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Special Needs Department not terribly efficient?

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Posted (edited)

I am curious if the Special Needs Department has dropped the ball on anyone else? Just an observation from our last 5 cruises spanning over 10 years. We utilize the Special Needs Department forms for several items from CPAP Supplies (distilled water and extension cord), Medicine Refrigerator, Sharps Container, and Allergy Notifications. Not once on any of our five cruises have any of our requested items (same items requested on every cruise) been in place in our cabin without our having to find our cabin steward and explain to him/her that they need to look for the forms and get us the required supplies. Also the dining room has not once been aware that there are life threatening allergies. 5 cruises, forms filled out properly and replies received from the Special Needs Department acknowledging our specific requests and reservations and not one item or allergy notification available without our hunting them down or notifying them? We are very used to being our own advocates with the medical professions but it really seems like we should not have to do this on vacation and this should be an easy thing to manage given it is all done electronically. I get that the stewards have a very hard day on turnaround day (and every day) but as we say here at work... PPPPPP (proper prior planning prevents poor performance!) I am not necessarily saying it is the stewards fault... I do not know how the info is supposed to be conveyed to the ships from corporate. I just wish if RCCL is going to say "these items will be waiting for you in your stateroom" or "we will noting our dining staff of your allergies" or anything else of that nature that they would follow through. I get that once may be a one-off situation but the exact same problems for 5 cruises over such a time span? I think the system is broke and needs fixing. Still love Royal and all our cruises have been wonderful just wish they would work the kinks out of this particular system.

Edited by Cruise_Couple
typo

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My experience suggests that the Special Needs Dept. is useless.  I can't begin to tell you how many times we have boarded the ship to be told that Special Needs never made any of our requests to the ship.  I send emails to the Concierge, Restaurant Operations and the Executive Housekeeper with all my various needs and also Special Needs.  My TA has also found Special Needs to be useless as well.  If my needs have to do with our Stateroom I will then deal with our room attendant, the Deck Supervisor and if necessary the Hotel Director.

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I have emailed them and was informed that my requests were noted and to confirm it 30 days before sailing! 

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I typically follow up after the cruise with the Special Needs Department to tell them what was and wasn't done correctly. Typically it's the missing CPAP supplies. 

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I'm a diabetic, and so I have to request a sharps container for my cabin for every cruise.  My TA puts in the request every time I book, and I've called RC myself to make sure the request is there.  Never once has it been done.  That being said, I've always had it the same day once I alerted the room attendent that I needed one.  My hunch is that, cabins close at what, 8:00am? 9:00?.....and then they open again at 1:30 (or thereabouts).  There just isn't enough time to do more than clean it and reset it to standard before new guests board, so special requests don't get done before guests board.

 

I did have one cruise (Norwegian) that took a solid 24 hours to get my sharps container.  THAT is unacceptable....and one of several reasons I don't sail on Norwegian anymore.

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Land and Sea do not communicate.  Can't recall ever having what I requested in the cabin on arrival.  Have to search for room attendant.  Show him/her my copy from Special Needs and they always claim they have not been notified.

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Even if the items are not in the room, I feel better having the email to show that I reserved these items ahead of time in the proper way and they need to be found. Lack of communication to the ship then becomes their problem, not mine. Now I will see if the shower stool I requested and was assured will be there, will, actually, be there on Symphony in August.  🤔

 

 

Mary Ann

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WOW, I haven't needed to use it but I would like to think it works. For those of you that have made the requests and not had them fulfilled after receiving confirmation, did you notify Guest Services or anyone? It seems to me there should be a liaison on each ship to the land based team.

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Sorry, at times have heard hit and miss when at most have wait couple hrs get cord/water. My Daughter's Family 7 Cruise in last 3yrs and only had ask once. Other then that time ship's were on it, all there including Med Fridge after boarding. As suggested if havent been email Royal each time

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Last month on the Adventure the extension cord and distilled water were delivered in the afternoon after muster. Had to ask cabin steward for sharps container and medical fridge which arrived while we were at dinner. The only problem was the medical fridge was set on warm instead of cold took a while for it to cool down.

