Last updated: 02:19 PM ET, Thu July 23 2015

Carnival Corp. Reaches Settlement on ADA Violations

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Carnival Cruise Line | Theresa Norton | July 23, 2015

Carnival Corp. Reaches Settlement on ADA Violations

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Carnival Corp. and the U.S. Justice Department reached a landmark settlement agreement to promote cruise ship accessibility to people with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The settlement seeks to provide greater access on 62 ships in the Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises fleets, according to a Justice Department press release.

The settlement is the result of an investigation of complaints that the company failed to properly provide and reserve accessible cabins for individuals with mobility disabilities; reasonably modify policies, practices and procedures to accommodate individuals with disabilities; afford individuals with disabilities the same opportunities to participate in programs and services, including embarkation and disembarkation; and provide effective communication during muster and emergency drills.

The allegations were investigated by the Justice Department, and Carnival officials cooperated throughout the process.

“This landmark ADA agreement will enable individuals with disabilities the opportunity to equally enjoy a full range of cabins and services that previously were unavailable while vacationing on cruise ships,” said U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida.

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with the U.S. government which was borne out of a cooperative effort,” Carnival Corp. said in 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. We will continue to do so with even more enhancements in staff training, accessibility policies and communications, as well as additional shipboard accessibility features.”

Under the agreement, 42 ships and seven under construction will 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.

Carnival Corp. also will pay a civil penalty of $55,000 and $350,000 in damages to individuals harmed by past discrimination. The corporation also created brand standards that address an array of accessibility issues and policies to implement them, and will provide ADA training to employees and managers.

In addition, Carnival Corp. will appoint an ADA compliance officer at the executive level and two ADA responsibility officers for Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Group, which includes Holland America Line and Princess Cruises. Also, each ship will have ADA officers responsible for resolving ADA-related issues that arise at sea.

“The ADA guarantees people with disabilities equal access to public accommodations,” said Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the civil rights division. “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.”

Under the settlement, 3 percent of the cabins on 49 ships will be made to meet three levels of accessibility — fully accessible cabins, fully accessible cabins with a single side approach to the bed, and ambulatory accessible cabins. The remaining 13 ships will be subject to possible remediation if they continue to be in service in U.S. ports four years after the agreement is entered.

Plus, the reservations systems will allow individuals with disabilities to reserve accessible cabins and suites with specific available options and amenities, and to guarantee reservations for accessible cabins.


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