Discover Ferries members want all passengers to enjoy a relaxing and stress-free journey on board and are committed to making services accessible and easy to use.
We understand that the more information you have about your journey, the more confident you will feel when travelling. With this mind, we have put together this overview of the accessible facilities that are available on board ferries and ensure you have a great ferry experience.
Prepare and book ahead to ensure you get the best assistance
- Facilities vary depending on the vessel you sail on, so check what assistance is available at the port and on board before you travel. If you have questions about your journey, please contact the ferry operators directly.
- The design and construction of a ship can make it difficult for some disabled passengers to move freely around, these passengers may wish to consider travelling with an able-bodied companion to assist during the voyage.
- If you are travelling with an assistance dog, make sure you check which documentation is required and, if travelling to the EU or Northern Ireland, arrange for your dog to get a valid health certificate.
- To ensure the best possible service is provided, ferry operators ask for as much notification of assistance as possible. Let ferry operators know about the level of assistance you will require for your travel when you make your booking or at least 48 hours before departure.
What assistance ferry operators offer on board
Facilities vary depending on the vessel you sail on, so check on the operator’s website or with the operator directly what facilities are available on board before you book.
Most ferries have either lifts from the car decks or passenger ramps suitable for wheelchair users. Space on the car deck may be limited close to the lifts at busy periods. If a passenger needs to use the lift they can let operators know at the time of booking and their vehicle will be loaded in the lift lane.
Ferries which feature private cabins have a range of wheelchair accessible cabins on most vessels, with wider doors and step-free en suite facilities. Some have bunk beds and your travelling companion/s may need to use an upper bunk.
There are accessible toilets available on most member ferries, however this varies by vessel. Please check before booking.
Loan of a wheelchair
Not all ferries can accommodate motorised wheelchairs or buggies in passenger areas; however, they can usually be loaded as freight or left on the car deck and, on most routes, a standard wheelchair will be made available for use during the journey.
Some ferries have priority seating areas. Seats in this area can be used by anyone but should be made available if they are needed for passengers with disabilities, expectant mothers or the elderly.
Ferries have some Braille signage on board but not all services have information available in Braille. If you or a member of your travelling party has a visual impairment, we recommend visiting the information desk on board or speaking to a member of crew for assistance with orientation.
If you or a member of your travelling party has a hearing impairment, please report to the Information Desk on board or speak to a member of the crew. Some operators have an induction loop and others will arrange for you to receive all important messages being made over the onboard speaker system.
Assistance Dogs are carried free of charge and can access all passenger areas of the ferry. They must be kept on a lead at all times. You may need to show your assistance animal has been certified and, if you are travelling to the EU or Northern Ireland, that they have a valid health certificate.
Carrying medical oxygen
Please notify the ferry operator of any need to bring mobility and/or medical equipment at the time of the booking. You can travel with medical oxygen with written permission from a GP advising that medical oxygen is required. Ferry operators need to be informed that medical oxygen will potentially be used on the voyage at the time of booking.
Ferry operators are not able to help with personal care matters such as feeding, breathing, lifting or using the toilet.
Sunflower Lanyard Scheme
The Sunflower Lanyard Scheme for hidden disabilities is recognised by Condor Ferries, Hovertravel, Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries and Red Funnel.
Concessionary fares are available with some ferry operators, please check with the individual operators to see what is available.
Department for Transport – Inclusive Transport Leaders Scheme
The Department of Transport aims to improve disabled people’s access to transport systems. The Inclusive Transport Leaders Scheme recognises and celebrates operators that already put disabled passengers at the heart of their service provision. In 2020 Hovertravel was awarded Leader status in the scheme for their HoverCare initiative and here is their case study.