Sea World Cruises ensures smooth sailing for all guests

Sea World Cruises is making sure the ocean and waters are available to everyone.

Whale-watching tours, elegant dining cruises and tailor-made charters – the Gold Coast’s Sea World Cruises offers them all. This Queensland and Australian Tourism Awards winner also works to ensure its venues and services are inclusive for all. Supporting accessibility has become an important part of Sea World Cruises’ customer service.

‘We aim for every guest’s visit to be as memorable as possible,’ says Alana Johnston, Special Projects and Stakeholder Engagement Officer, and marine biologist. ‘We believe the waterways and ocean should be available to everyone. We are committed to removing barriers, and providing experiences that are inclusive of people of many abilities.’

Supporting accessibility with AI

To help create inclusive experiences, Sea World Cruises has committed to ongoing improvements. Regular accessibility audits deliver insights for annual staff training. The business’ Main Beach terminal and fleet of vessels have ramps, lifts and handrails. There is also a designated wheelchair space on the whale-watching boat.

Even browsing the website has become accessible. Sea World Cruises has installed accessi-Be – an artificial intelligence (AI) widget that allows people with a range of disabilities to navigate the site according to their needs.

The national Accessible Tourism Mentoring Pilot Project

The Accessible Tourism Mentoring Pilot Program helped Sea World Cruises improve its accessibility. The Austrade-led project gave the business a structured framework to review the accessibility of its operations and experiences.

According to Johnston: ‘It helped us take a wider view of accessibility. Before the program, we had placed a lot of focus on wheelchair and mobility infrastructure. This only accommodates 7% of the total accessible community. Our mentors from the pilot encouraged us to consider a broader range of needs, including mental health conditions, visual and hearing impairment.’

Since the program, Sea World Cruises has installed more accessible parking and started annual accessibility team training. The website’s accessibility guide has been redesigned for easier navigation and to highlight the accessi-Be tool. Website users can browse and book tours and cruises.   

A man, woman and two children. The woman and children have their hands raised to clap their palms.

Sea World Cruises ensures people of all abilities can sail the oceans safely and comfortably.

Focus on improving technology and diversity

Even with all these initiatives, there is still room for more. Sea World Cruises has been granted an Access Starter Grant – Accessible Tourism Elevate Fund. This is a program funded by the Queensland Department of Tourism Innovation and Sport.

Sea World Cruises will use the funds for several initiatives that will improve online accessibility. These include online guides and video walkthroughs.

Sea World Cruises is also aiming to build a more diverse workforce. Its policy is to encourage people with disabilities to apply for employment opportunities.

The business also commits to a stringent anti-discrimination policy. It guarantees fair treatment, respect, and the absence of unlawful discrimination, harassment, vilification and bullying in the workplace.

Learn more

Improving the accessibility of tourism destinations and experiences is a priority of THRIVE 2030, Australia’s visitor economy strategy. 

Under THRIVE 2030, the Austrade-led Accessible Tourism Mentoring Pilot Project supported 110 tourism operators around Australia to improve accessibility and inclusion. Sea World Cruises was one of the accessible tourism champions for the project, which was jointly funded by Austrade and state and territory tourism organisations.

The project led to the WELCOME Framework, our guide to help tourism businesses become more accessible and inclusive. Learn more about the WELCOME Framework.

Growing the visitor economy

THRIVE 2030 is Australia’s national strategy for the long-term, sustainable growth of the visitor economy.