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  #1  
Old June 7th, 2011, 05:09 PM
bdstrom bdstrom is offline
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Thumbs down ASL Interpreters for Carnival's Shore Excursions

I ran a search for this topic but nothing related came up. Forgive me if I missed it.

When we went on our first cruise in 2009 on Carnival Freedom. They were very professional and accommodating toward our requests to have ASL interpreter along with us on shore excursions. This type of service impressed us tremendously that we decided to cruise again in 2010.

During summer of 2010 when we sailed on Carnival Inspiration. We had two ASL interpreters on the ship, provided by Carnival. The staff at the shore excursion desk and guest service were awfully rude to us when we requested an interpreter for tour-related shore excursions. They basically said... "no, next please!" and then "YOU pay for interpreter's ticket" and one lady rolled her eyes on us.

After six hours worth of arguing, we decided not to let this ruin our vacation... then we searched for cash donation and finally had enough to pay for a shore excursion ticket for the interpreter.

That was very hurtful. Very frustrating and humiliating. We sent a complaint letter to Carnival headquarter and only I got a reimbursement check equal to one of our shore excursions. No one in our group got reimbursed except me. There was no apology letter or explanation at all.

We have another cruise coming up in November and I am a little resentful toward Carnival. Have anyone experienced this before? Any idea why a sudden change in ASL interpreting service that cause great inconvenience toward deaf/hard of hearing people? Don't they want us to have fun and to enjoy our vacation?
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Last edited by bdstrom; June 7th, 2011 at 05:12 PM.

  #2  
Old June 8th, 2011, 01:09 AM
celle celle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdstrom View Post
I ran a search for this topic but nothing related came up. Forgive me if I missed it.

When we went on our first cruise in 2009 on Carnival Freedom. They were very professional and accommodating toward our requests to have ASL interpreter along with us on shore excursions. This type of service impressed us tremendously that we decided to cruise again in 2010.

During summer of 2010 when we sailed on Carnival Inspiration. We had two ASL interpreters on the ship, provided by Carnival. The staff at the shore excursion desk and guest service were awfully rude to us when we requested an interpreter for tour-related shore excursions. They basically said... "no, next please!" and then "YOU pay for interpreter's ticket" and one lady rolled her eyes on us.

After six hours worth of arguing, we decided not to let this ruin our vacation... then we searched for cash donation and finally had enough to pay for a shore excursion ticket for the interpreter.

That was very hurtful. Very frustrating and humiliating. We sent a complaint letter to Carnival headquarter and only I got a reimbursement check equal to one of our shore excursions. No one in our group got reimbursed except me. There was no apology letter or explanation at all.

We have another cruise coming up in November and I am a little resentful toward Carnival. Have anyone experienced this before? Any idea why a sudden change in ASL interpreting service that cause great inconvenience toward deaf/hard of hearing people? Don't they want us to have fun and to enjoy our vacation?
I'm really sorry this made your cruise a little more difficult. The change of policy must have been a shock for you. I'm glad you didn't let it ruin your cruise.

I'm not defending Carnival itself, but I thought you might understand a little better if you consider this:
  • The cruise lines do not run the shore excursions. These are run by on-shore companies, who expect payment from the cruise lines for every passenger on that excursion.
  • So, to send an interpreter on a shore excursion at no cost to you, the cruise line would have to front up with the fare, to pay the on-shore company.
  • The free (to you) interpreter would have taken a place on the excursion that could otherwise have been taken by a fare-paying passenger.
  • So, if the cruise line sends a free interpreter for you, they are actually taking a loss.
  • The cruise lines are not in the business to take a loss so, to cover this, if it happened frequently, they might consider increasing the overall fare for all passengers.
  • If the cruise line, and not you, paid for an interpreter to go on the excursion, perhaps people with other disabilities would appreciate a "free" person to help with their disability. Where do you draw the line?
  • The excursion companies in countries other than the USA are not bound by the requirements of the ADA.
I commend the cruise companies for providing interpreters for deaf people. It's a good thing to do and must enhance your cruise enjoyment. I'm not sure if providing an interpreter is a requirement under the ADA. I'm pretty sure it's not - is there anyone more conversant with this legislation who can advise on this?
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  #3  
Old June 8th, 2011, 11:20 AM
bdstrom bdstrom is offline
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Thank you Celle, it was indeed shocking. We planned our shore excursions very carefully and it was not cheap. We even called Carnival in advance and they instructed us to request an interpreter at the shore excursion desk. Why we got this conflicting information, I don't know.

