Monday, May 19, 2014

Royal Caribbean Ships Certified as “Autism Friendly”

Autism on the Seas is an organization that arranges and staffs cruise and land resort vacations for families with special needs children including autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other developmental impairments. Autism on the Seas recently awarded Royal Caribbean ""autism-friendly"" certification, which makes it the first cruise line to receive this distinction.

So, what does this mean to a family with an autistic child that books their next cruise vacation with Royal Caribbean? It means that these families can be confident that all Royal Caribbean ships have autism friendly products and services that will help accommodate family members with autism.  Families will appreciate the priority check-in, boarding and departure, special dietary accommodations, Adventure Ocean Youth Program specialized grouping and Adventure Ocean toilet-trained policy exception.

Right now Royal Caribbean holds “bronze” level certification, but my late this year the cruise line hopes to be upped to “silver”. “Silver” status ensures that Adventure Ocean youth staff will have received basic awareness training in autism and other developmental disabilities Features that are being added include autism friendly movies when there are a least five children with autism onboard.  This means that films will be shown in a low-lit / low-volume environment in which guests can freely talk and get up and walk around during the showing. The cruise line looks forward to making appropriate toys available for lending as well as scheduled activities for children of all abilities. Written or visual guides will be made available to help families better prepare for the cruise experience.

Accommodating the needs of the growing and underserved autism community is a defining moment in the travel industry. Royal Caribbean’s initiative to accommodate this population should be commended, as it will open the door towards filling the gap for special needs families looking for a vacation with consideration made for their wide range of unique requirements.

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