The parent company of Carnival, Holland America and Princess has also agreed to survey and make changes, if necessary, to 42 existing cruise ships at the three brands in order to comply with ADA regulations. 7 vessels in the stages of design and construction will also be surveyed and updated. Another 13 ships will be subject to changes if they continue U.S. service in four years.
According to the settlement, 3% of cabins on the cruise vessels have to be accessible to guests with disabilities, falling into one of three categories: ambulatory accessible cabins, fully accessible with a single side approach to the bed and fully accessible cabins.
Carnival Corp. agreed to provide training to employees, create brand standards addressing various accessibility issues and ensure reservation systems allowing the disabled to book accessible cabins. The corporation will also appoint ADA compliance officer and ADA responsibility officers at the Holland America Group (including Holland America and Princess) and at its Carnival brand. An officer on each cruise ship will be appointed to deal with ADA-related issues.
The settlement follows an investigation of the Justice Department concerning complaints that the Corporation failed to properly reserve and provide accessible cabins for people with mobility disabilities as was required under the ADA. Carnival was also accused of failing to modify policies to accommodate such individuals, afford them the same opportunities and provide effective communication during emergency drills.
Carnival Corp. will pay civil penalty of USD 55,000 to the U.S. and USD 350,000 in damages to individuals harmed by past discrimination. The company announced in a statement it was pleased with the settlement and added it had historically maintained “a strong focus on accessibility” and had “a longstanding track record of meeting the needs of all guests”.
Carnival cruise ships on order falling under the terms of the settlement include the 4,000-guest Carnival Vista, the biggest vessel ever of Carnival brands.