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We have done 3 cruises now all with special needs requests, as our daughter has Celiac disease and must eat strictly gluten free and my wife must use a Cpap. 

 

# of times the dining room knew ahead of time about dietary needs: 0/3

# of times Cpap necessities were in room: 1/3

 

% of times ship staff took care of needs immediately with a smile: 100%

 

Once we establish and take care of these needs the first day (along with registering kids for kids club, unpacking, and all of the other first day “to-dos” that everyone else typically does), it’s always been smooth sailing. I consider it part of my first day to-do list.

 

I agree the communication between land and ship isn’t good, but as long as the staff on board can get my daughter food she can safely eat and get my wife the things she needs to breathe through the night, I’m a happy camper! These things seem to be harder to get in day to day life on land in my experience....

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Posted (edited)

I would love to fill the role of a Special Needs onboard coordinator that liaisons between the shoreside and onboard and train the onboard staff with regards to setting up the cabins for the special needs a few days before the actual cruise whereby I would coordinate between the shoreside, head of House Keeping, Dining, Excursions etc.   If a passenger has an issue I would take over from Guest Services during regular hours  and have one of my Junior Staffmembers take the overnights.

 

If there is a Medical Emergency onboard I would coordinate with Miami, onboard, Medical Center and shoreside  to ensure that everything is coordinated and ensure that the staff onboard is trained for onboard emergencies and how to evacuate passengers with special-needs.

 

Also I would work with Autism at Sea to ensure the program goes well and train the onboard crew how to deal with individuals with Autism.

 

I did pass along this proposal to Miami as like you state here the Special Needs onboard implementation seems hit or miss.  I would like to know where the disconnect is between shoreside and onboard.  Why does the Special Needs Department say everything is noted and has been sent to the ship yet the ship has never got such a request?  

 

If the request is  not fufilled then how can Royal fix the issue before the ship embarks? 

Edited by travelplus

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This October will be our first time needing special requests since we started cruising in 1995.  I use a CPAP and O2 at night and so will need an extension cord and distilled water.  I'm glad I came upon this thread as I was unaware there is a special form to fill out, or even a Special Needs dept. at RCCL.  How do I go about getting this form?  Is it available online?

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1 minute ago, Luna said:

This October will be our first time needing special requests since we started cruising in 1995.  I use a CPAP and O2 at night and so will need an extension cord and distilled water.  I'm glad I came upon this thread as I was unaware there is a special form to fill out, or even a Special Needs dept. at RCCL.  How do I go about getting this form?  Is it available online?

 

https://secure.royalcaribbean.com/allaboutcruising/guestSpecialNeeds.do?_ga=2.201651985.105080424.1564096438-2010620059.1562779696

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When we travel with our DD and her family including her DS who has several food allergies, she notifies the Special Needs Department AND obtains the name and email of the person in charge of dining on the ship and contacts him directly. IIRC, she also emails the head of guest relations on the ship. We’ve had very positive experiences on all our cruises.  In fact, it’s probably the main reason we choose cruising for most of our vacations. 

 

For CPACs and sharps containers, I’d contact the head of housekeeping as well as Special Needs. 

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For an extension cord and distilled water we just have it noted on our booking. We have never had a problem getting it. No big deal if it isn't in our cabin when we board we just tell our cabin steward and usually very quickly someone from housekeeping knocks on the door with it. We've never felt the need to put in a pre-request with special needs as this is pretty common request.

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We have cruised 16 times with RCI, since 2011. Each time I have filled in the special needs request form and each time the request has been ignored.

Luckily for us our request is not life threatening, it's to remove the coffee table from the cabin; Wheelchair + hoist+ coffee table = not enough manoeuvring space.

The cabin steward is happy to do it remove the table as soon as we mention it.

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1 minute ago, Bloodgem said:

We have cruised 16 times with RCI, since 2011. Each time I have filled in the special needs request form and each time the request has been ignored.

Luckily for us our request is not life threatening, it's to remove the coffee table from the cabin; Wheelchair + hoist+ coffee table = not enough manoeuvring space.

