Cruise case settled: a win for travellers with disability

It will be easier for people with disability to access and enjoy cruises following the successful settlement of a claim against Royal Caribbean by Professor Justin Yerbury.

Cruise company Royal Caribbean has committed to a range of important practical changes, to address the barriers faced by Professor Yerbury when trying to take a cruise with his family in March 2019.

PIAC represented Professor Yerbury in his case after he was denied boarding on the Explorer of the Seas because of his disability.

Justin Yerbury is a Professorial Fellow in Neurodegenerative Disease at the University of Wollongong. He was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2016.

‘I am pleased Royal Caribbean has listened to my concerns and has worked with me to make changes to ensure that other people with complex needs don’t have to experience the disappointment and hurt of being refused access to a much-anticipated family holiday because of their disability,’ said Professor Yerbury.

‘I took action against Royal Caribbean as a last resort, to ensure no-one else would have to go through the same disappointing and degrading experience as my family and I.’

‘This case was about ensuring that people with disability have access to the same transport and holiday options as everyone else whenever possible, and are treated with the same level of dignity and respect that everyone deserves,’ said Michelle Cohen from the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

As a result of this action by Professor Yerbury and PIAC, Royal Caribbean will:

  • Provide a single point of contact for guests with complex needs
  • Provide more information on their website about accessibility and how to contact their access team
  • Make their medical assessment process more transparent
  • Arrange disability training for their staff
  • Provide better information about accessible transport options during shore stops

‘We hope other cruise companies will follow Royal Caribbean’s lead and improve their disability policies and procedures. People with disability must not be unreasonably excluded from the opportunity to enjoy holiday packages. Travel providers must provide clear information to the public about accessibility and ensure requests to accommodate complex needs are dealt with efficiently and lawfully,’ said Michelle Cohen.

Media contact: PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce – 0478 739 280

Image: Flickr/ Kansasphoto

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