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Holland America - New Scooter Policies


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Just received notice of the new scooter policies going into effect on HAL for all bookings departing after 7/1/04:

Width- no more than 23"
Weight- no more than 100 lbs without battery
Batteries- gel or dry cell only

All personal mobility aids will have to be stored in guests' staterooms. They will no longer be permitted to be stored or charged in hallways or elevator lobbies. "Failure to safely and properly store personal mobility equipment in staterooms may result in the denial of boarding."

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Bad news for alot of people. Need the smaller scooters which may mean some will not be able to go as they have weight limits. Do I hear a lawsuit coming? I have one that fits this discription that I use for travel. It is called a scootie by shoprite.

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There seemed to be too many unanswered questions in HAL's written advisory such as what about larger people who need larger scooters which isn't a resolved issue by renting a scooter? And what about power chairs, many of which are heavier and wider than the new scooter policy allows for scooters?

I spoke to their access desk and what they are actually addressing with the width policy is just the "no storing scooters in public areas" issue. If someone has an accessible cabin, they will have a wider doorway which can accommodate a wider scooter.

As for the "100 lbs. without battery" policy, that is apparently to make it easier for crew members to lift people in their scooters. HAL will allow exceptions, but would like to be aware of the exceptions.

So no wet cell batteries (standard policy) and all scooters must be able to be stored in your cabin (also a fairly standard policy.)

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This is the message I posted to the HAL board.

HAL is making exceptions to this policy as long as guests are booked in to HC rooms which will accommodate the lager pieces of equipment. They will also tell you that there are still going to be some concerns about going ashore. When you have a scooter like mine (30" wide and 223 lbs... and I am NOT over weight!) going ashore, especially on a tender, is tough. My scooter is too large to even go on the tender lift they have on some ships. I can't EVER take my scooter ashore in tender ports.

But, if I'm willing/able to go smaller, I'm going to have a much easier time. And if I go to a smaller scooter that meets the guidelines, the staff will even be able to offer more physical assistance without hurting themselves.

Basically, HAL is looking out for the safety of all guests with the hallway part of the policy and they are also trying to create more opportunities for people like me to go ashore if we can get smaller equipment.

I will not go out and buy new equipment since mine was very expensive. But I can use a smaller one so I will probably rent smaller equipment for my cruises. I will then free up a HC room for other who need it more than me and I will have more chances to take my scooter ashore in ports where I've had to use a manual chair.

Sounds like HAL is doing the right thing.

If you still have concerns, give them a call.
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I agree - HAL is indeed doing the right thing. I've actually received a lot of complaints from wc users about the fact that HAL used to let scooters park outside their cabins, as this practice obstructs hallway access for wc users.

It's also a safety issue.

As a couple of folks previously stated, the 23-inch width limit will not apply as long as you have an accessible cabin and can store your scooter inside.


Candy Harrington
Editor, Emerging Horizons
The only accessible travel magazine
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This sounds great in theory, but I have to wonder how easy it would be to drive a 23" wide scooter through a 23" door opening (24" door with two 1/2" door stops on the door frame). That leaves no allowance for a turning radius. Are the hallway corridors wide enough to get a straight shot for entering and exiting? And I am wondering, if once inside the cabin, would there be a space to park and still be able to maneuver around it? Can you still get into the bathroom, closet or dressing table?
I do agree that it is not a good idea to park scooters in hallways and create problems for other guests. I also understand about protecting the crew from injuries. But I am wondering what happens when someone brings aboard a 23" scooter and it will not fit in the cabin.
I took a 22" wide scooter on one cruise (with HC cabin with two scooters) and found it to be okay on board, but had shortcomings for land. It bottomed out on the ramp apex entering and exiting the ship and could not negotiate curb cuts or door sills if over 1.5" rise. I bought a larger 25" wide scooter for greater comfort and greater accessibility without worry of getting "hung up" on broken sidewalks and such. Oh, well, looks like I may not be able to cruise with HAL unless they have an HC cabin for me.
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HAL's handicapped cabin and bathroom doors are not only 24" wide. They are 32.5" wide, which is doable for most wheelchairs or scooters. The most accessible cabins have sufficient room for turning (being at a corner).

We always have an accessible cabin, and have a power (and manual) wheelchair. I am glad they are implementing this policy as we have had our way blocked by parked scooters in the hallways many times. It will probably make it more difficult to book handicapped cabins for those who cannot manage in a regular cabin though.

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Hi Ruth:

I’ve read your post a few times and I'm still not sure I totally understand your question. As splinter said, the accessible cabins are plenty wide enough to accommodate a 23-inch wide scooter. But I expect you are not asking about the accessible cabins. Is that correct? You want to book a standard cabin with your 23.5 or (preferably) 25-inch wide scooter?

Well, if that is the case, according to this bulletin they say they will deny you boarding. I believe (and this is my opinion) that because of past problems they want all scooter-users to only use accessible rooms and park their scooters inside.

Personally I wouldn't try it (taking scooter larger than 23-inches wide while just booking a standard cabin) because it will probably cause problems. It's your vacation, you want to have fun.

Maybe look for another sailing date that has an accessible cabin available? Or just go for another ship/line that has more accessible cabins (better chance of getting one with more available). And I would take the larger scooter if you have had problems bottoming out on the smaller one. It will just be easier for you and give you more independence in the long run.


Candy Harrington
Editor, Emerging Horizons
The only accessible travel magazine
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It is my understanding that the 23" guidelines was based on getting smaller scooters in to standard cabins. I talked to Eena in Access & Complaince and she said standard cabin (not hc) door widths are 23.5" (except for the ms Noordam and Prinsendam, which always seem to be the exceptions to the rule). So what HAL has done is enable people to bring their smaller scooters and still be able to book a standard cabin, if they don't need the roll in shower and other features, etc.

