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One of the best parts of having this website is that our Facebook community send me photos and tell me about their holidays. I’m a travel addict and a sticky beak so it combines two of my favourite things. Back in December one of our Facebook friends sent me photos of her holiday on Ovation of the Seas. I was particularly happy to see photos of the spacious accessible cabin. I’d seen the ship on morning TV and it looked ultra luxurious so I was happy to hear of someone’s personal experience. A big thank you to Kathryn for sharing photos and information about the ship.

Ovation of the Seas
Ovation of the Seas

As many of you will know, an attraction or cruise ship can boast all kinds of fancy facilities but from a wheelchair user’s point of view, if the wheelchair access isn’t good then there’s nothing fancy about it at all. Luckily, Ovation of the Seas appears to deliver both on the facilities and access.


I was so impressed to see that Kathryn could fit two wheelchairs and three suitcases in the accessible cabin and still have room to move around easily. Kathryn said “overall the best part of the cruise was the high level of accessibility in the ship, in part due to the ship being new and the influence of American disability access laws”

Ovation of the Seas
Accessible cabin on Ovation of the Seas

This cabin is an ocean view accessible cabin.

Ovation of the Seas
Accessible cabin on Ovation of the Seas

Kathryn says, “one thing that is really exciting about the cabin is that the main cabin door is automatic, just use a swipe card and it opens. Usually I need someone to open the door to the room in hotels or cruise ships due to low strength in my arms, on this ship I can be independent, it’s excellent.”


The accessible bathroom has roll-in shower with hand held shower head, grab rails throughout and a flip down shower seat.

Ovation of the Seas
Accessible bathroom on Ovation of the Seas
Ovation of the Seas
Accessible bathroom Ovation of the Seas

There is wheelchair access to the bathroom sink and lever taps.

Ovation of the Seas
Accessible bathroom Ovation of the Seas


The Ovation of the Seas has its very own London Eye-style observation capsule which offers 360 degree views and it’s wheelchair accessible.

Ovation of the Seas
North Arm observation capsule offering 360 degree views

Not fancying heights, Kathryn sent her husband to take the pictures from the capsule.

Ovation of the Seas
Ovation of the Seas from the North Arm

Kathryn advises “the ship has excellent wheelchair access in all parts of the ship, including the spa that has a lifter.”

Kathryn was very complimentary of the facilities on the cruise ship but did add, “the only thing that they need to improve is shore excursions for full time wheelchair users. We ended up using local NZ provider for tours as the cruise company only gave us one tour option and it was very expensive.”


One of the difficulties that our readers often tell me about is access to the tenders and shore excursions. It seems that if you are not mobile many cruise ships can’t accommodate wheelchairs in the tenders. I was thrilled that Kathryn took this great photo showing the access on Ovation of the Seas. How refreshing to see a ship with wheelchair access to the tenders.

Ovation of the Seas
Wheelchair access to the tender for shore excursions

Kathryn says, “being a brand new ship built in 2016 it’s very accessible, they even have wheelchair lifts to the tender boats. Here is the porthole at the bottom of the ship that I was able to get to to use tender boats using my manual wheelchair.” Kathryn does warn that, “people do need to realise that transfer to tender can be dependant on weather conditions, especially if you use a wheelchair, the water was pretty calm so that was good.”

Ovation of the Seas
Ovation of the Seas in Milford Sound

Thanks so much Kathryn for sharing photos and information about your experience. I always think it’s so helpful to our readers to see photos inside the cabins and hear of other’s experiences.

Guests are encouraged to fill out a Guest Special Needs form to give the staff a better idea of your needs. You can click through to the form here.

You can read more about the general features of the ship here.

I toured the Pacific Jewel a while ago and shared photos of the accessible cabin and details of the ship here.

I hope to have the opportunity to tour more ships this year as this is such an easy way for people with mobility restrictions to holiday.