One thing I need to clarify, it bothers me when people use the word "free" or "complementary" or "you people should appreciate this and that when it's free" when it is about accommodating. It is about equal access to communication. Do hearing people pay additional to hear the tour guide? Of course not, deaf/hard of hearing people should not have to pay additional either. The focus is on equality, not freebies.

When we were on the shore excursions, we asked to speak with tour managers/supervisors and discussed who is responsible to provide an interpreter. Manager/Supervisor answer was CARNIVAL and they show us some excellent supporting documents and we took it back to the ship and show it to them. Carnival's shore excursion/guest service staff will not budge, they flat out refused and made some insensitive & ignorant comments about it.

Celle, I thank you for sharing your perspective and the points you've shared was already considered/discussed while on the ship. But here on Cruise Critic, I am looking for someone who experienced the same. I met another group that went through the same thing on a different ship. I am checking if there is anyone on this board with same experience and I would like to hear what exactly happened and how they handled the situation. Just to better prepare ourselves this November.

Thanks!
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Last edited by bdstrom; June 8th, 2011 at 11:21 AM.

  #4  
Old June 8th, 2011, 05:42 PM
celle celle is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdstrom View Post
Thank you Celle, it was indeed shocking. We planned our shore excursions very carefully and it was not cheap. We even called Carnival in advance and they instructed us to request an interpreter at the shore excursion desk. Why we got this conflicting information, I don't know.

One thing I need to clarify, it bothers me when people use the word "free" or "complementary" or "you people should appreciate this and that when it's free" when it is about accommodating. It is about equal access to communication. Do hearing people pay additional to hear the tour guide? Of course not, deaf/hard of hearing people should not have to pay additional either. The focus is on equality, not freebies.

When we were on the shore excursions, we asked to speak with tour managers/supervisors and discussed who is responsible to provide an interpreter. Manager/Supervisor answer was CARNIVAL and they show us some excellent supporting documents and we took it back to the ship and show it to them. Carnival's shore excursion/guest service staff will not budge, they flat out refused and made some insensitive & ignorant comments about it.

Celle, I thank you for sharing your perspective and the points you've shared was already considered/discussed while on the ship. But here on Cruise Critic, I am looking for someone who experienced the same. I met another group that went through the same thing on a different ship. I am checking if there is anyone on this board with same experience and I would like to hear what exactly happened and how they handled the situation. Just to better prepare ourselves this November.

Thanks!
Thanks for replying so quickly. I see now that Carnival did try to explain to you, and that is good. Still not fun for you, though!

I really admire your positive attitude and your intention to seek more information, so that you are better prepared next time, is wise.

I can't help with personal experience about your disability - I have a son with an above-knee amputation of one leg and a husband who is partially deaf (no signing), so I have more information about their needs. Thus, your problem is not my "area of expertise".

Good luck anyway, and happy cruising.
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MV Akaroa, Southampton to Auckland 1968, 48 days. Yangtse River Cruise 2005, 4 days. Nile cruise Luxor to Aswan 2008 - 4 days.
Holland America - 58 cruising days, 100 status days.
Celebrity - 56 days.
Royal Caribbean - 72 days.
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  #5  
Old June 8th, 2011, 11:01 PM
Deaf Dude Deaf Dude is offline
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You didn't mention what type of excursion you were going on. the decision to send interpreters usually depends on the type of excursion. if you are on a narrated tour to Mayan ruin sites then an interpreter is needed. Just going to Playa Mia or something like that doesn't require and interpreter. Personally, I always offer to pay to take the interpreters on a fun excursion with us. I feel that these people are giving up their rime from their jobs at home to help me enjoy my cruise. I know they get paid and get a free cruise but I am sure they could probably make more money at their regular jobs.
That said, I do agree with you that the excursion desk should have handled it better. you should have asked to speak to the cruise director or someone higher up. maybe the could have helped. couldn't hurt !
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  #6  
Old June 9th, 2011, 11:48 AM
bdstrom bdstrom is offline
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Hi DeafDude, good to see deaf/hh person around here!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deaf Dude View Post
You didn't mention what type of excursion you were going on.
Actually, I did several times. Maybe I should have used the word "narrated" instead of "tour". So yes, the shore excursions we went on was a narrated one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deaf Dude View Post
Personally, I always offer to pay to take the interpreters on a fun excursion with us.
Interesting... is your definition of "fun excursion" like going to the beach or snorkeling? If so, then an interpreter is not needed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deaf Dude View Post
That said, I do agree with you that the excursion desk should have handled it better. you should have asked to speak to the cruise director or someone higher up. maybe the could have helped. couldn't hurt!
Oh believe me, six hours worth of arguing was enough to reach a higher position. It went all the way to the cruise director and it even went through someone at the Carnival headquarter. None of them were willing to compromise or agree to provide a reasonable accommodation.

