As a parent to a child with Down syndrome, I understand first-hand the hard work that goes into traveling with children with special needs.
From choosing the proper family activities to planning enough rest time into each day and constantly being aware of when situations may cause sensory overload – my thought process never stops making sure we are providing the right environment for Molly’s needs.
One of my family’s favorite way to vacation is cruising – we love the ease of waking up each morning in a new destination and letting someone else be in charge of cooking each night is always a bonus too. It is a way of traveling that my girls are familiar with and Molly feels comfortable here too.
We’ve always had great experiences with Carnival Cruise Line and their crew being aware of Molly and her needs and our hopes for inclusion in activities. She’s always been welcome with open arms at Camp Ocean and all areas of the ship. They are committed to making sure everyone has FUN — and boy, Molly definitely knows how to have fun.
I was thrilled to read recently that 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.
This just furthers my belief that Carnival wants everyone to have fun – no matter their disabilities.
What is KultureCity?
As a nonprofit organization, KultureCity works with destinations in dedicating accessibility and inclusion for individuals with sensory needs and all types of disabilities, seen and invisible.
More than 450 landside venues like stadiums, arenas and amusement parks have partnered with KultureCity. They’ve created changes in communities allowing all abilities to feel comfortable in their environment.
What is Available for Individuals?
As part of Carnival’s 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.
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.
Carnival’s youth staff also have different resources on hand to help soothe, calm and entertain children participating in youth programs, such as weighted vests, conversation cards, sensory games and other aids.
While it was a learning experience for our family, the first time we set sail with Molly on her first cruise — I feel like we’ve really settled into a groove of what to expect from her and how she handles different situations.
I’m thrilled with this recent news of Carnival Cruise Line partnering with KultureCity. The more at ease and comfortable those with sensory needs and disabilities feel during vacation can impact an entire family. I applaud Carnival for recognizing this and knowing that everyone deserves to have FUN — no matter their needs and abilities.