By: James Shillinglaw
Carnival Cruise Line has become the first cruise operator to be certified “sensory inclusive” by KultureCity, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accessibility and inclusion for individuals with sensory needs and invisible disabilities. The rollout of the program started in October and all of Carnival’s South Florida-based ships are certified, with the balance of the fleet scheduled to be completed by March 2020.
As part of a comprehensive fleetwide training program, hundreds of guest-facing team members, including guest services personnel and youth staff, have been trained to understand and help adults, youth and children with sensory related questions or needs relating to conditions such as Autism, ADHD, Down syndrome, PTSD, etc.
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 cancelling 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 be helpful in the more than 450 landside venues like stadiums, arenas and amusement parks that have partnered with KultureCity. Carnival says that since the program has been implemented aboard the first wave of its ships, feedback from guests and their families has been overwhelmingly positive. Once on board, guests should inquire at the Guest Services desk to inquire about borrowing a sensory bag and any other accommodations that are available.
Informational videos featuring actor Christopher Gorham, a member of the KultureCity board of directors, designed to create greater awareness among all guests, are playing on in-stateroom televisions on the line’s six certified ships and will expand across the fleet as the program rolls out to other ships.
“Carnival Cruise Line and KultureCity share a heartfelt commitment to acceptance and inclusivity. Working together, all of our guests can maximize their enjoyment and be the truest versions of themselves during their time on board,” said Vicky Rey, Carnival’s vice president of guest care and communications and the company’s ADA Responsibility Officer.
In addition to the KultureCity certification, Carnival will be the first cruise operator to complete an additional special needs certification program offered by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). The IBCCES program includes 17 continuing education units (CEUs) of training in a variety of special needs, such as Autism, Down Syndrome, mobility issues, and various other disabilities.
In addition, Carnival’s youth staff have different resources on hand to help soothe, calm and entertain children participating in our youth programs, such as weighted vests, conversation cards, sensory games and other aids.
“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,” 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.
For more information on the KultureCity program, visit the Guests with Disabilities page on www.Carnival.com.
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