Yeah, they could have handled it better and get to the point on WHY they will not provide an interpreter for a narrated-related tour, which they still haven't up to today.

Here's another story, a married couple in our group decided to drop the fight and go on a shore excursion without an interpreter. They almost could not participate because they could not hear the safety procedure that was present beforehand. On the waiver form, it clearly states that "CARNIVAL is responsible for safety" and CARNIVAL failed to provide an interpreter. I will not go through the details but they absolutely need an interpreter!

Someone suggested instead of prolonging the argument, take out the cruise tip and pay for the interpreter's shore excursion ticket if they simply refuse to provide an interpreter. That somewhat makes sense and also controversial at the same time.

Deaf Dude, what was your reaction when they sudden changed the policy?

Again, good to see deaf/hh around here!
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  #7  
Old June 9th, 2011, 11:46 PM
Deaf Dude Deaf Dude is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdstrom View Post
Interesting... is your definition of "fun excursion" like going to the beach or snorkeling? If so, then an interpreter is not needed.
What I meant was I offer to treat them to an excursion that I know I don't need an interpreter for so they can have a nice enjoyable time. I live in a cruise port town and the interpreters I have received have always been local ones who I have known as friends for years
Quote:
Deaf Dude, what was your reaction when they sudden changed the policy?
Not happy with policy changes. Having problems right now. Carnival changed their interpreter providers from ASL Services in Florida, to Care Vacations. We are having a deaf cruise next month with about a dozen deaf people and trying to work with Care Vacations is a nightmare. We are trying to make dining arrangements for our group and would like the interpreters to dine with us. Care Vactions refuse to give us any info on the interpreters. we would like to know how many interpeters and their names so we can give our travel agent the info. we never had this problem with ASL services. asl Services even allowed us to request certain interpreters but Care Vacations says they don't allow that.
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  #8  
Old June 10th, 2011, 11:33 AM
bdstrom bdstrom is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deaf Dude View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdstrom
Interesting... is your definition of "fun excursion" like going to the beach or snorkeling? If so, then an interpreter is not needed.
What I meant was I offer to treat them to an excursion that I know I don't need an interpreter for so they can have a nice enjoyable time. I live in a cruise port town and the interpreters I have received have always been local ones who I have known as friends for years
Ohh! Now that makes sense. I am from Chicago area and I love my local interpreters. I will most definitely treat them to stuff like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deaf Dude View Post
Not happy with policy changes. Having problems right now. Carnival changed their interpreter providers from ASL Services in Florida, to Care Vacations. We are having a deaf cruise next month with about a dozen deaf people and trying to work with Care Vacations is a nightmare. We are trying to make dining arrangements for our group and would like the interpreters to dine with us. Care Vactions refuse to give us any info on the interpreters. we would like to know how many interpeters and their names so we can give our travel agent the info. we never had this problem with ASL services. asl Services even allowed us to request certain interpreters but Care Vacations says they don't allow that.
*sighs* My travel agent is going through the very same thing. Very frustrating.

Some of my friends just recently cruised on Norwegian Gem from NYC to Bermuda last week and said the interpreter service is fantastic. NCL was very polite, professional, and accommodating. They even sent an interpreter on shore excursions without question. I am considering checking out NCL after this November cruise.
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Last edited by bdstrom; June 10th, 2011 at 11:36 AM.

