Settlement requires Carnival to improve ships for disabled passengers

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Settlement requires Carnival to improve ships for disabled passengers
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The Justice Department and Carnival Corp. have entered a sweeping civil settlement that will provide increased rights for disabled cruise passengers.

The agreement requires Carnival to modify 42 existing ships and seven ships under construction following a survey of their compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act.

Three percent of the cabins on 49 ships will 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.  Another 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.

The ships sail for Carnival Corp.’s three largest North American brands: Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line.

In addition, Carnival will provide ADA training for its employees.

Carnival’s reservations systems will be modified so that  disabled passengers can reserve accessible cabins and suites with specific available options and amenities, and to guarantee reservations for accessible cabins.

The settlement says Carnival’s website and mobile apps will meet a particular standard for disabled access. Also, Carnival will appoint several ADA compliance officers shoreside and have an ADA shipboard officer for each ship.

Finally, Carnival will pay a $55,000 civil penalty to the government and $350,000 in damages to "individuals harmed by past discrimination."

The settlement results from an investigation of complaints by the Justice Department.  Carnival officials cooperated throughout the process, the department said.

Among the complaints were allegations 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.

In a statement, Carnival said it was pleased to reach the agreement in a cooperative effort with the government.

“We have historically maintained a strong focus on accessibility and have a longstanding track record of meeting the needs of all our guests,” Carnival said.

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