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Their relaxing atmosphere, culture-rich itineraries and leisurely pace make river cruising very appealing to seniors, with the average age of river cruisers between 72-75.

Despite the older demographic that comprises the majority of river cruise passengers, it is hard to find truly fully accessible river cruises for passengers with disabilities beyond American Cruise Lines, which of course, by their name, cruises only American rivers and is governed by US laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act!

River Cruises and Accessibility

Outside of the USA / Canada, except for some ships on the Nile, Yangtze and other larger rivers, for those people who are dependent on a wheelchair all of the time, river cruising, unfortunately, may not be an option. But, we can help find ALL the options that do exist for any type of need - that's what we do! Of all the types of travel available these days, river cruises, for those who have mobility issues, reqire the most diligence and expertise to ensure an enjoyable and memorable trip!

Europe River Cruises are the Most Popular - How is their Accessibility?

For those who have some difficulty walking and may use a wheelchair or other mobility aid for assistance, a Europe river cruise is possible, just bring a helper with you and plan your trip carefully. let an expert help you choose the right river cruise line, ship and itinerary - it can make a big difference on the level of accessibility available to you! Most river cruise lines require that wheelchair users have a travel companion who is able to assist them and that the wheelchair is collapsible to fit under the bed when not in use.

Although most newer Europe river cruise ships have elevators, those elevators only serve some floors. On European waterways, river cruise ships have to be fairly low in order to pass under many bridges, so the top deck, or Sun deck as it is called on many ships, is only accessible by stairs on most ships, although some of the newer (and more widely accessible) river cruise ships have wheelchair lift platforms that take passengers to the top deck. If you can climb a flight of stairs (with or without help), then you should be fine on most any river cruise.

The walkway onto a Europe river cruise ship is nothing like the walkway onto an ocean cruise ship, it is very narrow, usually doesn’t have a sturdy handrails - sometimes it’s just ropes! Although there MAY be someone available to assist you - don't count on it. That's why we always say bring help with you if you have any mobility issues - you don't want to get to a historic European river port you have been dreaming about only to find your ship moored alongside two or three others and you have to negotiate three or four gangplanks linking the top decks of the ships to the shore by yourself!

Also, due to the smaller size and stature of European river cruise ships, the cabins are generally small as well. Accessible cabins with wider doors are sometimes available, but these are few and far between and sell out very quickly. If you require an accessible stateroom, you’d be wise to enlist an expert who will research all options for you. Because of the limited availability of accessible staterooms, we always suggest you book any river cruise as far in advance as possible!

River Cruise Excursions in Europe

Most river cruise excursions in Europe are walking tours since many attractions are very close to the river, which was, and is, the lifeline of any European city. Walking tours will require varying levels of fitness as defined by each river cruise line for their excursions, and in many historic European towns there are cobblstone streets. For those with mobility issues, slower paced tours are usually available. For tours that involve bus travel, you will be required to store mobility aids beneath the bus in the luggage hold, and climb the steps onto the coach. In Europe, excursions are sometimes included in the price of a river cruise, and if included, you’ll be wasting money if you can’t join them.

The best thing about a European river cruise, regardless of whether it's on the Danube, Rhine, Moselle, or any other river, is the scenery continually passing by as seen from the ship. Historic castles, vineyards, and beautiful vistas often fill both banks of the river as your ship cruises by!

Accessible, or not?

There is a river cruise somewhere in the world for those with most any disability or mobility issue. Plus, new river cruise ships are launched every year, with more, and better, accessibility. So, don't think you can't go just because today there may not be exactly what you want where you want it. It may be coming next month, or next year! As river cruising grows in popularity, the options for accessible river cruising will expand - and we will help you every step of the way!

"Mister Cruise"
Peter Coloyan Sr.
President, Smart Traveler

How we work

With so many river cruise options, it's impossible to know which is truly the best, and truly the most accessible, for YOUR particular needs! Without years of experience and the knowledge and access to information that those years bring, consumers run the risk of paying more than they need to, or getting less than they expected to! Just talk to an expert - river cruising is NOT something that you want to, or can, in most cases, book online. Especially if accessibility is an issue - please.don't try to do it yourself!

That is where we come in! AccessibleRiverCruises.com, a service of Smart Traveler, puts you in touch with the best river cruise counselors for your lifestyle and budget, and with your particular accessibility needs in mind- and our service is FREE. -yes, it costs nothing to utilize the services of a River Cruise Expert.

In fact, we guarantee that, at the time of your initial river cruise reservation, you will never pay more than if you booked it yourself directly! In addition to absolutely NOT paying more using our services, for over 80% of our reservations, our customers pay less, sometimes MUCH less, than if they booked it themselves and you have an Expert on your side!

So, please, look around, get some ideas, and whenever you feel ready for some assistance, simply fill out the Quote Request Form.

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