Accessibility and Support for River Cruises
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Accessibility and assistance
At Saga, we endeavour to provide an exceptional experience for all guests, and we want to ensure you make the right choice when booking your cruise with us.
It is important that you discuss your needs with us prior to booking so that we are able to assess your individual circumstances and inform you if a river cruise is suitable for you.
If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of our river cruises, it’s important that you contact us and discuss these with us at the time of booking.
If you have a physical disability or are undergoing medical treatment you must let us know in advance and we will be able to tell you if the ship is equipped to meet your needs. Failure to inform us could result in denied boarding.
River cruises operate with a smaller crew than ocean cruises and do not have the crew available to provide assistance onboard.
This includes but is not limited to:
- Carriage of passengers up and down gangways
- Assisting guests with movement around the ship
- Assistance in using personal hoists
- Any level of personal care
- Assistance in an emergency
- Guardian services or emotional support
If you are travelling alone and once on board, we feel you are unable to cope, a senior officer will discuss the situation with you, and you may be asked to leave the ship at your own cost in extreme circumstances.
In some cases, you may be required to travel with a companion.
Many of the cities visited on our river cruises are historic, featuring cobblestone walkways, steep steps, high curbs, and uneven paths, which may present difficulties to anybody using a wheelchair, scooter, or walker.
It is important to remember that the local infrastructure in some of the places visited may not meet the same standards of the UK. Please speak with one of our cruise consultants to see if a Saga river cruise is right for you.
Many cities may not have wheelchair ramps at convenient locations simply due to the structure of the cities themselves, which can be hundreds of years old. While major cities will likely have facilities for wheelchair users, smaller towns and villages are less likely.
Although not a requirement, it is recommended that a blind or visually impaired guest travels with a fare paying companion. This recommendation is made purely on the basis of personal safety.
In the unlikely event of an emergency on board, a travelling companion will greatly aid your timely relocation to your allocated muster station, as our crew are unable to offer assistance.
If you need to notify us of any specific requirements, please do so at the time of booking. If you have already booked, please make sure you notify us no later than 48 hours before departure by calling us free on 0800 373 034.
Regrettably, we are unable to accept assistance dogs on board our river cruise ships.
If you need to travel with an assistance dog, our ocean cruises might be a more suitable choice.
You must notify us at the time of booking if you require the use of oxygen on board.
This is required in order to check whether your type of oxygen can be carried and, if so, to make the necessary preparations before the oxygen is brought on board. Also, the ship will have limited storage capacity so notice is required for us to check if this will be available.
Please note, liquid oxygen is not permitted.
You will be responsible for providing any supplies or equipment needed. You also need to be able to administer the oxygen yourself or you will need to travel with a fare paying companion capable of performing this function.
Please note that for safety reasons, we can only allow one oxygen canister on board at any one time. Therefore, please contact us to check availability before you book.
If you have mobility issues and cannot climb three flights of steep stairs unaided, then a River Cruise is not suitable for you.
If your mobility changes in the future and you become unable to do this, then you must tell us. The captain reserves the right to deny boarding in the interests of safety.
Wheelchairs and mobility scooters cannot be used onboard our river cruise ships.
You may bring a wheelchair or scooter for shoreside use only but you must provide your own, and for safety reasons and due to storage limitations, you must check with us first that a space is available.
Some ships may not have inside storage and wheelchairs and scooters may need to be stored outside. They cannot be stored in cabins or public spaces.
A limited number of walkers may be used on board Spirit of the Danube and Spirit of the Rhine only - please contact us to check availability.
Please note that you could be denied boarding on the grounds of safety if you arrive at check-in with a wheelchair, walker, or mobility scooter and have failed to declare that you are bringing this with you, and no spaces are available.
Variances in water levels along rivers can result in steep gangways. Therefore, getting on and off the ships can be difficult for passengers with reduced mobility.
Sometimes, two or three ships are moored alongside each other. You will need to cross over gangways that link the ships together and walk through each vessel to reach the shore.
Some vessels will not have lifts so you will need to negotiate stairs to get ashore. We cannot tell in advance when this will occur, and this situation is beyond our control.
Find out more about our ships.
There are no medical facilities on our river cruise ships but there will be a trained first aider on board. If needed, shoreside medical services can be called. Response times will vary based on location.
River cruise ships must be fairly low in order to pass under bridges, and for this reason, the sun deck is usually only accessible by stairs.
Transport and Transfers
If you need to take a wheelchair, scooter, or walker with you, please tell us at the earliest opportunity so we can ensure that your transfer coach will have space for it. You will need to be able to fold or dismantle it yourself, or travel with a companion who can do this for you, so that it can be safely stored when travelling.
Travelling by air
Please inform us as early as possible, and at least 48 hours before departure, if you require airport assistance.
If you have booked this service, you will be met after check-in and taken to the departure gate; there may be a wait for this service depending on demand.
At your overseas airport, the service will take you as far as the terminal exit – you may then need to walk with your luggage to meet the transfer vehicle.
Travelling by Eurostar
Eurostar's luggage service is currently unavailable, and our representatives will be unable to help you with your with luggage.
You may take up to two items of luggage, each measuring up to 85cm long at the widest point, along with one piece of hand luggage.
However, luggage trolleys are not available, and you will be responsible for carrying your own bags throughout, at times for distances of up to 200 metres, and you will need to be able to lift them on and off the security scanner, train, and luggage racks. For this reason, we recommend taking one main item of luggage plus hand luggage.
Please call Eurostar direct on 03432 186 186 to book the Eurostar Assist service.
The Eurostar Assist team will take you to and from the train and help you with your luggage, but only if it weighs less than 15kg.
Eurostar work with local teams to arrange assistance at your overseas station.
The local teams in France and Belgium will help you with one item of luggage only, weighing up to 15kg.
In the Netherlands, your local team will take you to and from the train, but they won’t help you with your bags.
Wherever possible, we arrange a choice of excursions to match a variety of tastes and walking abilities.
We will notify you when excursions for your cruise are on sale and provide information for each that can be booked. To help you choose the excursions most suitable for you, we have graded each according to the walking involved, as detailed below:
To help you choose the most suitable excursions we have graded each according to the amount of walking involved.
- Grade 1: Walking at your own discretion. For example, on panoramic coach tours when the only walking is at photo stops.
- Grade 2: Minimal walking of up to approximately 550 yards on mainly flat terrain.
- Grade 3: Moderate walking. Between 550-1650 yards over mixed terrain with the possibility of some steps.
- Grade 4: Considerable walking: More than 1650 yards over uneven terrain with many steps.
- Grade 5: Strenuous walking: Long distances over rough terrain with climbing, steps, and trekking.
We will send excursion details 6-8 weeks prior to your departure date. If you are in any doubt as to the suitability of the excursions, please contact us and we will be happy to discuss these with you.
If you require a wheelchair or scooter to take part in an excursion, this will need to be collapsible so it can be safely stored in the coach.
You will also need to be able to fold or dismantle your wheelchair or scooter yourself and lift it into the coach's luggage hold or be accompanied by a travelling companion who can do this for you.
While we always try to use the most comfortable, well-equipped vehicles for our excursions, we are often limited by what is available in a particular destination. So regrettably, if you are unable to manage the steps on to a coach or other vehicle, you will not be able to join the excursion.
In addition, as the vehicles used for excursions differ from place to place, there may be restrictions as to what mobility aids can be carried.