At the beginning of the week, one of the network evening news broadcasts had a piece about how the outcome of the election might affect enforcement of and/or changes to the A.D.A. (Americans with Disabilities Act). The first example shown happened to be of a very dissatisfied wheelchair-bound cruiser who was planning a lawsuit against NCL (they showed a picture of the Norwegian Sea, which dates from the late 80's, and is not as accessible as many newer vessels.) His beef was not with the size of his cabin, which was of course much larger than the ship's average to allow maneuvering room for a wheelchair, but rather with the unwieldy raised "lip" he had to surmount to get into the cabin bathroom, and a similar lip between the cabin and the hallway outside. He felt that NCL had been less than honest in selling him an "accessible" cabin that really wasn't.
But for me, the shocking part of his complaint was his mention of the fact that he had paid "nine hundred dollars EXTRA" (emphasis mine) for an accessible cabin! Now, I've read a few complaints on these boards having to do with accessible cabins-- mostly in regard to able-bodied people trying to nab them just for the extra space-- but this apparent price-gouging was a disturbing new wrinkle! Is this actually true? Have CM staffers ever heard of such a policy? It would certainly seem rude to stick it to people in wheelchairs-- haven't they got enough to deal with?
Most cruise ships are not American flagged vessels and are exempt from ADA regulations. Does this make it right? No, but that is the way it is. The corporations are American but the ships aren't.
I would need more information on the handicapped accessible cabin (HAC). It is very possible that the HAC was a higher category than the lowest category cabin. They don't have HAC cabins in every category. Is this right? I don't know, but a HAC has a great deal more space and space is one of the main criteria that cabin categories are based on.
There is no excuse for an able bodied person to be assigned a HAC cabin until the day of the cruise and it is known that no one who needs it is does not get it.
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Thanks for your prompt reply to my question, Mike.
Out of curiousity, I'd be most interested to hear from some disabled/mobility-impaired cruisers...do you former passengers have a good idea of how your fare compared to fares for standard cabins on that deck? What lines and ships did your experience pertain to?...I look forward to your replies.
I am a mobility impaired cruiser, and have NEVER been charged any more than the fare for any other cabin in the category.
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This may have nil to do with the allegations and answers but Ithought this might be an oppotune time to submit something I have written on the subject of ADA TitleIII.
Americans With Disability(ADA) Title III and Cruise Ship Problems
By Hanna S77 \
Problem: When a cruise ship is sued for failure to accommodate disabled passengers to their satisfaction or expectation the cruise line usually pleads that their ships are foreign flagged and not subject to ADA Title III. Another common plead reason is that the United States has never developed and published standards for what constitutes “wheelchair” accessible accommodations.
The U.S. Department of Justice, that handles ADA matters contends the foreign flagged cruise ships are subject to title III since the ships are places of public accommodation. In 1993 U.S. Senator Phil Gramm , Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee requested the Department of (DOT)to draw up plans and specifications for wheelchair accessible accommodations. Eleven years later the DOT is still working on developing plans and is now confronted by the International Maritime Organization(IMO) getting in on the act.
The IMO is an agency of the United Nations that develops rules and standards for ships but has no enforcement power. There are about 138 nations with shipping interests that have the jurisdiction to vote on recommended improvement, such as safety at sea recommended to the IMO by members. It takes about two years to get something on the books. The vast majority of the members do not flag cruise ships and whenever there are recommendations made that could affect the pocketbook of the cruise ship industry, there is invariably trade off lobbying between the cruise line carriers and non- cruise line shipping firms. Enforcement of IMO standards is up to the flag nation.
It is not news that the U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari for a recent case involving a suit against a foreign flagged cruise line in a U.S. Federal District Court. The U.S. Federal District Courts and some state courts have not been uniform in their decisions on ADA Title III, particularly applying to cruise ships. Let us hope if the Supreme Court wisdom upholds Title III enforcement will rest with the United States, when an American passenger sues in a U.S. court.. I have the feeling the court may not decide anything, referring the matter back to the lower court awaiting the decision of the IMO. This might get us back to square one, having to rely on the courts in third World nations. The present Supreme Court Justices have not shown a great deal of interest in taking on maritime cases involving foreign flagged cruise lines, usually denying certiorari.
Handicapped are not charged extra, period. As one poster said, it was for the single supplement which any passenger would have to pay as the cabins are sold as doubles. As for the ADA, it doesn't apply no matter what some people would like. These are foriegn ships and we as a country have no right to dictate how other countries make their laws. To retro-fit all cruise ships or any cruiseship to accomodate the ADA laws would cost literally millions per vessel and guess who would pay for it? You. In addition the trail lawyers would come out of the woodwork and again that would entail more insurance and millions in alledged lawsuits and drive up the price of cruising so that it would be out of the reach of almost all and companies would go out of business. While I support handicapped people, (heck I AM one), some of these ADA rules are just plain foolish.
Interesting thread..... I actually work as an Assistive Technology Specialist. As a point
of interest, you can read what happened with three individuals who were visually impaired and Norwegian Cruise Line Limited. Here's the link: