Press Release: Interpreter service
Dear Cruise Travelers,
You might remember that our agency, Hibiscus Travel / Kerstin's Travel Inc. is working hard to provide the best service for our clients. That includes our continued communication with the cruise lines to make sure that sign language interpreters are provided on cruises. Certain cruise lines comply with the ADA and provide interpreters, others don't. Holland America Line is one of the cruise lines who frequently denied interpreter service for deaf individuals in the past. When two clients of mine from California asked me last year to book a cruise with Holland America, I informed them about the problems that I had with this particular cruise line in the past. However, the clients wished to go on a Canada & New England cruise with Holland America since they liked the itinerary and the sailing date.
I contacted Holland America and requested interpreter service for my clients since the first two ports in the itinerary are ports in the US. The ADA applies to those two ports. Holland America notified me that they would not provide interpreters but agreed to provide a cabin for the interpreters for free and to waive the gratuities. However, shore excursions, pre-cruise packages, post-cruise packages and other services would not be covered by Holland America. They are the responsibility of the guest or interpreter. Frustrated about Holland America's continued denial of interpreter service and shifting expenses to the deaf passenger, I contacted the Department of Justice. My clients and I placed a complaint with the Department of Justice. As a result of a lot of time and effort, it took more than one year, Holland America decided to provide the interpreter service. My clients completed their sailing recently and enjoyed the interpreter service very much.
I would like to encourage the deaf community to fight for their rights even though it might be a long road towards the goal. When you book a cruise, your travel agent should help you and be an advocate for you and your rights. It is unfair that only some cruise lines comply with the ADA and others avoid their responsibility. If you don't get help from the cruise line, you and your travel agent should contact the Department of Justice if the ADA is applicable to the sailing and place a complaint. It is free of charge. But be aware of the fact that it takes a long time before your case will be solved.
Don't give up!