Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism pin

Traveling parents of children with autism often have many concerns over cruising. However, many common concerns are either unfounded or easily remedied. Here are some cruising concerns we frequently hear about and how families can navigate them and enjoy cruising.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism cake


Cabin is too Small for my Child

The average inside cabins encompass about 160 square feet, so it is no surprise that they can feel a bit claustrophobic. However, there are options on the bigger and more modern ships for larger family style cabins or two connecting inside cabins. These options provide much more space for families.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism movie

Balcony cabins aren’t recommended for most special needs families due to safety reasons, especially for younger kids with autism who don’t have an understanding of danger.

My Kids is a Picky Eater and on a Special Diet

Nowadays cruise lines do a great job of accommodating everybody’s needs. The dining areas now frequently offer gluten-free and low-salt items. Most restaurants offer vegan items as well. Parents can sometimes request a particular dish, especially in the main dining room at night.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism dining

Ships are Too Crowded

Many times we hear that people don’t like the big ships, especially the larger ones that have 4000 people on them. However, parents should remember that 4000 people are never in the same place at once. People do different activities in different parts of the ship, and since the ship is large, there are many activities spread out in various areas.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism ship

Parents of children with autism can request accommodations during boarding or disembarkation. That way, families won’t ever have to face the crowds. There are quiet areas and even serenity decks on some ships so finding a quiet or uncrowded area is as easy as asking a cruise director or purser for suggestions.

We Might Hear Nasty Remarks

All parents of kids with autism face nasty comments at a particular point in their lives. Our best advice would be for parents to ignore them. If they are rude or even insulting, then there’s not much to say to the offending person except to either just ignore what they said, move to another area or perhaps pass out informational cards on autism.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism pool

If somebody asks questions, this would be a great opportunity for parents to educate others about autism. Such a situation has the potential to be a great thing because parents can raise autism awareness and help the autism community.

Activities are Unsuitable

On older ships, this used to be a problem because all the events meant either coloring in the kids club or sitting drinking a beer and playing bingo or trivia. That is no longer the case nowadays as the ships are filled with activities. On Norwegian cruise line, kids can enjoy a rope course. There are shows and parties for everyone in the family to enjoy. Parents can take their children to classes on cupcake decorating, dancing, cooking, photography, or computer programming.

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As an example, RCCL recently teamed with DreamWorks and NCL with Nickelodeon. Therefore, there are now character breakfasts, parades, and other themed activities.

If some things aren’t comfortable for them, kids can still either use the pool or watch TV. A lot of the cruise lines show kids movies at the pool or kids clubs. Some even have theaters. Of course, if all else fails, most of the modern ships have WiFi. A lot of the new ships also have Nintendo and other electronic games. Whenever parents come on board, they can just communicate their needs to the activities manager or the youth director.

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Cruise Ships are Dangerous for Our Child

Once in a while, we hear from parents concerned about safety on ships. These are colossal ships, especially the newer ones with 4000 people.

First, parents should not get a balcony cabin. As romantic as it sounds, unless the kid knows not to lean on ledges or overboard then parents much better off in an inside cabin.

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Parents should bear in mind that the pools on the cruise ships do not have lifeguards. Parents of children who wander off should choose a cabin away from pools, places with water, and elevators.

Cruise ships don’t have supervision except for a few safety officers. Parents should go to them if their child goes missing. They have procedures and can start looking for a lost child immediately.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism

We Won’t be Relaxed

Most of us want to go on vacation and relax. However, parents of children with autism might worry they will have to be hyper vigilant at all times. Kids will likely be excited to be on the cruise ship and maybe want to explore. Meanwhile, parents will want to get a massage or at least sit by the pool.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism flow

Parents should think of either teaming up with another family member to help watch the kids or bring a caregiver. They could even team up with several other parents of children with autism and take turns, especially during the activities.

Cruises are too Expensive

Pricing is a factor for many people going on cruises, especially the modern crew ships with the endless activities. Families should seek bargains at every opportunity.

Common Cruising Misconceptions for Parents of Kids with Autism drill

We recommend traveling off-season for many reasons. There are fewer guests on board and families will get more personalized attention. The silver lining to going off-season is the fact that the prices can be almost 50% off compared to the summers or holidays.

