Sea ViewsFrom President and COO, Adam Goldstein

Sea Views Blog with Adam Goldstein

Making Royal Caribbean Accessible for Everyone

Get Out There. Why Not? The Sea is Calling. I just love all the brand campaigns we’ve done over the years. Not only do they resonate with everyone, they are great for people with disabilities. Why? People with disabilities often have challenges in their every day life, from just getting out of bed, navigating their home, and getting to work, school, and shopping. Many do not think of traveling with a disability, taking a vacation, or even a cruise is in the realm of possibility. Our job is to help them know it is possible. My name is Ron Pettit and I am a Senior Specialist in Access. We have an “Access Department”, a dedicated team who is responsible for handling guest and travel agent inquiries about planning accessible cruise vacations. I work with this team and the entire company to ensure that we are in compliance with accessibility regulations.

I love my job because it’s different everyday. I am considered a subject matter expert, so some days I work with our Newbuild department. Right now I’m dealing with Project Sunshine. Sorry, I can’t give any secrets out but it’s exciting! I can tell you that I was very involved in designing accessibility for our most recent ships, Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. As you know, Royal Caribbean International continues to bring innovative design to our ships, and as each new feature is designed, we are making them accessible. For example, the first-ever Carousel at sea on Boardwalk is wheelchair accessible. Also, when they designed the outdoor AquaTheater, we made sure there is a platform lift to seating up front, so guests in wheelchairs can experience our spectacular water shows first-hand. They may even get wet! And, there are 46 accessible staterooms in a variety of categories, the most of any cruise ship at sea, and including a two-story urban loft suite with an elevator to provide access to both levels!

Recently, I helped our Sales Training Team with their monthly webinar. In March, they hosted a live webinar for our travel agent partners about our “Accessible Seas” program. Over 550 travel agents attended, and I loved the fact we were able to expand our travel agent partners’ knowledge about all the wonderful accessible products and services we have to offer and how to make accessible cruising possible for their clients with disabilities. To learn more about our Accessible Seas program, visit

Another one of the great things we do is to consult with people with disabilities when we’re developing new or updated policies, procedures and training programs. A few months ago, we worked with Open Doors Organization, a leading accessible travel and hospitality consulting organization, to help us develop two training videos for our pier and shipboard staff. We incorporated people with disabilities in the videos in which we covered techniques about how to properly and safely provide assistance to guests in wheelchairs and scooters, with limited mobility or service animals. I’m excited to share that both videos will be shown fleetwide in 2012, which will improve the experience of our guests with disabilities.

We have heard from many parents who have younger children with disabilities such as autism tell us how much they enjoyed their cruise. The key? Our wonderful Adventure Ocean program. Parents share how their child’s eyes light up when being welcomed and included in group play activities with other children. Adventure Ocean gives the parents the opportunity to have a short respite to relax by the pool, take in a spa appointment or have a relaxing dinner by themselves – something they just could not do on land. Tip: Our Adventure Ocean staff is not able to provide continuous one-on-one care; so if your child requires this care, then a family member or aide can accompany the child while participating in our program.

I want to share with you a story about when I first came to Royal Caribbean in 2006. One of my first projects was managing the accessibility program for a full ship charter on the Freedom of the Seas for over 3,800 deaf guests, sailing in October 2007. It took over a year and a half to plan and execute – there were over 120 sign language interpreters and visual/tactile alert kits for every stateroom. We even found a shipboard trainer who had a degree in deaf studies on another ship, and transferred him to Freedom of the Seas to help train over 1,000 crewmembers in deaf culture and basic signs. During boarding, our crew signed “hello” to welcome every deaf guest onboard the first-ever “Deaf Freedom Cruise” organized by Passages Deaf Travel. While this cruise happened almost five years ago, it is one of the most rewarding experiences in my life, because I am hard of hearing. It’s amazing to be a part of a company that believes in making cruising accessible for everyone.

To close, Freedom of the Seas is my favorite Royal Caribbean ship, not only because I have sailed 10 times on her but because I like the word “Freedom.” Freedom to me means that we, all of us, have the freedom to cruise, without limitations. I was going to say, it’s my job – but that’s not true. It’s everyone’s job here at Royal Caribbean, and we do it Royally.


