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Outside of the USA, not every river ship is able to fully cater to guests who bring their wheelchair. Of course you can bring your wheelchair but it’s important to know that some older river ships may be difficult to maneuver around the decks.
Guests with disabilities are of course welcomed by river cruise companies but challenges do exist onboard and during shore excursions. Some ships have elevators but some do not. Ships with split-level decks or significant thresholds could make it difficult to get around.
Many times river ships must dock side by side in port. In these cases when multiple ships dock side by side, depending upon your ship’s position, it may be necessary for passengers to walk up an outdoor flight of stairs, cross the sun deck and even other ships’ sun decks, then down another outdoor narrow flight of stairs again to reach the gangway. By November you can count on some wind, rain and even ice and then you’ve got a tough combination.
Some guests bring their electric scooters or wheelchairs onboard, but shore excursions with cobbled roads, railing-less staircases and uneven sidewalks may make getting around very difficult. If you and your scooter are able to easily exit the gangway when it is even with the shoreline, high or low tide when you return could make getting back on board a challenge.
Don’t get discouraged. Crew and staff onboard a European river ship always go above and beyond to help their guests to ensure their safety and comfort.
River cruising in America is the exception. Because of the Americans with Disabilities Act, river cruise lines in the United States offer accommodations and deck plans that are all wheelchair accessible. Ports in cities in America are designed to accommodate everyone.
Be sure to check with the cruise line for exact information the ship that you want to book, before you place your deposit and definitely before final payment. Let them know that you will bring your wheelchair or scooter or if you only need assistance for boarding.