Donovan Tildesley was just settling in with a drink at the bar before the Virgin Voyages cruise ship set off from Miami on November 13 to Roatán. But staff approached him, telling him that he’d have to leave — they didn’t have the resources for a blind solo traveler like Tildesley.
An Unfortunate Experience
“They basically say, ‘We have some bad news: it’s been determined that we don’t have enough support for you as a blind solo traveler. So you’re going to need to get off this cruise,’” recalled Tildesley. “I thought, ‘Is this some sort of joke?’”
Tildesley, an insurance broker who co-owned a radio station in Whistler, said he explained that he’d been on cruises before, even traveling to Alaska alone in 2015. Before booking the cruise, he was assured that the cruise would be able to accommodate his needs, which would include having someone to guide him from his cabin to the restaurant and read printed materials. However, staff stated that the message had come from Virgin’s corporate legal team. After leaving the ship, the company set up Tildesley at a hotel in Miami.
Case Of Miscommunication
Mr. Tildesley said that Frank Weber, senior vice president of fleet operations at Voyages, then got in touch apologizing for the “miscommunication.” They offered to fly him to Honduras to meet the ship so he could board and resume the voyage. They would also compensate him for the cruise and give him a future cruise credit. But Tildesley made sure to ask them for one more thing.
“I’ve taken it one step further in that I’ve asked Frank to invite me to speak at a corporate Virgin meeting next year to talk about accessibility and inclusiveness,” he said. “Because that’s false advertising…”
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