Will Cruise Lines Follow Suit on Pool Access?

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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

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Crossing the Line

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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

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More Celebrity Woes

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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

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DOT Pushes Back Effective Date of New Cruise Regs

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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. Continue reading

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Logistics and Loopholes of New Cruise Ship Regulations

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As of November 3, 2010 the US finally has some meaningful access regulations for cruise ships that call on US ports. Although we’re still a long way from having any architectural guidelines for these ships; the Department of Transportation’s Passenger Vessel Operators Non-Discrimination Rule goes into effect on that date. What’s that all mean? In simplest terms the new regulations outline booking procedures for accessible cabins, require the cruise lines to provide some basic access information and prevent them from charging more for accessible services. And although it’s a good first step, it’s far from an inclusive law. So here’s the skinny on what the regulations say, the loopholes that exist and some strategies to make your next cruise more accessible. Continue reading

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Don’t Get Gouged on Accessible Shore Excursions

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I got a somewhat disturbing phone call from a reader last week. I’ll just call her Jane. Now Jane has written and called me before (many times sharing resources with me) and she is a pretty sharp and travel savvy gal. Fortunately she had her wits about her when she was dealing with a European booking agent who was trying to arrange some accessible shore excursions for her European cruise. In the end, she booked directly and saved a boatload of money, so I’m passing her story along in hopes that other travelers can perhaps do the same. Continue reading

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The Real Scoop on the “New” DOT Cruise Ship Access Regulations

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I’ve been getting a lot of questions this week about the “new” Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations for cruise ships. This flurry of inquiries was preceded by a recent DOT press release touting the new regulations as something to celebrate on this upcoming 20th anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Frankly though, people are a bit confused.

Readers are asking me questions like, “Does this mean cruise ships will now have to provide accessible shore excursions?” and “Will it require a specific number of accessible rooms on each ship?” and “Does this mean that expedition style cruises will finally be accessible?” Continue reading

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Princess Wheelchair Policy: Separating Fact From Fiction

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I’ve received a lot of e-mail regarding my blog post back in December, about Princess Cruise Lines new tendering policy for wheelchair- and scooter-users. Some folks shared their experiences about their denied boardings to tenders, while others couldn’t believe Princess was allowed to do this. (Unfortunately they are, as they consider it a safety issue for both the crew and passengers.)

But the most interesting message I received came along with an copy of the new policy; something that’s been hard to obtain from the cruise line before. The person who shared it with me is not a writer, and I have no doubt that’s why she finally got it. And I also have to add that although she was very persistent, it wasn’t easy for her at all. In any case, I felt a follow-up post was in order; one that includes the official Princess policy word-for-word, along with my translation — based on reader feedback — of what actually happens on the ship. Continue reading

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