Dozens of cruise ships owned by Carnival Corporation brands Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises will be modified to provide improved access for passengers with disabilities under a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department.
The DOJ says it’s a comprehensive, landmark agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act that addresses accessibility on 62 ships among the three popular brands and implements accessibility standards and policies on cruises that embark and disembark from U.S. waters or those of its territories.
Specifically, the agreement calls for:
* Forty-two existing ships, and seven ships in various stages of design and construction to be surveyed and remediated to comply with the ADA regulations. Accessible cabins will be dispersed among the various classes of accommodations and will provide a range of accessible features, including features for guests with hearing impairments.
* Three percent of the cabins on 49 ships to be accessible according to three levels of accessibility: fully accessible cabins, fully accessible cabins with a single side approach to the bed, and ambulatory accessible cabins.
* Carnival Corp. to provide specific ADA training to employees and managers, appoint one ADA compliance officer at the executive level, two ADA responsibility officers and ADA shipboard officers for each ship.
* Reservations systems that allow individuals with disabilities to reserve accessible cabins and suites with specific available options and amenities, and and that guarantee reservations for accessible cabins.
“The ADA guarantees people with disabilities equal access to public accommodations,” says Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney. “Cruise ships are ‘floating cities’ and provide a wide range of facilities and activities subject to the requirements of the ADA, such as lodging, dining, entertainment, recreation, and medical facilities. People with disabilities who travel must be able to count on getting the accessible cabin they reserve, and the cruise lines must provide equal access to the choice of amenities and attractions that passengers expect from a major cruise company like Carnival Corporation.”
The agreement followed an investigation of complaints by the DOJ, which says Carnival officials cooperated with the department throughout the process. Carnival Corp. will pay a civil penalty of $55,000 to the United States and $350,000 in damages to individuals harmed by past discrimination.