Over 60 ships that bear that carry the brands Carnival, Holland America, and Princess have increased their accessibility for disabled travelers due to a settlement announced in July of 2015 by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Carnival Corporation based out of Miami, FL.
“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,” said head of the Civil Rights Division, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, through a statement. “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.”
Under the said agreement, 3 percent of the cabins on the affected ships will be adapted to include accessible features, including those for guests with hearing impairments, across all classes of staterooms, with guaranteed reservations for accessible cabins. The agreement covers 42 existing vessels and seven that were under construction at the time of the settlement. An additional 13 ships will be subject to a possible remediation if they continue to call at U.S. ports for at least four years.
Additionally, Carnival Corporation will train employees and managers in ADA standards and create an executive-level position for ADA compliance. The company also will pay $55,000 in fines and $350,000 in damages to guests that were previously harmed by the discrimination.
Among the government complaints were that the cruise companies failed to provide and reserve accessible cabins for cruisers with mobility issues, to modify onboard and embarkation practices to accommodate the disabled, and to provide effective communication during emergency drills.
“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with the U.S. government, which was borne out of a cooperative effort,” said Carnival spokesman Roger Frizzell in a statement. “We have historically maintained a strong focus on accessibility and have a track record of meeting the needs of all our guests.”