Wishlist

NEW Winter Sun Sale! New Exclusives & Savings on our handpicked Winter Sun holidays!

Top 5 Accessible European Cruise Ports

18 June 2024

Best Wheelchair Accessible Cruise Ports in Europe

When it comes to going on holiday, there are few things more exciting than embarking on a European cruise. Whether you’re taking advantage of the latest last-minute cruise deals or opting for an extended cruise and stay getaway, cruising this continent is an excellent way of experiencing new cultures, checking out some of the world’s best historical locations, and ticking off bucket-list cities all in one fell swoop.

But, if you’re a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues, you might be reading this wondering just how viable travelling around Europe via cruise really is. It’s certainly easy to think that most of Europe is full of quaint cobblestone alleyways and hilltop medieval ruins – there are quite a few of those around, after all.

Well, you’ll be pleased to know that cruise ports in Europe are improving how accessible they are; and it’s certainly easier to get around now than it would have been a couple of decades ago. However, even ports to the most accessible cities in Europe have a few stumbling blocks you should keep in mind if you’re planning on visiting as a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

So, while we’ve already touched on the top 5 accessible cruise lines for wheelchair users and anyone with mobility issues hoping to sail the seven seas and enjoy a cruise getaway, what about the ports themselves? Wheelchair accessible cruises and accessible cruises are much more commonplace nowadays, but are the best cruise ports in Europe also the most accessible cruise ports?

In this guide, we’re going to discuss the most accessible cruise ports in Europe, explaining what you can expect when you arrive in each one and highlighting what you need to consider as a wheelchair user or a traveler with mobility issues. So, if you’re looking at accessible cruises from Southampton – or accessible cruises from the U.K. more generally – this should help you pick an itinerary that’s right for you.

Contents:

  1. London International Cruise Terminal (Tilbury), England
  2. Port of Amsterdam, Netherlands
  3. Port of Venice, Italy
  4. Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
  5. Cruise Port Rotterdam, Netherlands

1. London International Cruise Terminal (Tilbury), England

The first and last stop on some of the best Norwegian Fjord cruises sailing – and a popular port for short breaks to popular European cities – the London International Cruise Terminal in Tilbury is one of the most accessible cruise ports in Europe. And, if you’re going to add a trip to London itself on top of your cruise holiday, you’ll be pleased to know that the capital city is one of the most wheelchair accessible cities in Europe too!

London International Cruise Terminal (Tilbury)

Wheelchair accessible cruises from the UK aren’t as hard to come by as they once were, but it’s still worth shouting about ports like the London International Cruise Terminal when it comes to accessibility. Not to mention the fact that cruises from London Tilbury are always among the most exciting itineraries you can go on.

💡
What cruise lines sail from London Tilbury?

As of June 2024, the following cruise lines sail from London Tilbury: Ambassador Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Regent Seven Seas Cruise Line.

Just over an hour away from the city centre by car and train, this cruise port caters to visitors with a range of disabilities, especially wheelchair users and those with mobility issues. With permanent ramps and slopes both inside and out, accessible toilets, even surfaces throughout, and bright lighting, you should have no trouble making your way around the London International Cruise Terminal when you visit – whether you’re in a wheelchair, using a motorised scooter, or walking with an aid.

💡
What is the nearest station to Tilbury Docks?

The nearest station to Tilbury Docks is Tilbury Town. It's roughly a 20-minute walk from the cruise terminal; you will be able to get there via cruise terminal transfer or a short taxi trip.

One thing that’s worth keeping in mind when you visit, though, is that you’re going to have a hard time leveraging the assistance of a lift when you’re in the cruise port – because there aren’t any. Fear not, though, for you’ll find ramps and slopes with handrails throughout – even when you’re heading from the Departures Gate to your cruise ship and when you’re leaving your cruise ship and heading to the Arrivals Gate. You’ll just need to prepare yourself for a little bit of a climb. The London International Cruise Terminal, thankfully, does have a limited number of wheelchairs available for visitors to borrow should they require one.

Central London, England

With all that being said, London itself is one of the most accessible cities in Europe and you’ll find yourself able to enjoy almost everything this city has to offer if you’re a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues. If you’re getting the train into the city from the cruise port, you’ll find that most of the Overground and Underground stations have lifts and staff on-hand ready to help.

