All guests relying on wheelchairs for mobility are welcome on board Fred. Olsen cruise ships, but we do ask that you advise us of your mobility needs at the time of booking in order to meet health & safety requirements.
General Mobility Information Guide
Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines warmly welcomes guests dependent on the use of a wheelchair/scooter for mobility on all vessels within their fleet. However, with the very different nature of a holiday at sea when compared to one on land, it is strongly recommended that you are accompanied by an able-bodied companion who is responsible for providing any assistance that you may require both on board and ashore. On board, Fred. Olsen are unable to offer any sustained or long term assistance. If you opt to travel alone but it transpires that you are unable to cope on board, you will be required to meet with a senior officer to discuss the situation, and in extreme circumstances asked to disembark the vessel at your own expense. If in any doubt prior to departure as to whether Fred. Olsen can safely accept the guest for passage, they reserve the right to insist a guest is accompanied by an able-bodied companion.'.
The number of guests either reliant upon the use of a wheelchair/scooter, or with reduced mobility, that Fred. Olsen can accept, is governed by the number of crew assigned to assist disabled/mobility impaired guests in the unlikely event of an emergency. This is in accordance with the International Maritime Organisation's convention on ' Safety of Life at Sea ' (SOLAS), governing the safe evacuation of a vessel within 30 minutes of the emergency alarm being sounded. This regulation is not superseded by the EU Passenger Bill of Rights Regulation 1177/2010, effective 18 December 2012, concerning the rights of guests when travelling by sea or inland waterways.'.
Other guests who request to bring a wheelchair/scooter solely to assist them in covering significant distances ashore will therefore be restricted from using their wheelchair when the vessel is at sea. These chairs will be stored safely in the vicinity of the gangway by the Security Officers. Owing to limited storage space the number of wheelchairs/scooters that can accept for this purpose is strictly limited.'.
*Please see section 'Embarkation/Disembarkation'.
A limited number of rooms on each ship have been adapted to facilitate more comfortable occupation for such guests. ( 4 on Black Watch, Boudicca, Braemar and 9 on Balmoral). Only these rooms have wide thresholds to facilitate the acceptance of a wheelchair/scooter.
However, we must stress that these rooms have been modified based on original specifications as opposed to purpose built, and consequently may still pose difficulties to those guests fully reliant upon a wheelchair.
For example, bathrooms on Black Watch have a small ' ridge' to negotiate in the shower area which retains the shower water. This can hinder the manoeuvrability of a wheelchair. On Braemar we would not recommend the adapted rooms to any wheelchair bound guest, owing to the very limited turning circle within the room, restricting easy access to the ramped bathroom entrance.
For all adapted rooms, there are no handrails in the main room area, only in the shower/WC. A rail is provided to assist with use of the WC and a fixed seat is provided in the shower. In effect the entire floor of your bathroom acts as the shower tray. Your dedicated Stewardess will naturally clean and dry the floor as required. Bed and toilet heights are relatively low, however, an additional mattress and/or raised toilet seat can be requested. All rooms have a telephone link with both the ship's Guest Services and Medical Centre.
Guests are welcome to bring or privately hire additional equipment, such as hoists if required. With prior approval from FOCL the delivery/collection and safe use of such equipment will be entirely the responsibility of the individual.
In our opinion, Boudicca is the most wheelchair friendly vessel in the fleet owing to the very generous room dimensions and layout.
In all cases guests must supply their own wheelchair/scooter. On safety grounds such devices weighing in excess of 25kgs unladen, cannot be carried ashore at any ports of call, unless easily dismantled with each part weighing no more than 25 kilos. Again, in line with SOLAS regulations, wheelchairs must not be left unattended at anytime in public areas and/or corridors.
In general, and particularly on guest accommodation decks, wheelchair users will encounter shallow gradient ramps and shallow risers as a result of the vessel's construction and location of fire and water tight doors. Similarly, public areas and Promenade Decks are accessed via shallow ramps or a gradual slope. Subject to the vessels superstructure, not all doors leading on to open deck areas will be suitable for wheelchair users. Staff will be happy to offer advice on the most practical exit/entrance for you. While all ships have public lifts to all guest decks, excluding Sun Deck, these do have restricted space for wheelchairs, particularly for the larger motorised type. Please bear in mind that most doors leading to outside decks are non-automated and to serve their purpose are very heavy and could not be negotiated by a wheelchair/scooter user unless accompanied by an able-bodied companion.
Regrettably, owing to the non-availability of either an overhead air-bridge or sloped gangway in the UK ports of of Avonmouth, Liverpool and Rosyth, Fred. Olsen are physically restricted from getting guests fully confined to their wheelchair on board. In these ports the guest must be able to manage a stepped gangway with the minimal of assistance of either a crew member or their suitably able bodied travelling companion. The angle of gangway is subject to the tidal conditions. In general regional port facilities fall short of those found in the major cruise hubs. Also unless the overseas ports have an overhead air-bridge facility, Fred. Olsen may not be able to disembark wheelchair confined guests.
At times where a physical berth cannot be allocated in a port, Fred. Olsen may have to Drop anchor and utilise a ship to shore tender service. Fred. Olsen regret that, on safety grounds, wheelchair confined guests will be unable to go ashore. Please note that on these occasions there may be up to 24 steps down to the tender platform. Fully collapsible wheelchairs can be carried on board a tender, but the guest in question must be able to board the tender with the minimum of assistance. Whereas tender ports are generally known in advance of arrival and are detailed on both ours and Fred. Olsen’s website, unforeseen circumstances on the day may necessitate such a service should the original berth become unavailable for whatever reason.
Shore Tour Programme
Unless able to climb the steps of a coach, it will not be possible to participate in the programme of organised shore excursions offered for sale on board. This includes tours with minimal walking involved at destination. Easy wheelchair access cannot aurs, or access to shuttle buses provided by the local port authority.
Please however contact the Shore Tours Department at Fred. Olsen on firstname.lastname@example.org should you wish to explore private tour arrangements with suitable transport.
Deaf and visually impaired Guests
As with mobility impaired guests we would strongly recommend guests are accompanied by an able-bodied companion to assist them both on board and ashore.
Whereas infra-red hearing loops are fitted on all vessels, with headsets available from Guest Services, for use in the main 'Show Lounge', please note that this headset system is not suitable for people who wear permanently inserted hearing devices; and none of the rooms feature any additional emergency equipment such as flashing lights or 'bed shakers' that can be used in the event of an emergency. In the event of an emergency, specifically trained and assigned crew will come directly to your room. However, please let us have advance notice of any serious hearing impairment, and we will pass this on to Fred. Olsen.