First autism-friendly ship launches
A leading charity that specialises in providing children and young adults that have special needs and requirements – particularly autism – has confirmed that the first cruise vessel accredited by the organisation has set sail.
Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas was the first ship to depart port after Autism of the Seas confirmed that the operator’s entire fleet meets its criteria for providing cruises for people with the disorder.
The two organisations worked very closely together over a number of months, and now vessels sailing under the Royal Caribbean flag will offer sensory-related toys, autism-friendly activities, autism-friendly films as well as priority boarding and dietary offerings that include gluten-free and dairy-free options.
However, the good news doesn’t stop there, with the initiative also sparking a ‘Cruise with Staff’ trip leaving New Orleans on March 8th that specially caters for people with autism.
Ron Pettit, Royal Caribbean’s manager of ADA & Access Compliance, was keen to say that the cruise line will work hard to meet every individual request made aboard its vessels.
“Each and every person with autism is a little different. It’s not a cookie cutter accommodation process,” he insisted.
One of the techniques used to familiarise autistic children with unfamiliar surroundings aboard the ship is a personalised story book folder that covers everything from the stateroom to the muster drill, giving them an idea of what they can expect in each room.
Mike Sobbell, founder and president of Autism on the Seas, commented: “This shows a cruise line is actually committed to and will provide services and an expectation will be there. Our working relationship with Royal Caribbean has been top of the line, bar none.”
The cruise operator is hoping to attain the silver accreditation by the end of the year, which will involve providing staff members with specialised training for when they are with autistic children.