Skip to main content
Press Release

American Cruise Lines Agrees to Improve Fleet Accessibility in ADA Settlement

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has reached a settlement agreement with American Cruise Lines, Inc., headquartered in Guilford, Connecticut, to resolve allegations that the company was not operating in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”).

This matter was initiated based on six complaints received by the U.S. Department of Justice that American Cruise Lines was not accessible to or usable by individuals with disabilities who use wheelchairs.  American Cruise Lines owns and operates 17 passenger vessels.  The complaints alleged that American Cruise Lines failed to provide cruise ships that were fully accessible to passengers in wheelchairs, failed to provide for safe embarkation and disembarkation procedures for passengers in wheelchairs, and failed to provide wheelchair-accessible ground transportation for passengers during shore excursions. This settlement agreement addresses accessibility on all 17 vessels and implements accessibility standards and policies to provide greater access during cruises.

As a result of the settlement agreement, American Cruise Lines will submit a comprehensive remediation plan to improve accessibility for passengers with disabilities aboard all ships within 18 months.  The United States will have the opportunity to review and approve the plan before renovations begin.  In addition, the agreement requires American Cruise Lines to adopt ADA-compliant policies, procedures, and training; assign an ADA compliance officer; and establish an accessible website.  Finally, the agreement requires American Cruise Lines to provide safe and accessible boarding and disembarking procedures and staff training, publicly available “accessibility request” and reservation procedures, and portable communication devices to alert deaf passengers when there is an emergency aboard ship.  

Under federal law, private entities that own or operate places of “public accommodation,” including cruise ships, are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of disability.  The ADA authorizes the Justice Department to investigate complaints and undertake periodic reviews of compliance of covered entities.  The Justice Department is also authorized to commence a civil lawsuit in federal court in any case that involves a pattern or practice of discrimination or that raises issues of general public importance, and to seek injunctive relief, monetary damages, and civil penalties.

U.S. Attorney Avery noted that American Cruise Lines has worked cooperatively with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to address the ADA issues without litigation.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to safeguarding civil rights, including those protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said U.S. Attorney Avery.  “Businesses are required, under the ADA, to appropriately serve a diverse customer base, ensuring that individuals are able to access and enjoy restaurants, service establishments, retail stores and other places of public accommodation.  That includes cruise ships.  We appreciate American Cruise Lines’ commitment to increasing access to its ships for individuals with physical disabilities and mobility challenges.”

Any member of the public who wishes to file a complaint alleging that any place of public accommodation or public entity in Connecticut is not accessible to persons with disabilities may contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 203-821-3700.

Additional information about the ADA can be found at, or by calling the Justice Department’s toll-free information line at (800) 514-0301 and (800) 514-0383 (TTY).  More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at

This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys William M. Brown, Jr. and Stewart Dearing of the District of Connecticut, in coordination with the Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

Updated January 9, 2024

Civil Rights
Disability Rights