Cruises are too Long

The average cruise is seven days for most first timers. Parents of children who react adversely to changes might want to consider a shorter journey. These shorter cruises of three to five days can be hard to find, but they do exist. We recommend starting with these to get children acclimated to cruising. Then if they enjoy themselves, parents can always book a longer cruise of three to five days can be hard to find, but they do exist. We recommend starting with these to get children acclimated to cruising. Then if they enjoy themselves, parents can always book a longer cruise later.



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Have you taken a cruise with your special needs kid? What was your experience?

Twelve Tips for Keeping a Cruise Cabin Tidy




Twelve Tips for Keeping a Cruise Cabin Tidy pin

Cruise ship cabins are notoriously small on average. However, they are built to house families of three-four members for a couple of days in relative comfort. Parents should try to make the best of the limited space and accommodations by packing well and by organizing the space in such a way that they can find things or don’t misplace anything. Based on our decade of travel, here are some tips to help families make the space more manageable.


Before boarding   

Choose small luggage 

Parents should always travel with small to medium suitcases that fit comfortably under the beds. Travelers will regret packing a giant 30-inch bag that takes up limited and valuable cabin space.

Pack a power cord

Most cabins have a limited number of power outlets. Travelers should bring either an outlet splitter or extension cord to charge devices, especially at nighttime.


Twelve Tips for Keeping a Cruise Cabin Tidy yellow


Bring a nightlight

Families should bring a good night light since most inside cabins lack good lighting. Especially when it is dark at night people can trip and fall on their way to the bathroom. Book reading lights or small flashlights can be very helpful as well. With these portable light sources, if someone needs to get up for a bathroom break during the night they don’t disturb everyone else with overhead light.

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Use Magnets and post its

Cruise ship cabin walls are a useful spot to organize the multitude of papers that one will acquire while on board. These documents include shore excursion info, daily itineraries, and party invitations. Sticking these papers near the desk/vanity area with magnets or clips will free up valuable table surface space.

Remember the air freshener

Cabins don’t get a lot of air circulation, and if someone in the family is sensitive to smells, this could prove stressful. Parents should bring along a naturally scented freshener or some essential oils to diffuse on a light bulb. Lavender or peppermint are often pleasing and calming choices for many people.


Our Tips for a Family's First Time Cruising bed

Label everything

Families should pack everything in plastic bags and label everybody’s belongings accordingly with a different colored  Tape. This will help everyone know exactly which items to unpack and what to put where.

While onboard

Rearrange furniture

Passengers shouldn’t hesitate to ask the cabin steward to help rearrange the furniture in the cabin if necessary. The best layout that leaves the most space is splitting the king size bed into two singles to create a pathway between the beds.


Twelve Tips for Keeping a Cruise Cabin Tidy sofa


Designate a spot for everything

Parents should designate a specific area for each member of the family to use in the cabin. This system will allow everybody to know exactly where their stuff is and where to find it. Moreover, it will prove beneficial especially during the mornings when four people need to get dressed all at once.
One can also designate a small area on the table or vanity in the room for a electronics. Parents should make sure nobody puts any beverages next to the electronics, so they don’t get damaged from accidental spills.

Use the cooler for food

Parents should ask the cabin steward to empty out the minibar. Then the family can use it for food and drink items instead of putting them on the table to occupy space.


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Keep everything organized

Parents should bring their own small fabric shower organizer, especially if the family uses different medicated shampoos and soaps. Most inside cabins only have one shelf in the shower, and there isn’t that much space to put everything.

Also, traveling families should either bring trash bags or ask for trash bags from the cabin steward to put dirty clothes in a neat pile, so they’re not all over the cabin. We advise designating a garbage bag with dirty clothes for each person because then parents can either repack using this same system and take them home or give them to the cabin steward to wash. Either way, everyone will know which item belongs to which person.

Furthermore, putting all of the room keys on lanyards and hanging by the front door at all times is helpful.This way no one wastes valuable vacation time searching the entire cabin every time they leave.


