March 30, 2020

CC BY-NC-ND by Steven Tan (maethlin)

Royal Caribbean – a leading travel organization has recently unveiled its first official autism-friendly cruise line.

Ron Pettit, manager of ADA and Accessibility Compliance for Royal Caribbean International told ABC news:

“When you think about accessibility on a cruise line, you often think about physical, visual and hearing disabilities,”

He continued to add that they wanted to include services for everyone.

The company has been following guidelines provided by Autism on the Seas, the leading travel organization catering to vacationers with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Mike Sobbell, founder and president of Autism on the Seas said:

“We’ve been doing this for seven years now and what we’ve all learned is that there are so many families out there that don’t think [a cruise vacation] is an option for them,”

He continued to say:

“But it’s actually very easy to adapt a cruise to special needs. And it’s one of the only destinations where you have so many different things contained in the same space.”

Royal Caribbean autism friendly steps include a social story picture book that helps introduce the cruise to a child with autism and provide information about planning for and during the cruise.

There are also youth programs, trained day care staff and meals that reflect the dietary restrictions of people with autism.

Amenities also include special autism movie screenings, less stressful processes for boarding and disembarking.

“For some people with autism, transitions and changes in routine can be very difficult,” said Lisa Goring, executive VP of programs and services for Autism Speaks, which partnered with JetBlue in 2013 to provide realistic air travel practice for those with autism. “New surroundings and not having a known schedule or routine can make the travel difficult.”

The original article on the ABC news website can be found here

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