More than 60 cruise ships carrying the Carnival, Holland America and Princess brands will increase accessibility for disabled travelers under a settlement announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice and Miami-based Carnival Corp.
“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, via 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 agreement, 3 percent of the cabins on 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 under construction. An additional 13 ships will be subject to possible remediation if they continue to call at U.S. ports for at least four years.
In addition, Carnival Corp. 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 previously harmed by 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 Corp. spokesman Roger Frizzell via a statement. “We have historically maintained a strong focus on accessibility and have a longstanding track record of meeting the needs of all our guests.”