Twelve Tips for Keeping a Cruise Cabin Tidy suiye

Clear the room 

For those who decide to use room service at any point, the best thing to do is to eat and drink whatever was ordered and quickly put out the empty cups and plates, so the items don’t occupy space on tables or floors.

Keep floor and closet clutter free

Everyone should keep everything off the floor as much as possible so nobody trips and falls.Since closet space is tight, one can repack the dirty clothes into plastic bags and put them in the suitcases after wearing them. That will take less closet space and on the last day everyone will have much less to pack.

With these “inside” tips you will find cruising in your “inside” cabin to be a breeze. What are your tips?




Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti


Labadee is a private resort port on the north coast peninsula of Haiti. Urban legend has it that Christopher Columbus found this idyllic place but what we know for a fact is that in the 1600’s, Marquis de’La Badie, from France settled the area. Though the village and resort were named for him; the spelling of the name being anglicized to Labadee in the 1980s to make it more marketable for tourists.

One can only get there with the Royal Caribbean Cruise lines as they have a formal arrangement with Labadee where they will lease that part of the island until the year 2050; bringing guests on day excursions where they can have an unforgettable day while supporting the local economy.

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti ship

What to expect

Passengers coming off the ship will discover is that Labadee is much like a paradise island theme park with so much to see and do it is hard to know where to begin.
Attractions include parasailing, the Dragon’s Tail, a roller coaster that reaches speeds of 30 miles per hour and water sports like jet skiing or kayaking in the Bay.


Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti zip view

Labadee is home to the world’s longest 
over-water zip line called the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line as well a water park with a pool in Columbus Cove and a 300-foot long waterslide called Dragon Splash. There are additional waterslides, trampolines, log-rolling in the Arawak Aqua Park.

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti water sports

For holiday-makers that find these activities too energetic, there are plenty of opportunities for enjoying a relaxing day by the sea with the tropical sun, sand and gentle waves.
There are deck chairs, loungers, and hammocks to add to the relaxed atmosphere and cabanas for rent right on the water, so families can still have some privacy.

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti food
A lunch buffet, provided by the Cruise lines is included, but if you would like other options; meals and snacks can also be purchased at one of three locations: Dragon’s Café, Café Labadee or Columbus Cove Café.
Their signature fruity, frozen, an alcoholic drink called the Labadoozie is freely available for purchase throughout the day on the beaches and restaurants; sold in a souvenir cup and there is the equivalent non-alcoholic version so children can also have one and not feel like they are missing out.

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti labadee shopping trinkets
If guests would like to have keepsakes and mementos to take back home with them, there are plenty of opportunities to buy handmade souvenirs.
The woodwork is quite noteworthy, and travelers should encourage and sustain the island’s economy by purchasing items made by local artisans.

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti shopping

Autism Travel Tips

  • The island is suitable for families with autism since they can do activities at their leisure and leave when they please.
  • The cruise line staff on the island is excellent with autism accommodations and don’t let special needs travelers wait in any long line.
  • The Arawak Aqua Park allocates specific times for guests to use the park to prevent excessive crowding and reduce the wait times and long lines.
  • Make sure that you know when your time is scheduled so your child does not miss out on the activities.
  • There are plenty of life jackets for everyone, so you don’t have to worry about bringing one for your child.
  • There are gazebos built on the beach for shade but make sure you provide necessary clothing, sunscreen and bug spray to protect your child from the sun and any bites.

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti cabana

  • If you are relying on the ship for complimentary meals, make sure you are there on time and be aware of what times they are serving the food.
  • If your child is on a particular diet, you need to make arrangements with the shore excursion staff as to how to get the customized food items.
  • Plan ahead which rides and activities your child will want to participate in, so you ask the staff for accommodations with preset time slots.
  • Bear in mind that some of the rides have age restrictions so make sure in advance to avoid disappointment.
  • The island is large (there is a complimentary  Royal Caribbean shuttle that stops in several spots and runs continuously) so you should factor in the distances between the different attractions. 

Top Family Friendly Activities on Labadee Haiti labadee shuttle
Check out our video that has more than 70,000 views on youtube.



Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar


Recently we had the opportunity to go on a Norwegian Cruise Line voyage. We vacationed onboard the new Breakaway that first set sail in April 2013, and travels from New York to Bermuda during the northern hemisphere summer months and to the Bahamas and Caribbean in the colder months.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar sign

The Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway is a state of the art cruise ship offering its passengers outdoor attractions in the form of pools, water slides, rope course, a climbing wall, as well as a basketball court, 9-hole mini golf course, and a jogging track.
The ship is equally impressive with its indoor facilities featuring an ultra modern gym, a spa with relaxation and treatment rooms contributing to the vacation atmosphere of the ship, as well as shopping facilities, an art gallery and children and youth clubs.
Then, of course, there are over a dozen of restaurants and bars both on the outside and decks for the thousands of travelers onboard to sample and enjoy.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar bar

The Ice Bar

On the Breakaway’s elegant Deck 8, travelers will find a unique watering hole in the form of a sub-freezing temperature Ice Bar. The idea is not new and was first introduced back in the 1990s in the  Ice Hotels; the

The idea is not new and was first introduced back in the 1990s in the  Ice Hotels; the Icehotel in Sweden being the first permanent location that is still in existence.
Over the years, Ice bars became quite trendy, so it wasn’t a surprise when the concept was adopted and taken onboard by Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar statue
An ice bar had already made the Norwegian Cruise Line famous when the Epic, (Breakaway’s older sister) was featured on website as one of the best Ice Bars of the world, so naturally, company officials opted to continue the winning streak and put one on their newest ship too.

The venue is small and can fit 25 guests at any given time.
The process is simple: passengers pay, then wait to go in and can stay for 20 minutes if they can stand the cold for that long. The entrance fee covers two alcoholic drinks as well as a warm coat and gloves.


The Ambiance

The  Bar’s decor is a sculpted winter wonderland scene of New York City made out of transparent colorless ice and is lit with bright blue lighting that makes it look modern and mysterious.
It includes sculptures of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings, the Statue of Liberty and a giant chair that becomes a dare to sit in because you can freeze your private areas off by doing so.

Since almost everything in the bar is constructed or sculpted of ice including the bar table, the walls, the floor, the door and even the drinking glasses, the venue makes for an unusual attraction to see.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar chair

The Menu

The locale menu is relatively simple with six specialty vodka cocktails inspired by the city that the ship sails out of: Spiked Apple Juice, Broadway Dreams, Yellow Cab, Times Square Lights, Central Park and Rock Center.
There are also two non-alcoholic drinks offered for passengers who are either underage or don’t wish to consume alcohol appropriately named  Lady Liberty and Coney Island, both fruit-based beverages.


Autism Dining Tips

  • The Ice Bar admits children too and has non-alcoholic beverages on their menu for them.
  • The bar can be crowded, and it is important to make reservations especially so you don’t have to wait in long lines
  • The venue is highly popular, so travelers need to make reservations as soon as they get on board since the spots fill up fast.
  • It is important to talk to your kids about the dangers of frostbite and warn them against holding their bare skin next to the ice for prolonged periods of time.
  • It is freezing and even though the Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar staff give you a hooded coat to keep warm, it is important that kids wear closed shoes and socks.
  • Though it is interesting to see, the venue doesn’t offer any entertainment, so younger kids might find it boring after the first few minutes of exploring the place.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Breakaway Ice Bar menu



Thirty Tips for Newbie Cruisers with Autism

For anyone considering or already booked on a first-time cruise, here are thirty useful tips to help you get the most out of your cruise experience!


Before You Board

  • Before you board, be sure to get travel insurance.
    Although there is a doctor on board, they do not take Medicare or other private insurance, so without travel insurance, you would still have to pay for any unforeseen services.
    Check ahead of time what your travel insurance covers in case of medical emergencies related to autism.
  • You should pre-book your reservations for the spa, specialty restaurants and shore excursions you have your heart set on online.
    Once you have everything squared away, you’re ready to go!
  • Sign up for CruiseCritic’s roll call for your sailing to meet fellow passengers.
  • Notify the cruise line of any accommodations you and your family need.

