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Landmark Settlement with Cruise Company re Disability

The U.S. Justice Department has reached a landmark settlement agreement with Carnival Corp., one of the largest cruise companies in the world, over #ADA violations by Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises. This agreement specifically addresses #accessibility on 62 of the company’s ships and implements accessibility standards and policies to provide greater access on cruises that embark and disembark from U.S. waters or those of its territories.

The settlement agreement is the result of an investigation of complaints that included 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 #individualswithdisabilities the same opportunities to participate in programs and services, including embarkation and disembarkation; and provide effective communication during muster and emergency drills.

Under the agreement:

  • 42 existing ships, and 7 ships in various stages of design and 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;
  • 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.  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.
  • Carnival Corp. has created brand standards that address an array of accessibility issues and policies to implement them;
  • Carnival Corp. will provide specific #ADAtraining to employees and managers;
  • 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;
  • The accessibility of Carnival Corp. websites and mobile applications will comply with WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA;
  • Carnival Corp. will appoint an #ADAcompliance officer at the executive level, two ADA responsibility officers – one for Carnival Cruises and one for Holland America Group, which includes Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, and ADA shipboard officers for each ship who are responsible for resolving ADA-related issues that arise at sea; and
  • 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.

This settlement represents the first time the Department of Justice has required a cruise company to provide a minimum number of accessible cabins, to conduct a survey of its ships and to develop a remediation plan to comply with the ADA.  It is also the first time that an agreement under the ADA has specifically identified three types of accessible cabins on cruise ships – fully accessible cabins, fully accessible cabins-single side approach and ambulatory accessible cabins – that will be available to individuals with disabilities.

If you work for Carnival or any cruise line, #Springboard can help remedy these issues not only from a U.S. perspective but globally.  Contact #SpringboardConsulting to learn how, 973-813-7260 or info@consultspringboard.com


This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.