Cruisers Beware – Access Varies From Line to Line

adventure-of-the-seas-1By now, you’ve probably heard the story of wheelchair-user Ann Fisher, who was denied passage from Liverpool on the Fred Olsen liner Boudicca. The problem is, Liverpool doesn’t have any overhead boarding bridges or sloped gangways, so passengers have to board vessels by climbing up stepped gangways. And if they can’t do this with “minimal assistance” they won’t be allowed to cruise. Continue reading

What Does the Carnival ADA Settlement Really Mean?

The media is all a buzz about the recent Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) settlement agreement between the Department of Justice and Carnival Corporation. Basically it requires Carnival to make access improvements on 62 Carnival, Holland America and Princess ships, pay a modest fine to the government and reparations to the damaged parties, and appoint compliance officers to oversee access on the ships. And of course, as in most settlement agreements, Carnival admits no wrongdoing or violation of the ADA. Continue reading

Access Rocks on Tahoe’s MS Dixie II

The MS Dixie II Paddlewheel

When the mercury rises in the Central Valley, it’s time to head to Tahoe. And that’s exactly what we did last week. Granted, we traveled there to see Journey and the Steve Miller Band (who by the way, rocked Harvey’s amphitheater); however we lingered a bit to check out the access on the MS Dixie II — Lake Tahoe’s only sternwheeler. And I have to say that the MS Dixie II equally rocked, on access for wheelchair-users and slow walkers. Continue reading

Access Board Extends Public Comment Deadline on Passenger Vessels

Just when I thought there was actually some glimmer of hope to actually getting some cruise ship access regulations on the books in my lifetime, I got this fateful e-mail from the Access Board.

“The Access Board is extending the deadline for public comments on accessibility guidelines it has proposed for passenger vessels an additional 120 days. Comments on the guidelines, which were released in June, are now due on January 24, 2014, instead of September 23, 2013, as indicated in a published notice. The extension will more than double the allotted time for comments and is responsive to concerns raised by interested parties on the need for additional time to review the rule and prepare feedback, including responses to questions posed by the Board.”

So of course I decided to check out the comments that have been received. There were only a handful, and besides mine there were a few from consumers, as well as three from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). The consumer letters all addressed access issues. Can you guess what the CLIA letters addressed? Well…drumroll… they all asked for a 120 day extension to fully evaluate the proposed regulations. So here we are back at square one.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with CLIA, it is the world´s largest cruise association and it focuses on the “promotion and growth of the cruise industry.” I’m sure they will come up with lengthy comments and encourage the Access Board to adopt less restrictive regulations. After all, the cruise lines are CLIA members.

In all fairness, I think the Access Board should hear both sides. And since “disabled passengers” don’t have an association to speak for them, it’s up to each and every one of you. That’s right – you!

So if you’ve even taken a cruise and had a problem, or are thinking about taking one but can’t because of an access issue, then it’s time to let the Access Board know. As long as the regulations are going to be delayed, you may as well have a voice in the outcome.

 

Comments on Proposed Passenger Vessel Guidelines

Here are my comments on the proposed guidelines for passenger vessels. You can submit your own comments here after reading the proposed regulations. You have until September 23, 2013, so let your voice be heard on this matter.

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Will Cruise Lines Follow Suit on Pool Access?

As you probably are quite aware, cruise ships are technically covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, however since there are no specific access regulations – known as the ADAAG – it’s still rather a moot point. The ADAAG for cruise ships has been a work in progress by the US Access Board for many, many years; and quite frankly I’m stymied by the delay. But that’s another issue. Continue reading

Crossing the Line

Last week I discussed how sometimes some basic common sense can help things go a little smoother access-wise, as it pertains to privacy. As you recall, travel and tourism providers can’t ask you the details of your disability, but they can ask what accommodations you require. It’s really a fine line, one that often leads to some miscommunication because hospitality folks are afraid to ask too much, for fear they’ll break the law. So sometimes you have to volunteer a bit, just so they have a full understanding of your disability.

Then we have the other side of the coin. What do you do when they ask too much? Continue reading

More Celebrity Woes

I’ve received a lot of e-mail in response to my post a few weeks back about Celebrity Cruises horrendous policy about not providing information on accessible shore excursions before final payment is due. Many travelers told me they suffered the same fate as “Jane”, who originally brought the matter to my attention. But I think I also opened the floodgates, as more and more folks are writing me with complaints about other access issues on Celebrity. Continue reading