Depending on the port, there will be one of two ways to get ashore: walking down the gangway directly on to land, or by tender.
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 excursions are operated by mini bus, there will be no storage space for mobility scooters or wheelchairs.
The types of gangway we use
We use a variety of gangway configurations to cope with tidal conditions.
At ports where it is not possible to use the ship’s brow, 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. The baton type can be quite steep at times, due to tidal conditions.
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.
Ports with steep gangways
Certain ports have a big tidal range. This means there can be a big height difference between the quay and the gun-port doors, making the gangway too steep for the safe passage of wheelchairs or mobility scooters. These ports include (but aren't limited to):
- La Coruna
- Le Havre
- La Rochelle
- Canary Island ports
- San Francisco
This means there is a strong chance guests who use a wheelchair or mobility scooter will have to stay on board at these ports. We apologise if this is disappointing, but we hope you appreciate that it’s in the interest of your safety.
Getting to shore when a gangway can't be used
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 passengers.
To board the tender safely, you need to use steps and navigate the gap between the platform and the tender.
- Steps are up to 20cm/ 8 inches high
- The gap is up to 45cm/18 inches wide
Any guest wishing to use the tender will need to take a mobility assessment beforehand to demonstrate that they can step unaided over a distance of 45cm/18 inches.
If you have notified us that you have reduced mobility, we'll invite you to a tender briefing on board and give you the opportunity to complete the mobility assessment in advance. This must be completed independently, without any assistance. 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/guardian is able to demonstrate that they can carry or pass them safely across the mobility test gap.
When you board the tender
There will be crew members there 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.
If you use a wheelchair or mobility scooter, please note that you or your travelling companion is 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 20kg/40lb.