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  #21  
Old November 11th, 2013, 09:23 AM
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larronry larronry is offline
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Originally Posted by glojo View Post
I'm sorry but I have no idea what your point is. Are you suggesting you should be exempt from an emergency drill because you know what to do, or because your child is autistic?

PLEASE accept I fully understand your attitude toward your child but from what I have read it is now a requirement for all cruise ships to carry out these drills prior to sailing?

The master I believe has to sign off on this drill prior to the ship sailing and some cruise lines have actually disembarked passengers that have failed or refused to attend because of claimed medical conditions.
My statement was in reaction to many of the statements and reactions above. Please read:

Quote:
Originally Posted by tentseller View Post
There is a handicap muster station on NCL and RCCL cruises that we have been on. My father have mobility issues. That station is relatively easy to access from the accessible cabins. There are also special and extra crews to assist in a real emergency. I notice the lifeboats near this station look different (accessibility issues?)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy2cruise View Post
Not sure about a private drill but I have mobility issues and cannot stand for any length of time. Our muster drill station was out on the deck outside the casino so there was not way I could it. Spoke to the crew member in charge and he directed me to go inside the casino. There were a few other passengers there and a crew member did the drill there for us.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ducklite View Post
It's my understanding that there is no "private" muster station, however they might be able to group you with the mobility challenged passengers.

My friends who have cruised with children on the spectrum have spent a lot of time preparing in advance with social stories and gone to the regular muster.
Quote:
Originally Posted by njguy_south View Post
I have absolute sympathy with anyone who has a disability, and have had extensive personal experience with children and adults with varying degrees of autism, but one should remember that the drill is meant to show passengers where to meet during a real emergency. One should also remember that if there is a need to ever actually evacuate the ship, there will be no private, personal evacuation.

Although it may seem chaotic to a child with autism, the drill is also meant to mimic a real-life situation. This is why, in New Jersey, all school children must participate in drills, to help them to know what to expect in a true emergency.
So while I think it is wonderful that you have the utmost sympathy with the author basically what you are saying is that we (the families of those children with autism who have difficulty in handling many situations) should never ever take a vacation because so many components will need to be modified and you (and many others) don't think that is a good idea.

I never said that we should be exempt from an emergency drill but that seems to be what people think. What we are doing is utilizing the cruise-lines provided alternate muster drill and we have every right to utilize that service. And we should be able to share this information with other travelers who are unaware without being accused of wanting to get the cruise-line in trouble for not participating in the mandatory muster drill. I didn't learn of this option until my son's 5th cruise and I believe that others should learn prior to their 1st cruise.



Quote:
Originally Posted by formerjerseygirl View Post
Each and every passenger on a cruise ship attends a muster drill. If you are blessed to be an able bodied passenger this mandatory drill takes place at assigned muster stations and is the typical muster drill. However, there are passengers whose particular disability preclude the standing packed like sardines for the duration of the drill . The cruise lines have taken this into account and will provide a muster drill that allows them to participate. Would you take issue with a wounded one leg veteran being offered a chance to sit during the drill ? Of course not! An autistic individual frequently cannot tolerate the closed in conditions of the drill most passenger stand through. But rest assured, they will attend a muster drill, just not the same one as you, in the same place. There is no greater advocate, or anyone more aware of her child's safety, than the parent of an autistic child.
Beautifully said.


Quote:
Originally Posted by glojo View Post
I cannot stand unaided, nor indeed sit!!

And YES I will be attending this mandatory drill and most definitely not be asking for ANY dispensation but where does it say we cannot sit if there is a medical reason for so doing, although I might tactfully suggest that sitting may well see us getting trampled in a real drill\panic

This drill is a mandatory requirement that ALL passengers on a Cunard ship have to attend (or so I was told by the senior medical officer) For this muster I will be in excruciating pain (somewhat controlled by long term morphine medication) Because of the trauma my body will no doubt be put through getting to this muster my body will suffer prolonged violent spasms, but I will have learnt how to get to my muster station in a crowd, without using a lift!! something I will need to know should a real emergency arise and something I will have learnt about by doing this drill.

I will not be asking for any type of dispensation, I will most certainly not be playing any type of disability card, nor asking to be excused. I opted to go on a cruise, my choice, my decision. I knew I had to do these drills and if I did not like the rules of the game then I had the option of not playing. Are these drills are for our benefit?
I commend your choice for not wanting dispensation however you are not going to scream at the top of your lungs, hit, bite, kick, or scratch those around you are you?