But... for those with the largers pieces of equipment, you can still book the hc rooms and be comfortable.

I know there are always a lot of people who use scooters but may not need them full time. In many cases, these smaller scooters would be perfect for them.

I called Care Vacations and they have some great scooters! They have an agreement with HAL that they will only rent scooters to you for your HAL sailing if it meets the HAL requirements. If you need a larger scooter, they will verify that you are in a hc room first. I think this is a great safegard. It's not going to work for everyone but a step in the right direction.

Also, they have these small scooters and they fold up!!! So if you can use a smaller scooter and be in a standard stateroom, Care can also rent one/sell one to you that folds up and can be stored away in a closet! Holy Cow! Who would have ever guessed?! So now, I can book a standard room, take a small scooter and I don't even have to worry about the space in my babin because I can put it off in a corner somewhere and it takes up no more space than a med/large suitcase!

I'm taking a cruise in a couple of months and I'm going to rent one of these. If I really like it, I may just break down and make an investment to buy one. I cruise a lot and this is great for me.

I realize not everyone will have this type of flexibility with their equipment and HAL's policy takes this in to consideration too. But there are many of us who do have the flexibility and I think we'd be foolish not to take advantage of it.

Happy scootin'!
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  • 2 months later...
I'm sure that HAL's new rules may seem like a moot point if they have accessible cabins with wider doorways -- but not all wheelchair bound cruisers want a regular handicapped stateroom!

My parents have loved cruising for years -- but they really prefer the suites, although they would settle for the "minisuite" size. One of the reasons they enjoy the suites is that due to Dad's lack of mobility, they spend more time in their cabin than they did before his stroke...so the nicer accommodations in a suite are appreciated more.

Unfortunately, we've had trouble finding any handicapped accessible suites -- so at this point, we're satisfied as long as we know that his wheelchair or scooter will fit through the door!

I sure wish that the cruise lines would realize that plenty of handicapped people have disposable income, too -- and would be willing to spend some of it on accessible suites!
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You make a good point cricket. The US Access Board is currently reviewing access guidelines for cruise ships (we currently have none). The committee that came up the recommendations was a bit heavy on the industry (cruise line) side but there was representation from some disability groups. One of the things this committee came up with in their proposed guidelines was that (unlike the ADAAG) all cruise ship staterooms will NOT have to have wide doorways.

Instead they want to have a "hospitality room" where wheelchair-users can visit their friends if they can't get their wheelchair through the standard doorways on non-accessible staterooms. The cruise industry completely ignored the fact that many people (slow walkers and part time wheelchair-users) don’t need a fully accessible cabin, but only a wide doorway.

Personally when the proposed rules come up for public comment I'm going to lobby hard for "wide doorways on all staterooms". This only applies to newly constructed ships, so it's not like they will have to retrofit their ships (so it won't be a big cost item for the cruise lines if they just have to build them accessible). Also this is more in keeping with the ADAAG, which the guidelines are (suppose to be) based on.

I hope others will take the time to comment when the rules come up for public comment. It really does make a difference. The access board always has listened to public comments.

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Queenie, please post and let us know when the proposed rules come up for comment. I will definitely submit comments in favor of the wider doorways and I know of some others who would also submit some comments.

Many people will likely just want the address and docket reference number so that they can know where to send their comments (the docket reference number is an "identifier" for the particular proposal and so needs to be included also on the comments. ) However, I would appreciate it if when this comes up for comment if you can include the complete Federal Register citation as there may be other things that I might like to comment on as well, so I would like to read the proposal.

Cricket, there are usually as least two handicapped suites (Cat. S) on most, if not all, of the HAL ships. We have sailed in these and you get the large space as well as all of the suite perks. If they are not available when you want to book, then have your TA get HAL to check to confirm that the passengers booking these rooms really need a wheelchair room. Some people book these suites because they are larger. However, they do not contain the jacuzzi tub (they have a roll-in shower) and so I have read reviews where people were upset because they had booked these thinking they were getting the "largest" suite and they find there is no jucuzzi tub (I think that it is justice. :)) So anyone who has booked these that doesn't need it may want to switch if HAL will also tell them that these suites don't include the jacuzzi tub
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My concern over the policy is that it will force passsengers use scooters for distance, but who do not truly need handcap facilities (eg. roll-in showers) to request handicap cabins. As a result, there will be fewer for those who really need them.
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I'll be happy to post here when the proposed rules are up for public comment, but don't hold your breath. For whatever reason the Access Board is really dragging their feet on this one. It's been 3 years since the PVAAC (committee) came up with the proposed guidelines and the Access Board is still sitting on them (a subject of an upcoming editorial). In any case, I will of course cite the Federal Register pages when they are published, and of course the Access Board website (where they usually make the proposed rules available) . I agree, even though they are cumbersome at best, it's always a good idea to go to the original source rather than to rely on somebody else’s interpretation of it.

Although I understand your concern, but when people leave their scooters out in the hallways, they block access for wheelchair-users. They do have those folding scooters (by amigo) that will fit through the doorways of non-accessible rooms when folded; however they really don't have much "get up and go" (especially when compared to a full size scooter). Mostly they are a good choice for somebody who doesn't use a scooter at home (so the won't be disappointed by the lack of pep).

Again, it goes back to making (building from the start) all the stateroom doors wide -- that would solve the problem for most everybody. But that also seems something that the cruise industry is opposed to. Not sure why exactly, but as I said they certainly got their way in the proposed guidelines.

The HAL policy is one of those "damned if you do, damned if you don't" decisions. There was no perfect solution, but I do think for the most part it's a good (and fair) policy.

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