The cruise industry has long been pro-active in addressing how best to accommodate passengers with disabilities. The industry's primary concern is the safety and comfort of all. There are often technical issues associated with harmonizing accessibility guidelines and internationally mandated construction and safety requirements. In particular, the international Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) sets down standards that govern all vessels engaged in international commerce.
Because of the international nature of our business, the passenger cruise ship industry is subject to the mandates and guidance of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The IMO is responsible for establishing international standards for cruise ship safety, design and construction. CLIA cooperated closely with the IMO working group that prepared passenger vessel guidelines that address design and operation features for accommodation of persons with disabilities.
The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has not yet implemented regulations for accessibility standards which impact shipboard and company operation for U.S.-flag commercial vessels in 2010 which mostly became effective in 2012 but with some elements becoming effective January 3, 2013. The US Architectural and Compliance Access Board (Access Board) is expected to publish a notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) for constructions and equipment standards for passenger vessels in 2012. The regulatory process timeline is uncertain but may take as much as an additional year to complete. The cruise industry has been involved in this regulatory process since 1998
CLIA is the world's largest cruise industry trade association and is dedicated to the promotion of a safe and secure cruise ship environment. CLIA is composed of cruise lines serving North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia for whom the safety of guests and crew has no higher priority. With the advice and consent of its membership, CLIA advances policies intended to enhance shipboard safety, in some cases calling for best practices in excess of existing legal requirements.