DOJ, Carnival Corp. reach settlement to improve cruise ship accessibility

Two cruise ships docked
Carnival Corp. Commits to Improving Accessibility

In a first-of-its-kind agreement, the world’s largest cruise company has agreed to make three percent of its cabins fully accessible, as well as make other accommodations.

The Department of Justice and Carnival Corp., the subject of multiple ADA lawsuits in the past two decades, announced the settlement July 23.

“Cruise ships are ‘floating cities’ and provide a wide range of facilities and activities subject to the requirements of the (Americans with Disabilities Act), such as lodging, dining, entertainment, recreation, and medical facilities,” Vanita Gupta, principal deputy assistant attorney general with the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, in a news release. “People with disabilities who travel must be able to count on getting the accessible cabin they reserve, and the cruise lines must provide equal access to the choice of amenities and attractions that passengers expect from a major cruise company like Carnival Corporation.”

Carnival Corp. operates 62 ships under its Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises brands. While 49 of the ships are subject to the three percent requirement, 13 ships are exempt, although they will also be required to undergo remedial measures if they are still in operation in four years.

The agreement also requires the Miami-based company to overhaul its reservation system, to ensure people with disabilities can reserve and are provided accessible cabins, as well as make its website and mobile applications accessible.

Carnival Corp. must pay a civil penalty of $55,000 to the United States and $350,000 in damages to individuals harmed by past discrimination. It must also appoint an ADA compliance officer and provide training to company employees.

Carnival Corp. previously settled a class-action lawsuit filed by Access Now in 2001, which required it to remove barriers on 15 of its ships.