Can you sit during the drill well that depends and I'm not familiar with your cruiseline's procedure however during the part where you stand by the lifeboats (if it occurs during the entire drill or after meeting in a public room, or not at all) no you cannot sit as there are no seats. I was yelled at for getting on the ground with my son while I restrained him because that was not procedure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by glojo View Post
The crew has a duty to get me to my station and I want to learn how that is done and possibly offer constructive observations if needed to help them perform this unenviable task.
Most likely won't happen on such an individual basis during the drill but will be discussed and arrangements made during the alternative location if needed.



Quote:
Originally Posted by glojo View Post
I do know however that if I did have such a child, I would personally attend this muster, and this is where we are different....
If you are attending the muster drill and your child is not just curious but who is watching your child?

Let those of us with experience in dealing with this population help others dealing with these difficulties and leave out the ones that just don't and can't have an understanding of what it is like being told so many times just keep your child under lock and key at home if being out in the world is so difficult and interfering to others.

signed,

Mom with a black belt in autism
Board Certified Behavior Analyst
28 years experience working with the autism population
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  #22  
Old November 11th, 2013, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by larronry View Post
My son with autism has been on 5 cruises (he is now 8) both before and after diagnosis. There are many issues during the muster drill that can affect our kids and we parents ask for accommodations not just for us but for the safety of those around us during a drill.

So that those without autistic family members understand I will share some past experiences. First the orange life vest. Now I have no idea how I will manage should I ever need to evacuate the boat but everyone else can where one, I cannot. He will scream bloody murder at the top of his lungs. Many cruise lines no longer require these be brought to the muster drill and I hope there are very few people like my husband who has no clue how to put it on.
May I very respectfully ask a few questions as you have left me confused.

Does the ship have a legal requirement to carry out these drills prior to the ship sailing?

Do you want an exception to be made for the condition of your child?

You say the following:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larronry
I commend your choice for not wanting dispensation however you are not going to scream at the top of your lungs, hit, bite, kick, or scratch those around you are you?

Can you sit during the drill well that depends and I'm not familiar with your cruise-line's procedure however during the part where you stand by the lifeboats (if it occurs during the entire drill or after meeting in a public room, or not at all) no you cannot sit as there are no seats. I was yelled at for getting on the ground with my son while I restrained him because that was not procedure.
I have highlighted two points which have left me confused..

You state your son will:

scream at the top of their lungs, hit, bite, kick, or scratch those around you

The cruise line we are sailing with asks at the time of booking to declare any serious disabilities that passengers might have. Does this requirement apply to the companies you sail with? If so, then no doubt you informed them of your son's condition and behaviour? I say this as I believe we all have a duty toward not just our families, but also our fellow shipmates and of course the crew?

Once we report our conditions and the cruise line accept our booking, then do they then have a responsibility of care toward our safety and well being?

I have no idea if the cruise lines you sail with ask about medical conditions or disabilities so PLEASE do not read anything into what I have just said.

You then ask me the following:

Quote:
So while I think it is wonderful that you have the utmost sympathy with the author basically what you are saying is that we (the families of those children with autism who have difficulty in handling many situations) should never ever take a vacation because so many components will need to be modified and you (and many others) don't think that is a good idea.
I hate using children as examples so will use myself and yes these symptoms are real and not exaggerated..

I want to go on a mountaineering holiday with a reputable company.

I am severely disabled, cannot walk unaided, I am in terrible, continual pain only controlled by the strongest of medications. My lower body will frequently go into spasms so violent that they sprain my pesky ankles and I have numerous bruises all over my legs where my daft feet knock ten bells out of each other.

I still however want to go on this holiday with this company that advertises those beautiful breaks. (no pun intended)

Should I insist on going on or would this be an adventure too far? Should I be saying what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Why can't this company to use your words....

Quote: '''Modify certain components""

I have no idea how severe your son's condition is and can only go by your description. I do know how bad my condition is and the above suggestion is never going to happen. This holiday will be our firsdt in 25 years as my condition has just improved enough to get the required clearances from the cruise line.

Quote:
Next issue I've gone early, I've explained to the staff. The result was time to line up we end up on the back line being mushed the longest and between the touching, the looks, the talking, the smells he struggles and I usually ended up restraining him struggling to prevent him from hitting, kicking, and biting those around us. Result was I got yelled at for not following directions.
If your cruise company has accepted your booking then surely the ship has a responsibility of care and whilst I believe these drills have to be complied with, if theyare too traumatic, then surely someone should be saying enough is enough and perhaps this is not the best of ideas?? Are these drills for our benefit?

