ASL Interpreters on Cruises? (I.e. Disappointed with Holland America)

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#1
45 Posts
Joined Mar 2013
I'm in the midst of booking a cruise with Holland America, and have been stuck in limbo for 3 weeks. Yet the booking itself is still incomplete as the agent and I are still *talking* with the Access Department and still getting no answers. Very disappointed.

Which cruise line has the most favorable access policy? Especially for Deaf cruises requiring ASL interpreters?

For the interpreters themselves - seems all cover a room, taxes and fees, and gratuities. Some cover travel expenses, others (like HAL) don't. Some offer some kind of compensation pay, others a voucher towards future cruises. What others are out there that I'm missing?

I do have an interpreter on hold, but HAL is asking that the terp pay for travel expenses and NO comp pay NOR vouchers to make up for the lost wages (we are talking a 16 day cruise here). The interpreter most likely will pull out if they don't budge from their initial offer of just the basics.

(I agree with the 75 interpreters that I asked that they shouldn't have to "pay to work" - pay for their airfare while it's me who's requesting the service. Plus HAL said that either the terp or I would have to pay for the terp's shore excursions should I take up any. )

How can I convince the agent and the Access office to speed up so I can *finally* complete the booking? (One good thing - they did put a price freeze on it so it doesn't go up while the public prices does). Or if not, at what point should I pull out and inform them that I'm going with a competing line with a better access reputation?

As it's bound to come up, the reason why I went with HAL was the incentive of a teak wraparound promenade deck with old school deck chairs. That's my number 1 priority on any ship - and Cunard is slightly too expensive for me at this moment.

Thanks!
#2
6,438 Posts
Joined May 2009
Try contacting one or both of the following :


Complaint Department Number: 800-599-8256 for guest relations
Complaint Department Email: [email protected]

Executive: Orlando Ashford, President & CEO
Corporate Address: 300 Elliott Avenue West, Seattle, WA 98119
Corporate Phone Number: (206) 281-3535
Corporate Fax Number: (206) 281-7110
Suggest you ask in the HAL forum if anyone has the CEO's direct email
#3
Maine
10,804 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Originally posted by DeafOnBoard
I'm in the midst of booking a cruise with Holland America, and have been stuck in limbo for 3 weeks. Yet the booking itself is still incomplete as the agent and I are still *talking* with the Access Department and still getting no answers. Very disappointed.

Which cruise line has the most favorable access policy? Especially for Deaf cruises requiring ASL interpreters?

For the interpreters themselves - seems all cover a room, taxes and fees, and gratuities. Some cover travel expenses, others (like HAL) don't. Some offer some kind of compensation pay, others a voucher towards future cruises. What others are out there that I'm missing?

I do have an interpreter on hold, but HAL is asking that the terp pay for travel expenses and NO comp pay NOR vouchers to make up for the lost wages (we are talking a 16 day cruise here). The interpreter most likely will pull out if they don't budge from their initial offer of just the basics.

(I agree with the 75 interpreters that I asked that they shouldn't have to "pay to work" - pay for their airfare while it's me who's requesting the service. Plus HAL said that either the terp or I would have to pay for the terp's shore excursions should I take up any. )

How can I convince the agent and the Access office to speed up so I can *finally* complete the booking? (One good thing - they did put a price freeze on it so it doesn't go up while the public prices does). Or if not, at what point should I pull out and inform them that I'm going with a competing line with a better access reputation?

As it's bound to come up, the reason why I went with HAL was the incentive of a teak wraparound promenade deck with old school deck chairs. That's my number 1 priority on any ship - and Cunard is slightly too expensive for me at this moment.

Thanks!
If you don't mind, I'd like to ask a couple of clarifying questions. When you need an interpreter anywhere other than a cruise, do you pay for their time, or does the venue you are at? Is there a network of ASL interpreters, or a professional association, where you could locate one that did not require airfare to reach the embarkation port?

I was not aware of cruise lines' policies towards comping the cabin fare, travel, or pay for the interpreter. Given the limitations on the ADA placed by the SCOTUS in Spector v. NCL, I am glad to hear that they at least are covering some of the expense towards taking an interpreter onboard, because legally they don't have to do anything (not being cold, just stating reality).

