Royal Caribbean is the first cruise line that has received certification from Autism on the Seas. Autism on the Seas (AoTS) is a travel organization that caters to cruisers with autism, down syndrome, and other disabilities. Royal Caribbean’s entire fleet is now Bronze Level certified “Autism Friendly”.
Mike Sobbell, the founder and president of AoTS, said that he was proud that Royal Caribbean was their first autism friendly certified partner. He is hoping that this will help bridge the gap for families with special needs.
Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the executive vice president of operations at Royal Caribbean International gave the following statement: “We are honored to be the first cruise line to achieve Autism Friendly certification. Royal Caribbean is a global leader in taking guests to unforgettable destinations and is committed to catering to vacationers of all abilities. We have worked with Autism on the Seas for more than seven years to better provide accessible cruise vacation options for families with autism.”
The Autism on the Seas is a guide for cruise lines that pertains to pre-cruise, onboard services, venues, and amenities. This guide can be customized to each cruise line so it will conform with their policies and programs. The seven categories that will apply to the cruise lines are:
- Cruise Staff Training
- Youth Program
- Pre-Vacation Planning & Services
- Disability Accommodations
- Support for ‘Cruises with Autism on the Seas Staff”
- Guest Satisfaction and Feedback
Their are four levels to the Autism friendly Certification, with each level progressing with increased staff training. The lowest certification is bronze. This level makes sure that each ship can accommodate guests with special needs and disabilities that will provide equal access to amenities and onboard services. A few of these accommodations are autism friendly movies and youth programs, priority boarding, and sensory related toys.
The silver, gold and diamond levels are focused on increased staff training. Silver level makes sure that all staff members have the basic awareness training in working with passengers with autism and other disabilities. The gold level is advanced training and the diamond is a “hands-on” training for the youth staff on each cruise ship.
A list of certified cruise ships is listed on AutismOnTheSeas.com. Also listed are details on the certification levels and criteria as well as an interactive brochure. Autism on the Seas, where vacations come true!