If we can't swim should we go swimming?

Again please try to accept I am NOT being clever, or sarcastic, I am hopefully asking a polite number of questions to better understand the points you are trying to make

Next question..

I am not having a go at you here but by going to these drills early are we not devaluing them and might I ask 'what are we achieving?' Is the drill to simply equate us with where we have to stand? If so why hold a drill? Why not simply tell folks to make themselves acquanted with that location?

I would like to think this is a drill to make sure the crew are competent at clearing the ship in a specific period of time and ensuring no one has been overlooked? If this is the case then by making exceptions, they have by default failed to meet this stipulation?

Again these are my thoughts and not me advocating policy... Are we passengers best off keeping our mouths firmly closed and solely complying with instructions giving to us by the crew? If issues do arise then of course we speak out and hopefully try to clarify any issue.

Before you jump down my throat I 100% accept things will be difficult for you but if the ship is forewarned, regarding your child's condition then is there a chance the ship might prepare a plan?? I am saying this as I have already had a nice letter from the Special Needs Office of our cruise line explaining what aids they have available for me and what else might I need during this cruise!!

When you go to your emergency station the crew might be aware you may need special aid, help or anything else to make this experience acceptable and with any luck they will do their best to make this as easy as is practicle.. BUT when that alarm sounds we surely must all have a duty to attend our station be it a drill or for real?

By making an exception and having a separate drill does the captain contravene the latest legislation that insists on this event happening prior to the ship sailing?

I am not picking on you and it must be distressing for you to endure this, but are you the person making the booking? If we do not carry out these drills are we asking for another fiasco similar to the Costa Concordia? I am NOT talking about the collision, I am talking about the lack of compliance shown by a significant number of passengers who on the many, many video clips I watched showed a complete lack of knowledge regarding what to do?

In their defence these passengers will understandably admit to have not attended their emergency drill, simply because the ship had sailed a few hours earlier and these drills were due to be done the following day As per my previous post.... Train hard, fight easy.... By being blaise about these drills there can be an extremely high price to pay and in the above example this incident occured just hours after the ship put to sea

Are these safety drills for our benefits, yours, mine and your son's? If the cruise company say you are exempt then whilst I accept that decision, I most certainly do not agree with it!!! Our children are the most valuable gift we will ever get and I take my duty of care as seriously as you and every other parent.

Me thinking aloud
If my child objected to a yellow life jacket then I would buy my very own child's yellow life jacket (to be kept at home) and then gently encourage them to wear it. This would be done in a nice, safe secure location at home where we can make a game of this issue and then hopefully when we board the ship they will not be so traumatised when they have to wear this 'plaything'. I might even have a 'Captain's' hat that my child would wear at home when we play this game and when we go to a ship's organised drill, I might think about bringing that hat with us and allowing my child to wear it?? Again this is me thinking aloud about my son and NOT anyone elese's child. I am just thinking that usually there is more than one way to skin a custard tart!! .

You are the expert regarding this condition and I am NOT trying to teach you to suck eggs. Is a cruise line giving separate drills failing in their duty of care, and are they are also letting you down!!!! I say this in a sympathetic manner and whilst I understand why it would be easier for all concerned to let you have a seperate drill....

If God forbid this were to happen for real, then all those around you are already in a high state of tension and having a child quote: scream at the top of their lungs, hit, bite, kick, or scratch those around you?
Is possibly not going to go down very well?

Are you then going to explain your child's condition? With the greatest of respect I can only begin to imagine how distressing this all will be with everyone around us in a high degree of stress and maybe panic!!, Whereas if you carry out this required drill with everyone present then at least they are aware of the situation and might hopefully be supportive towards you both?

Apologies for this long post but we are discussing something that may well be a life or death issue. I can understand why the crew might tell you off for laying on the floor with your child as it definitely puts you both at risk but surely this would be the ideal time to say... "What do you suggest"

If your child gets distressed by waiting in the queue then are there any other options and I don't mean making you exempt. This is me throwing ideas into the pot..

Would an option be to suggest you make an early entry into your specific lifeboat? Note this is a question and only offered as a brainstorming type suggestion to encourage folks to offer more constructive advice.. This is your child and what ideas do you have? Remember we are talking about an emergency situation where lives are at risk.

Is there a location where you could sit in the full knowledge you will not get trampled on? Somewhere with steel supports, bulkheads, pillars or posts.

Again I am politely asking and let's use me as the proverbial guinea pig..