  1. We went on a sister ship in Dec 2016 – Anthem of the Seas – and loved the cabin with accessible balcony like you did! However the observation capsule wasn’t really accessible. You had to be able to independently transfer into their wheelchair – a fold up bariatric model – and also have enough arm strength and head control to exit by zipline in case of emergency. Shaking my head…

  2. I have travelled several times with Holland America line. I hire a power chair through them and it is waiting in the cabin when we arrive. We got on one cruise in Florida and ended in Vancouver. All we had to do was leave the chair in the cabin as we disembarked. There was no extra charge for not returning it to the hire place. Hire for the month was about $8/ day! Each time we have had a cabin with double sized balcony, heaps of room in suite , lots of accessible hanging with roll in robe through to an excellent bathroom. An automatic door would have been great. Shore excursions even by tender were available. The only hitch there was the shore accessibility sometimes depending on the tides.

  3. Julie,

    This blog reminds me of my first ever cruise which was last march and was also onboard a royal carribean line ship called “Explorer of the seas”.

    It was a truly wonderful experience for me as a w/c user and I’d urge any disabled person [especially those in a w/c] to go on one with them.
    The entire fleet has been thoughtfully designed & built with the philosophy that ” ……. We’ve always believed that discovering and exploring the world around us is something that everyone should be able to enjoy, and over the years we’ve been an industry leader in providing the finest cruise holiday experience for all of our guests. ”
    All of the staff are also VERY helpful and many stopped what they were doing and helped me.

    It was the best holiday for me ever! I’m on my own with no carer and I struggle everyday at home, so it was extremely exciting to know that I could finally relax and have a well earned holiday/rest.
    There wasn’t a single thing on the ship that I had difficulty with and I was so impressed that I booked another one [this time I’ll be on Voyager of the seas] which departs circular quay on 21st Feb 2017 [only 38 sleeps]!

    I’d already decided to take photos of anything w/c accessible, so I’ll pass them on to you to share.

    When you get a chance to view inside one of their ships you’re sure to be impressed.

    Keep up the excellent info Julie, it is very much appreciated.

    Enjoy your weekend!


    Jen 🙂

    • Im so interested in seeing your photos. Taking my son on a cruise who is 23 full wheelchair user but can do transfers with a lot of help. Which Ship from Sydney or Newcastle!!!

  4. Thanks for the info re this ship, just back from Hawaii and Tahiti on Carnival Legend. Only access to tenders was down about 8 steps . Room was also small and had to re configure same. Did have press button door opener. In Noumea tried to book a van to the beach refused to allow us to put the wheelchair in the boot area.
    No accessible vehicles in Papaettte hired a car at $450 us for 4.30 hours.
    In Hawaii book shuttle but before you leave home, we assumed there would be plenty of taxis like in Sydney but none and never saw one the whole time there. Accessible shuttle was good as were the local accessible buses. Difficult to hire accessible vehicles if wanted to go for instance to the North Shore. Stayed at Aston Waikkiki beach rooms not fully accessible especially if you have a big chair my daughter has a 14 inch manual chair and had to lift her into the toilet because of the design of the room

  5. This is wonderful for wheelchair users like me, we will go overseas in 2 and a half years, we plan on taking a cruise on the Hurtigrutene, its a ship that travels up the coast of Norway, has anyone else done this trip. Would be so grateful for news about travel on the Hurtigrutene ships. Thank you, Lorraine.

  6. This is so so so helpful as I just booked a cruise to New Zealand on this ship. But I was told by the travel agent that there are two ports that require tendering hence we will not be able to go ashore. Who should I speak to about this post with the wheelchair lift to the tenders? I don’t really want to be stuck on the ship if there is a way to get ashore.

  7. hi just in inquiring my husband uses a wheelchair for distances can anyone recommend any onshore excursions for new Zealand and also on the ship tours we travelling with royal Caribbean ovation of the seas
    cheers Di Slaven


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