Cruises can be a dazzling display of lights and sound with an overwhelming amount of things to do – and for some people with autism, ADHD, PTSD, Down Syndrome and other sensory disabilities, that can lead to sensory overload.
But Carnival Cruise Line has gone out of its way to be more accommodating to its guests, and that has paid off with the company becoming the first cruise line to be certified “sensory inclusive” by KultureCity, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accessibility and inclusion for individuals with sensory needs and invisible disabilities.
All of Carnival’s South Florida-based ships are now certified, with the rest of the fleet scheduled to also earn that distinction by March of 2020.
“Carnival Cruise Line and KultureCity share a heartfelt commitment to acceptance and inclusivity,” Vicky Rey, Carnival’s vice president of guest care and communications and the company’s ADA Responsibility Officer, said in a statement. “Working together, all of our guests can maximize their enjoyment and be the truest versions of themselves during their time on board.”
KultureCity co-founder Dr. Julian Maha echoed her thoughts.
“We’re proud and grateful to partner with Carnival Cruise Line, offering guests with sensory needs an opportunity to more fully enjoy their vacations and create wonderful memories with their friends, families and loved ones,” he said. “We appreciate Carnival Cruise Line for taking this important step in making their vacations accessible to everyone.”
Carnival’s rollout of the sensitivity training began in October. Hundreds have been trained to understand and help adults, youth and children with sensory-related questions or needs.
In addition, KultureCity sensory bags are available for check out for the duration of the cruise and contain a variety of items to help calm, relax and manage sensory overload.
Items include comfortable noise-canceling headphones (provided by Puro Sound Labs), fidget toys and a visual feeling thermometer (produced in conjunction with Boardmaker), as well as a KultureCity VIP lanyard to help staff easily identify guests.
These measures have proven to already be helpful in the more than 450 landside venues like stadiums, arenas and amusement parks that have partnered with KultureCity.
“Carnival Cruise Line is to be commended for training their staff about autism and offering sensory bags that will enable individuals with autism and their families to have an enjoyable cruise,” said Dr. Temple Grandin, a renowned autism advocate and author, and one of the first individuals on the autism spectrum to document the insights she gained from her personal experience with autism.