7665 Corporate Center Drive
Miami, Florida 33126
Mark E. Warren
Senior Vice President
and General Counsel
December 22, 2004
Lawrence W. Roffee, Executive Director
U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
1331 F. Street, N.W., Suite 1000
Washington, D.C. 20004-1111
Re: Fed. Reg. Vol. 69 No. 27 Page 69224
Docket No. 2004-1
Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Passenger Vessels: Large Vessels
Availability of draft guidelines: notice of hearing
Docket No. 2004-2
Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Passenger Vessels: Small Vessels
Advanced notice of proposed rulemaking: notice of hearing
Dear Mr. Roffee:
We understand that the U. S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board intends to hold a hearing regarding its draft accessibility guidelines for passenger vessels on January 10, 2005, six (6) weeks after making them available to the public. Norwegian Cruise Line respectfully requests that the January 10, 2004 hearing regarding the above referenced dockets and subject be continued to May 10, 2005, ninety (90) days later, to allow the public an appropriate amount of time to comment on the proposed guidelines.
The Board's issuance of the draft guidelines in the midst of the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with several other major holidays occurring prior to the hearing and during the review period, severely limits the amount of time available to review and prepare comments. In order to offer educated testimony at the hearing on the Board's draft proposed guidelines, we require substantially more time to comprehensively review the text of the Access Board's draft guidelines. The recommendations of the Passenger Vessel Access Advisory Committee ("PVAACI”) were issued four years ago. The draft proposed guidelines released on November 26, 2004 appear to diverge significantly from the PVAAC recommendations. We believe that a number of issues originally set forth have been changed and/or new issues have been introduced, which mandate additional time for review, analysis and meaningful comment prior to the hearing.
Passenger vessel rulemaking raises unique issues that are unlike those issues undertaken by the Board for landside facilities. Passenger vessel guidelines are complicated by numerous maritime specific issues including, but not limited to: international treaties and U. S. Coast Guard regulations relating to safety; limitations on accessibility which are inherent on all seagoing vessels; and the space limitations which characterize all passenger vessels.
While the January 10, 2004 hearing may be but the first in a series, it will set the tone for the balance of the regulatory process, and will have a substantial impact upon its outcome. It is, therefore, essential that the public have adequate time in which to prepare comments for this first hearing.
Given the intervening major holidays and the complexity of the rulemaking thus far, we urge you to extend this first hearing for a minimum of three (3) months so all voices can be heard on this very important issue.
Mark E. Warren
Cc: James J. Raggio, General Counsel
DOT Docket OST-2004-19700
Alexander Acosta, US Department of Justice