This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Walking Aid, Wheelchair, Powerchair, Mobility Scooter
A mostly accessible cruise ship with extremely friendly staff, good food, and the opportunity to do a lot or nothing at all. Definitely a good way for a manual wheelchair user and a non-driving carer to holiday without being stuck in one place.
Transport & Parking
Of the 5 destinations, Barcelona was the only one that had wheelchair accessible taxis. Other than that, disabled passengers must be able to climb onto a coach. Electric wheelchairs can not be taken on tour excursions, unless by pure luck the coach has a wheelchair lift. Cannes is a tender port, which means the disabled passenger must be able to walk steps with assistance. To have wheelchair friendly transport on tour excursions, the tour operators must be informed well in advance, and passengers may be asked to pay an extortionate fee for a 'medivan' - I was quoted $900 for a return trip.
Each deck does have flat level access, but the pools are inaccessible. There are 4 lifts at either end of the ship, and 2 outside, but they are often filled with able bodied passengers, meaning we had to wait for over 15 minutes to be able to go upstairs. Most ports have ramps to get on and off the ship, and the staff are extremely helpful as they are very steep. Tender ports are harder, if you cannot walk approximately 10 steps its a no-go. The accessible staterooms have automatic doors, and wet-room bathrooms. The floor outside the bathroom is ramped, and there is roughly 24 square metres of space. Special needs at sea can supply equipment to be delivered directly to the stateroom. The corridors are wide enough for a standard width manual or electric wheelchair, however the housekeeping carts to obstruct access, but the housekeepers will help you to move them to let you pass. All restaurants are accessible, and you are given a list of every accessible toilet on board. The staff do their best to meet your every need, and help is available at all hours. There are sun-beds covering almost every inch of spare space outside, but there is a path wide enough between them.
All staterooms are ensuite, and travel agencies will send you photographs of the bathrooms on request. All the accessible toilets we used on board were clean, with good grab rails and plenty of space for a carer. They also had automatic doors with a push button on the outside, and then could locked from the inside. The only thing that we found slightly odd was that the sink is not in the bathroom, meaning the passenger has to leave the bathroom to wash their hands. In our stateroom the bathroom door opened outwards, and was fairly close to the bed.
Every single member of the 1,500 strong staff team will do everything they can to help you. They will help you collect food from the buffet, find you a table and help you get settled, move things out of your way, move people out of your way, liaise with the shore excursion organisers on your behalf, and the Accessibility officer is available pretty much 24/7. I can't fault them. Everyone is really friendly, and will make you feel welcome and comfortable. Should a problem arise, they work extremely hard to resolve it and keep you informed on their progress.
Anything else you wish to tell us?
I would recommend this for manual wheelchair users, or people with walking difficulties as it enabled us to see a lot of beautiful places that would have been inaccessible if we had visited the countries separately. Just be prepared to have to move things, and people out of the way. The ship is huge, it can hold around 4,000 passengers. For those who don't like large crowds I recommend an outside stateroom with a balcony, as the outside areas get very very crowded. We also found that Barcelona airport is one of the best for wheelchair assistance. Communication is absolutely essential - especially for tour excursions, you can't take electric wheelchairs, and you must be able to get on and off a coach, and walk steps at tender ports - or stay on the boat. The spa is huge, and they can accommodate for wheelchairs - an expensive but luscious treat! For people with fatigue or similar, most excursions are in the morning, we had to be on shore by 8am mostly, but most are half day trips. There are usually disabled toilets at most tour locations. There is a kids club, and plenty of activities, and the team will do everything they can to make it inclusive. We'll definitely be going again!