An empty elevator can be the most coveted space on a cruise ship, but frequent cruisers know how rare that phenomenon can be. Due to elevator crowding, the space can get particularly tense when mobility scooters are in use, especially in smaller elevators. Due to a rise in unpleasant interactions, Carnival Cruise Line is now urging respect on both sides of the elevator door.
Mobility Scooter Concerns Onboard Carnival Ships
All cruise lines deal with occasionally tense situations, but none can get more frustrating for guests than the etiquette of elevator usage. This is especially true when passengers have mobility scooters, wheelchairs, or strollers, bulky items that may take up most of an elevator’s limited space.
Carnival Cruise Line Brand Ambassador John Heald has recently addressed guests’ concerns about mobility scooters with regards to onboard elevators. Both sides of the debate can be heated – who should have priority using the elevators, and whether or not “aggressive driving” is a concern onboard.
Are Reserved Elevators the Answer?
These concerns are raised in the ongoing debate about who should have use of an elevator, depending on whether or not a guest using a mobility scooter is waiting. Should they be permitted first use of the next available elevator, regardless of whether or not other passengers have been waiting longer? Or does it depend on how full the next available elevator may be?
Frustrated guests who do require scooters have suggested that the cruise line provide a dedicated elevator for scooter use, perhaps with a crew member available to ensure compliance with who uses what elevator.
“We do not have the manpower to have a crew member reserve an elevator all day at each elevator bank just for mobility scooters,” Heald explained. “I wish we did. But I do know that most (I know not all) guests will be respectful to those guests who do need [scooters] to get about the ship.”
To station a crew member to reserve an elevator for mobility scooters is simply not feasible. Such a crew member would likely need to be on every deck – meaning a dozen or more crew members assigned to this single duty at just one elevator bank. Furthermore, most ships have several elevator banks onboard – forward, mid-ship, and aft at least – and so even more crew members would have to assume that duty.
If a cruise line opted for just one reserved elevator onboard, that would likely not satisfy many passengers, as it would require mobility scooter users to move forward and aft to a single elevator bank each time they needed to move between floors.
A single reserved elevator also would not be efficient if there are many mobility scooters on a particular sailing, as each elevator can accommodate just 1-2 scooters per trip.
Ultimately, the solution for how mobility scooter users should be accommodated on elevators comes down to courtesy. If an elevator is very full already and a scooter would not fit, other passengers can feel free to board the elevator even if they have not been waiting as long.
If the elevator is empty enough for a scooter, however, it is polite to permit the passenger on the mobility scooter to board first, as it may be several minutes before another elevator arrives that could accommodate them.
Guests who are able to ease the load on elevators may also consider taking the stairs if they are only going up or down a deck or two. In crowded areas – such as at forward elevator banks just after a production show – all guests could consider skipping the closest elevator bank and moving to another, less crowded area for more space.
Aggressive Driving Concerns
Carnival guests who do not use mobility scooters have shared a different concern with Heald, that of overly aggressive driving.
Several travelers have reported being nudged, bumped, or outright hit by mobility scooters, both in elevators and in public areas of the ship. While some scooter users do express remorse at such incidents, it seems equally common that their aggressive driving goes unacknowledged – even when other passengers may be injured by the heavy scooters.
“Can I ask mobility scooter users to please drive carefully,” Heald said. “Most of you do and are respectful to other road users, or deck users in this case. But a few do drive too quickly and this can result in a broken toe or as on a ship recently, three broken toes.”
Carnival Cruise Line’s guidelines for guests with mobility limitations explicitly states “Guests must drive at a safe speed to ensure their own safety and the safety of others on board.”
In crowded areas is can be difficult for scooter users to get by other guests without physical contact, but simply saying “Excuse me” in a loud but polite voice can easily alert others to the need for a bit more space.
Similarly, guests without scooters should remain aware of the space around them, and politely move aside if a scooter needs to get by.
As guests using scooters learn the layout of a particular ship, they could seek out better routes that offer more space, and be sure to leave early to reach activities and shows on time without needing to rush, which might accidentally cause them to hit someone.