I cannot stand unaided and even if I did have this aid, I would black out after 10 - 15 minutes. I am saying this solely to highlight that standing for me is not an option and no ammount of shouting is going to perform a surgical miracle and get me standing. What is good enough for me must be good enough for anyone else. If I have to lay down on the floor then why can't anyone else with a medical condition that demands this? Hopefully I will not be used as a doormat!!

I got the feeling that my reservations were considered at great length and it might easily have been refused. If it had, then this refusal would have been made in good faith and would have been something I would have accepted. In life do we sometimes just have to accept that we are all not going to become astronauts?

Finally.... whewwww
Some folks believe that autism is a horrible ailment that has awful consequences but this person who I am guessing you are familiar with suffered terribly from this condition and could not speak until she was three and a half. click She had those issues that you have discussed but it is also fair to suggest she was definitely not wrapped up in cotton wool. Her story definitely fetches a tear to the eye and if folks ever get the chance to watch the film about her life... It is really worth watching

As I said at the beginning of this long post.... If we get clearance from the cruise line regarding any type of medical condition, then to me, NO PASSENGER has the right to poke their oar in! If the cruise line does not need notification then they should!!! I say that in the nicest of ways as whilst we might know all there is to know about these conditions, we do not know enough about ship's husbandry.

Hopefully you are taking this post in the spirit it was wrote and if I have accidentally caused offence then that rests with my inability to put my thoughts into words that are tactful enough to deal with this issue.

Good luck with that seventh cruise?? (or sixth)

Regards
John
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  #23  
Old November 11th, 2013, 04:07 PM
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My son has severe anxiety and can not be in a small space and around loads of people for a long period of time. Carnival has always helped out by giving us an alternative space.
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  #24  
Old November 11th, 2013, 04:31 PM
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Wow! I think that a couple of the posts above go far beyond answering the question originally posted.

The OP explained quite clearly that she did intend to attend a muster with her autistic child, and that she had already contacted Special Needs. However, as her child does not do well in crows and there have been problems in the past, she was seeking advice as to how to ensure that they could attend a muster for her child that would not repeat the previous problems.

Child with a disability. Conscientious mother, seeking information in order to mitigate a potential problem. End of story.

There was no need for anyone to infer that the OP intended to skip a muster or break any rules. And there was certainly no need to seek endless explanations of her.

Laronroy and glojo - go take you squabble elsewhere!
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Last edited by celle; November 11th, 2013 at 04:40 PM.
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  #25  
Old November 11th, 2013, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by celle View Post
Wow! I think that a couple of the posts above go far beyond answering the question originally posted.

The OP explained quite clearly that she did intend to attend a muster with her autistic child, and that she had already contacted Special Needs. However, as her child does not do well in crows and there have been problems in the past, she was seeking advice as to how to ensure that they could attend a muster for her child that would not repeat the previous problems.

Child with a disability. Conscientious mother, seeking information in order to mitigate a potential problem. End of story.

There was no need for anyone to infer that the OP intended to skip a muster or break any rules. And there was certainly no need to seek endless explanations of her.

Laronroy and glojo - go take you squabble elsewhere!
Well said.
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  #26  
Old November 28th, 2013, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by celle View Post
Wow! I think that a couple of the posts above go far beyond answering the question originally posted.

The OP explained quite clearly that she did intend to attend a muster with her autistic child, and that she had already contacted Special Needs. However, as her child does not do well in crows and there have been problems in the past, she was seeking advice as to how to ensure that they could attend a muster for her child that would not repeat the previous problems.

Child with a disability. Conscientious mother, seeking information in order to mitigate a potential problem. End of story.

There was no need for anyone to infer that the OP intended to skip a muster or break any rules. And there was certainly no need to seek endless explanations of her.

Laronroy and glojo - go take you squabble elsewhere!
I agree 100%.

My son is severely Autistic and like with other handicaps, accommodations are made for him. We have even been allowed to keep him in our cabin while one of us attend the muster drill.

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Old November 28th, 2013, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by celle View Post
Wow! I think that a couple of the posts above go far beyond answering the question originally posted.

The OP explained quite clearly that she did intend to attend a muster with her autistic child, and that she had already contacted Special Needs. However, as her child does not do well in crows and there have been problems in the past, she was seeking advice as to how to ensure that they could attend a muster for her child that would not repeat the previous problems.

Child with a disability. Conscientious mother, seeking information in order to mitigate a potential problem. End of story.

