage those few steps without the assistance of someone traveling with you, and they have the final say (the Captain they claim does anyway) on who is allowed to go and who doesn’t. I believe it all depends on what is noted on your accessibility form.

I will end here for now. I know this is long, but I hope helpful!!



There is a lot more I can see if you like. I do have more tips… just let me know and I’ll post again!! :slight_smile:

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Wow @wrightmsh!! Lots of great information here. I think I’ve read almost every post here and if I haven’t, I most likely will! So post away, I love reading about other experiences. Especially when it involves travel. We will be on the breakaway and rolling around on a Permobil. I’ll be sure to watch the speed bumps so I don’t eject myself! Uhemm, I’ve done that before doing figure 8s in the garage trying to make our littles laugh!

My wife and I went on a carnival cruise last December. I used my quantum power chair. Only issues we had were when people wouldn’t park their chair in their room. Hallways are a little narrow for two chairs and I collided several times. I complained multiple times about people leaving chairs or scooters outside of cabins. Elevators are small and manytimes rude customers pile rush the door to get in before scooters or power chairs. We had a fully accessible cabin and while the bathrooms are large, the toilet is a bit low

It was our first real vacation since going into the chair and we had a good time.

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