I am looking to book a cruise on a particular sailing where they have a large number of non-accessible cabins available at $6,000; however there is only one accessible cabin available, and that’s priced at $11,000. Is the cruise line required to upgrade me since they don’t have any accessible cabins available in the lower category?
Although cruise ships are not technically covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (the US Access Board is still working on those standards), some specific non-discrimination rules for Passenger Vessel Operators (PVO) went into effect on January 3, 2011. One part of those rules covers your situation, as it addresses inequitable pricing on accessible cabins,
The Department of Transportation recognizes that some existing vessels may not have accessible cabins in all classes of service; however PVOs cannot impose higher prices on disabled passengers just because of this oversight. So under the regulations, if a passenger with a disability wants to travel in a lower category, but the PVO does not have any cabins in that category, the PVO must upgrade the passenger to the next highest available accessible cabin category, yet only charge them for the cost of the lower category cabin.
But there is a catch.
If the PVO has no accessible cabins on the ship at all in the lower category, the regulations would apply. On the other hand, if the PVO has accessible cabins in the lower category, but they just aren’t available, it doesn’t apply. In other words if the lower category accessible cabins are already booked, you’re out of luck.
So I would check the deck plans to see if they have any accessible cabins on the ship in the lower category. If they don’t, then contact the access department of the cruise line and ask for the upgrade, based on the regulations. Unfortunately there still aren’t enough accessible cabins, and many are booked as soon as sailings are released; so if the lower category accessible cabins are already booked, you might try another sailing.