Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Ferries

Legal rights and regulations

Ferry worker assisting woman in wheelchairEU Regulation 1177/2010, implemented in December 2012, concerns the rights of passengers when travelling by sea and inland waterway. The European regulation states that ships and ferries must carry any disabled person that wishes to travel on them, as long as it's safe to do so.

Assistance must be provided for free, including help with boarding and accessible information. If your equipment gets lost or damaged, they must compensate you and find a replacement at the time.

These rules apply to all services except sightseeing tours and very short-distance ferries.

Access

Some ferry companies offer wheelchair-accessible toilets and some supply wheelchairs at terminals, while a few have special cabins for disabled people and offer discounts. Contact the ferry company for details. Tourism For All has information about access at major ports on its website's Ferries & ports page.

If you're driving, provide the ferry company with details of your disability at the time of booking, and also let them know when you check in.

Loading and unloading depends on the circumstances on the day.

Assistance

Ferry worker assisting passenger with guide dogAt the time of booking, explain your needs, and then again when you check in. Staff will assist you with boarding and disembarking. Check in advance what's available at the ports you're travelling between.

The ferry crew will assist you with getting on and provide some orientation but it's advisable to travel with a companion if you need more help during the journey.

Concessions

Disabled Motoring UK offers concessions to its members with selected companies on specific routes. Check with ferry companies if they offer discounts for blue-badge holders.

In Scotland, visually impaired people are eligible for free bus, train and ferry travel: see Transport Scotland's page on concessionary travel for details.

Journey planning

Journey information for UK ferries is available online or by phone from the ferry company.

Travel tips and advice

  • Phone the ferry company to check details, especially if you are travelling overnight.
  • Be aware - sea travel can be distressing for some dogs.
The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland produces a detailed guide, Access to Ferry Travel (PDF), which is also available to download in audio format from their website. 

Reporting back and complaining

Contact the ferry company.

Last updated: August 2015


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