In June 2005, the Supreme Court mandated that in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) cruise ships must be fully accessible to those with disabilities. Although the ADA does not explicitly cover cruise ships, the Court decided that Congress would have intended cruise ships to be included. 

What If The Cruise Ship Is Foreign?

In addition to the reasonable accommodations that American vessels must now make, the Court specifically stated that foreign cruise ships in U.S. waters are also subject to ADA regulations. Prior to this judgment, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Transportation consistently determined that foreign cruise vessels in U. S. waters were subject to ADA parameters. Therefore, as long as a foreign cruise ship sails in U.S. waters, it can be sued for violating ADA provisions. However, if a foreign cruise ship must also abide by international legal obligations which conflict with ADA standards or if the required changes would threaten ship safety, then it may defy ADA requirements. 

Where are "U.S. Waters"?

"U.S. waters" encompasses territorial waters within twelve nautical miles of the coasts of the United States and its territories. Additionally, it is generally understood that ships in U.S. waters must respect U.S. laws and regulations. 

Do I Need A Lawyer?

If you feel you have been discriminated against while on a cruise ship due to a disability, you should contact a employment lawyer to discuss your concerns and rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.