On top of this, the majority of kerbs in the city centre are dropped and you won’t find yourself coming across too many cobblestone streets in all the popular places. A lot of the major attractions in London, including one of the top museums to visit during a cruise, are wheelchair friendly and accessible for visitors with mobility issues.

💡
How to transfer from London to Tilbury cruise terminal?

The only way to get from London to Tilbury cruise terminal via public transport is by train; you can get a 20-minute train from London Fenchurch Street station to Tilbury Town station.

2. Port of Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you’re planning on visiting the Dutch capital as a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues, you’ll be pleased to know that the port of Amsterdam is one of the most accessible ports in Europe; and, the city of Amsterdam itself isn’t quite as bad as you might expect given the fact that it’s dominated by short bridges over an abundance of canals. So, you shouldn't be put off booking that cruise to Amsterdam if you have mobility issues!

Passenger Terminal, Port of Amsterdam

When it comes to the Amsterdam cruise port accessibility features, you’ll be able to drive – or be driven – right up to the main entrance of the cruise terminal itself. There, you’ll find porters ready to help you with any luggage you might need assistance with. The nearest car park, Piet Heingarage, is also equipped with special facilities – alongside slopes and ramps – to help wheelchair users and visitors with mobility issues make their way to and from the parking facilities to the cruise terminal. When you’re inside, you’ll also find ramps, slopes, and lifts available throughout; although, it’s recommended that you speak to your cruise consultant ahead of time, just to make sure you won’t have any issues when you arrive.

💡
Where do the cruise ships stop in Amsterdam?

More often than not, cruise ships dock at the Passenger Terminal in the East Docklands area of Amsterdam. This location has good transport links, and is close to the city centre.

With the cruise terminal right in the centre of the city, you won’t have far to go if you want to explore Amsterdam proper once you’ve disembarked. If you don’t want to walk into the heart of this culture-rich city (which will take you roughly 30 minutes, depending on where you want to go) or get a taxi (of which you can specifically request a wheelchair-accessible taxi), there’s accessible public transport available.

The buses throughout the city centre, in particular, are often great for wheelchair users and people with mobility issues. Although, you may find yourself with some trouble navigating Amsterdam-Centrum – the old city centre of the Dutch capital. With bus routes largely avoiding this part of the city, you may need to utilise the tram system to get around – and some tram platforms are more accessible than others, with raised platforms sporadic. If you want to get to the tram system straight from the cruise terminal, you can do so via the main train station – which is about a mile away by foot and also accessible via public transport.

Amsterdam-Noord, Amsterdam

However, if you want to sightsee without the stresses of the tram system, there are some specifically-accessible boat tours available in Amsterdam; not to mention the fact that a lot of the city’s most popular attractions are wheelchair accessible, too. Notably, though, Anne Frank’s house – which is perhaps the most popular attraction this city has to offer – isn’t wheelchair-friendly.

And, you will come across some cobblestones in the historic city centre that will make for a slightly bumpy ride. It’s also worth scouting out any eateries ahead of time, as there’s no guarantee a restaurant or café you want to visit will be wheelchair accessible; quite a few of the city’s hotspots are up small sets of steps and doing some research ahead of time would help you avoid any on-the-day disappointment.

💡
How far is the cruise port in Amsterdam to the city centre? How do I get from Amsterdam port to the city?

The cruise terminal is quite close to the city centre, and there are a few ways for you to get there. You can either take a short taxi ride into the city centre (~5 minutes), walk into the city centre (~55 minutes), hop on a bus (~15 minutes), or head to Amsterdam Central Station and get a train (~25 minutes).

3. Port of Venice, Italy

Venice is undoubtedly one of the most stunning European cities out there, which is just one reason why cruises to Venice are so popular. Another reason why this destination is so popular, though, is that – despite the city itself being littered with bridges, stairs, and narrow walkways – Venice and the Port of Venice are actually much more accessible than you might think.

When you arrive in one of the three docks (Stazione Maratime, San Marta, or San Basilio), you’ll find both embarking and disembarking a breeze thanks to lifts up to (and down from) the accessible walkways. You’ll also find the walk to the main cruise terminal flat and clearly marked. Although, you will also be able to get a car from your cruise ship to the main terminal building if you need one.

