Before you board
Find out more about what information we require before you step on board, to make your vacation as smooth as possible.
Your journey to and from the terminal is your own responsibility.
Embarkation assistance is available to guests once inside the cruise terminal and must be booked by completing the on board needs questionnaire on My Cunard before sailing. Please note that for any guests requiring assistance at embarkation and disembarkation, it is strongly recommended they also register as requiring 1-to-1 assistance in the case of emergency; you can do this at the time of booking or by calling our Customer Service Department.
A member of our mobility assistance team, wearing high visibility jackets, will direct you to the mobility registration area from where we will escort you through embarkation, either with your own mobility aid or using a ship’s wheelchair if needed. We also offer escorted assistance for those who don’t require a mobility aid, such as guests who have a hidden disability or guests who are deaf or hard of hearing and/or blind or partially sighted.
You must arrive at the time indicated on your boarding pass as this will ensure you board as quickly as possible. For guests embarking in Southampton (UK) requiring a quieter, less crowded embarkation experience, please arrive at the cruise terminal after 3pm. This is typically when the terminal becomes less populated and there is less chance of being part of a lengthy queue. Please note, there is no priority or fast-track facility.
At the end of your vacation, we will help you disembark in the same way and details of where you need to access this assistance will be sent to you before departure. This will be arranged with you on board. The assisted disembarkation process can take a long time due to the volume of guests wishing to disembark at the same time, and guests will be disembarked in priority order. As with embarkation, please ensure you only take essential hand luggage as this will need to be managed between you and your traveling companion.
If you have any questions while on board, please contact the purser's desk.
The following support is available at most major cruise embarkation terminals. Please ensure you specify your needs on your on board needs questionnaire on My Cunard before sailing; if you do not complete the questionnaire we may not be able to provide required support.
If you are considering a land tour with us and you are a full time wheelchair/mobility scooter user or are unable to board a coach, please let us know when booking or as soon as the need is known so we can ensure the land tour you have selected is suitable for your requirements.
If you have a hotel with us as part of a pre or post-cruise package and have special hotel accommodation requirements, please let us know at the time of booking or as soon as the need is known, so we can secure a suitable room for you. This will be subject to availability as accessible/adapted hotel rooms are limited.
Guests who have booked with the Cunard Fare may benefit from complimentary transfers. If you are a full-time wheelchair/mobility scooter user or are unable to board a coach, let us know and we'll ensure our chosen supplier is aware of your needs and provides the most suitable vehicle available.
To advise us of any specific transport or hotel stay requirements, please contact us or your Travel Advisor.
Please note that on World Voyages we are unable to guarantee wheelchair accessible hotel rooms as not all countries provide these. Please check at the time of booking.
If you are flying and taking any of the equipment described in our policies, you must give us full details when you complete your on board needs questionnaire on My Cunard. You must also contact the airline to inform them about the equipment you are bringing. This applies to both scheduled and charter flights.
If you have reduced mobility or a disability, you are entitled to support when traveling by air – both at the airport and on the flight. For assistance requirements, we can guarantee only one companion will be seated with someone on the flight. Please note this is available only on charter flights.
You will be required to check in your wheelchair or mobility scooter at the airport with your baggage. Assistance is provided from check-in by the airport’s own assistance team, who will provide the support you need to reach and board the plane.
Please use the on board needs questionnaire to give us details of any assistance you require, and mobility aids you will be taking. The questionnaire must be completed as soon as possible after you've booked. If your needs change, you must let us know as soon as possible.
If you are travelling on one of our flights with an electric wheelchair or mobility scooter, you must contact the airline as soon as possible after booking and no later than 14 days before departure to confirm carriage of your mobility aid. As each airline may require different information, depending on the flight and type of electrical aid you will be carrying, we ask that you contact the airline directly.
If you are bringing a mobility aid, please ensure you are fully aware of the battery that forms part of the mobility aid and ensure you have the instructions or know how to remove the battery from the device before loading onto the aircraft.
If you have specific seating requirements, it may be possible to pre-book certain seats via the airline on scheduled flights. Our chartered flights have a limited number of seats that are designated for those guests with reduced mobility or with non-visible disabilities. These seats are assigned one week prior to departure. Once we have received all on board needs questionnaires, they will be reviewed, and priority will be given to those with the greatest need. Seats are subject to availability and are assigned on a case-by-case basis. You will not be considered for a reduced mobility seat if you have not completed the questionnaire.
Please contact our Customer Service Department (if flights were booked by Cunard) or your Travel Advisor, who will be able to confirm if you are able to travel on your flight.