As for the most favorable access policy, that would be one ship only, the NCL Pride of America, which as a US flag vessel must meet all aspects of the ADA. These are the challenges of cruising on foreign flag ships.
#4
6,438 Posts
Joined May 2009
Reached out to someone I know who is an ASL interpreter and has been hired by various cruise lines. Following is what I'm told.
  • The cruise line hires the individual directly not the passenger.
  • The cruise line hires from a service or a selected pool of certified ASL interpreted located in or near the city of embarkation.
  • There is no comp pay for lost wages while the person is cruising. Nor does the cruise line pay the interpretor for their time during the ship.
  • The cruise line generally will comp the room if hired directly by the cruise line.
  • The cruise line does not pay for the interpreter travel to from the ship.
  • The cruise line does not hire an interpreter per person. Meaning if there's 4 passengers needing interpreters that 4 are not hire. Interpreters are shared.
  • As far as exursions go what you've been told is correct . Either the intrepetor or the passesnger pays for the excursion. The cruise line generally does not have to provide ASL services off the ship for any passenger elected activity no matter if it's an excursion is sold through the cruise line or booked on your own.
  • Being that you want to bring on board an interpreter of your choosing dedicated only to assist you is probably what's complicating your dealings with HAL.
#5
6,438 Posts
Joined May 2009
In addition to my previous post cruise lines only have to provide the service in a scale that is requested by the ADA for cruises beginning and ending in the USA as well as Canada and transatlantic sailings if the sailing starts or terminates in the U.S.
#6
45 Posts
Joined Mar 2013
Thank you all for the responses!

Some corrections: - the ADA does apply for all cruises (regardless of home registration) with at least ONE US port. Therefore they are required to provide terps.

It was HAL's policy that the individual pick the terp. I didn't make that choice - they did. Some like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian do have contracts with select interpreter agencies and/or Deaf travel agencies but it's mostly for group cruises. (When polling Deaf and terps, I'm finding that RC has the best policy -comping the cabin, et al plus pay. Norwegian also paid their terps too. Got word from Princess (who shares an access office with Cunard) that they do provide a full terp team of two terps.

As for the other questions:
For land-based requests - ie the doctor's office, it is the office who pays for the interpreter. Same with classes at the university - the university is responsible for paying the terp. Only maybe for a family funeral would I as the consumer, pay for the interpreter - or a wedding. (But then, those two are usually pro bono by close friends who happen to be terps).

There is indeed a Registry of Interpreters of the Deaf (RID) - like a union who also provides certification testing for terps. Each state has an affliate chapter as well.

One of the issues of finding a terp is that HAL prefers local terps (to avoid paying for travel) - but the hurdle is that the cruise starts in Florida and ends in California - unless there is a bicoastal terp out there, unlikely. Thus, airfare is required anyways.

I asked 75 terps who have terped a cruise, and only 1 has done it for "free". All others were compensated with some kind of payment system and/or a voucher towards a future cruise. Those who take on the "free" ones are usually non certified and/or not professional terps. The professional ones don't take the "free" ones as it makes it harder for the next person to get work and lets the cruise line get off scot free using "free labor" and spreads the wrong message.

Plus they all always worked in a team of at least 2. HAL is only offering 1 terp for 16 days. Hello, burnout?

The alternative was to go without terps and I brought up the pending lawsuit with Royal Caribbean over the Anthem of the Seas hurricane sailing where the passengers were confined to the cabins for 18 hours. Hearing pax got announcements on the hour from the captain with reassuring words. Deaf pax (at least 50) were not informed at all and were in the dark regarding announcements (crew didn't let the terps go check on the Deaf pax and to relay info). So I cited the option of not having terps was a safety concern as well.

(On my last cruise, I asked for one of the bracelets that kids wear that show their muster station - i figured in case of emergency, it would be easier to show than try to communicate with the crew - and expedite the evacuation process.)
#7
6,438 Posts
Joined May 2009
DeafOnBoard - think it's time that you contact the President of HAL directly As stated in one of my previous posts ask over on the HAL Forum if anyone has the direct email address to the Presidenbet of HAL. If that's the intinerary you want than I wouldn't give up just yet.

