How Staff-Assisted Cruises Accommodate Special Needs Travelers

Not everyone is born with the same abilities. But everyone deserves the chance to enjoy a safe, exciting and memorable vacation with their family and loved ones.

Many different cruise lines offer specialized accommodations, activities, and programs to provide cruisers of different abilities with an outstanding vacation experience, while catering to each guest’s specific needs.

Since 2007, Royal Caribbean has partnered with Autism on the Seas to provide specialized staff members to assist cruisers who are living with autism, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. The organization has now extended their reach to include Celebrity, Norwegian, Disney and Carnival Cruise Lines, too.

Staff-assisted cruises can help ensure that your loved one receives the attention, care and access to activities and parts of the ship that they need to have a once-in-a-lifetime cruise experience.

Learn how partnerships with Autism on the Seas have made cruises more accessible for travelers of different abilities, and how you can find book a staff-assisted cruise today.

What is Autism on the Seas?

Autism on the Seas is an international organization that provides cruise vacation services catered to accommodate adults and families living with children with Special Needs, including autism, Asperger syndrome, down syndrome, Tourette syndrome, cerebral palsy and all cognitive, intellectual and developmental disabilities.

What are Staff-Assisted Cruises?

When you sign up for a staff-assisted cruise, you’re provided with a highly-trained and experienced staff from Autism on the Seas to help assist your loved one with accommodations for typical cruise services. This includes recreation, entertainment and more.

The staff also provides specialized respite and private activities that allow guests to use the ships’ entertainment venues in an accommodated and assisted way.

Extended family and friends can book directly with Autism at Sea, and can receive all the same benefits and services as their loved one, including expedited/priority boarding, private muster drill (a safety exercise in case of an emergency), dinner seating, private venue sessions, reserved show seating and more.

What is Included in a Staff-Assisted Cruise?

Regardless of which cruise line you choose, you can count on the following features with a staff-assisted cruise:
• Experienced staff with specific training in caring for individuals with developmental disabilities (ratio of one staff member for every 2-3 special needs guests)
• Assistance with the cruise ship’s products and services
• Specialized respite sessions
• Private activities and sessions

Other Autism-Centric Cruise Offerings

Each cruise line may offer slightly different accommodations and activities for guests and their families living with different disabilities.
Royal Caribbean offers a wide range of autism-friendly products and services which are available across all cruises. These include:

  • Priority check-in, boarding and departure
  • Special dietary accommodations (including gluten-free and dairy-free)
  • Adventure Ocean flexible grouping by ability for children 3-11 years old
  • Adventure Ocean toilet-trained policy exception
  • Pagers/phones for parents of children in Adventure Ocean program while signed into our care (subject to availability)
  • On-demand access to exclusive content from The Autism Channel® onboard most of its ships.
  • Autism-friendly films
  • Autism-friendly toy lending program
  • Autism-friendly activities, and more.

How Can I Find a Staff-Assisted Cruise?

You can look at the schedule of all staff-assisted cruises across cruise lines here »

If none of these scheduled cruises fit your timeline, you can also request a staff-assisted cruise of your choice. You can choose the date on any ship, from any port on either Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian or Celebrity Cruise Lines.

The sooner you submit your request prior to your cruise date, the more likely Autism on the Seas will be able to accommodate your request. Preferred notice is between 12-14 months.

Staff-assisted cruises provide travelers of all different abilities the opportunity to see new places, experience new things and make lasting memories. Call us today with any questions or for assistance in booking your next cruise >

Get Travel Deals Today!