New Wheelchair-Accessible European River Cruise Ship Unveiled


There’s a new accessible river cruise ship in town and her name is MS Viola. Not to be confused with AmaWaterways AmaViola, this Phoenix Reisen ship was recently gutted and refitted to be wheelchair accessible. Even better, Phoenix Reisen — a Germany-based travel agency — is working in conjunction with Malteser Hilfsdienst and Runa Reisen to offer a seamless travel experience to wheelchair-users and slow walkers.

Malteser Hilfsdienst, which is one of the largest charitable service providers in Germany, will provide volunteer medical staff aboard the ship; while barrier-free tour operator Runa Reisen will assist with travel and tour logistics.

The MS Viola has 34 accessible cabins, all of which are located on the main deck. Access features include wide doorways and good pathway access; and each cabin is furnished with an adjustable bed. There are also 17 accessible bathrooms on the ship that include a roll-in shower, an accessible sink and an accessible toilet. Some of the bathrooms are private and some are shared. There are also standard cabins (with and without bathrooms) on the lower deck.

There’s elevator access to all areas of the ship, including the sundeck; and barrier-free access to all the public areas of the ship. All in all it looks like they did a good job with the access.

Beginning in May the MS Viola will offer six-day Rhine River cruises. Accessible shore excursions are also available, and since the ship always overnights in a city there’s an opportunity to also sample the nightlife.

The one down side is, since the ship is operated by a German company, the website is in German. That said, if a wheelchair-accessible Rhine River cruise tickles your fancy, then visit or e-mail