In-flight food is subject to availability; where airlines offer an in-flight meal any special requests like vegetarian, vegan, diabetic and gluten-free must be pre-ordered at least 14 days before your flight departure. Please review the airline’s website for more information.
If you suffer from any severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) then we recommend that you speak to your doctor as soon as possible. We cannot guarantee a nut-free environment or prevent other passengers from bringing their own food on board the ship or on the flights.
If you are on a flight booked by Cunard, please ensure you complete your on board needs questionnaire with full details. We recommend that you liaise directly with the airline’s welfare team and advise the Cabin Crew upon boarding the aircraft of your severe allergy.
For all passengers on our charter flights, please ensure you complete your on board needs questionnaire and get in contact with our Customer Service Department.
Please note that depending on the severity, airlines may require you to complete a medical form and provide a doctors certificate.
For any special meal requests regarding allergies, please note that the airlines are limited to offering and therefore it may be necessary for the passengers to supply their own food. Please enquire with our Customer Service Department who will be able to advise if it is a meal request which the airline can accommodate.
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or have been hospitalised within the last 6 months, you may need to get medical clearance before you can fly. These include:
If you have recently experienced any of the above or are about to, please contact our Customer Service Department (if flights were booked by Cunard) or your Travel Advisor as soon as possible. Please note that airlines may request to speak with you directly to confirm you are able to travel as well as a fit to fly certificate.
Should you require additional in-flight oxygen you must advise this at the time of booking, as airlines dictate that only one passenger is permitted to fly with oxygen.
Some airlines are not able to provide in-flight oxygen on all of their flights. If you have already confirmed your booking with flights prior to notifying us that you require oxygen, we may have to amend your flights to an alternative airline.
For all scheduled flights please refer to your carrier’s website for their individual oxygen policy. You will also need to contact our Customer Service Department to discuss your oxygen requirements with us.
If you have recently been injured or have a medical condition which could affect your ability to fly, a fitness to fly letter from your doctor or hospital is usually required. If you are required to wear a plaster cast, you are permitted to travel provided it is a split plaster cast and has not been fitted or changed within 48 hours. Casts fitted within 48 hours prior to departure will need to be split by your doctor or hospital. For further advice we recommend that you liaise directly with your doctor.
We do all we can to make it possible for guests to explore destinations during their cruise. To ensure your safety, we need to establish if you have the mobility required to get on and off the ship. By completing the on board needs questionnaire on My Cunard you can notify us of your requirements in advance.
Staff will be able to provide wheelchair or arm assistance from the top to the bottom of the gangway only where safe to do so. Guests must make their own way to/from the terminal/shuttle bus/tour buses etc. Please note if your Shore Experience is operated by minibus, there will be no storage space for mobility scooters or wheelchairs. Please also be aware that, in consideration of health and safety, tour providers and coach operators reserve the right to refuse carriage to any guest who is unable to negotiate the steps of the coach independently.
We use a variety of gangway configurations to cope with tidal conditions.
Due to the extreme tidal nature and gangway configurations required to cope with large varying height differences between the quay and the ship side, there is a strong chance that full and/or part time wheelchair users may be required to stay on board in ports including, but not limited to: Bilbao, La Coruña, Le Havre, La Rochelle, Lisbon, Zeebrugge, Malaga, Cadiz, Madeira, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Boston, Halifax, Portland, Quebec and San Francisco. We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause, but we hope you will appreciate that this is in the interests of your safety.
At ports where it is not possible to use the ship’s bow, access to shore will be either by a long straight shore gangway fitted with self-levelling steps to take into account the tidal conditions or, in some cases, wooden batons for foot grips. Dependent on tidal conditions the baton type can be quite steep at times.
The ship may also use its own narrow stepped gangway (the ‘accommodation ladder’) which also features self-levelling steps to take account of the tide.
All attempts are made to provide an accessible shuttle bus, however for reasons out of our control this may not always be possible. Therefore if booked on a Cunard Fare (as this service would be complimentary) in ports where a shuttle bus is provided but an accessible service is unavailable you are invited to use a taxi service as an alternative. The taxi should take the same route and drop off and collect at the same point as the shuttle bus service. Please keep the receipts and speak to the pursers desk where the expenses with be refunded to your on board account.
In some ports it is necessary to anchor off shore rather than alongside the dock or quay. When this is the case, we use a tender to take you ashore. A tender is a small vessel that carries around 100 guests.
