Cruising is a great way to enjoy a fun family vacation but when it comes to accommodating special needs, they sometimes leave a lot to be desired. Royal Caribbean is hard at work to change that and make the high seas accessible for everyone with its autism-friendly ships.
The cruise line has taken great care to accommodate disabilities of all kinds by allowing service dogs, providing accessible shore excursions, accessible staterooms and specially designed in-room alert systems so hearing-impaired guests can easily be alerted to door knocking and alarms.
They’ve also gone the extra mile to create a fun and safe environment for families living with a variety of developmental disabilities, like autism and down syndrome. Its specially trained staff receives Autism on the Seas awareness training to educate them on a wide range of needs autistic passengers and their families may experience.
Participating in the autism-friendly cruising experience starts before check-in with the Cruising Social Story, downloaded from the Royal Caribbean website beforehand. It’s a great combination of visual and written tools to help children prepare for the experience so they know what to expect throughout the trip and don’t forget to bring their favorite comfort items from home.
Once on board, families with children on the autism disability spectrum are greeted with expedited check-in, boarding and departure to avoid those overwhelming crowds and wait times. The on-board chefs can easily accommodate special dietary needs and there are a variety of autism-friendly activities available. The autism channel is available on most of the line’s many ships. It is an on-demand television service that streams an endless supply of educational and entertaining specialty programming.
Youth activity groups are a great way for kids to enjoy the cruising experience and make new friends by interacting with other kids their age. This not only gives them a kid-friendly experience but also lets mom and dad have some much-needed alone time. Royal Caribbean’s autism-friendly Ships offer the Adventure Ocean youth program for kids aged 3-11. These youth groups are designed to meet each child’s specific needs by assigning them to a group dedicated to their specific abilities.
Parents of kids participating in the Adventure Ocean youth program are equipped with an on-board pager so they can be instantly notified if their child needs some emergency mom and dad support to help them through a difficult situation.
If you are looking for an even more supportive cruising environment to meet the needs of your family, Autism of the Seas offers staffed cruises, which provide one highly trained staff member for every three special needs guests of any age. These cruising professionals can assist with all on-board activities and even offer private activities on board. They also provide the added bonus of a private muster drill — this emergency drill is a requirement for all cruise ship passengers and can be an overwhelming experience for those on the autism spectrum. These specialty cruises need to be booked directly through Autism of the Seas in order to benefit from all the great services.
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