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Special Needs

Royal Caribbean will begin offering Autism Channel on cruise ships


In a webcast to travel agents, Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service Vicki Freed announced Royal Caribbean will begin offering the Autism Channel on its cruise ships to meet the needs of its special needs cruisers.

The new program will begin late October 2015 on Quantum, Oasis, Freedom, Voyager and Radiance class ships.

The Autism Channel will be available via the on-demand section in guests' stateroom televisions.  There will be TV shows and short programs for children and parents.  

There will be over 35 different episodes available, ranging from 4-30 minutes in length.  Some episodes are about an hour as well.

Royal Caribbean will be the first in the hospitality industry to offer complimentary on-demand tv access to this sort of special needs programming.

10/01 UPDATE: Royal Caribbean has released more details about its Autism programming aboard its ships.

Some of the programs available for viewing are:  

  • I Am Autistic with Daniel Heinlein – Diagnosed with Asperger's as a teenager, Daniel Heinlein talks about autism with doctors, researchers, and others on the spectrum.
  • Dr. Judy – A board-certified developmental and behavioral pediatrician, Dr. Judith Aranson-Ramos, MD talks about early diagnosis and treatment for people on the spectrum.
  • Real Look Autism – From renowned executive producer Mary Beth Marsden, an unfiltered look at ASD children and their progress.
  • Direct From Autism Service Dogs America – Follow a therapy dog's journey from selection through life as a working dog.
  • The Rocket Family Chronicles – A mockumentary about the life and times of Rocket, an on-the-spectrum filmmaker and his unique family.
  • Cooking with Jana – Gluten and Casein free cooking with Chef Jana McMahon, featuring easy to make recipes low in allergens.

Programming will be initially offered in English as well as closed captioned for guests who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

“The Autism Channel is delighted that Royal Caribbean has chosen to make this valuable content available on many Royal Caribbean ships. For every one person on the autism spectrum there are six more persons directly impacted by that person. Complimentary access to The Autism Channel’s exclusive content will benefit many Royal Caribbean guests and bring more awareness to Autism,” said Jeffrey A. Kasky, president, The Autism Channel.

Special Needs Group adds Royal Caribbean ships to its ship accessibility index


Special Needs Group has announced it is adding all accessible ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet to its Web portal/accessibility content resource.  Included in the index is Royal Caribbean's newest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas, which launches in November 2014.

The Special Needs Group portal offers detailed cruise ship accessibility features and provides helpful information including:

  • Number of accessible staterooms
  • Accessible stateroom features
  • Food & Beverage venues accessibility
  • Recreational facilities accessibility
  • And more

The Royal Caribbean accessibility information launches today with sister brands Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises later this month.

For Quantum of the Seas, the portal lists 34 accessible staterooms, which have have wider doors, roll-in showers, grab bars and turning spaces.  The ship also features braille/tactile public room signage, amplified phones, lowered counters at select locations and more.

SNG President and CEO Andrew Garnett said, "By continuing to add ships/cruise lines to our accessibility content resource, we're reinforcing our corporate responsibility to help educate travel professionals, as well as the traveling public, that individuals with special needs have the ability to travel now more than ever before. The content that we create and provide is mainly informational as opposed to commercially-driven, allowing individuals with special needs to choose the most appropriate ship/cruise for them."

Vegan cruising experience on Royal Caribbean


Anyone with a special dietary restriction knows that traveling and sticking to your diet is never easy but Charu Suri posted about her experience on a three night Royal Caribbean cruise that she took to the Bahamas and shared her experience of eating vegan while on Royal Caribbean.

Going into the cruise, Suri was worried that the options for her on board would be very limited, to the point that she'd have to eat the same boring meals every day.  Moreover, she wondered if they'd even have vegan friendly alternatives, such as soy milk instead of regular milk.

As soon as Suri was onboard, her fears were dismissed after seeing how closely the Royal Caribbean chefs were not only monitoring her dietary needs but responding to them, "The chefs on board were more aware of my dietary needs than I had given them credit for. Before long, I was feasting on Indian dishes, delicately-flavored al dente pasta and crisp, almost "farm to table" quality salads."

Suri did run into a "problem" with dessert.  Before long she was getting sick of the usual offerings and decided to ask to see if there was anything else available. She asked the Head Waiter and the very next day, she had a special dessert prepared for her based on her vegan needs.

According to a 2008 Vegetarian Times survey, around 3.8% of the American population was vegetarian, and around 0.5% was vegan.  Based on her experience, it seems eating vegan on a Royal Caribbean cruise is a very practical possibility.