Royal Caribbean International is First Cruise Line to Receive Certification
“Autism Friendly” Certification Ensures
Cruise Ships’ Services, Venues and Amenities are Accessible to Guests
with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities
̶̶ Autism on the Seas™ (AotS), the leading travel organization
catering to vacationers with autism and other developmental disabilities, has announced the introduction of the travel industry’s first “Autism
Friendly” Certification Standard & Training Program for cruise lines.
Royal Caribbean International is the first cruise line to receive certification
from Autism on the Seas, thereby assisting with reasonable accommodations
for inclusion and participation by guests with autism and developmental
disabilities. Effective immediately, Royal Caribbean’s entire fleet is
comprised of Bronze Level certified “Autism Friendly” ships. The
fleet is expected to achieve Silver Level certification by the end of 2014.
“Offering cruise lines a Standard that
includes training for their staff to effectively accommodate the needs
of the growing and underserved autism community marks a turning point in
the travel and cruise industry,” says Mike Sobbell, founder and president
of Autism on the Seas.
“We are very proud to bring Royal Caribbean
on as our first “Autism Friendly” Cruise Line Certified partner. Royal
Caribbean’s involvement and initiative to accommodate this community is
to be commended, and will open the door towards filling the gap for special
needs families seeking a vacation designed for their wide range of unique
"We are honored to be the first
cruise line to achieve Autism Friendly certification," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo,
executive vice president of Operations for Royal Caribbean International.
"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."
About Autism on the Seas Cruise Line
“Autism Friendly” Certification Standard & Training
Autism on the Seas Cruise Line Autism
Friendly Certification Standard is designed as a guideline for cruise lines
to ensure their pre-cruise and onboard services, venues and amenities are
accessible for inclusion and participation by the autism and developmental
disability community. The reasonable accommodations to comply with
this Standard are, and can be, customized to each cruise line’s policies,
procedures and ships, to ensure sustainability and effectiveness in retaining
the scope and intent of the certification. Certifications are awarded
by individual ship. Depending on the certification level, ships may
be required to conform to seven categories, including:
1.Cruise Staff Training
3.Pre-Vacation Planning & Services
6.Guest Satisfaction & Feedback
7.Support for “Cruises with Autism
on the Seas Staff”
Four Autism Friendly Certification Levels
There are four levels of certification,
each progressing with increased levels of staff training.
•Bronze Certification: Confirms the
ship’s readiness to accommodate guests with autism and other developmental
disabilities to provide equal access onboard services and amenities.
Some of the reasonable accommodations include providing sensory related
toys and cruise social story, autism friendly modification to youth activities
(where appropriate), autism friendly movies, priority boarding, dietary
offerings (including gluten free and dairy free), and several modifications
to services for groups of guests with disabilities.See AutismontheSeas.com
for a full list.
•Silver, Gold and Diamond Level: Focuses
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
Visit AutismOnTheSeas.com for a list
of Certified Ships, details on the Certification Standard Criteria, and
information on the first Autism on the Seas “Cruise with Staff” aboard
Royal Caribbean’s Bronze Certified “Serenade of the Seas” – departing
New Orleans on March 8th to Key West and the Bahamas (and other cruises).
About Autism on the Seas
Founded in 2006, Autism on the Seas
(AotS) is a niche travel company that organizes and staffs cruise and land
resort vacations for families and adult guests with special needs, including
autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other cognitive
and intellectual developmental impairments. The Autism on the Seas
Staff is qualified, experienced and educated in caring for special needs
individuals. These vacations offer parents and caregivers a sense
of normalcy through accommodated group activities and the daily respite
enable families to recharge and reconnect with siblings and other family
members in the household that may take a backseat to a child with special
needs. AotS also provides consultation services to cruise lines.
In February 2014, AotS launched the industry’s first Cruise Ship
“Autism Friendly” Certification Standard & Training program to provide
cruise ships with guidelines and training to effectively accommodate families
with autism and other developmental disabilities.
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