20 responses to:
“Making Royal Caribbean Accessible for Everyone”

  1. Julie Talone

    Yet another reason why I LOVE working for the greatest cruise line in the world, Royal Caribbean!

    Thanks for your dedication and service, Ron! Having worked with you in the past, I know you are passionate about this! I am so glad your passion for providing a seamless travel experience for our guests is applied here at RCCL!!! As a Training and Development Manager for RCCL, I see first hand the benefit of travel freedom for our valuable guests with varying abilities and the sheer delight such a vacation brings to them.

    I am proud to be part of a team that cares so much for all our guests with special needs!

    • Adam

      We’re glad to have you on the team, Julie. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Anne

    I’m so happy to see RC making this effort. I am a teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing. On one of your cruises, I noticed a Deaf couple and wondered how communication was handled for them. While I’m not an interpreter, I’m a fluent signer and was able to communicate with them if needed. I, too, am hearing impaired and the announcements made in the hallway are difficult for me to understand in my cabin. I would love to go on a Deaf cruise!

    • Adam

      Thank you, Anne. We appreciate your efforts as well as your comment.

  3. Jen

    I would love to know about access for people with Service Dogs (Medical Alert). How does RCCL accommodate people with Service Dogs?

    • Adam

      Hi Jen, you can learn about how we accommodate our cruisers with services dogs here. Thanks for reading.

  4. Debra Kerper

    Ron, thanks for writing about the extraordinary access program RCCL has committed themselves to and thanks to you for consistently doing such an outstanding job in insuring its success! I am honored and very fortunate to have worked with you all these years in my role as a travel agent and as a cruiser and to also be able to call you my friend. You have put together an amazing team that certainly makes my job easier! Keep up the great work! YOU deliver the WOW!

    • Adam

      Thank you, Debra.

  5. Andrew J. Garnett


    This is a great article. Thank you for not only making it possible for pepole with special needs to travel, but also making it an enjoyable experience for everyone.

    As owner of the company that provides special needs equipment for a good portion of your guests, I can honestly say that without Royal Caribbean’s dedication to this population, our motto of “Delivering an accessible world” would probably be near impossible.


    A big THANK YOU to you too for all of your dedication to the special needs segment and for allowing Ron to write this article on your blog.

    • Adam

      You do great work, Andrew, and we’re happy to hear you appreciate ours. Thank you.

  6. Roberta Schwartz

    Ron, what a wonderful post! How great is it for you to share with everyone the outstanding work Royal has done over the years to make cruising more accessible for people with disabilities and the mature. Having worked together for many years in my former role as SATH’s director of education, I am so happy to see you continue this important work. And thanks to Adam and Richard for leading with the vision of access for everyone. As you said this brings true freedom.

    • Adam

      Thank you for your comment, Roberta.

  7. Dominique Lavigueur

    Thank you for thinking that way.
    My mother was in a wheelchair for ten years and back in the late 8o’s, her travel mobility was VERY restricted. As B&B owners, we planned our last B&B to be adapted and the response was overwhelming.
    When you provide an accessible service for one disabled person, don’t forget you also open this venue to their partner, spouse and family as well, and they ALL appreciate it
    Thanks Dominique

    • Adam

      We appreciate your comment, Dominique.

  8. Audrey Calcagno

    We have had the most wonderful experiences aboard RCI cruise ships with our differently abled son. Special needs = EXTRA SPECIAL TREATMENT! The design of the staterooms is ingenious, nothing left to chance. And the crew… well, there are no words that do them justice in their sensitivity and caring, anticipating every need. Hey, DISNEY CRUISE LINE: learn a lesson here!

  9. David Sigel

    I have taken my father who is wheelchair dependent on more than 50 cruises – all on Celebrity. Ron Pettit and the executive offices demonstrate a care and concern to the disability needs of my father more than I can describe. Every other part of the travel industry can learn from Ron and from Celebrity

  10. Tabitha and Mac Partlow

    We also are truly thankful for Royal Caribbean’s dedication to accessible travel. As the owner’s of Passages Deaf Travel and working with you on the ALL DEAF charter in 2007, we know first hand how important Royal’s commitment to guests with special needs is. Since 2007, your continued support of our Deaf Freedom Cruise programs and other cruises have our guests feeling the communication barrier they experience many times in their day to day life is almost non-existent while on their cruise vacation. How awesome is that! It is what we hoped for when we had our first Deaf Freedom Cruise on the Freedom of the Seas, and we can’t thank you enough that 5 years later our guests are still experiencing that same freedom!

