I had lunch with a fellow travel writer the other day, and to put it mildly it was a very frustrating experience. Said travel writer covers cruises and he started getting on my nerves when he began spouting misinformation about cruising and the ADA. According to him, cruise lines are required to have specific types of accessible rooms because those specific access features are mandated in the ADA. After all, he read that in an article on the internet so it must be true.
Darn the internet. Just because you read it here, doesn?t mean it?s true. For goodness sakes, anyone can post anything on the web these days, with nary a fact check. And unfortunately they do. And then this misinformation is repeated and reprinted and ultimately regurgitated to me at lunch by a fellow travel writer.
Getting back to the original statement by said travel writer, those of you who follow this blog know that recently the DOT released their portion of the proposed guidelines for cruise ships. These guidelines detail the policies and procedures for nondiscrimination, as opposed to the Access Board?s part of the guidelines which detail the architectural standards. When both are approved they will form one code, but until they are approved there are no specific architectural requirements for cruise ships that call on US ports. There was a Supreme Court decision (Spector v NCL) in which the court established that the ADA does apply to foreign flagged cruise ships that call on US ports; however as of this date that?s kind of a moot point as no codes or guidelines exist.
Bottom line ? the accessible rooms the cruise lines have provided to date have pretty much been voluntary and for the most part market driven. Why does that make a difference to the average cruiser? Because it means there is no standardization, so access may vary from ship to ship. As always, don?t just ask for an accessible room, as it may not meet your specific needs. Ask detailed questions so you can get the right room for you. And be forewarned, the right room may well be on another ship or even on another cruise line. Shop around and ask a lot of questions.
And of course it goes without saying, don?t believe everything you read on the internet. Consult government and regulatory websites for the most accurate and updated information. Again, anyone can post anything on the internet.