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Thread: Cruise Ship ADA Regulations

  1. #1

    Cruise Ship ADA Regulations

    Please consider reviewing and sending in your comments. For the first draft, only about 40 individuals in the entire USA sent in comments. Many corporations (including cruise ship companies) have a very organized process to protest having any regulations at all, and you can be sure they will be commenting:

    To Whom It Concerns:

    2nd Draft – Last Friday, the US Access Board under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) published a notice of availability ( ) in the Federal Register. This notice informed the public that a 2nd draft of the Passenger Vessel Accessibility Guidelines (PVAG), dated July 7, 2006, and related discussion material was being made available for public comment.

    Rulemaking Process. As noted in the discussion material, the Board creates guidelines under the ADA which serve as the basis for enforceable standards maintained by other agencies. To create final guidelines and enforceable standards, in general, the rulemaking process will comprise the following actions.

    ·Board made draft guidelines available for public comment (2004);
    ·Board makes a second draft available for public comment and collects regulatory assessment data (2006);
    ·Board completes the regulatory assessment and publishes for public comment a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on passenger vessel accessibility guidelines and amendments to ADAAG for Buildings and Facilities (which address on/off guidelines for landside facilities);
    ·Board finalizes the vessel guidelines and ADAAG amendments, and updates the regulatory assessment based on the final guidelines and amendments;
    ·DOT completes its regulatory assessment and publishes its NPRM to adopt the provisions from the vessel guidelines and ADAAG amendments into its enforceable standards; and
    ·DOT finalizes its standards and updates its regulatory assessment based on the final standards.

    Discussion Material – At the beginning of the file ( ) which contains the 2nd draft, discussion material regarding the content and changes made in creating the 2nd draft is provided. This material also contains the vessel case study list which the Board plans on using to collect impact data that will be used in conducting a regulatory assessment. When the Board publishes a NPRM regarding these guidelines, a regulatory assessment will be included in that NPRM package.

    Figures - This draft only contains four figures which appear after section V404.2.5 and address the coaming issue. In many cases, because the section numbering system and provisions in the draft are similar to those found in the 2004 ADA-ABA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADA-ABAAG), you may use many of the figures in ADA-ABAAG ( to further understand the provisions in this draft of PVAG. (Note: Be aware that Chapters 5 and 10 in the draft of PVAG were extensively renumbered when compared to ADA-ABAAG.)

    Advisory Notes – Unlike the 2004 draft, this draft contains advisory notes which appear after applicable sections.

    Comment Period – The 60 day comment period will end on September 5, 2006. No public hearings are currently planned. Comments submitted on the 2004 draft can be found on the Board’s web site ( ). The Federal Register notice ( ) provides directions on how to comment. We recommend you send your comments to

    Questions - Should you have any questions regarding the Access Board notice and related material, please do not hesitate to call. Comments, however, must be sent per the instructions in the Federal Register notice.

    Paul Beatty

    Phone 202-272-0012
    Fax 202-272-0081
    TTY 202-272-0082

  2. #2
    Senior Member canuck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    BC Canada
    Since the majority of ships are flagged in foreign countries how can the ADA be applicable?

  3. #3
    The US Supreme Court already addressed this in a decision over a year ago. They determined that the ADA will apply if the cruise ship touches any USA ports, regardless of where it is registered or "flagged". This is the same as the Coast Guard safety regulations or sanitation inspections (which apply regardless of flagging when a ship goes to a USA port). So it will not apply to ships that only go around Europe, ASIA or the South Pacific, but many of the cruise lines move ships around according to the season. A ship that goes to South America in the winter may be used for Alaska (USA ports) or Hawaii (USA ports) or the Caribbean (Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, etc. all America ports) in the winter, for example. Given that the vast majority of cruisers internationally are American, and they favor cruises in large part that start or end in USA ports, I doubt that a large cruise line could afford to not comply with these standards.

    This court decision is what triggered the development of these standards by the Access Board.