  #9  
Old June 10th, 2011, 08:07 PM
bdstrom bdstrom is offline
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Originally Posted by bdstrom View Post
Ohh! Now that makes sense. I am from Chicago area and I love my local interpreters. I will most definitely treat them to stuff like that.
Just felt like I need to expand on this part. Yes, I know exactly where you are standing at and I would do the same thing. But technically, Carnival is responsible to pay for an interpreter since they hired them, not us.

The service, including selling shore excursion tickets, is based in America. Therefore the service falls within ADA.

Nothing against your decision or the type of shore excursions, just sharing my 2 cents based on what is the right thing to do in the first place.
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Last edited by bdstrom; June 10th, 2011 at 08:19 PM.

  #10  
Old June 11th, 2011, 07:28 PM
Deaf Dude Deaf Dude is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdstrom View Post
Some of my friends just recently cruised on Norwegian Gem from NYC to Bermuda last week and said the interpreter service is fantastic. NCL was very polite, professional, and accommodating. They even sent an interpreter on shore excursions without question. I am considering checking out NCL after this November cruise.
ASL Services still has the NCL contract for interpreters, so that may be why your friends like them so much. I have sailed ewice before on NCL and both times they refused to provide interpreters. this is before they were sued and forced to provide interpreters. when i complained they bought me off with a $200 OBC. haha but we didn't really care for NCL, not because of the interpreter problem, but because of the actual cruise experience. we didnt care for anytime dining and the food in the main dining rooms was horribe. so was the food in the buffet. the food they offered in the specialty restaurants was the same thing carnival included for free. I would have to get a very good deal to go on NCL again. I live in New Orleans and beginning this fall we will have 4 ships here. Carnival Conquest, Carnival Elation, NCL Spirit and RCCL Voyager of the Seas. Maybe that will bring prices lower.
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  #11  
Old June 13th, 2011, 01:03 PM
Three Rings Three Rings is offline
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I have no experience with sign language interpreters, or the need for them, so please forgive me if my questions/comments don't make sense.

It seems to me that if the cruise line is paying for an interpreter on board, the interpreter should be available for all guests who require their services. For example, they could sign for a group of deaf people at the shows. What would you expect if there were two deaf people on board (not traveling together at all) who both needed an interpreter for two different excursions at the same time? What if there happened to be 6 deaf people going to 6 different excursions at the same time? Would it be reasonable to expect the cruise line to provide 6 interpreters on board?

My husband is physically disabled. On our two cruises (so far) we have hired and paid for aides to accompany us. It would never occur to us to expect the cruise line to hire or pay for an aide, or to let the aide cruise for free. Actually, if the cruise line paid for the aide on board, it would be cheaper for us to cruise 365 days/year than for us to live at home, where we pay for aides every day.
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  #12  
Old June 13th, 2011, 01:43 PM
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I have to agree with you Three Rings. My husband is a quad and I never expect Carnival to have handicapped accessible excursions. We are going to different countries that do not have our laws. I can see where they would be required to have an interpreter onboard, but when you are off the ship you are on your own. We usually booked our own excursions for something my spouse can do. My husband usually does not even get off the ship if it is a tendered port. He would never expect someone to have to through their back out to help him. He realizes that we are on a ship and that there are certain limitations.
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  #13  
Old June 13th, 2011, 08:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdstrom View Post
After six hours worth of arguing, we decided not to let this ruin our vacation... then we searched for cash donation and finally had enough to pay for a shore excursion ticket for the interpreter.
bdstrom, I was just re-reading your original post. I'm curious what you meant by the part I marked in red.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 09:26 PM
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I also have to agree with Three Rings. I have two disabled young adult children and would never expect Carnival, or any other cruise line for that matter, to pay for aides to help them. We as parents provide for them and if it comes a time when we are unable to do this, we would have to pay for aides to come on the cruise with us.

Also, Three Rings is correct is the possible scenario about 6 different people with hearing disabilities going on 6 different shore excursions. Who would get the one or two interpreters on board to accompany them in port?
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Old June 14th, 2011, 03:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Three Rings View Post
bdstrom, I was just re-reading your original post. I'm curious what you meant by the part I marked in red.

I hope they were asking their family and friends and not asking other passengers
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  #16  
Old June 14th, 2011, 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missypriss19 View Post
I have to agree with you Three Rings. My husband is a quad and I never expect Carnival to have handicapped accessible excursions. We are going to different countries that do not have our laws. I can see where they would be required to have an interpreter onboard, but when you are off the ship you are on your own. We usually booked our own excursions for something my spouse can do. My husband usually does not even get off the ship if it is a tendered port. He would never expect someone to have to through their back out to help him. He realizes that we are on a ship and that there are certain limitations.

