Cruise 101: A Guide to Accessible Cruising

Cruise in comfort knowing that we prioritize accessibility.
by 1535

From Europe to Latin America, Royal Caribbean can take you to 61 countries on six continents in style.


Adventure—without limits—awaits when you’re ready to explore the world on a Royal Caribbean cruise vacation. Our ships and private destinations provide access and accommodation, so everyone can make the most of their time off on board and ashore.

From a new safety briefing (Muster 2.0) that removes the need to gather in large crowds to a lineup of tasty dishes and drinks regardless of your dietary needs, to the thrills of rock climbing and experiencing shore excursions, there’s plenty to enjoy. You even have a dedicated team, our Access Department, that knows the ins and outs and can answer questions to help plan every aspect of your well-deserved getaway.

Here are seven ways a Royal Caribbean cruise is accessible, comfortable and memorable.

Adventure Ocean features specialized programs with sensory-friendly toys and games.


1. Access for All

Our longstanding work with Autism on the Seas began in 2007 to help build on the ways cruising is accessible for travelers with autism, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities and their families. In February 2014, together with the organization’s team of specialists, we rolled out a comprehensive autism-friendly program that includes specialized youth staff training and additional customized experiences like karaoke, dance parties and group shore excursions.

The team arranges priority check-in and departure, accommodates dietary needs and provides personalized assistance for families. The Adventure Ocean kids program, as well as the teen spaces and activities, are accessible for all, complete with sensory-friendly movies, games and toys.

For families who would like more support from Autism on the Seas when they set sail, we also host and support dedicated cruises they plan throughout the year.


Accessible staterooms, including private balconies, provide extra space for easy wheelchair movement throughout.


2. Accessible Staterooms

Accessible staterooms (some with balconies) are purposely located near elevators on most ships, and they are designed for easy maneuverability. They range in size from 159 square feet to 298 square feet and have a 5-foot turning radius in bathrooms as well as sleeping and seating areas. Bathrooms feature lowered vanities and sinks, roll-in showers with grab bars, fold-down shower seats and handheld showerheads; while in the stateroom, closet rods and safes are within reach.


There’s a wide range of accessible shore excursions to experience local wildlife, culture and sights.


3. Accessible Shore Excursions

Adventures on land are also set up with your needs in mind. From start to finish, accessible shore excursions are led by local, independent tour operators who are experienced in creating cultural, thrilling and enriching excursions for travelers who explore by scooters, wheelchairs or walkers. They are designed to include transportation, step-free routes that avoid steps, stairs and curbs; attractions and places with flat or ramped entryways, as well as accessible bathrooms.


Paved routes connect from the ship and throughout Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

4. Perfect Day at CocoCay

Everyone can chill or enjoy the thrills on our private island in The Bahamas. Not only are there paved routes throughout Perfect Day at CocoCay that connect places like the pier, restaurants and Thrill Waterpark, there’s also an accessible tram service that makes stops throughout the island. Attractions and features like the island’s Oasis Lagoon, the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean, Thrill Waterpark’s wave pool and the infinity pool at Coco Beach Club have either sloped entry, a lift or both too.

Pro tip: Labadee—Royal Caribbean’s private destination located on the northern coast of Haiti—also provides access for all. With a ship-to-shore pier, stable pathways and accessible cabanas, you’re free to explore what the island has to offer.


All ships are designed for wheelchair users and include amenities like larger staterooms and balconies, lowered casino tables, pool lifts and wider aisles.


5. Mobility Assistance

Complimentary wheelchairs are available to get on and off any ship, and we can also provide recommendations for rental companies that will deliver wheelchairs or scooters to your stateroom. There are also several features on board that help with mobility: To soak up the sun, live music and excitement on the pool deck or to relax in the Solarium, look for the lifts at the pool and whirlpools; if you have a question or request for Guest Services, there are lowered counters, and if trying your luck at the casino is your thing, there are lowered gaming tables too.


Large-print menus are available in all dining venues.

Credit: Royal Caribbean

6. Visual Accessibility Options

Our guests’ service dogs are welcome, of course. And we’ve also incorporated Braille in staterooms signage, staircase handrails in public areas and on elevator buttons with audio call signs. Restaurant menus and the Cruise Compass, the ship’s daily activity schedule, are available in a large-print format, and our crew are happy to assist with reading any menus and signage, and providing orientation tours.


Guests who are deaf or hard of hearing will find that there is an Assistive Listening System for different shows.


7. Hearing Accessibility Options

For travelers who are deaf or hard of hearing, there are services and amenities on deck too. We have portable hearing room kits for visual and tactile alerts—to make any stateroom hearing accessible. Also available on your cruise are an Assistive Listening System in the main theaters, American Sign Language interpreters (on select sailings) and closed captioning on TVs and select programs.

Vacations should be seamless and worry-free as much as possible, so we pay attention to the details. From sailing on one of our largest ships, like Odyssey of the Seas, to exploring the world’s most beautiful destinations, we want to make your cruise vacation memorable no matter who you are. If you could use more information, contact our Access Department at 866-592-7225, and we can help plan a trip that is perfect for everyone.

When you’re ready to set sail, head here to choose your Royal Caribbean cruise.