PHILLIPS' CRUISES & TOURS. LLC
Reservations (907) 276-8023 Fax (907) 265-5890
Administration: (907) 274-2723 Fax (907) 276-5315
Toll Free: 800-544-0529 E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of Technical and Information Services
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board
1331 F Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1111
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Phillips Cruises & Tours, LLC, a privately held company and a member of the Passenger Vessel Association, submits these comments regarding your efforts to develop accessibility guidelines for passenger vessels, as published in the Federal Register of November 26. 2004. Please include these comments in the official record of both of your dockets as well as the corresponding U. S. Department of Transportation Docket.
We operate the 26 Glacier Cruise in Prince William Sound, Alaska daily from the first of May to the end of September each year. This is a 4.5 hour glacier and wildlife sightseeing cruise which travels out of Whittier, Alaska to College and Harriman Fjords and returns to Whittier each day. Our only vessel, the M/V Klondike Express, is a 342 passenger high speed catamaran with three decks. The route is all in wilderness areas and no passengers leave the vessel during the cruise.
In addition to the hall day sightseeing, we charter our vessel for passenger transportation between Whittier and Valdez, Alaska twice a week between mid May and mid September. In Valdez two docks are used which are designated and controlled by the Port of Valdez. Our entire staff numbers approximately 30 people of which 20 are seasonal positions and between the sightseeing cruise and charters, we carried over 35,000 passengers last year.
When our vessel was built in 1999 handicapped restrooms were included on the main and second passenger decks. Up until this season we had to operate out of a City of Whittier stationary dock that was subject to tidal conditions. Loading wheelchair passengers was only possible when we could use the second deck of the vessel. Our new floating dock was completed last winter and a passenger in a wheelchair can easily wheel from the parking lot, down the ramp and on to the main deck of the vessel without restriction. The vessel has reserved seating and we hold several booths up to the last minute that will accommodate passenger, in wheelchairs especially if the person is unable to move from the chair into a passenger seat. I would estimate the number of passengers in wheelchairs to be under 1/10 of 1% or less than 35 passengers per season.
We do have passengers with other disabilities, the most common being the inability to walk any long distance. Passengers may be dropped off at our boarding gate and then they have to walk approximately I50 feet to the vessel. We provide our own wheelchair for anyone that needs the extra assistance. I would estimate the number of passengers that fall into this category would be about 1% or 350 passengers per season. Our crew is always available to assist a passenger in walking to or from the vessel or inside the vessel during the cruise.
I have read the testimony offered by the Passenger vessel Association to the Access Board regarding this rulemaking and I support the following points that PVA has stressed in its comments.
Thank you for this opportunity to participate in your rulemaking process. Sincerely,
PHILLIPS CRUISES & TOURS, I.LC