P&O Cruises is to go ahead with a new policy requiring wheelchairs and mobility scooters to be stored in cabins despite a complaint from a disabled passenger.
Neil Owen from Yeovil says he returned from a three-month world cruise on Aurora to find a letter from head of customer services Nick Burrows informing him that all mobility aids should be stored inside cabins from summer 2013.
He complained that this meant he would have to pay extra to travel in a wheelchair accessible cabin, suite or mini suite even though he has a folding mobility scooter.
The cruise line said the change of policy followed a two-year review of the suitability of its cabins for the storage of mobility scooters.
“Passengers are not permitted to leave such items outside of cabins, in public walkways, stairwells or any other place where they would pose a risk to the safety of anybody on board in the case of an emergency situation,” Burrows letter said.
However, the letter goes on to say that an alternative would be to bring a collapsible wheelchair which would be allowed to be stored in any cabin.
Owen said he had contacted P&O Cruises about using his folding mobility scooter, which he bought because it could be stored in a cabin wardrobe.
But he was told by customer solutions executive Emily Clark that this was “not recommended” as it would “not be obvious to other passengers, leading to complaints about a perceived inconsistency of approach”.
To cruise with the company from next summer he must use one of a limited number of disabled cabins or upgrade to a mini-suite at an extra cost.
This he described as an “appalling state of affairs”.
A P&O Cruises spokeswoman said: “Our policy was put together based on guidance from qualified risk assessors, legal firms specialising in disability issues, and feedback from various disability bodies including some of our regular passengers who have some involvement in this area.
“We can only apologise if Mr Owen remains dissatisfied but for the time being, we are not in a position to make any changes to the policy.”
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