to Ensenada Mexico
A Word about Travel Agents and Cruises
This is a story of a bad travel agent and a bad cruise line. Our experience was with a specific ship, the Holiday, but must be assumed to apply to all Carnival Cruise ships built before 1990. According to my research, this includes most of their ships.
There are staterooms marked in their brochure with the wheelchair symbol, indicating wheelchair access. In my opinion, no one could be so ignorant as to believe that these staterooms were wheelchair accessible. Hence, I accuse them of fraud in placing those symbols in the brochure. I have since contacted one of the principal authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act about legislation that would make this practice illegal. This web site was created at her suggestion.
People in wheelchairs going on cruises may be pushing the practical limits of travel, at present, but we want to do as much as we can. There was much discussion at the outset, including exchanging of measurements. We noted that the stateroom and bathroom were not depicted as any bigger than the others, and asked if they were sure it was big enough for a wheelchair to move about. We were told that it was. We asked for a bigger stateroom, but were told that none of the larger staterooms were "accessible".
We wanted to be sure the wheelchair could get into the bathroom. They told us the width of the door to the bathroom, and they warned us that there was a "several inch" lip at the threshold to the bathroom, but advised us there was a removable ramp to help with that. It sounded workable. When we got there, we discovered that the threshold was over 6" elevated, and that, when in place, the removable ramp occupied the entire width of the hallway, leaving no way to get a wheelchair on to the ramp. That didn't really matter, though, because the position of the toilet prevented a wheelchair from entering the bathroom more than 6".
It turned out that the extent of the modifications to accommodate a handicapped person were:
- two towel loops to be used as grab bars
- a stool in the shower (that you couldn't reach by wheelchair)
- the steep and useless wooden ramp.
It was very difficult to turn a wheelchair (smallest adult size) anywhere in the stateroom, and almost impossible to get in and out of the mushy beds (not even a towel loop there).
We were unable to find a single wheelchair accessible bathroom on the entire ship. At Catalina, it was impossible for a person in a wheelchair to disembark (we concluded as much when we booked the cruise). At Ensenada, it was possible to disembark, but then there was nowhere to go. It was more than a mile to town, and there were no vehicles that could accomodate wheelchairs. We did not anticipate that.
Subsequent discussions with the travel agent and Carnival were unsatisfactory.