I received a rather lengthy e-mail from a reader who disagrees with me (and the DOT) regarding the proposed cruise ship guidelines recently issued by the DOT. To be fair, the e-mail was perfectly polite, however the reader stated that she thinks it?s a bad idea for people not to have to divulge their disability if they don?t require any access accommodations. She cites safety issues as the reason, and says that the captain should be made aware of all people who may need assistance during an emergency.
She goes on to say that with the popularity of cruises, one day there will be a major accident and if a ?physically challenged? passenger is injured or looses their life, they will most likely sue the cruise line because they didn?t provide adequate assistance. I believe she also thinks that the number of disabled passengers should be limited.
Personally, I don?t think you should be compelled to provide any information about your medical condition unless you request accessible services; and even then I think the disclosure should me minimal, such as the fact that a passenger uses a wheelchair. Sure if you want to tell the cruse line you will need assistance in the case of an emergency, you should be able to do that, but not required to do so. I believe it?s a personal choice.
As far as passengers suing the cruise lines, well to be frank, ships just don?t sink for no reason, so I do believe the cruse lines are probably liable in most cases. And if you are injured or killed because of their negligence you should be able to sue, no matter if you are able-bodied or disabled.
I think the DOT made a good call. The only reason you should have to disclose your disability is if you need accessible services. If you use a scooter that fits into a standard cabin, there is really no reason you should have to tell the cruise line about your disability. After all, you don?t need anything from them. It?s a slippery slope – once you open the door, the next thing you know they?ll be requiring medical records. And that?s something I don?t want to see ever happen!