Port of Venice, Italy

Inside the main cruise terminal, before you continue onto the city itself, you’ll find that the whole building is brightly lit with smooth, flat flooring – perfect for wheelchair users, visitors using motorised scooters, and anyone walking with an aid. There’s also a separate queue specifically for people who require special assistance, including anyone with mobility issues, so you can make sure you’re getting all the help you need from the friendly staff.

💡
How far is the Venice cruise port from the city centre?

The cruise port itself is roughly 1.5km away from the city centre and the closest train station, which is quite the walk. However, you can take a People Mover and Vaporetto Boat, a private water taxi, or an Alilaguna Blu boat to get there.

When it comes to getting into the city of Venice from the cruise port, though, you may find that your options are limited – especially if you’re someone relying on a motorised scooter to get around. If you want to take the People Mover and Vaporetto Boat down the Grand Canal, the most scenic route from port to city, you’re going to need to prepare yourself to get on and off several modes of transport.

If you’re in a wheelchair, you should be able to be lifted on and off the boats when required; however, this becomes a lot harder if you’re in a heavier motorised scooter and it’s best to discuss your options when you arrive. There are ramps onto these boats, but the height they float at compared to the dock can change depending on the number of people on the boat itself. You’ll also find yourself facing similar issues if you want to travel to the city via Alilaguna Blu boat – smaller sea taxis with fewer passengers per trip.

Venice, Italy

Thankfully, you can largely avoid these issues if you opt to take a wheelchair-friendly water taxi to and from the cruise port. These are available via private hire and should make navigating this wonderful city a lot easier if you’re a wheelchair user or someone using a motorised scooter. And, when you actually get to the city centre, you’ll find that a number of the most popular attractions are wheelchair accessible.

Although, while you won’t find any cobblestones underfoot here, you may find that most of the bridges aren’t wheelchair friendly. You will be able to explore a lot of the city without going over a bridge, but it might just take a little bit of pre-planning to work out routes to all the places you want to visit that avoid bridges.

💡
Are the ferries in Venice free?

Sadly not. While the public transport ferries in Venice are cheaper than gondolas and private-hire water taxis, the public transport in Venice is fairly expensive compared to other European cities.

4. Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

If you want to spend some time soaking up the sun, the Spanish island of Tenerife is one of the best places in Europe to do just that – and you’ll be pleased to know that the port of Santa Cruz is one of the most accessible in Europe for wheelchair users and cruisers with mobility issues.

Not only are all the surfaces in and around the port itself flat and smooth, but the cruise port itself is the most modern in Macaronesia (the island-dominated region where the Canary Islands and Tenerife are found). This should mean you’ll have no trouble getting around inside the port; there will be lifts and escalators to leverage, and accessible toilets available. Sounds like a good time to book a cruise to Santa Cruz, right?

Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Well, when it comes to heading into Santa Cruz de Tenerife itself to explore, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a free accessible shuttle bus from the cruise terminal into the city centre available. While the walk into the city centre isn’t too far for someone able to walk it, this is definitely worth taking advantage of if you need it – although, you should be able to hire accessible taxis if you’d prefer that. The rest of the public transport systems in Tenerife were also the first in Spain to be certified as offering Universal Accessibility; this means all the buses and trams are wheelchair accessible. So, you shouldn’t have any trouble navigating the city if you’re a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues.

💡
Can you walk from the cruise port in Tenerife?

You can, and it’s a nice walk too! However, it will take you around an hour and a half to complete. So, it might be best to take advantage of public transportation or a private taxi if you’re a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues.

You’ll also be pleased to know that most of the pavements in Santa Cruz de Tenerife have dropped kerbs at crossings, and you should find that they’re also largely flat and even. This all makes getting around on foot, or in a wheelchair, without public transport easier. There will be some stairs, though, which is sadly something near-unavoidable when travelling; but, several of the city’s main attractions are wheelchair friendly and accessible – such as the Auditorium of Tenerife, the Palmetum, and the Parque Maritimo Cesar Manrique entertainment complex.

Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

Beyond Santa Cruz de Tenerife, if you have the time, you’ll find towns like Candelaria and Santiago del Tiede – both of which are well worth exploring, and not quite as inaccessible as you might think. Candelaria, in particular – in which you’ll find the impressive Basilica de Candelaria and several Statues of Gaunche Kings – is largely flat and even; this makes it an easy place to explore as a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues.

Santiago del Tiede, on the other hand, is a little hit and miss with accessibility. Some pavements have dropped kerbs, but not all, and some of the restaurants and cafes are just too small and cluttered to be wheelchair accessible. It’s a nice place to visit and there will be things you can see and do as a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues, but you will find some areas and venues harder to access.

💡
Is there a shuttle bus from the Port of Santa Cruz?

Yes, there is! A free shuttle bus from the cruise terminal to the Plaza de Espana in the city centre is provided by the Tenerife Port Authority.

5. Cruise Port Rotterdam, Netherlands

As one of the world’s largest seaports (and the largest seaport in Europe itself), it will come as no surprise to anyone that the Netherlands’ Port of Rotterdam is one of the busiest cruise ports in Europe. While this doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything, the Port of Rotterdam Authority is committed to making sure that this is also one of the most accessible ports in Europe. So, even if you’re thinking of hopping onto a cheap cruise – or in fact any cruise to Rotterdam – you’ll be pleased to know that you won’t have any trouble disembarking and seeing the sights if you’re a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues.

Rotterdam Cruise Terminal

The interior of the port’s cruise terminal, as you would expect, is brightly lit with smooth and even flooring throughout. There are also numerous lifts available in the cruise terminal, perfect for anyone with mobility issues or wheelchair users who want to access the upper floors. And, if you want to check out FutureLand while you’re in the Port of Rotterdam itself (a place where you can experience the development of the newest area of the port), you’ll be pleased to know that this is also wheelchair accessible. It’s just worth noting that, while the FutureLand Ferry is wheelchair friendly, the FutureLand Express bus isn’t. So, if you want to visit and stay on land, you’ll need to look into alternative transport options – private hire accessible taxis are always an option.

💡
How far is the cruise port in Rotterdam from the town?

The cruise port is around 20 minutes away from Rotterdam by car, and you will be able to get there via public transport (the metro), the shuttle bus service, or a private taxi.

When it comes to Rotterdam itself, you’ll find that the city centre is very wheelchair accessible, making it the perfect place to visit if you’re someone with mobility issues. All the public transport services, which includes both buses and RET trams, come equipped with low boarding for easy access in a wheelchair and reserved seating for wheelchair users and anyone with mobility issues.

However, while a lot of the platforms themselves come equipped with an extendable platform – making boarding with a wheelchair easier – this is not a universal feature. So, it’s going to be worth checking ahead of time if there’s a platform near a place you’re particularly planning on visiting. It doesn’t make wheelchair access impossible, but it will make it difficult.

AIDAperla sailing into the port of Rotterdam

Thankfully, though, every Rotterdam Metro station is equipped with wheelchair ramps, escalators, and lifts. So, as long as you don’t mind travelling underground a little, you’ll find that most areas of the city are easily accessible. When it comes to the available attractions, like most major European cities, there’s quite a lot you can do as a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues; there’s even wheelchair-friendly walking tours to enjoy, great if you want a guide to help you explore Rotterdam.

You’ll also be pleased to know that places like Diergaarde Blijdorp (Rotterdam Zoo) and Maritiem Museum (the Rotterdam Maritime Museum) are wheelchair friendly – with ramps and lifts throughout – just as a couple of examples.

💡
Which port is bigger: Amsterdam or Rotterdam?

Rotterdam is the bigger of the two cruise ports, but you shouldn't find it any more busy than Amsterdam's cruise terminal. It's only bigger because it's the main European port for East Asian goods!

Book Your European Holiday with Iglu Cruise Today

If you're ready to explore all the wonderful destinations Europe has to offer, you can check out the latest cruise deals right here. With so many options available, you'll be able to find the right escape for you – and, of course, one with the best accessibility if you're a wheelchair user or someone with mobility issues!

If this list of cruise ports isn’t quite enough for you, and you want to explore even more of the world, you can find out more about the most accessible ports around the world below:

Most recent articles:









Speak to a Cruise expert 0203 848 3600
Cruise added to your wishlist

Manage your wishlist 0