Just a side note. Have several family members that are fluent ( if that's the correct term) in ASL ( all hearing) .One of my in-laws learned before becoming an ear specialist. He made certain all his children grew up knowing it as he all wanted them to be able to assist anyone in need. Personally thought it should be offered as a langauge option in school.
#8
45 Posts
Joined Mar 2013
Thanks for the friendly reminder - heading over to the HAL forum to post that now!

And yes, fluent is the correct term - and I quite agree that it should be offered at more schools!
#9
Maine
10,804 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Originally posted by DeafOnBoard
Thank you all for the responses!

Some corrections: - the ADA does apply for all cruises (regardless of home registration) with at least ONE US port. Therefore they are required to provide terps.
Thanks for the clarifications regarding ASL interpreters. However, the above statement is not quite accurate.

If you read Spector v. NCL, linked here:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...WeeWNdYWDQF7tg

You will see the following:

" Justice Kennedy delivered an opinion concluding that except insofar as Title III regulates a vessel?s internal affairs, the statute is applicable to foreign-flag cruise ships in U.S. waters. Parts II?A?1 and II?B?2 of that opinion held for the Court:" note my bolding of the exceptions to the applicability of the ADA.


" Justice Kennedy, joined by Justice Stevens and Justice Souter, concluded in Parts II?A?2, II?B?1, II?B?3, and III?B:
(a) As a matter of international comity, a clear statement of congressional intent is necessary before a general statutory requirement can interfere with matters that concern a foreign-flag vessel?s internal affairs and operations."
"However, the petitioners? allegations concerning physical barriers to access on board?e.g., their assertion that most of NCL?s cabins, including the most attractive ones in the most desirable locations, are not accessible to disabled passengers?would appear to involve requirements that might be construed as relating to internal ship affairs."
"Justice Kennedy, joined by Justice Stevens, Justice Souter, and Justice Thomas, concluded in Part III?A that if Title III imposed a requirement that interfered with a foreign-flag cruise ship?s internal affairs, the clear statement rule would come into play, but that requirement would still apply to domestic ships, and Title III requirements having nothing to do with internal affairs would continue to apply to domestic and foreign ships alike."
So, SCOTUS has, in fact, ruled that not all of the ADA applies to foreign flag cruise ships, but whether or not supplying ASL interpreters is "relating to ship's internal affairs and operations" or not, is something that I can't say, as I'm not a lawyer. However, I have worked for a cruise line, and had to inspect the ship and its operations when we reflagged from Bahamas to US flag to determine what needed to be done to go from a partially compliant vessel to a fully compliant vessel.

#11
Maine
10,804 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Originally posted by DeafOnBoard
A poster on the HAL boards kindly shared the following link with me regarding a lawsuit settlement with Carnival Corp's lines including HAL: http://www.adatitleiii.com/2015/08/j...rk-settlement/
I know about the settlement, and was frankly surprised that Carnival settled. However, the DOJ may or may not continue with their "rule making" process under the new administration. Also, based on Spector, any decision by the DOJ may or may not withstand a challenge in courts, since the SCOTUS specifically called for Congressional action, not Executive Branch regulations.
#12
45 Posts
Joined Mar 2013
Hello all -

Thank you for all of your supportive responses and feedback!

I am very glad to announce that the issue has been resolved - we now have a solution and I am BOOKED for my cruise!

(HAL doesn't always provide interpreters, and when they do, it is usually a "free cruise" which might be OK for short cruises but we are talking 2.5 weeks and those poor interpreters work ALL day as opposed to she speakers and lecturers, so they are considered contract workers on other lines. It took some research and calllng to see what the "industry standard" was and HAL decided to honor that. SO HAPPY!)
#13
3 Posts
Joined May 2017
I'm very interested in your advice/thoughts on my situation with Holland America Cruises. We booked a cruise with them last August 2016 which is scheduled for July 8-15, 2017. We are participating in a special event on the cruise with a popular singer and so a separate travel agency is coordinating the event details.