If you have notified us that you walk with or use a mobility aid, we’ll invite you to a briefing on board and give you the opportunity to complete the mobility assessment for tenders in advance. Guests who are a full-time wheelchair or mobility scooter user will be unable to use a tender. This must be completed independently, without any assistance, to demonstrate that you can step unaided over a distance of 45cm/18 inches, including a step up of 20cm/8 inches high.
If an officer decides it is not safe for you to board a tender, please respect their decision – it’s taken to ensure your safety.
Children who are unable to step across a gap of this size will be permitted to use the tender service provided their parent or guardian is able to demonstrate that they can carry or pass them safely across the mobility test gap.
There will be crew members present to guide and steady you as you embark, but they cannot support, carry or lift guests on board the tender for safety reasons. Please wear appropriate, flat, and securely attached footwear when embarking and disembarking the tender.
If you use a wheelchair or mobility scooter, please note that you or your traveling companion will be responsible for assembling and disassembling your wheelchair/mobility scooter. The crew will endeavour to assist where practical and safe to do so, providing that no individual part weighs more than 40lb (20kg).
All attempts are made to provide an accessible shuttle bus on shore, however for reasons out of our control this may not always be possible. Therefore if booked on a Cunard Fare (as this service would be complimentary), in ports where a shuttle bus is provided but an accessible service is unavailable you are invited to use a taxi service as an alternative. The taxi should take the same route and drop off and collect at the same point as the shuttle bus service. Please keep the receipts and speak to the pursers desk where the expenses with be refunded to your on board account.
Please be aware that in consideration of health and safety, tour providers and coach operators reserve the right to refuse carriage to any guest who is unable to negotiate the steps of the coach independently. Please note if your Shore Experience is operated by minibus, there will be no storage space for mobility scooters or wheelchairs.
Accessible Shore Experiences are a category of our Shore Experiences program that are wheelchair-accessible. They have been selected and adapted for guests who use a wheelchair primarily, though if spaces are available nearer to departure, they may be offered to guests using other walking aids such as a walking frame. Via these excursions, you can enjoy the freedom to explore ashore accompanied by a companion, knowing that our team has assessed your Shore Experience for accessibility in advance.
All our Shore Experiences are available to book on My Cunard before departure, or on board via My Voyage.
Accessible Shore Experiences are available in a wide range of incredible destinations, and will begin with the word ‘accessible’ on My Cunard. Like any other Shore Experience, they are available to book up until 3 days before departure though you can also book on board, subject to availability.
If you have reduced mobility or use a walking aid but are not a wheelchair user, please note that a range of leisurely Shore Experiences are also available. These offer a slower, more relaxed pace; to find them, simply use the ‘low activity’ search filter when browsing Shore Experiences in My Cunard. The various activity levels for every individual Shore Experience are also stated in ‘Important information’.
Accessible Shore Experiences are offered in destinations where there is an adequate supply of suitable transportation. Some smaller or more remote ports may not provide suitably equipped vehicles. However, we are continuously working with our local providers to source and invest in suitable transport, so please check back from time to time if you’re interested in exploring a particular port.
Although there are a handful of accessible Shore Experiences bookable before your vacation, there may be more options that you can book on board. Once on board, please visit the Shore Experiences team to find out about, and book, accessible Shore Experiences for your vacation. Please note, some destinations have less accessible transport available and therefore the offering can be much more reduced in these ports.
Please note the following:
Please note that - due to applicable safety requirements, the design of the ship or port infrastructure and equipment - in certain ports of call it may not be possible for us to offer a Shore Experience program suitable for guests who are not able to board a coach via the steps. Please be aware that in consideration of health and safety, tour providers/coach operators reserve the right to refuse carriage to any guest who is unable to negotiate the steps of the coach independently*. Taxis are usually available for hire close to the ship’s berth, should guests wish to travel independently.
*This does not apply to lift coaches for full-time wheelchair users.
When choosing your voyage, please bear in mind that it may not be possible for wheelchair users to get ashore at ports of call. At the majority of ports visited by our ships, we deploy a short ramped low-level gangway, commonly referred to as the ship’s brow, to give all wheelchair users easy access to shore.
We do our very best to make sure that all guests can get ashore in as many ports as possible, although there will be times when it is not possible to deploy the ship’s brow. This is normally due to ports with a large tidal range, where a relatively shallow ramp may unavoidably become too steep to use safely during the course of the day with tidal movements. Some examples of ports with a large tidal range (though not an exhaustive list) are Bilbao, La Coruña, Le Havre, La Rochelle, Lisbon, Zeebrugge, Malaga, Cadiz, Madeira, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Boston, Halifax, Portland, Quebec and San Francisco. This policy is in the interest of guest safety.