For many, the best part about taking a cruise vacation is how much fun today’s ships can be. They have movie theaters and arcades, roller coasters and waterparks. Everywhere you go there’s something exciting and new to explore. However, the sights and sounds can be challenging for those with sensory sensitivity. A new collaboration between Carnival Cruise Line and KultureCity is putting sensory inclusion at the forefront to ensure everyone has the opportunity to fully enjoy their cruise vacation. Carnival Cruise Line is the first cruise line to be certified “sensory inclusive” by KultureCity, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accessibility and inclusion for individuals with sensory needs and invisible disabilities.
What is KultureCity?
The partnership between Carnival and KultureCity developed thanks to an overall goal of making the world a more inclusive place. KultureCity was co-founded by Dr. Julian Maha, a physician who saw the issues with a sensory exclusive world in his own family’s daily life. Since its founding, KultureCity has attracted numerous high-profile partnerships and board members including former athletes Dominique Wilkins and Tiki Barber and actor Christopher Gorham, who were drawn in by the company’s authentic drive to do good.
“We’re proud and grateful to partner with Carnival Cruise Line, offering guests with sensory needs an opportunity to more fully enjoy their vacations and create wonderful memories with their friends, families and loved ones. We appreciate Carnival Cruise Line for taking this important step in making their vacations accessible to everyone,” said Dr. Julian Maha, co-founder, KultureCity.
Living with Autism, ADHD or even PTSD means that sometimes lights, sounds or any kind of commotion can be stressful and abrasive in ways others can’t imagine. It can make enjoying things like a cruise, an amusement park or a sporting event a significant challenge. One in every six people are affected by sensory sensitivity and for Carnival, that represents a significant chunk of their millions of yearly passengers. The cruise line learned about KultureCity through America Airlines Arena where the Miami Heat basketball team play. The Heat, owned by Carnival Chairman Micky Arison, partnered with KultureCity to help make their arena more inclusive with features like sensory-inclusive rooms within the stadium.
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How Do you Make a Cruise Ship Sensory Inclusive?
After exploring synergies, Carnival saw that their ships and staff would greatly benefit from the training provided by KultureCity. Cruise ships can be sensory overload at times, but thankfully guests are never far from their cabin which offers a safe and quiet place to escape. The initial program includes computer-based staff training for Carnival employees with guest space responsibilities, but there are plans to expand training for shore-side and security staff moving forward. By March of 2020, all Carnival ships will be sensory inclusive. 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).
“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.
Along with training, Carnival also provides a really handy grab bag with some items like noise cancelling headphones, fidget toys, a lanyard to help staff identify those who might need assistance and even a feeling thermometer. These can help people with sensory sensitivity to enjoy the sometimes hectic environment found on a ship full of excited cruisers. All cruisers have to do is stop by guest services at the start of their cruise to receive the grab bag.
As Carnival and KultureCity look towards the future of cruising, it’s clear that they’re ensuring a future where everyone is part of the fun. What would you like to see from both companies moving forward? Let us know what you think of the collaboration in the comments below!