  4. #4
    Thanks KLD. I am going on my first cruise ever (abled or disabled) at the end of this week. I'll be able to comment when I return. Meanwhile thanks again for your support.
    T6 complete (or so I think), SCI since September 21, 2003

  5. #5
    Just got back from the Enchantment of the Seas. Awesome experience for a first timer. Accessibility was great and have no major ADA issues. Will go into further detail a little later. Thanks.
    T6 complete (or so I think), SCI since September 21, 2003

  6. #6
    The deadline for comments on this second draft is due no later than this next Tuesday, 9/5. Please get your comments in NOW!


  7. #7
    KLD, if it helps I will re-post what I wrote on another thread. Not exclusively related to ADA. Hope it helps. Thanks again.

    Caribbean Cruise
    Ok. I am finally back home from a trip to Miami that included my first ever Cruise. I´ll try to be brief and post details I feel are relevant to those that may want to go on one.

    Enchantment of the Seas, Royal Caribbean
    July 2006
    4 nights with stops in Key West and Cozumel

    First, I thought that the ship had no real accessibility issues other than the fact that pushing on carpet can take a toll on your shoulders given the size of today´s ships. My wife and kids helped push from time to time.

    First time cruiser, so if my terminology is not correct now you know why.

    Boarding: We arrived around 1:30 p.m. and the boarding process felt very easy and fluid and it must have taken no more than a half hour or so to board the ship and get our "sea-pass cards", with which we could purchase drinks, gifts, etc.

    Ship: The vessel was really accessible. I had access to pretty much all of the ship. Did not try to swim in the pools and did not find out if lifts were available. Everywhere there was a bathroom there was either an adequate handicapped stall with automatic push button doors or a handicapped bathroom next to the AB one. I was happy to discover that I could go to the bathroom with as much accessibility as anyone else.

    Cabin: The cabin was large when compared to other cabins. The main door was 32 inches wide, as per their specs. It was adequate. The cabin was pretty accessible as was the bathroom, with the exception that they had this aluminum strip on the floor over an inch high that made chair placement and transfers harder than they needed to be. Other than that it was fine.

    Ports of Call: Both ports were docked ports. The ramps were short and a little steep, but manageable with help. Key West was very accessible with few exceptions. Cozumel had unaccessible places but many were accessible. I am perfectly able to transfer to a car so I was basically looking for a regular cab, but was offered a lift van at the same price, so we decided to take that, as it accomodated our party of seven including my wheelchair. The only problem is that the van did not have a raised roof and I had to put my chest on my legs to go in, and could not sit straight up while in the van, but it was no big deal. It was readily available at the dock and I understand the taxi company has several of them.

    Theater: The theater was in the fifth and sixth decks. The fifth deck in the back had designated wheelchair areas. Everytime we went there was available space. Not the best seats, but good enough.

    Disembarkment: We decided to get up early and go first. At 8 oclock we were at the disembarkment door. By 8:30 they let us out and we were on our way. The ramp was again a little steep but manageable with help.

    Overall it was a great experience I hope to repeat in the near future. Staff was, in general, very helpful.

    Hope it helps and answers some of the questions previously posted.
    T6 complete (or so I think), SCI since September 21, 2003

  8. #8
    The deadline has been extended to 11/5/06, but it is still a good idea to get your comments submitted now. Please look especially at the standards for ratio of accessible cabins on the ship (totally insufficient in my opinion). We need more comments on this.


  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by SCI-Nurse
    The deadline has been extended to 11/5/06, but it is still a good idea to get your comments submitted now. Please look especially at the standards for ratio of accessible cabins on the ship (totally insufficient in my opinion). We need more comments on this.

    In that respect I have two observations:

    Definitely the ratio of accessible cabins to regular cabins is not enough.

    And second, the qualification criteria needs to be more strict. Same concept as the Handicap parking slots. In my short experience, able bodied people book the accessible cabins looking for bigger cabins and better location, etc., then the truly handicapped people need to move up to more expensive cabins or find that they are all booked.
    T6 complete (or so I think), SCI since September 21, 2003

  10. #10
    Please don't just post that here. Submit this to the Board. Both those points were included in the e-mail I sent a couple of weeks ago. The more people who contribute, the louder our voices.


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