There was no need for anyone to infer that the OP intended to skip a muster or break any rules. And there was certainly no need to seek endless explanations of her.

Laronroy and glojo - go take you squabble elsewhere!
No one is quarrelling, arguing, being domineering or any other bullying type description. I have been guilty of answering questions and find it sad that some folks do not believe in the freedom of speech that we are all supposed to hold so dear.

Please show where I have been rude or argumentative as this was NEVER my intent and again note how I am not squabbling with you or anyone else. Folks are having their say, answering questions in a polite manner and long may that continue.
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Old November 28th, 2013, 04:59 PM
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It seems that the actual drill varies considerably between cruise lines. I have cruised with 4 different lines, all leaving from Southampton UK, and on each occasion the drill was held in one of the public rooms, not outside on deck. We did not go anywhere near the lifeboats, let alone practice getting into them (which one poster seems to expect).

If legislation allows this much variation in the procedure, then it does not seem beyond reason that certain cruisers might be allowed to attend some sort of 'drill' in their own cabin, or a different public room, and still comply with legislation.

Bearing in mind that passengers could be anywhere on board, possibly a long way from their own cabin and muster station, it seems to me that any advantage gained from being in the 'correct' place would be minimal anyway.
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Old November 29th, 2013, 02:51 AM
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Originally Posted by glojo View Post
Totally agree, this is surely a drill for all our benefits and if these are too traumatic to deal with, then how on earth would anyone deal with the 'real thing'?

I had to think long and hard before booking for our cruise and do we have a responsibility to make sure we are not an unecessary burden on the ship's crew?

I have the utmost sympathy with the author but how would this child cope in an emergency? Hysterical passengers all huddled in large groups, perhaps shouting and demanding answers to a thousand and one questions. Lights flashing on and off, the crew running about with floodlights, torches being shone in faces. Passengers all pushing and shoving, trying to change lifeboats!! When things run smoothly, I am sure a cruise is a wonderful experience but if they go wrong, we cannot open a door and walk off the ship!!

Would it be better to attend these drills and at least experience being in a large gathering of people?
No, for most of these kids the experience is going to be useless as they don't learn from ONE experience. Let me give you an example. How long did it take you to learn how to order for yourself at a restaurant? My daughter was two, my younger one was around 4. We read the menu to them, of course. My middle one however, just started being able to do this about 6 months ago. He is 13. We have practiced, we have encouraged, we have had him just order his drink and we do the food part, we've tried to have him just pt to the item on the menu and nod yes or no for questions. So, even if he goes to the drill, he WON'T learn anything. In fact, the stress will for sure prevent any retention.

YES of course a real emergency would be a nightmare. That's why parents of special needs kids figure out a practice that hopefully will work for their child. If it doesn't we deal w/the nightmare of a real emergency if it happens just like anyone else. Actually, other than the anxiety, my ASD kid might be easier in that no way will he let go of my hand.

For a lot of ASD kids the practice would be just as stressful to them as a real emergency would be to a typical kid. Thankfully, most of the cruise lines get that and they provide options to help us help our kids. It's not trying to cause trouble or get special privileges or anything else. We just want to give our kids regular family life experiences.
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Old December 17th, 2013, 05:04 AM
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I hope that the OP will come back and tell us how the muster drill worked out for her family.
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Old January 2nd, 2014, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glojo View Post
May I very respectfully ask a few questions as you have left me confused.

Does the ship have a legal requirement to carry out these drills prior to the ship sailing?

Do you want an exception to be made for the condition of your child?

You say the following:

I have highlighted two points which have left me confused..

You state your son will:

scream at the top of their lungs, hit, bite, kick, or scratch those around you

The cruise line we are sailing with asks at the time of booking to declare any serious disabilities that passengers might have. Does this requirement apply to the companies you sail with? If so, then no doubt you informed them of your son's condition and behaviour? I say this as I believe we all have a duty toward not just our families, but also our fellow shipmates and of course the crew?

Once we report our conditions and the cruise line accept our booking, then do they then have a responsibility of care toward our safety and well being?

I have no idea if the cruise lines you sail with ask about medical conditions or disabilities so PLEASE do not read anything into what I have just said.

You then ask me the following:



I hate using children as examples so will use myself and yes these symptoms are real and not exaggerated..

I want to go on a mountaineering holiday with a reputable company.

I am severely disabled, cannot walk unaided, I am in terrible, continual pain only controlled by the strongest of medications. My lower body will frequently go into spasms so violent that they sprain my pesky ankles and I have numerous bruises all over my legs where my daft feet knock ten bells out of each other.