    We also wanted to say that the support for accessible travel at Royal Caribbean comes from the top. Every time we have had the privilege to talk with Adam, Lisa Bauer, Vicki Freed and Richard Fain at an event or travel show, they have always encouraged us and showed their support. They make us feel they want our guests on board, and they offer their help and ideas to make sure our programs are a success. It inspires us to continue to put on better and better programs, including another ALL DEAF cruise in 2014!


    • Adam

      You’re both more than welcome, Tabitha and Mac. Thank you for your warm comment.

  11. Steve

    Good to see the focus on Disabled cruising mate! It’s far too often that people with disabilities get screwed over with a lot of things.

    If there are any disabled people thinking of taking a cruise, there’s a great guide on this cruise website which people should take a look at.

  12. Stacey

    I’m glad to hear of these efforts because I cruised Jewel of the Seas recently and I had great difficulty getting very SIMPLE accommodations related to my hearing loss (to the point where I would cruise another line instead of RC in the future). I hope that this will be changing in the future for other passengers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Connect With us

Tab indicator
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
@tmsc14 Can you please tell us which ship you were waiting to board? Thank you.
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
@Anju_Gattani We're sorry to hear about this. Please visit to provide us with more details of your experience.
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
@antonia_chelle So soon! What are you most excited for onboard?
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
@_SookStackHouse You can find all of our current openings here: Good luck!
Royal Caribbean's avatar
Royal Caribbean@RoyalCaribbean
We're excited to welcome @chefmschwartz as Quantum's Culinary Advisor. Peek inside his menu at Michael's Genuine Pub.
Explore even more of the world. See where your favorite ship is sailing from in 2015.
When are you constantly moving, but always in the same place? 
Next step in building #QuantumOfTheSeas: putting the azipods into place.
Countdown to November: Today the final block of #QuantumOfTheSeas was moved into place. 
You've got questions, he's got answers. CEO Adam Goldstein is hosting a Google hangout today at 1:30 / 12:30 CST to talk about Quantum dining: 
Watch Adam Goldstein and Moderator Colleen McDaniel as they answer questions and discuss the latest innovations coming to Quantum of the Seas
Get a taste of our next Quantum reveal. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement next week.
Disembark to a new world. #norway  
So much more to explore.  #stmaarten  
Cross Europe off your bucket list. Booking is now open for Anthem of the Seas and Allure of the Seas 2015 sailings (and Allure has a few new stops on her itinerary): 

JavaScript and Flash are required to view video content. View the playlist on YouTube.

