DOT Pushes Back Effective Date of New Cruise Regs

Remember the new Passenger Vessel Operators Non-Discrimination Rule that I wrote about just a few weeks back? The ones that were suppose to take effect on November 3, 2010? Well, in the words of one of my best friends, “Not so much.” Let’s just say that they’re now on the slow track, as the Department of Transportation (DOT) pushed back the effective date last week. And unfortunately that’s not very good news for disabled travelers.

On November 8, 2010 — five days after the new rule was scheduled to go into effect — the DOT responded to input from the cruise lines and pushed back the effective date of section 39.39 (the part having to deal with reserving accessible cabins) to Jan 3, 2012. The rest of the rule will go into effect on Jan 3, 2011.

Why?

While first and foremost the cruise lines said it would take them longer to adapt their reservations systems. And second, they wanted the rule to be in alignment with the recently updated Americans with Disability Act Accessibility Guidelines, which goes into effect six months from the publication date (18 months for the new hotel regulations.)

So I’ll guess we’ll just have to sit back and wait. The only advice I can give you is to make your reservations early if you need an accessible cabin, otherwise you may be out of luck. Until then I guess we’ve just got to put up with able-bodied passengers reserving accessible cabins just to get extra room for the same price.

Sometimes life just isn’t fair! But at least there’s hope on the horizon.