When we booked the cruise back in August, we requested an ASL interpreter, as we've benefited from having them before on Disney Cruises and Royal Caribbean. My husband and I are both Deaf- my husband is Deaf with a Cochlear Implant and me, I'm severely hard of hearing and benefit from having the interpreter, especially during ship events and the music.

Back in August, HAL instructed my husband to complete a form, then they came back with he needed to do the same form but online now. Anyways, now HAL is passing the buck to the travel agency/event planning company as of last week. And that company is saying that we, the passengers, have to pay for the interpreters travel arrangements and they will pay for the cheapest cabin for them. Who's paying them to work???

AND, now we're down to the last 2 months, how can we find someone now? We've been trying to do this for months- they've waited til the last minute, and now WE LOSE- to their advantage!!! We are paying top dollar for this cruise, and we get screwed- we will NOT be able to enjoy this splurge 100%-

I appreciate your support it really means a lot to find people that CARE. Because it doesn't feel like HAL does.

Any advice, thoughts, strategies for empowering us, the paying customers, would be great!!!! What can we do to FIX this so we can get an interpreter?? And how can we be compensated for our troubles?

Thanks so much,

ASL Cruiser
#14
45 Posts
Joined Mar 2013
First of all, have you been in contact with the Access Department? They were our "in" - Gina at hal_access_&[email protected] AND if you plan on pursuing shore excursions through HAL, they were even better - [email protected] and mention my name as you will get better results.

For my Panama Canal trip (see separate thread on details - still posting updates and reviews) I made the request for a terp 2 months before the trip. At first, HAL would only provide cabin, free gratuities, and port fees/ taxes. Also, you pick the interpreter (they would cover 2). Luckily after asking 75 terps, I was able to find one that could do 16 days (yours is shorter so better shot). Unfortunately due to the timing and all I couldn't find a second terp - since I'm a low maintainence passenger (don't need terp all hours maybe 5 hours total?) the terp said she could do it solo (but after getting food poisoning and being out of commission for 36 hours, we both told HAL that a second terp was necessary).

After negotiation which took several week, we got cruise credit and travel coverage for the interpreter. I am working with HAL in getting them to up the stakes and include payment for future terp requests. (In my post, I spoke about how HQ folks needed work while shipboard folks were awesome so I would encourage you to read that.

This situation is sticky as fingers are bing pointed - HAL says your travel agency has to pay, while travel agency us pointing to you. Stand your ground, include both in your email, and inform them that HAL recently covered an terp with the following: cabin, port fees/taxes, gratuties, cruse credit, airfare (if not local terp). Mention my name (PM me for it) as HAL knows I'm on thr ball. Technically since thr travel agency is planning it, they should shoulder some of the cost. Offer HAL to cover one terp while travel agency covers the other terp? (You'd be lucky to find a terp willing to work for cruise credit - 99% are paid or prefer to be paid. )

My two cents -HAL doesn't get many requests from Deaf so they haven't kept up with the industry standards like RCI, NCL, and Carnival. Education is key here, not just griping. The more you are willing to discuss the better luck you will get.

If that all fails, contact jennifer Alvarez at care vacations (NOT a TA but an interpreter who knows the system and ADA requirements and helps ships coordinate access requests. )[email protected]

Please keep us updated!
#15
45 Posts
Joined Mar 2013
PS (it wouldn't let me edit the post) the HAL review including interpreter situation can be read on thr HAL board (can't link from this device but the title is "Panama Canal Transit on the Nieuw Amsterdam Apr 9-25: A Deaf Perspective". (Including the issues with HQ folks too).
#16
3 Posts
Joined May 2017
Thank you so much for your support and guidance- so helpful!!

I'm not sure how to PM you? How do we do that, as I prepare an email to both the travel agency and HAL, I would appreciate mentioning your name and history, so they can understand where I'm coming from.

Being that it is now May 19, do you think there is any hope we can actually HAVE an interpreter on the ship?

ASL Cruiser