Boat trips: persons with reduced mobility

Transport by boat should also be available to people with a (mobility) disability. European legislation guarantees assistance for persons with reduced mobility, and has provided guidelines to exclude any form of discrimination.

Rights of persons with reduced mobility

People with a disability are entitled to:

  • free-of-charge assistance when boarding and disembarking, and also during the boat trip – provided that the passenger has applied for assistance at least 48 hours before his departure
  • temporary replacement equipment if the existing mobility equipment or other specific aids have been lost or damaged, plus compensation equivalent to the replacement of the equipment, or to the repair costs (unless the carrier itself is not the cause of the deficiencies)

Anti-discrimination guidelines

A carrier may not treat a person with a (mobility) disability differently from other travellers:

  • Carriers may not refuse persons on the basis of their physical condition (except where this is necessary to ensure their safety, or if the design of the ship or the infrastructure and equipment of the port do not permit safe, achievable access*).
  • They may not charge extra costs on the basis of the physical condition of the passenger.
  • They may not demand that someone accompanies the passenger on his trip, unless this is absolutely necessary. In this case, the attendant is allowed on board free-of-charge.

*What happens if a person with reduced mobility is nevertheless denied boarding? In this case, the carrier should take the necessary steps to offer the person involved an acceptable alternative. Moreover, the person with reduced mobility is also entitled to claim the refund of his ticket.

Read also what you can do if your boat trip is delayed, or if it is cancelled. Or how you can submit a complaint.