Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Communication Access on the Deaf Freedom Cruise
When the hubby and I got married on November 4, 1989, we shared our honeymoon with another deaf couple, Kay and Paul Folster, who were married on the same day. By the seventh day on our honeymoon cruise, we were ready to go home. We sat through a movie that wasn't captioned and couldn't enjoy any of the comedy or entertainment as no interpreter was provided. Because of that experience, the hubby was very relunctant to attempt another cruise.
Royal Caribbean is to be applauded for the communication access they provided on the Deaf Freedom Cruise. As soon as we arrived at the Port of Miami, there was an interpreter in every corner. Royal Caribbean hired 124 interpreters, including interpreters from other countries and deaf blind interpreters. On that first day, the interpreters worked the entire day with nary a break.
Mac and Tab Partlow,(seen with me in the photo above) the owners of Passages Deaf Travel, arranged for staff training. Royal Caribbean moved one of their staff, Bobby Brown, the Training and Development Manager with a background in Deaf Ministry, from the Navigator of the Seas to the Freedom of the Seas. Bobby arrived seven weeks before the cruise and provided classes to the entire staff. Keith Wann and a deaf staff member from Passages Deaf Travel teamed up with Bobby and together they provided numerous classes and a DVD for the staff. Some of the classes were provided late at night, which was the only time some of the staff were available.
We especially enjoyed our wait staff at dinner time. Ronnie, our head waiter from India (the tall guy in the photo below), stayed by our table one night and chatted with us. He used gestures and the signs he could remember and told us about his family back in India. His brother is a staff person on another ship. Each of them keep long hours. Some nights, they don't get to bed until four a.m. and they get up a few hours later. Ronnie was quick to whip out a notebook and pen whenever we had difficulty with communication. We always encountered smiles and friendly faces among the staff, which is even more remarkable considering the long hours that they work.
You can read more about the communication access here: Disaboom.com.
As for the hubby, the one who initially didn't want to go on another cruise after our honeymoon, is now saying he wouldn't mind another all deaf cruise!