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Alaska Cruise and Hearing Accomodation

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I just got back form an awesome cruise to Alaska. I am deaf with Cochlear Implants. The CIs generally serve me well in most situations but they are not a replacement for normal hearing. I still struggle in noisy environments and with understanding people with accents other than my own. My physical ears are almost totally dead and I receive all my audio input through a magnet on the sides of my head which feeds sound directly to my auditory nerves via electrodes in my cochlea.

First let me tell what went well and what they got right. Although I notified them in advance, there was a little confusion when I first boarded. I had requested a "deaf kit" installed in my cabin. It alerted me with flashing lights and a bed vibrator if the phone rang or if anyone knocked or entered my cabin. It probably would have also worked had there been an actual emergency. The tech that installed it checked on me periodically to make sure I was satisfied and I was. 

The other thing that worked were the captions automatically being shown at the onboard movie theater. It was appreciated.

Now let me suggest major areas that can be improved based on my experience. In the theater they need receivers with an audio jack. I brought my own cable and covers so I could plug into a receiver and get the show delivered directly to my CI. This was especially important for the educational lectures provided on the places we would be going and some of the relevant history. All they had were the receivers you stick in your ears (remember my physical ears are useless) that can be used for mild to moderate hearing loss. CIs are becoming more commonplace and so audio jack access would go a long way to helping people like me.

Another issue was the announcement system and the fact I could not understand anything over the speakers (combo of noise and accents). There needs to be a way to convey that information visually, at least for important announcements like safety or changes in schedule or meeting places. They passed a lot of info verbally through the overhead speakers but to me it sounded like the adult voices in the Peanuts cartoons (wah-wah-wah).

For the most part the ship's staff and crew were very patient when I asked them to repeat themselves or when I needed to ask someone else what was said. In spite of the challenges I had an awesome trip and lifetime memories.

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Thank you for providing such intricate feedback. I love reading your perspective as a person with a hearing impairment. These are things every day, hearing guests don't really think about, myself included. As you mentioned, those with Cochlear Implants aren't able to hear all sounds, and loud environments make things very difficult. I really hope you are able to send this feedback to Celebrity Cruises so that the line can improve its standard procedures for those with a hearing impairment. I think this feedback is very valuable and could be very helpful to other cruisers down the line. Have you cruised with any other cruise lines? If you have, how were their accessibility procedures in comparison? 

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I’m torn on this issue. Yeah everyone should have an opportunity to enjoy life as much as possible but if businesses had to provide services for less than 2%? of the population, they would lose a lot of money. Unless they pass the cost to everyone, which happens a lot. Should I be required to pay for your specialized needs or should you pay for those. ADA requirements as it is costs businesses a lot of money for very little return on investment. 

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Posted (edited)

@FJB This opposition is very intriguing. You create a valid argument, stating that the majority is funding the minority in a case such as this one. It's such a toss-up. In a circumstance like this, I do think that everyone should have access to meeting the needs of safety. So the cruise line should most certainly provide, flashing lights or any other safety needs for every passenger onboard. I believe that should be a standard and is of most importance.

Additional, non-essential support items could be potentially self-funded, but it's hard to substantiate. I do think that communicating at dinner or assistance at the service desk should be provided, it seems pretty fair to me. I do see where you are coming from in terms of additional support. I like that cruise lines support everyone, particularly those with disabilities. I value that support and I am willing to pay extra in my cruise fare for that support. I would hope that if I ever needed special accommodations to cruise as I age that those could be provided to me and the luxury of vacationing on a cruise ship wouldn't be inaccessible to me. I love cruising so much, if I needed any sort of additional support, I would appreciate it. I visualize this in terms of mobility accessibility. That seems to be most commonly used/needed onboard.

Edited by Kendall James-Vargas
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