Autism Friendly Cruise Line Standard & Certification Program - Overview
The "Autism Friendly Cruise Line" Program has been designed for cruise lines to ensure their pre-cruise and onboard services, venues and amenities are accessible for inclusion and participation by the autism and developmental disability community. Training development for Youth Staff and other Shipboard Staff are customized to each cruise line and is included as part of the Certification process.
Specifically for Guests:
- Your Request - For Ships/Cruise Lines to be Certified
- Your Feedback - Tell us about your Cruising Experience
The Autism Friendly Standard was designed and is maintained by the "Autism on the Seas Foundation" (AotSF) in conjunction with the volunteer efforts of the Austism on the Seas (AotS) Advisory Team, as a guideline for cruise lines to ensure their pre-cruise and onboard services, venues and amenities are accessible for inclusion and participation by the autism and developmental disability community. The reasonable accommodations to comply with this Standard are, and can be, customized to each cruise line’s policies, procedures and ships, to ensure sustainability and effectiveness in retaining the scope and intent of the certification. Certifications to the Standard are awarded by individual ship, although the Bronze Level Certification can be acheived fleet wide by a cruise line at one time. Depending on the certification level, ships are required to conform to seven areas:
1. Cruise Staff Training (see "Training" below)
2. Youth Program
3. Pre-Vacation Planning & Services
5. Disability Accommodations
6. Guest Satisfaction & Feedback
7. Support for “Cruises with Autism on the Seas Staff”
The Autism on the Seas Foundation develops and provides Training modules to support the required Certification Levels (see below). These training modules are video based (but can also be provided as a manual or automatic slide show to conform with any cruise line required format) and include short quizzes at the end. Our IT staff works hand in hand with cruise line Human Resources, Training and IT personnel to integrate these training modules into any cruise lines Training Program.
The Autism on the Seas Foundation customizes the Training Modules to include each cruise lines terminology and policies so the content is relational and personalized for cruise staff. With the volunteer assistance from "Autism on the Seas" years of experience in working with cruise lines, their staff, policies and procedures ensure that the training modules are extremely effective. Our Training modules are uniquely designed and tailored for the cruise industry and cruise industry personnel.
There are four (4) Autism Friendly Standard Certification Levels as described below.
See "The Standard" for more detail.
Services and Amenities
|Youth Staff Training||Ship Staff Training &
Youth Staff Advanced Training
Accommodated Services and Amenities - Confirms the ship’s readiness to accommodate guests with autism and other developmental disabilities to provide equal access to onboard services and amenities. Some of the reasonable accommodations include providing sensory related toys, a cruise social story, autism friendly modification to youth activities (where appropriate), autism friendly movies, expedited boarding, modified muster drill, dietary offerings (including GFCF), guest feedback review by the Autism on the Seas Foundation, several modifications to services for groups of guests with special needs, and more. An entire fleet can achieve Bronze Certification at the same time.
Youth Staff Trained – Ships with Silver Certification have ensured that all Youth Staff onboard have received basic awareness training in autism and other developmental disabilities, including instruction on basic engagement and communication as well as safety and crisis prevention techniques.
Ship Staff & Youth Staff Advanced Training – Gold Certification ensures that ship staff (other than Youth Staff) who work directly with guests (such as dining services, sports/recreation, security, and guest relations) have received basic awareness training in addition to customized training relative to their job functions as it pertains to their potential interactions with guests who may have autism or other developmental disabilities. Ships with Gold Certification also have ensured that all the Youth Staff onboard have received advanced training in Silver Level topics and additional topics to aid the staff in working with parents, and providing further supports to youth with disabilities to foster inclusive practices.
Youth Staff Hands on Training - Ships with Diamond Certification have met the criteria for Gold Certification and have also ensured that a sufficient number of Youth Staff onboard the ship have received hands-on training through the volunteer efforts from the Autism on the Seas trainers during a cruise with guests who have autism and other developmental disabilities. This hands-on training includes opportunities for observation, feedback, discussion, and reflection, in order to refine the staff members' skills and confidence in working with children who have disabilities and their families.
The Process to Certification (for cruise lines)
Autism on the Seas provides all of the services necessary to bring each and every ship in the cruise line industry to conformity.
Standard Consultation and Review - (Free of Charge)
This service provides the opportunity to review the Standard and the Certification process in a detailed manner to learn more about the Standard and what it can do for a cruise lines business. Cruise Lines who initiate this service (and their ships) will be considered as “Under Consideration for Certification” status.
Bronze Certification - Steps to Certification
1. Assessment of Current Accommodations
We can provide the means to do a self-assessment, or we can conduct the assessment for you.
2. Amending or Addition of Accommodations
The Accommodation Assessment will provide a road map of activity to be performed in order to conform to the Standard. We can assist you throughout every phase and aspect of these efforts.
3. Deployment of Accommodations
Once the accommodations are conceived and amended into standard operating practices and procedures, they can commence deployment.
4. Audit of Accommodations
Once the deployment of Accommodations are completed, we will conduct an audit to ensure compliance to the Standard.
Silver, Gold and Diamond Certification
Once Bronze Certification is obtained, the Autism on the Seas Foundation will produce customized training modules for cruise lines staff (see The Standard for more detail). Once training is completed, per ship, the appropriate level of certification is awarded.
For a customized process and agreement to render our services, please use the contact form on our Contact Us page.
Other Services Provided to Cruise Lines
Youth Staff - Our partnered travel agency, "Autism on the Seas", recruits and provide Staff that cares for Children, Teens and Adults with Special Needs onboard cruise ships. Their staff supplements the cruise line staff (Youth Centers, Teen Programs, ect). Their staffing protocols can be customized to meet the personnel requirements for each cruise line. More Info on the AotS Staff.
Consulting - We provide Developmental Disability consulting to cruise lines, to support cruise lines efforts in accommodating these special needs in compliance with the ADA.
Training - Aside from the training included with the "Autism Friendly Certification", we provide Developmental Disability care and accommodation training to cruise line personnel (shipboard and shore side), to support cruise lines efforts in accommodating these special needs in compliance with the ADA.
Partnerships - All of our services are customizable to the needs of each cruise line, and partnerships with cruise lines are available for continuous support.
For more information, or to inquire about procuring our services, please use the contact form on our Contact Us page.