Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines warmly welcomes guests dependent on the use of a wheelchair/scooter for mobility on all vessels within our fleet. However, with the very different nature of a holiday at sea when compared to one on land we very strongly recommend you are accompanied by an able-bodied companion who is responsible for providing any assistance that you may require both on board and ashore. On board we are unable to offer any sustained or long-term assistance. If you opt to travel alone but it transpires that you are unable to cope on board you will be required to meet with a senior officer to discuss the situation, and in extreme circumstances asked to disembark the vessel at your own expense. If in any doubt prior to departure as to whether we can safely accept the guest for passage, we do reserve the right to insist a guest is accompanied by an able-bodied companion.
The number of guests either reliant upon the use of a wheelchair/scooter, or with reduced mobility, that we can accept is governed by the number of crew we can assign to assist disabled/mobility impaired guests in the unlikely event of an emergency. This is in accordance with the International Maritime Organisation’s convention on ‘Safety of Life at Sea‘ (SOLAS), governing the safe evacuation of a vessel within 30 minutes of the emergency alarm being sounded. This regulation is not superseded by the EU Passenger Bill of Rights Regulation 1177/2010, effective 18 December 2012, concerning the rights of passengers when travelling by sea or inland waterways.
Other guests who request to bring a wheelchair/scooter solely to assist them in covering significant distances ashore will therefore be restricted from using their wheelchair when the vessel is at sea. These chairs will be stored safely in the vicinity of the gangway by our Security Officers. Owing to limited storage space we do also have to strictly limit the number of wheelchairs/scooters we can accept for this purpose.
Please Note: we will no longer offer ‘Shore Use Only’ wheelchair allocations on board any of our vessels for 2018 cruise departures onwards. Instead we will increase ‘Ship & Shore Use’ allocations to allow more guests to use their wheelchairs and scooters on board, as well as taking them ashore if they wish. All guests will be required to store mobility devices in their room on board and will not be permitted to leave them outside in corridors and stairwells, or have them stored on board.
A limited number of rooms on each ship have been adapted to facilitate more comfortable occupation for such guests. These rooms are designed to have wide thresholds to facilitate the acceptance of a wheelchair or scooter.
We must stress that these rooms have been modified based on original specifications as opposed to purpose built, and consequently may still pose difficulties to those guests fully reliant upon a wheelchair.
For example, bathrooms on Black Watch have a small ‘ridge’ to negotiate in the shower area which retains the shower water. This can hinder the manoeuvrability of a wheelchair. On Braemar we would not recommend the adapted rooms to any wheelchair bound guest, owing to the very limited turning circle within the room, restricting easy access to the ramped bathroom entrance.
For all adapted rooms, there are no handrails in the main room area, only in the shower/WC. A rail is provided to assist with use of the WC and a fixed seat is provided in the shower. In effect the entire floor of your bathroom acts as the shower tray. Your dedicated Stewardess will naturally clean and dry the floor as required. Bed and toilet heights are relatively low, however, an additional mattress and/or raised toilet seat can be requested. All rooms have a telephone link with both the ship’s Guest Services and Medical Centre.
Guests are welcome to bring or privately hire additional equipment, such as hoists if required. With prior approval from F.OCL the delivery/collection and safe use of such equipment will be entirely the responsibility of the individual.
In our opinion, Boudicca is the most wheelchair friendly vessel in our fleet owing to the very generous room dimensions and layout.
For 2018 departures onwards, in addition to the Adapted Rooms available on our ships, many Non Adapted rooms will also be made available for guests using wheelchairs or scooters.
Guests with collapsible wheelchairs will be able to book most Non Adapted Rooms on board; guests with non-collapsible wheelchairs will only be permitted to book an Adapted Room, or a room with space for non-collapsible wheelchairs. Please speak to our Reservations Team for more information.
For guests bringing scooters on board, the following applies for 2018 departures onwards:
Black Watch – Scooters of any type will only be permitted in fully adapted rooms
Boudicca – Scooters of any type will not permitted in rooms on deck 3 & 4. Scooters up to 56cm wide will only be permitted in rooms suitable for non-collapsible wheelchairs and scooters; only fully adapted rooms will be suitable for larger scooters.
Braemar – Non-collapsible scooters up to 56cm wide will only be permitted in rooms suitable for non-collapsible wheelchairs and scooters, or fully adapted rooms. Collapsible scooters will be permitted in most rooms on board.
Balmoral – Non-collapsible scooters will only be permitted in fully adapted rooms. Collapsible scooters will be permitted in most rooms on board.
Please speak to our Reservations Team for more information.
Storage of Mobility Devices
For 2018 departures onwards, all mobility devices must be stored within the guest’s room on board. Guests will not be permitted to leave their mobility devices in corridors and stairwells where they can pose an obstruction and potential safety hazard in the event of an emergency. In addition, for 2018 onwards we will no longer store mobility devices on the guest’s behalf on board.
In all cases guests must supply their own wheelchair/scooter. On safety grounds such devices weighing in excess of 25kgs unladen, cannot be carried ashore at any ports of call, unless easily dismantled with each part weighing no more than 25 kilos. Again, in line with SOLAS regulations, wheelchairs must not be left unattended at anytime in public areas and/or corridors. The maximum width permitted for non-collapsible mobility devices is 56cm.
In general, and particularly on guest accommodation decks, wheelchair users will encounter shallow gradient ramps and shallow risers as a result of the vessel’s construction and location of fire and water tight doors. Similarly, public areas and Promenade Decks are accessed via shallow ramps or a gradual slope. Subject to the vessels superstructure, not all doors leading on to open deck areas will be suitable for wheelchair users. Our staff will be happy to offer advice on the most practical exit/entrance for you. While all ships have public lifts to all guest decks, excluding Sun Deck, these do have restricted space for wheelchairs, particularly for the larger motorised type. Please bear in mind that most doors leading to outside decks are non-automated and to serve their purpose are very heavy and could not be negotiated by a wheelchair/scooter user unless accompanied by an able-bodied companion.
Embarkation / Disembarkation
Regrettably, owing to the non-availability of either an overhead air-bridge or sloped gangway in certain overseas ports we are physically restricted from getting guests fully confined to their wheelchair on and off the ships. In these ports the guest must be able to manage a stepped gangway with the minimal of assistance from either a crew member or their suitably able bodied travelling companion. The angle of gangway is subject to the tidal conditions. Please ask at the time of booking if you have any concerns about getting on and off our vessels.
At times where we cannot be allocated a physical berth in a port we may have to anchor off and utilise a ship to shore tender service. We regret that on safety grounds wheelchair confined guests will be unable to go ashore. Please note that on these occasions there may be up to 24 steps down to the tender platform. Fully collapsible wheelchairs can be carried on board a tender, but the guest in question must be able to board the tender with the minimum of assistance. Whereas tender ports are generally known in advance of arrival and as detailed in both our brochure and on our website, unforeseen circumstances on the day may necessitate such a service should the original berth become unavailable for whatever reason.
Unless able to climb the steps of a coach, it will not be possible to participate in the programme of organised shore excursions we offer for sale on board. This includes tours with minimal walking involved at destination. We also cannot guarantee easy wheelchair access to all attractions visited on shore tours, or access to shuttle buses provided by the local port authority.
Please however contact our Shore Tours Department should you wish to explore private tour arrangements with suitable transport.
Deaf and visually impaired guests
As with mobility impaired guests we would strongly recommend guests are accompanied by an able-bodied companion to assist them both on board and ashore.
Whereas infra-red hearing loops are fitted on all vessels, with headsets available from Guest Services, for use in the main ‘Show Lounge’, please note that this headset system is not suitable for people who wear permanently inserted hearing devices; and none of our rooms feature any additional emergency equipment such as flashing lights or ‘bed shakers’ that can be used in the event of an emergency. In the event of an emergency our specifically trained and assigned crew will come directly to your room. However, please let us have advance notice of any serious hearing impairment.
Where guests on fly cruise transfers are unable to board the transfer vehicle and require a private car to transfer them to/from the vessel, any extra costs incurred will be payable by the guest.
Health & Safety
We are committed to ensuring that all our guests are able to make the most of their experience on board and our crew make efforts to assist guests as much as they can. Fred. Olsen’s four ships conform to the latest health and safety legislation and regulations under the Flag of Registry of the ship, and in accordance with the IMO (International Maritime Organization) convention to ensure Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS).
Under SOLAS Regulations, for each guest reliant on, or registered to take, a wheelchair on board a Fred. Olsen ship, we automatically assign two crew members to assist in the event of an emergency on a 24-hour basis (two crew members on three eight-hour shifts). These crew members will go to the guest room immediately in the event of an incident and will oversee the evacuation of the guest. If an emergency occurs during the day on board the ship, wheelchair guests will be assisted from their respective locations, which are likely to be in the visible public areas of the ship.
All crew members specifically assigned to assist guests with wheelchairs are fully trained for this purpose.