DOT on Cruise Pricing

The DOT weighed in on cruise pricing in the recently released proposed rules regarding passenger vessel access for vessels subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

First and foremost the proposed rules state that price discrimination is forbidden. That comes as no big surprise; however it was a little surprising how they interpreted the rules.

In one example they stated that if a wheelchair-user needs help to board the ship because the gangway is too steep, it would not be appropriate for employees who provide this assistance to solicit tips. That seems fair, in the respect that this is only the case if the gangway is too steep to allow independent access. But what if a person is unable to wheel themselves up a standard gangway? Can the people assisting that person solicit tips? It appears so, as the defining factor in this example is ?if the gangway is too steep to be boarded by a wheelchair-user without assistance?. Be that as it may, I think that folks will solicit tips no matter what. Still I applaud the regulation as it attempts to address an inequity.

In another example the rules state that if a customer wants to book an accessible inside cabin, but the only accessible cabins on that particular ship are the more expensive outside cabins, then the cruise line must give that cabin to the customer at the cheaper (inside cabin) price. That seems fair, and hopefully it will encourage the cruise lines to include accessible cabins in all price ranges.

All in all, I think the DOT did a pretty good job on the proposed rules. Now if we can just get the Access Board to finalize their rules, we?ll really be cooking with gas!