The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed annually on December 3rd with the objective of promoting an awareness of disability issues, the fundamental rights of persons with disabilities and their participation in the social, political, economic and cultural life of their communities.

Around 10 per cent of the world's population (650 million people) live with a disability, and this figure is increasing, according to the World Health Organization. In this context, MSC Cruises is committed to developing onboard facilities for disabled passengers so that they can enjoy their holidays to the full.

MSC Cruises’ designers have voluntarily adopted the provisions of the US Americans with Disabilities Act (a complete set of guidelines) when conceiving the vessels. As a result, all public areas have been designed to provide convenient access for people with reduced mobility.

Most of MSC Cruises’ ships are equipped with a wheelchair on each deck; crutches and walking sticks are available as well. Where possible the floor is uniformly flat and in the rare exceptions where this is not possible, ramps have been installed. The width of the various doors and corridors has been specifically designed so that wheelchairs can pass through.

Across the MSC Cruises fleet, there are 174 cabins equipped for disabled people. Switches to control lights, key cards and air conditioning have been positioned at a reduced height so that people in a wheelchair can access them. A light switch has also been placed next to each bed. Guests can access the balcony by using a ramp. A low personal safe is at disposal (98 cm high) and onboard ‘Musica’ and ‘Fantasia’ class ships, a low hanging rail has been installed in the wardrobe.

Bathrooms are specifically equipped with a low fold-down seat (45 cm high), a grab rail in the  toilet and two in the shower, a low vanity sink (85cm high) and, in some cases, a roll-under sink. Toilet seats have also been installed at a reduced height.

When booking an MSC cruise, a physically-challenged future guest has the possibility to inform the company about his condition. When the guest embarks, the crew will be informed and a Disabled Support Team will be assigned to assist him or her when necessary, for example during the usual emergency drill exercise.

On request, a disabled guest will get any assistance he or she needs to embark or disembark and early check-in and check-out can be organized. Advisory signs are placed on the walls of the terminals to advise guests with disabilities to ask at check-in for assistance.

On the vast majority of MSC Cruises vessels, boards and signs in elevators, public areas, cabins and corridors are also written in Braille. In addition, there are voice announcements for each stop in all elevators.

On most of MSC cruise ships, deaf aid kits are available on request. Each kit contains devices to help hearing-impaired guests. Through lights and vibrations, guests are notified when the alarm clock goes off, when the doorbell or phone rings and even when the fire or evacuate-the-boat alarms go off. Moreover, personal wireless amplifiers are also available for use in the theaters and lounges. In addition, Digital Theatre System and magnetic induction panels are available at the reception, the information point and the shore excursion office.

MSC Cruises believes that global leadership brings increased responsibility, and offering solutions for persons with disabilities, who are the world’s largest minority, is just one example of its commitment.