I still however want to go on this holiday with this company that advertises those beautiful breaks. (no pun intended)

Should I insist on going on or would this be an adventure too far? Should I be saying what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Why can't this company to use your words....

Quote: '''Modify certain components""

I have no idea how severe your son's condition is and can only go by your description. I do know how bad my condition is and the above suggestion is never going to happen. This holiday will be our firsdt in 25 years as my condition has just improved enough to get the required clearances from the cruise line.



If your cruise company has accepted your booking then surely the ship has a responsibility of care and whilst I believe these drills have to be complied with, if theyare too traumatic, then surely someone should be saying enough is enough and perhaps this is not the best of ideas?? Are these drills for our benefit?

If we can't swim should we go swimming?

Again please try to accept I am NOT being clever, or sarcastic, I am hopefully asking a polite number of questions to better understand the points you are trying to make

Next question..

I am not having a go at you here but by going to these drills early are we not devaluing them and might I ask 'what are we achieving?' Is the drill to simply equate us with where we have to stand? If so why hold a drill? Why not simply tell folks to make themselves acquanted with that location?

I would like to think this is a drill to make sure the crew are competent at clearing the ship in a specific period of time and ensuring no one has been overlooked? If this is the case then by making exceptions, they have by default failed to meet this stipulation?

Again these are my thoughts and not me advocating policy... Are we passengers best off keeping our mouths firmly closed and solely complying with instructions giving to us by the crew? If issues do arise then of course we speak out and hopefully try to clarify any issue.

Before you jump down my throat I 100% accept things will be difficult for you but if the ship is forewarned, regarding your child's condition then is there a chance the ship might prepare a plan?? I am saying this as I have already had a nice letter from the Special Needs Office of our cruise line explaining what aids they have available for me and what else might I need during this cruise!!

When you go to your emergency station the crew might be aware you may need special aid, help or anything else to make this experience acceptable and with any luck they will do their best to make this as easy as is practicle.. BUT when that alarm sounds we surely must all have a duty to attend our station be it a drill or for real?

By making an exception and having a separate drill does the captain contravene the latest legislation that insists on this event happening prior to the ship sailing?

I am not picking on you and it must be distressing for you to endure this, but are you the person making the booking? If we do not carry out these drills are we asking for another fiasco similar to the Costa Concordia? I am NOT talking about the collision, I am talking about the lack of compliance shown by a significant number of passengers who on the many, many video clips I watched showed a complete lack of knowledge regarding what to do?

In their defence these passengers will understandably admit to have not attended their emergency drill, simply because the ship had sailed a few hours earlier and these drills were due to be done the following day As per my previous post.... Train hard, fight easy.... By being blaise about these drills there can be an extremely high price to pay and in the above example this incident occured just hours after the ship put to sea

Are these safety drills for our benefits, yours, mine and your son's? If the cruise company say you are exempt then whilst I accept that decision, I most certainly do not agree with it!!! Our children are the most valuable gift we will ever get and I take my duty of care as seriously as you and every other parent.

Me thinking aloud
If my child objected to a yellow life jacket then I would buy my very own child's yellow life jacket (to be kept at home) and then gently encourage them to wear it. This would be done in a nice, safe secure location at home where we can make a game of this issue and then hopefully when we board the ship they will not be so traumatised when they have to wear this 'plaything'. I might even have a 'Captain's' hat that my child would wear at home when we play this game and when we go to a ship's organised drill, I might think about bringing that hat with us and allowing my child to wear it?? Again this is me thinking aloud about my son and NOT anyone elese's child. I am just thinking that usually there is more than one way to skin a custard tart!! .

You are the expert regarding this condition and I am NOT trying to teach you to suck eggs. Is a cruise line giving separate drills failing in their duty of care, and are they are also letting you down!!!! I say this in a sympathetic manner and whilst I understand why it would be easier for all concerned to let you have a seperate drill....

If God forbid this were to happen for real, then all those around you are already in a high state of tension and having a child quote: scream at the top of their lungs, hit, bite, kick, or scratch those around you?
Is possibly not going to go down very well?

Are you then going to explain your child's condition? With the greatest of respect I can only begin to imagine how distressing this all will be with everyone around us in a high degree of stress and maybe panic!!, Whereas if you carry out this required drill with everyone present then at least they are aware of the situation and might hopefully be supportive towards you both?

