Background re comments: Cruising since l970 with disabled wife. Have taken over 35 cruises with 12 cruise lines.
1. Ships should have more wheelchair accessible cabins. All new ships should have at least three percent to total cabins accessible. Only HAL has achieved this since l997, except for one ship.
2. Need to address wheelchair accessible cabins for three or more persons. Most cruise ships have a large number of such cabins for able bodied persons so some should be made accessible. This seems to disregard the spirit if not the letter of the ADA intent.
3. Door widths for all accessible cabins and bathrooms should be at least 35 inches. Have never experienced a problem with elevator doors but should be addressed. Electric sliding doors doors to outside decks to replace the often heavy such doors should be required on all new construction. Where ships are built should not be a problem, just specify. Most all are built overseas anyway. Bathroom doors opening inward should should be replaced with curtains.
4. Public restrooms should be required to be converted to accessible on all ships as a requirement on all ships, in most cases should be reasonable and easy to do.
5. Have had many problems with crew persons assuming that wheelchair bound wife can stand and get through a door or into a bus. Even if cruise line is notified prior to embarking vessel. Word does not get to ship. Cruise lines should ask immediately when accessible cabins are requested as to the status of the disabled person and follow up to ship as to wheelchair user or wheelchair bound.
6. Have encountered direct access ramps to lifeboats only on the present two Crystal Cruise Line ships. Have never have encountered at any required lifeboat drill. Justice Department should address with Coast Guard and cruise lines.
7. Have seen able persons on nearby accessible cabins that seemingly had no need. Also have encounter able persons that requested and received just for the extra room. This could be handled like most US Stated for handicap parking permits and be a saving for cruise lines and also provide accessible cabins to those needing them. We have missed going on a number of cruises because of lack of accessible cabins.
8. Spaces for wheelchairs on many newer ships are often on the topmost isle only. They are often unsupervised to allow able passengers to sit down there. Even when seated the person in the wheelchair may be looking at a horizontal bar over the seats in front. Showrooms seats should be available on all seating levels in the showrooms. Where access to a floor is possible ramps should be used and as often done ashore just remove a few seats next to access isles.
9. Have collected data on five large US used cruise lines. These data include date ship put in service, total cabins, and number of wheelchair accessible cabins. When plotted, the percent of accessible cabins history of the present sailing ships, is apparent.
Carnival (19 ships) Percent accessible has fallen off in reason years. From l982 until year 2000 averaged about 2 percent.
Since 2000 to present averaged about 1.8 percent
HAL (Carnival owned, 13 ships) About 1 percent until l997 then better than 3 percent to date. Best percent in data covered.
Princess (Carnival owned, 15 ships) Average 2 percent since l995.
Royal Caribbean International (19 ships) Less than 1 percent until 1993, since average about 1.75 percent.
Celebrity (RCI owned) (8 ships) Less than 1 percent until 2001, now four latest ships about 2.7 percent.
Charles E. Dunn
Redondo Beach, CA