My husband wrote the following letter to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice that may be of interest? The inquiry has been prompted after reading a number of court cases
where disabled passengers have been misled or misinformed by cruise lines or travel agents as to the ability to utilize a stateroom by a disabled passenger.
November 25, 2000
Mr. John L. Wodatch, Chief
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
Re: Wheel Chair Accessible
After reading the court cases of Stevens v. Premier Cruise Line and more recent Walker v. Carnival, 63 Fed. Supp3rd 1083 and 107 Fed Supp3rd 1135, I have to wonder if there is a definition of what is meant by "Wheel chair Accessible".
Does it mean that the stateroom on a cruise ship has to be accessible ?
Does it mean a wheel chair user must have a toilet that he or she can use without assistance ?
Does it mean that the stateroom must have a shower than can be used without assistance ? In case ADA is not aware, many cruise ships have showers that are used inside of a bathtub where the distance from the bathroom floor to the top of the tub is 21 inches or more. Even my wife, who is not disabled has problems with these tubs because of her short legs, so she needs physical assistance getting in or out..
Does it mean all public rest rooms on the ship must have wheel chair accessibility and fixtures common to a rest room ?
It is indeed a sad commentary when you write that the United States has not developed standards for a wheel chair accessible stateroom aboard cruise ship. I have in my possession 1992 copies of correspondence between United States Senator Phil Gramm and the Department of Transportation on the subject of wheel chair accessible standards for cruise ships. It will in a short time be 200l and the DOT apparently has not done a thing. Little wonder the cruise lines and travel agents are still confused as to exactly what it required and the torts lawsuits go on and on.
The time has come for action by the DOT since we now have two large passenger cruise ships flying American flags and by 2003 will have two or three more.
The ADA is not a federal agency...it is a law. They can't be "aware" of anything. There is still not court determination regarding whether foreign registered ships (nearly all of them) are accountable under the ADA, although there have been some cases filed, since Premiere went bankrupt the status of that case is probably moot.
The ADA does not require, even for hotels or public facilities in the USA, that all bathrooms be accessible, or all hotel rooms. There is no requirement that facilities be usable "without assistance" either. There are no required standards for hotel rooms. The ADA only says that they should be accessible. The regulations have never been defined past this.
If you are looking for accessible rooms, you need to know what you need and have a travel agent who can get the information for you. A visually impaired person needs something quite different from a person who cannot walk, who needs something quite different from an amputee.
KDL was right you need a good travel agent that understands YOUR needs. If you got a room with a tub then your agent was not doing their job. It takes a lot of time and work to find the correct ship for each special need and as of this time there is no perfect ship. Ships were to ADA specs and may never be, but the cruise lines are beginning to listen to our needs. Stick with the new ships, RCCL and Carnival are really working hard to make changes.
I am a travel agency owner that works 99% with special needs clients and I keep up to date with whats going on. Please do yourself a favor and use a good travel agent when booking your travel then you have someone to blame if things go wrong.