Carnival Cruise Line is joining the ranks of the sensory-inclusive to help guests with autism, ADHD, PTSD, Down syndrome and other disorders.
Carnival announced earlier this week that the crews of six ships based out of Miami and Fort Lauderdale have been certified as sensory-inclusive by KultureCity, an Alabama-based nonprofit group that promotes accessibility.
The current list of certified Carnival ships includes the Carnival Sunrise, which is based at Fort Lauderdale, as well as the following Miami-based vessels: Carnival Horizon, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Magic and Carnival Victory.
Spokesman Vance Gulliksen told USA TODAY that employees on the rest of Carnival’s fleet will be certified by March 2020.
So what does it mean for a cruise ship to be sensory-inclusive?
Hundreds of guest-facing staffers – including those in guest services and those who work directly with children through Carnival’s Camp Ocean youth programs – are available to answer questions about how various attractions might affect people with those sensory issues. In addition, youth staffers are trained on how to tell the difference between sensory overload and a tantrum and react accordingly so they can calm the child. They’re also equipped with gear such as weighted vests, sensory games and conversation cards to facilitate communication.
“We appreciate Carnival Cruise Line for taking this important step in making their vacations accessible to everyone,” said Dr. Julian Maha, the co-founder of KultureCity.
In addition, KultureCity has curated “sensory bags” that guests can check out for use during their Carnival cruises, free of charge. The kits include noise-canceling headphones, fidget toys, a visual feeling thermometer that helps guests express their emotional state non-verbally and a lanyard to make it easy for trained crew members to find and assist them. Guests interested in checking out a bag can inquire at guest services.
“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,” autism advocate Dr. Temple Grandin said in a press release.
Earlier this year, a Universal Studios worker in Orlando who had undergone similar training was praised for her handling of an autistic boy who became upset when a ride was closed.
“She got down on the floor WITH HIM,” the boy’s mom, Lenore Koppelman wrote in a May Facebook post that later went viral. “She rested next to him while he cried his heart out, and she helped him breathe again…She told people to keep on walking around them, so they would stop standing there and staring. And then she told him it was okay for him to be sad and feel this way.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY