Royal Caribbean Group is continuously working and committed to offering the most memorable and inclusive vacation experiences for guests with disabilities. An estimated 15-20 percent of the world’s population has some form of neurodivergence. Knowing that and knowing that neurodiverse guests and their families want to travel too – Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises offer the industry’s first Autism Friendly cruise experiences for their guests.
Nine years ago, we developed products and services for our neurodiverse guests with our Autism Friendly Program, which was designed to reach 1.5 million individuals with autism and their families in the United States and Canada. This award-winning program offers options for families with autism that may not have considered a cruise vacation because of specific needs their family member may have.
With the Autism Friendly Program, we offer onboard experiences that are autism friendly such as – movies, a toy lending program, activities, a cruising social story and more. To create and further develop our program, we collaborated with Autism on the Seas, a leading independent travel company serving cruise guests with autism and other needs including but not limited to Asperger syndrome, Down syndrome, and Tourette Syndrome, as well as Cerebral Palsy and other cognitive and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
During the launch of our Autism Friendly Program in 2014, we added online training for travel advisors, and developed an Autism Advisory Board. And going beyond our Autism Friendly program, Autism on the Seas offers staff assisted cruise options. Autism on the Seas staff members are specifically trained in caring for individuals with developmental disabilities, allowing for a more tailored experience with one staff member for every two to three guests with disabilities.
As a company, we reflect our readiness to accommodate guests with disabilities. Our goal is to provide the best and most accessible vacation experiences possible for our guests. We will continue to pave the way and change the narrative within the maritime industry by leading with inclusivity in all that we do.