Many readers have asked me to write about the logistics of cruising for families with autism, so here is the compiled list of tips to help book your next cruise vacation.
Feel free to print it and pass it on to your friends.
Questions to consider before booking
- Q1 Do crowds and noises bother your child
- Q2 Does your child have additional sensory issues such as sensitivity to lights or smells.
- Q3 What type of activities does your child like to do outdoors or indoors
- Q4 What are your child’s unique dining challenges inability to sit at a table, “picky” eating habits or diet restrictions.
- Q5 What are your child’s social skills level like sitting in line, sitting in a theater and interacting with peers.
- Q6 What are her son’s communication and comprehension skills (particularly important for kids club activities.)
- Q7 What are your child’s sleep patterns and rituals.
- Q8 Is your kid potty trained or not.
- Q9 Does your kid have any shower or tub preferences.
- Q10 Are there any allergies and temperature intolerances to take into account.
- Q11 Does the traveler get seasick.
- Q12 What entertainment does your kid prefer-tv, books, live shows, etc.
- Q13 How fast does he/she get accustomed to new surroundings.
- Q14 Has he/she flown before? If not; you might consider driving to your first cruise experience and not overloading your traveler with autism.
- Q15 Does he/she tend to wander off from rooms or people.
- Select an indoor or port hole cabin, especially if it is your first cruise and your kid is active.
Mid ship is the best for two reasons: you are close to most venues and better if you are prone to getting seasick.
Stay away from balconies until your family is “cruise savvy”.
- Make sure your room is adjacent to other rooms ONLY; not elevators, attractions or even white spaces on the ship’s map.
- Check and verify that above and below your cabin there are only travelers’ cabins-stay away from ‘service areas that are utilized by crew members at different times of day and night.
- Some cruise lines have connecting rooms that can add extra comfort if you can afford two rooms. Remember this might not be the best solution for you if your child is an “escape artist”, and you have two doors leading to the outside.
- Most inside rooms do not have a tub, so if that’s a deal breaker, choose Disney or the newer ships by Carnival in the inside category, since they have a tub in their bathroom.
- If you have a stroller/wheelchair bound child, ask for an accessible room or a way to store the specialized stroller or wheelchair.
- If you have a child with autism who stims ask for a bigger cabin -Attach doctor’s note detailing the situation!
- Ask for baby proofing if you have an overactive child/teen -including bed rails! If the cruise line can’t supply them, bring your own.
- Although most cruise lines strive to help families with autism, some are more accommodating than others with special desks designated to aid with special requests.
- Contact Guest Relations or the Special Needs Department with any applications and medical issues immediately.
- Ask for pre-boarding and disembarkation to prevent the tantrums that might be a result of waiting in the long lines.
- Ask for an empty mini fridge to be put in the cabin if there isn’t one already to store medicines, favorite drinks and foods, especially if you have a “night snacker.”