This is my position also, on this issue. An interpreter on board makes sense. Having one on excursions, particularly in foreign ports, does not. I use a wheelchair and while I expect and would demand that the ship itself be accessible (and it isn't, always!), I too do not expect the cruise line to make the rest of the world accessible to me!
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Old June 15th, 2011, 05:16 PM
bdstrom bdstrom is offline
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Whoa, it has been couple of days and I missed several discussions.

Seems like the last couple of posts has missed the point. To clarify, it is not about expecting Carnival to provide an interpreter or any kind of accommodation off the ship. It is about them sudden changing their policy without providing a reasonable explanation, and failing to provide an interpreter for narrated shore excursions as they promised. We are going on another cruise with Carnival this November and I am looking for someone like DeafDude who has experienced the same and how they handled the situation on their cruise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Three Rings View Post
What if there happened to be 6 deaf people going to 6 different excursions at the same time? Would it be reasonable to expect the cruise line to provide 6 interpreters on board?
This rarely happens. The deaf/hard of hearing community is close-knit and all of us will most certainly agree to take the same shore excursions. Of course, we always keep the interpreter's availability in our mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Three Rings
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdstrom
After six hours worth of arguing, we decided not to let this ruin our vacation... then we searched for cash donation and finally had enough to pay for a shore excursion ticket for the interpreter.
bdstrom, I was just re-reading your original post. I'm curious what you meant by the part I marked in red.
Quote:
Originally Posted by missypriss19
I hope they were asking their family and friends and not asking other passengers
Yes, that includes other passengers. Carnival's guest service actually told us to do that, believe it or not. They were so rude, made a lot of insensitive and ignorant comments. There are a LOT more to this but I rather not to go into details. It was very embarrassing.
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  #18  
Old June 23rd, 2011, 07:01 PM
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Hi

Another deaf family here and we are from Scottish, UK...

We had been on 4th cruise with Disney, they provides us two interpreters which they are wonderful...

We went to Europe 07 that we had paid on own for interpreter to tour with us...

This year, we were sailing Royal Caribbean and they provides us two an interpreter (I applied before 90 days) and it was different from Disney that RC paid excursions as interpreter came with us...We were surprised that different..

On our first cruise was Carnival long times ago and they didn't provided us interpreter and we find it was difficult and staff was a bit rude to us about lifeguard...but we enjoyed it...

I think policy changed again... as we heard that Disney won't provide us if we sail in Med!!

Scottishwee35
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  #19  
Old June 23rd, 2011, 07:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdstrom View Post





Yes, that includes other passengers. Carnival's guest service actually told us to do that, believe it or not. They were so rude, made a lot of insensitive and ignorant comments. There are a LOT more to this but I rather not to go into details. It was very embarrassing.
That sound awful, If I was you , I would have complain to Carnival and no need for rude to you and they should respect you like another people...
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  #20  
Old June 26th, 2011, 06:31 PM
whiterose whiterose is offline
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Default Interpreters are not personal aides

Quote:
Originally Posted by blondietink View Post
I also have to agree with Three Rings. I have two disabled young adult children and would never expect Carnival, or any other cruise line for that matter, to pay for aides to help them. We as parents provide for them and if it comes a time when we are unable to do this, we would have to pay for aides to come on the cruise with us.

Also, Three Rings is correct is the possible scenario about 6 different people with hearing disabilities going on 6 different shore excursions. Who would get the one or two interpreters on board to accompany them in port?
There seems to be some misunderstanding of the role of an interpreter. They are not personal aides. They are the human equivalent of wheelchair ramps, automatic doors, wheelchair accessible cabins and bathrooms and all the things that make it possible for physically disabled people to take a cruise. Interpreters make it possible for deaf people to enjoy the cruise and excursions on an equal footing to people who can hear. Cruise lines spend a lot of money to make the ships wheelchair accessible so why shouldn't they do something to make a cruise hearing accessible?

I do not use interpreters myself even though I have a hearing loss. However, I do have deaf friends and I understand the importance of an interpreter and how essential they are.

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