Having cruised on both Oceania and Holland America I can share my own experiences as a hard of hearing person.
Oceania provided absolutely no assistance. Period.
Holland America on the other hand, did provide minimalistic accommodation.
Unfortunately, most cruise ships are of European origin and are not subject to Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which states that individuals with disabilities are entitled to “full and equal enjoyment” of the services of a “public accommodation."
My observations aboard my recent cruise aboard Holland America:
Television: While the “LG” TV had a CC button on the remote control, nothing on any channels was captioned. There was a DVD player in the room and with more than 1,000 movie titles available to watch, they all had subtitles. I spent a lot of time watching them.
Safety/alerting: I requested safety assistive listening devices for my room and was provided a TTY, door knock, smoke, fire, sensor and a few other devices strobes and horns.
Public Places: With dozens of meeting rooms the only place that had any hearing assistance was in the main theater where nightly entertainment was provided. I was able to check out an FM Receiver (72 mHz) and a neckloop to use during performances. Nowhere else on the (2000 passenger) ship would this receiver work.
Emergency/public announcements: All key personnel aboard the ship spoke with a variation of foreign accents. Announcements on both the TV and the ships intercom were next to impossible to understand.
Dining room: Many wonderful dishes were offered from the many buffets. There were no signs to identify any of the food choices. Passengers had to ask the servers what the items were. Again, these servers had accents and for the most part I was unable to understand what they were saying.
I made an appointment with the cruise director to discuss hearing accommodation and when I informed him that 35% of folks over 60 years of age had significant hearing loss, he actually listened to what I had to say. He said he would pass the word up to the proper authorities.
He was especially excited about “Looping” after I told him I had set up a temporary loop in my stateroom. He said Holland America is presently building two new ships and said he’d love to see loops installed during construction.
Somehow we (hard of hearing) need to get the word out to the major loop installers to aggressively pursue the company to get this done. The cruise director said that from what I had told him, he thought it (looping) would be a MAJOR enticement to win elderly (and other hard of hearing) folks to cruise with Holland America. He also plans to push captioning of all on-board announcements and TV programming.
If you want more information about 'Looping' or anything else regarding hearing loss, please contact ALOHA, the Adult Loss of Hearing Association at email@example.com or call 795-9887. You may visit our website at: www.alohaaz.org.