  • Swim with dolphins i Swim with dolphins in Roatan, Honduras. 5 hours + 11 minutes ago
  • Glowing pink sunset Glowing pink sunset in Bathsheba Beach, Barbados. 5 hours + 12 minutes ago
  • Bridgetown, Barbados Bridgetown, Barbados in the crystal clear Caribbean. 5 hours + 12 minutes ago
  • A taste of the Medit A taste of the Mediterranean. The Greek farro salad at Michael's Genuine Pub is made from the freshest ingredients available. ... 1 day + 5 hours ago
  • The banana toffee pa The banana toffee panini. Simple, sweet, sublime. Enjoy it this November at Michael's Genuine Pub. #MGPUB #quantumoftheseas ... 1 day + 5 hours ago
  • The ultimate comfort The ultimate comfort food: thick-cut potato chips with pan-fried onion dip pairs perfectly with Michael’s Genuine Home Brew. ... 1 day + 5 hours ago
  • Love 150 Central Par Love 150 Central Park? We're partnering with Michael Schwartz again to create his newest restaurant onboard Quantum of the ... 1 day + 5 hours ago
  • See every shade of b See every shade of blue. #caribbean 2 days + 44 minutes ago
  • See you soon. #oasis See you soon. #oasisoftheseas #cruise 2 days + 2 hours ago
  • Cool your feet in Du Cool your feet in Dunn's River Falls in Jamaica. 2 days + 4 hours ago
  • The banana toffee panini. Simple, sweet, sublime. Follow the link our profile to see the full menu for Michael's Genuine Pub.
  • A taste of the Mediterranean. The Greek farro salad at Michael's Genuine Pub, made from the freshest ingredients available. (Follow the link in our profile to see the full menu.)
  • The ultimate comfort food: thick-cut potato chips with pan-fried onion dip. Coming this November to Michael's Genuine Pub onboard Quantum of the Seas. (Link to full menu in our profile.)
  • Love 150 Central Park? We're partnering with Michael Schwartz again to create his newest restaurant onboard Quantum of the Seas. All this week we're giving you a sneak peek of the menu (or follow the
  • When are you constantly moving, but always in the same place?
  • Your chance to be the captain.
  • Skip along the tree tops in St. Maarten.
  • Not to be missed in Labadee: speeding 30 mph down the Santa Maria Mountain on our Dragon's Tail coaster.
  • We're one step closer to Quantum's maiden voyage. The construction team at Meyer Werft
 in Papenburg, Germany has moved her azipods into place.
  • See CocoCay by kayak (and check in this weekend for our favorite adventures in Labadee and St. Maarten, too).
Why Everyone Should Get Involved and Volunteer Everywhere

Friday, April 18, 2014 11:50 AM

GIVE Day (Get Involved Volunteer Everywhere) is the corporate global volunteer day for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and is our largest employee community event. My name is Helen O’Connell, Manager... Continue Here to Read More…

Quantum Class Ships: Empowering Guests to Take Full Control of Their Dining Experience

Thursday, April 10, 2014 2:14 PM

Hi everyone. I’m excited to begin our Quantum of the Seas blog series by sharing details about a new approach to dining at sea onboard Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum Class ships. Our... Continue Here to Read More…

How to Connect with a Colleague When You Have Conflicting Interests

Monday, March 10, 2014 10:11 AM

We are not all the same.  Not in life and not in business.  As a consequence, maintaining a healthy perspective on differences among people is a critical success factor in a business career. Some... Continue Here to Read More…

Humorous Travel Stories

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 3:30 PM

It might be my impending trip to Shanghai for dinner with four red eye flights in five nights.  I want to believe this will be tolerable.  So I find myself thinking of some of the humorous things I... Continue Here to Read More…

Why We Needed Bumper Cars to Go Head to Head

Friday, February 14, 2014 1:56 PM

Guest post by Nick Weir I’m Nick Weir, the Vice President of Entertainment at Royal Caribbean International.  As usual we’ve been hard at work and are very focused on Quantum of the Seas in... Continue Here to Read More…

She’s Back…Navigator of the Seas Emerges After Massive Makeover

Friday, February 7, 2014 6:20 PM

Guest blog by Lisa Lutoff-Perlo It’s a very exciting week for us here at Royal Caribbean International. After spending a month in drydock, we’re pleased to announce Navigator of the Seas is... Continue Here to Read More…

Productivity Hacks: Build a Great Team at Work and at Home

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 12:35 PM

When you live at the outer limits of multitasking, you never feel productive enough. So it’s nice of LinkedIn to assign a topic on the premise that I am in fact productive. Time is the scarce... Continue Here to Read More…

Why Project Radiance Didn’t Turn Out as Planned

Monday, January 13, 2014 3:00 PM

A reader recently asked if there was a time where I did something and it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, and what I did after that.  There are probably many relevant examples, but the one... Continue Here to Read More…

The Importance of Shipyard Visits

Monday, January 6, 2014 5:59 PM

Recently I visited both shipyards that are currently building ships for Royal Caribbean International.  First I traveled to Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany (builders of Quantum of the Seas,... Continue Here to Read More…

Looking Forward to 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 12:17 PM

Happy New Year to all of our loyal readers and especially to our loyal Royal Caribbean cruisers.  As we head from one intense year in the cruise industry to the next, I would like to express my... Continue Here to Read More…