Apologies for this long post but we are discussing something that may well be a life or death issue. I can understand why the crew might tell you off for laying on the floor with your child as it definitely puts you both at risk but surely this would be the ideal time to say... "What do you suggest"

If your child gets distressed by waiting in the queue then are there any other options and I don't mean making you exempt. This is me throwing ideas into the pot..

Would an option be to suggest you make an early entry into your specific lifeboat? Note this is a question and only offered as a brainstorming type suggestion to encourage folks to offer more constructive advice.. This is your child and what ideas do you have? Remember we are talking about an emergency situation where lives are at risk.

Is there a location where you could sit in the full knowledge you will not get trampled on? Somewhere with steel supports, bulkheads, pillars or posts.

Again I am politely asking and let's use me as the proverbial guinea pig..

I cannot stand unaided and even if I did have this aid, I would black out after 10 - 15 minutes. I am saying this solely to highlight that standing for me is not an option and no ammount of shouting is going to perform a surgical miracle and get me standing. What is good enough for me must be good enough for anyone else. If I have to lay down on the floor then why can't anyone else with a medical condition that demands this? Hopefully I will not be used as a doormat!!

I got the feeling that my reservations were considered at great length and it might easily have been refused. If it had, then this refusal would have been made in good faith and would have been something I would have accepted. In life do we sometimes just have to accept that we are all not going to become astronauts?

Finally.... whewwww
Some folks believe that autism is a horrible ailment that has awful consequences but this person who I am guessing you are familiar with suffered terribly from this condition and could not speak until she was three and a half. click She had those issues that you have discussed but it is also fair to suggest she was definitely not wrapped up in cotton wool. Her story definitely fetches a tear to the eye and if folks ever get the chance to watch the film about her life... It is really worth watching

As I said at the beginning of this long post.... If we get clearance from the cruise line regarding any type of medical condition, then to me, NO PASSENGER has the right to poke their oar in! If the cruise line does not need notification then they should!!! I say that in the nicest of ways as whilst we might know all there is to know about these conditions, we do not know enough about ship's husbandry.

Hopefully you are taking this post in the spirit it was wrote and if I have accidentally caused offence then that rests with my inability to put my thoughts into words that are tactful enough to deal with this issue.

Good luck with that seventh cruise?? (or sixth)

Regards
John
You should let the parents decide how to handle their special needs child. Nobody asked you whether or not the child should attend the drill or not.
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  #32  
Old February 11th, 2014, 11:19 PM
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Iaminspired Iaminspired is offline
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Does anyone know how we would go about arranging for a private muster drill? We will be on Royal Caribbean. I contacted their special needs dept and all I was told is to go to Guest Relations desk when we board and ask there. However I would like to have something arranged before we board so I know for sure that it is possible.
thanks
Hi

We were on Explorer of the Seas in December with my DD (17), who was recently diagnosed with autism and already had diagnoses of anxiety, social anxiety and panic disorder. The very idea of the muster drill was too much for her.

I contacted RCCL Special Needs in advance, so our reservation was flagged. I emailed Special Needs about the muster drill in particular and received an email back saying to go to Guest Services once we boarded to make arrangements. Take a copy of the email with you, they asked to see it. We were to meet in a lounge by Guest Services about 15 minutes before the muster drill. DD was not allowed to wear headphones or ear plugs and we were sitting under an alarm, so check in advance where you sit. Someone from Guest Services came over to demonstrate everything for us. It was much easier that fighting the crowds on deck and having her panic.

Here are some other things we learned and / or prepared for:

Arrive early for check in to miss the worst crowds.

During the check-in process, go to the special needs lines. We skipped the long lines and went right to Special Needs / Priority Boarding. Staff asked and tried to send us to general check-in by I always said "Special Needs" and they showed to the short lines right away. My DD was well into panic attack by that time. The first thing I said to every person I encountered (the staff directing people, staff trying to take photos, staff checking us in) was "I have an autistic child having a panic attack and we need to get through this quickly." I was directed to exactly where we needed to be very efficiently.

Go to the Special Needs boarding area to wait. I spoke directly to the person coordinating boarding and explained the situation (by that time I had my autistic DD and my other DD both in panic attacks and me as the only adult). He gave us a 30 second warning to get to the front of the Special Needs boarding line, which bought us enough time to get on the ship.

Tell the person greeting you at the gangway if your child is having a panic attack. They took us around a corner and held a half full elevator to get us out of the crowds.

Arrange "last off" departure, if you can. We waited alone in a lounge by Guest Services, all arranged by the Group Coordinator who touched base with us several times during the cruise and was fantastic. We were escorted off the ship by her staff.

