Monday, September 14, 2015
Cruising with Autism
Taking vacations with children or adults who have special needs can be very difficult to plan and execute. Between crowds, long wait times, over stimulation and an unfamiliar environment vacations can be a scary and stressful situation for some.
Many companies have started to better accommodate families with special needs. Today I wanted to focus on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and their Autism Certification. Below you will find some FAQ.
What is Autism Friendly Certification?
Autism Friendly Certification is awarded by Autism on the Seas TM to cruise lines for their efforts to ensure their products and services are accessible for inclusion and participation by the autism and developmental disability. Royal Caribbean’s fleet has achieved Silver Level Autism Friendly Certification.
What does Autism Friendly Certification include?
Autism Friendly Certification includes achievement in up to seven areas, such as cruise line staff training, youth program services, pre-vacation planning and services, dining and dietary needs, disability accommodations, guest satisfaction and feedback, and support for “autism group cruises with staff.” There are four levels of certification, each progressing with increased levels of staff training.
What does Bronze Level Certification include?
Bronze Level Certification confirms the ship’s readiness to accommodate guests with autism and other development disabilities to provide equal access to onboard services and amenities. Features vary by ship.
What does Silver, Gold and Diamond Level certification include?
Silver, Gold and Diamond Levels focus on increased staff training. Silver Level ensures that all Youth Staff have received basic awareness training in autism and other developmental disabilities. Gold Level ensures that all Youth Staff have received advanced training, and we provide other shipboard staff with basic awareness training. Diamond Level ensures that we provide “hands-on” training for our Youth Staff.
How does Autism Friendly Certification impact families with autism?
Families living with autism sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Autism Friendly Certified ships can be confident that Royal Caribbean has autism friendly products and services that will help accommodate family members with autism.
AUTISM FRIENDLY FEATURES
What do you offer for families living with autism?
We currently provide a range of autism friendly products and services, and they include: • Priority check-in, boarding and departure • Special dietary accommodations including gluten-free • Adventure Ocean flexible grouping by ability for children 3 to 11 years old • Adventure Ocean toilet-trained policy exception • Pagers/Phones for parents of children in Adventure Ocean program while signed into our care (subject to availability)
What’s changing in terms of what you offer families living with autism?
We have added new Autism Friendly features such as: • Autism Friendly Films • Autism Friendly Toy Lending • Autism Friendly Activities • Cruising Social Story
What are Autism Friendly Films?
Autism Friendly Films are presented in a low-lit and low volume environment. Guests are encouraged to freely talk and walk around during the film. These films will be offered on all autism group cruises and cruises when there are at least five children with autism onboard. Dates and times will be highlighted in the Cruise Compass.
What is Autism Friendly Toy Lending?
Autism Friendly Toy Lending is available in our Adventure Ocean Youth Program on all ships. Upon request we will provide a tote bag of autism friendly toys that may be used in Adventure Ocean or in their stateroom. Parents may select other autism friendly toys that are more appropriate for their child. Examples of Autism Friendly Toys include: non-toxic crayons, markers, water colors, building blocks, dominoes, and picture books.
What are Autism Friendly Activities?
We offer activities in for children of all abilities. Families are encouraged to consult with Adventure Ocean staff regarding any special needs that their children may have in order to identify which activities are appropriate for their child and any possible modifications.
What is a Social Story?
A Social Story is a written or visual guide describing various social interactions, situations, behaviors, skills or concepts. These Social Stories help individuals with autism to better cope with social situations. Royal Caribbean offers a Cruising Social Story about cruising to help families with autism prepare for their cruise vacation. To get our Cruising Social Story, please go to our website at RoyalCaribbean.com/AutismFriendly
What do you offer for teens with autism?
• Expedited check-in, boarding and departure • Special dietary accommodations including gluten-free • Autism Friendly Toy Lending • Autism Friendly Films • Social Story • Our Teen Program with teen-only hangouts and activities. Please note while some activities are hosted, they do not provide supervision or one on one attention. (Adults are not permitted in Teen spaces.)
What do you offer for adults with autism?
• Expedited check-in, boarding and departure • Special dietary accommodations including gluten-free • Autism Friendly Toy Lending • Autism Friendly Films • Social Story • Our Cruise Activities Program. Please note while some activities are hosted, they do not provide supervision or one on one attention (Adults are not permitted in Teen or Adventure Ocean spaces.)
AUTISM FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATIONS
What if my family member has difficulty waiting in line?
Please notify one of our pier or shipboard staff members for assistance. Please let us know you have a family member with autism and he or she is unable to wait in line. We’ll do our best to assist you. What if my family member has a special dietary need?
We offer gluten free and casein (dairy) free options as well as accommodate other special dietary needs. Gluten free options are listed on our main dining room menus. Check with your Head Waiter for assistance with selecting appropriate menu items. We can accommodate most food allergies in the main dining room. Once you are on the ship, speak with our Head Waiter to discuss your allergies and review your menu selections for the next day. For complex food allergies contact our Access Department for assistance. Please note we may not be able to accommodate all food allergies.
What if my family member requires one on one attention?
We are unable to provide continuous one on one attention. We will discuss different options with you on how to best accommodate your family member.
For current pricing and offers visit www.LoveLandandSea.com