Disability blogger, Zoë Escudier-Davies, is "trying to get the word out on accessibility so other disabled people are not stuck at home thinking they can’t travel."

Expert advice on accessible cruises

Author: Gary Peters

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Updated on:

Cruise blogger/vlogger, Zoë Escudier-Davies – who runs the Cruising Wheelchair website – shares her experiences on board cruise ships and explains what could be done to improve accessibility.

How long have you been cruising for?
I’ve been cruising since 2004 but in a wheelchair since 2015. I have completed around 100 cruises in total and 23 as a wheelchair user. I currently have eight booked up until 2024.

Overall, how accessible are ships?
On the whole they are generally very accessible, however that does depend on your disability as not all disabilities are the same, therefore needs are different.

For me, the only problem I struggle with are non automatic doors as they are so heavy and I need my husband to open them for me, leaving me reliant and not independent – the same with balcony doors. I would say some also lack accessible bathroom storage.

Zoe and her husband onboard.

How could cruise learn from other industries in terms of accessibility?
A nominated disability representative on every ship who understands disability; they either need to be disabled or have proper training and an understanding of every needs.

The industry could also make tender boats accessible with the correct right ramps – there isn’t a reason why in 2022 wheelchair users can’t wheel onto a tender.

[There is also a case] for more accessible cabins, and more information about accessibility online, so guests can compare and make their choice knowing what is suitable for them and their needs.

What measures, which could be implemented in a short time frame, could cruise bring in to make it more accessible?
Firstly, automatic doors and ramps to tenders, reserved seating areas for wheelchairs in all venues, restaurants and by the pool – and have it staffed so they are not taken by able bodied guests.

Also, a dedicated disabled lift(s) for all guests with impaired mobility, which can be found via the medical forms that we need to fill in, would make a huge difference.

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As for the future, what innovation is out there that cruise could use?
With it being 2022, and new ships being built, there is a lot that could be done for disabled passengers but it would come down to whether the cruise line will pay for it as disability always comes at a cost.

What appeals to you about a cruise holiday?
Cruises are still accessible and being in one place and not having to pack and unpack, waking up to a different place each day, is just wonderful.

The choice of itineraries, restaurants, entertainment, cruise lines, making memories – I could go on and on. I blog and vlog on Cruising Wheelchair because I have such a passion for cruises, hence why I am trying to get the word out on accessibility so other disabled people are not stuck at home thinking they can’t travel.

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About Gary Peters

Gary is an experienced cruise journalist and editor who has been at the helm of Cruise Trade News since 2019. In that time, the brand has focused on investigative journalism and long-form feature content. Gary has also overseen the launch of new digital publications. Prior to joining Cruise Trade News – initially as deputy editor in 2018 – Gary worked in music and sport journalism, and as a senior editor for B2B magazines in the transport and environment sectors.