Be honest about your needs. Even a Customs Officer covered his badge when DD was staring at it and couldn't look away.

Contact RCL Dining in advance and let them know your needs. I requested a table at the early seating, near a window / wall in a quieter area and we got exactly what I requested, confirmed in an email in advance.

Take a bag of sensory toys, etc. and keep them with you as needed. We took DD's weighted blanket and it was worth hauling it around.

Talk to the Adventure Ocean / Optix staff to keep them informed, if you will be using the children's programs. I spoke to them on Day 2 and they said they already suspected autism but were glad to have it confirmed since not many parents come to talk to them about their children's diagnosis, and how they may benefit from altered programming.

And, have a great cruise! DD was able to handle far more than I anticipated she would, and being prepared helped us a lot.

Best of luck!
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  #33  
Old February 13th, 2014, 11:42 PM
Esilef Esilef is offline
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Cruising in 2 weeks with an autistic 4 year old.

Your feedback has probably saved a major meltdown or 20! Thank you.


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  #34  
Old March 1st, 2014, 06:08 PM
Texas4808 Texas4808 is offline
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I can't believe the things some people say...... If families need the help, it's none of your business.

I have found that cruise lines will help if you ask. They have even let a famly member stay with my son in the cabin during the drill. On every ship they have an area for people who can't participate in the muster drill for whatever reason.

A large group of us found a very affordable special needs travel agency, autismadventuretravel(dotcom), to arrange our trip in April. Whether you go with a special needs travel agency, the cruise lines welcome our business.
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  #35  
Old March 1st, 2014, 11:58 PM
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Hello to all, I am the OP. We have not cruised yet but I had asked way ahead because I am a planner. We will be on Independence on 4/5.
Thank you all for your responses.
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  #36  
Old March 4th, 2014, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marie51 View Post
Hello to all, I am the OP. We have not cruised yet but I had asked way ahead because I am a planner. We will be on Independence on 4/5.

Thank you all for your responses.

With all your planning it will be wonderful. Please come back one more time after to tell us all about it.


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  #37  
Old March 5th, 2014, 10:10 AM
Marie51 Marie51 is online now
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With all your planning it will be wonderful. Please come back one more time after to tell us all about it.


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Thank you I will. Right now I have requested a table in the dining room by a window and I just got a letter saying we will be at a window table so this is great. I was also told that she can stay in the cabin along with one parent for muster which is fine and the rest of us will go to the drill (there are 10 of us total on this trip). Also we are to let our waiter know that we would like "expidite" meals (that's what they call it) so we don't have to sit there for such a long time.

We've been doing quite a bit of prep work for the flight and she is excited to go on an airplane. So far so good!
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  #38  
Old March 6th, 2014, 10:13 PM
Going Coastal Going Coastal is offline
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Good for you. Happy travels to all 10 of you.

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  #39  
Old March 8th, 2014, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marie51 View Post
Thank you I will. Right now I have requested a table in the dining room by a window and I just got a letter saying we will be at a window table so this is great. I was also told that she can stay in the cabin along with one parent for muster which is fine and the rest of us will go to the drill (there are 10 of us total on this trip). Also we are to let our waiter know that we would like "expidite" meals (that's what they call it) so we don't have to sit there for such a long time.

We've been doing quite a bit of prep work for the flight and she is excited to go on an airplane. So far so good!
Hi Marie51

There is now a Social Story about cruising with RCCL on their website (I think I clicked on a link about their Autism Certification and found it) It's quite good. DD's CYW and OT helped with her last one so it was more personalized.

I love the idea of expedited meals in the MDR. That was the hardest part for DD and she left right after she ate (before dessert) because the noise and the people were getting to her. I also let her bring a book to dinner and she read to distract herself. Our table mates didn't understand and just thought we were rude and weird but I didn't feel the need to inform them about DD's diagnosis. Not everyone understands or is accepting.

We are also planners and have everything in place well in advance, which is why I was asking about boarding 280 days in advance!

Have a wonderful cruise! Let us know how everything goes.
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  #40  
Old April 13th, 2014, 03:24 PM
Marie51 Marie51 is online now
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Hi everyone.......I am the person who originally asked about the muster drill with an autistic child..in my case my 4 yr old granddaughter. We just returned yesterday from our 6 day cruise on Independence of the Seas. My daughter-in-law went to Guest Services right when we boarded to ask about it and she and my granddaughter were told to stay in the cabin during muster. The rest of us (8 others) went to the drill.
So all went well.
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