Disabled Provisions On Cruise Ships
I would like to follow up and add to the previous postings since this may be an important subject to the physically handicapped. Over the last several years I have read a number of court cases where disabled passengers have sued the cruise line. Those who are disabled should not find out that the facilities provided was not adequate until they are aboard the ship. Recently I came across another ADA lawsuit, Spector v. Norwegian Cruise Lines where the U.S. Dept. Of Justice has filed an amicus brief. The plaintiffs allege they spent considerable time in inaccessible rooms without access to the ship's amenities. The following are some step suggestions based on a study of court cases, and I intend not to offer any legal advise, leaving that to the lawyers:
Make sure your travel agent has determined that the cruise ship will meet your requirements. In any number of the cases I had to conclude the travel agent did a poor job.
Berlitz Guide To Cruising and Cruise Ships 2001 Edition has a run down and has graded ships. The book costs $21.95 and is available in most book stores. If you do not wish to buy it, you may be able to peek at pages, 62-64. This book also has lots of information for the physically handicapped on pages 57 t to 61. Travel agencies should have this book.
Be realistic about your handicap. From reading the court cases there are some people that require so much special attention, there may be no way the cruise line can accommodate their needs. It certainly is not out of order for the passenger to inform the cruise line prior to booking what their special needs might be. There is more to this than simply having a stateroom where a wheelchair will fit through the doors.
Older ships should be avoided. While the cruise fares may be lower, they usually have poor or unacceptable facilities for the physically challenged. For example, the elevators may be very small. Some of the court cases reviewed concerned older ships.
Be prepared to have someone accompany you, if required by the cruise line.. There are right now two lawsuits against Norwegian Cruise Line by blind individuals wanting to book a cruise without someone to guide them about the ship.
While the newer cruise ships seem to be able to offer what might be called a "wheel chair accessible" cruise, this may not be the case with ships more than ten years old. Unfortunately no government agency has defined what is meant and intended to be "wheel chair accessible on a cruise ship. One reason is that the United States Department of Transportation has never developed standards for the disabled. You might ;light a torch by writing to your Congressional Representaive, or call: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, P.O. Box 66738, Washington D.C. 20335 6738; Phone (202) 307-0663. Web: http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/adahom1.htm
Incidentally there is a lot of info available on the Internet via keyword such as American With Disability Act; the Washington Post has a section devoted to ADA. Web: http://www.washingtonpost.com:ADA
You are interested in Title III
A word for those who rely on a dialysis machine. Over the years I have been on cruises where passengers have had to get off the ship at the first port because the machines were not working. In two instances the machines were not working before that ship left the home port.