July 31, 2001
Access Now, a Miami Beach-based advocacy group for the disabled that’s on a crusade to increase cruise lines’ onboard facilities for the handicapped, got a setback last week. The organization, which has already reached a settlement with Carnival Corp. to make substantial improvements for disabled passengers, such as the addition of more cabins with enlarged doorways, less cramped interiors and showers accessible to people who use wheelchairs, had gone after Disney Cruise Line. In a lawsuit, Access Now charged that Disney’s two ships -- Magic and Wonder -- lacked sufficient facilities for the disabled as per the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Alas, a federal judge in Orlando dismissed their case on technicalities. Which were? No disabled members of Access Now had ever even taken a cruise on a Disney ship (their attorney reported that an undercover inspector who was “able bodied” had checked out the ships). In a more significant setback, the judge also ruled that ADA requirements for dry-land facilities don’t apply to cruise ships.