Acquisitions and Access

Can a corporate acquisition actually play a role in improving wheelchair-access? A decade ago I would have said no, but now that I’ve had a chance to sit back and ruminate on the matter, I’ve come to change my mind. Of course some acquisitions play bigger roles than others. Take the recent acquisition of Polynesian Adventure Tours (PAT) by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), for example.

I first discovered this acquisition a few days ago when I was fact-checking an upcoming Emerging Horizons feature on the Pride of Aloha, NCL’s newest Hawaii-based cruise ship. Prior to the Nov. 16 acquisition, PAT was the contractor for the majority of NCL’s Hawaii shore excursions. As far as access goes, that’s a very good thing, because PAT is able to provide lift-equipped transportation on advance request.

Today, in post acquisition times, PAT still provides the majority of NCL’s shore tours, so to the casual observer there doesn’t appear to be much of a change at all. Ahh, but there is a big change, because now NCL owns PAT. In pre-acquisition times PAT was merely a NCL contractor.

And with that change of ownership, NCL has more direct control over PAT, including the ability to make sure passenger-requested accessible transportation is provided. In short, this acquisition makes Hawaii more accessible to NCL passengers, because they get first crack at PAT’s accessible transportation (which can be a limited commodity).

So if you’d ever thought of cruising Hawaii, now is the time to make your plans. Having just returned from an editorial research trip to the islands, I can assure you there are a lot of accessible diversions there.

With the launch of the Pride of America in 2005, NCL will be able to provide even more ways for all passengers to enjoy Hawaii. In fact it’s estimated that by 2006 the NCL Hawaii fleet will bring half a million passengers a year to the islands. Some of those passengers will need accessible transportation, and (because of this acquisition) NCL will be able to provide it.

Yes, I’d say this acquisition played a huge role in improving wheelchair-access.