The cabin steward is happy to do it remove the table as soon as we mention it.

Removing furniture isn't usually something you should expect to be done via a special needs request. This is as you've found, up to you to request your cabin steward to do. Glad they have accommodated you, and more than likely always will. 

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4 hours ago, Ashland said:

Removing furniture isn't usually something you should expect to be done via a special needs request. This is as you've found, up to you to request your cabin steward to do. Glad they have accommodated you, and more than likely always will. 

Why should I not expect the request to be honoured, when I have taken time to plan ahead and specifically asked for the table to be removed? 

 

A stage 1 pressure sore can develop in approximately 2 hours in some wheelchair confined people. As my DS is confined to a wheelchair it is important for him to have a change of position every 2-3 hours. Therefore having space to transfer DS from his wheelchair to bed/floor, using a hoist, is equally important to us as other cruises needing extension cords and distilled water for their Cpap machines. 

 

Yes I'm probably overreacting to your comment. Yes I have no problem placing the table outside the cabin and asking the cabin steward to remove it at his/her leisure but my point still stands. 16 times I have filled in the special needs request form and each time the request has been ignored.

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17 hours ago, BensonFan711 said:

I'm a diabetic, and so I have to request a sharps container for my cabin for every cruise.  My TA puts in the request every time I book, and I've called RC myself to make sure the request is there.  Never once has it been done.  That being said, I've always had it the same day once I alerted the room attendent that I needed one.  My hunch is that, cabins close at what, 8:00am? 9:00?.....and then they open again at 1:30 (or thereabouts).  There just isn't enough time to do more than clean it and reset it to standard before new guests board, so special requests don't get done before guests board.

 

I did have one cruise (Norwegian) that took a solid 24 hours to get my sharps container.  THAT is unacceptable....and one of several reasons I don't sail on Norwegian anymore.

I have to say, NCL has been amazing with food allergy issues. I contact special needs before the cruise, go to the MDR for lunch the first day, and the dietary manager shows up at our table before we are done eating.

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Wow and my experience has been just the opposite.  I have severe arthritis in my neck and request a special pillow.  Not once have they failed to have it in the room when I board.

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Belt & Suspenders -- request ahead, then plan on asking onboard.  Older DD is disabled, we need a shower stool for her. Requested 3 times, only in room once, but got it before dinner the first night after s/w room steward for the others.  Younger DD is celiac/gluten free diet -- marked in reservation, still have the conversations with waiter/headwaiter in MDR.  Sad on the first day of 1 cruise, b/c she wanted the mushroom soup which was marked GF, but unfortunately our waiter had to come back & tell us it was not.  Luckily for us it's not more severe than that, but we always try ahead anyway....

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Same here. Never have had the items in the cabin. I have to show my paperwork to the steward each time.

 

Worse was the Allure. I need a medical refrigerator for medication. Never got it. Allure's solution was for me to give it to the steward and they would store it "somewhere (could not state where it would be stored)" until I needed it. Zip lock bags, that we brought, and ice was how it was stored for the week. Not happy. Other time, finally got medical refrig, and it was size of the refrig in the cabin. They brought a 20' frayed extension cord to plug it in. We did not except this (fire and trip hazard). They brought in another one that was not frayed and taped the cord to the floor, but there went a plug!

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We have only done a special needs request once, on Rhapsody, and it was not honored.  Needed a medical fridge and not only was it not there, no one seemed to believe they exist.  We were in a suite, and everyone from room steward to concierge to guest services swore up and down that RC does not provide them.  So, like sross6019, we ended up juggling ice and zip locks the whole week.  Very unpleasant.  I got a special needs email when we got back asking if we were happy, and I replied immediately with a "since you ask...."  Got a very nice credit towards next cruise.

 

The steward did offer to take the meds to staff fridge, but given how expensive they are, and the very small temp window that is allowed, did not feel we could do that.  However, on the last day I thought to ask her to freeze the gel packs we had used on the plane so we had them on disembarkation.  This worked very well, and if we face this situation in future, I will pack extra gel packs for the purpose of switching out.  I know how long those last and wouldn't worry as much as I did with melting ice.  

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