Tourism Abroad - Disabled Accessibility

Caribbean Cruise 

November 2011


Conducted by Timothy Roberts


The Airline and the Airport

The airline, Thomas Cook wanted to know in advance who we were and I had to fill in a questionnaire asking me about my ability to walk, medication, whether I was bringing a wheelchair and so on.

When we were on the flight, we were given a piece of paper which told us who our air hostess would be, what was going to happen on the flight i.e. drinks, food (and what the food was), that movies would be screened (sadly no subtitles) how long the flight would be and so forth. We had a good stress free flight. London Gatwick (South) was accessible in every way. The only problem is the check in desks, not being low enough for wheelchairs but I think if we had a wheelchair then we would have been directed to another desk.

On arrival at Barbados Grantley Adams International Airport, we went straight from the plane onto a bus to the ship. On our return, the Arrivals and Departure sections are located on the ground floor and both can be easily accessed by disabled travellers.

On the Cruise

P&O Ventura has rooms adapted for wheelchair users at every grade (inside, outside, balcony, suites etc) to comply with legislation. All bathrooms in those cabins are 'wet rooms'. The cabins are 50% bigger than the same grade normal cabin and adequate.

All lift buttons, room numbers, any sign you can find on the ship has the same sign in Braille underneath it. Large print menus are available and where not possible in Braille, the waiter will read out the menu to you.

The ship had 14 passenger lifts (4 aft, 6 midships, and 4 forward) and wheelchair passengers would have had no problems in getting around.


We went to the Caribbean and the islands tend to have very poor road systems and not up to date with disability legislation. If you are able to get on and off a bus by yourself or with minimal help then you would be ok.

You would need to get a private taxi at most of the islands with a ramp to get into the taxi. Having said that, the ship could possibly accommodate this with sufficient notice. However, there is no guarantee that the attraction you visit would be adaptable. P&O mobility department would be able to advise you of any difficulties you might have and have a comprehensive list of attractions that are not suitable or restrictions. The attractions we went to did not have guides as we had a guide ourselves who took us around.

All our trips were organised by the ship and I didn't see any concessionary prices offered. However, that's not to say that P&O would not do this. Again the mobility department would be able to advise before boarding.

Eating Out

All restaurants onboard were accessible for all passengers. I didn't ask about large print menus, but again this can be provided and arranged via the mobility department. Some bars were themed and therefore darker than others which can make lipreading difficult. However, the trick is to sit in a brighter area or go to a brighter bar. In the same way hearing people might find one bar 'noisier' than the other.

Bars and Nightlife

All pubs and bars (all 14 of them) were accessible. You can get to anywhere onboard (apart from two small sunbathing areas on deck 17 but they are very small and one of them is the topless sunbathing area) via the lifts.

Disabled Toilets

Disabled toilets are always found next to the main toilets or inside them – so you would often find a single sex disabled toilet or a unisex one, but more often than most, single sex. There were plenty of them and they were huge.

Any Other Comments

Cruising is a great way to travel for disabled people although P&O could subtitle their movies and interpreters could be provided for their shows but they are so visual that you don't need an interpreter (mostly singing and dancing, no real 'storyline'). They also provide deaf equipment in the cabin (doorbell, alarm clock and minicom) but I find these a hindrance more than a help as they take up so much room on your desk when cabin space is at a premium anyway.

I feel you would be hard pushed to find another holiday that was so accessible. All my travelling companions were deaf and they enjoyed it enormously.