When You Board

  • The cruise line hosts a Sail Away party that is lots of fun!
    At the start of your vacation, it’s an excellent way to meet others before you unpack and get together with friends and family.
  • The first day is essential for getting oriented and planning ahead, choosing activities you would like to do during the trip.
    Register for activities like the character breakfast, ice skating, Flowrider, cupcake decorating as soon as you get on board since there are also some discounts you might be able to benefit from if you sign up early and also some activities will fill up fast.
  • Head on to guest services and make sure that they are aware of your family’s special needs status.
  • Don’t forget to disable your kids’ card from charging in the stores, arcade and other venues. If you are afraid, they will make charges without your permission.

Tips for Newbie Cruisers with Autism chess

Aboard the Ship

Once you have gotten settled, there are all kinds of activities to do aboard the boat.
Make sure you check the daily cruise newsletter for announcements and information; since there is so much to do aboard, finding something for everyone is quite easy.


  • Be a savvy consumer and get acquainted with jewelry and electronics prices before you board the ship to avoid overpaying. Remember, whatever you buy will be harder to fix overseas, and there are no returns.
  • The cosmetic store sells makeup (if you have not restocked your makeup in a while) and offers a free makeover, which would be perfect for tween and teen girls.
  • Careful with the duty-free items; check allowed quantities first and know you cannot use the alcohol during the trip. Only the last night (hint, hint).
  • On formal nights, they hold a $10 item sale where you can get fake jewelry and accessories that are perfect for the younger crowd.
  • Wait for the last day to purchase the ship logo store  T-shirts since some will go on sale  2-for-$20.


Entertainment and Sports

  • Involve your child in the ship’s activities by having him or her visit any venue first and ‘test the waters’.
    • On board, ships have an entire gym, bikes, boxing arenas, rope and rock climbing, paid yoga and pilates classes, pools for lap swimming, water polo, soccer, and volleyball; so there is always plenty to do.
      If your kid wishes to try independent activities like rock climbing, ice skating or the FlowRider ask the coordinator if you can arrive either ten minutes before the official start or after the action ends when there are fewer people, and your child can get more individualized attention.
    • Cruise lines now offer classes, so this may be a good opportunity to try something new: like scuba diving, cooking, cupcake decorating, or even scrapbooking and pottery making.Make sure you talk to the person in charge ahead of time so they can accommodate your kid.
  • In the case, you choose to let your child wander by himself/herself you should consider buying a set of high-quality walkies talkies to be in constant touch  with them or teach then and how to use the public phones available around the ship to call you and inform you of their whereabouts
  • You can watch free movies in the regular theater, the 3D theater, by the poolside, or even in your room.Be aware some ships also offer paid options for movies so you may want to block that if you don’t want to incur unauthorized charges.
  • You can borrow all kinds of games from the library for free, such as Sudoku, trivia, bridge, chess, scrabble, and Scattergories.Most ships offer Bingo with prizes for a nominal fee. If your kid wishes to attend, the Bingo sessions arrange for them to be seated in a quieter spot on the edge of the room away from the additional noise.
  • Remember to stay hydrated. It’s not necessary to pay for bottled water when you can get water from the nearest bar if you get thirsty.At night just call room service and ask for a free pitcher of cold water to be delivered to your room.

Tips for Newbie Cruisers with Autism ropes
When you go ashore, make sure you keep a few things in mind.

  • First of all, ship time and port time can be different at times (When traveling through various time zones ships might decide to adhere to one particular region to inconvenience their passengers less .) A good way to keep track of time is to keep your own watch on ship time and get a $10 watch that will show the port time.
  • Above all, don’t miss the ship! Yes, it will sail without you (some travelers with balconies admit that watching people miss the ship is a favorite pass time.)
  • Another tip to remember is to check the weather forecast for the week on the weather channel website.
    That way, you can choose shore activities that will be appropriate and realistic for the day.
  • As a newbie, you might want to take the cruise line tours for ports that are far from the attraction you wish to visit since those are the only shore excursions guaranteed to bring you back to the ship on time.
    Moreover, if they are delayed for any reason the ship waits for those passengers.
  • Be leery of paying a third-party guide ahead of time since sometimes the cruise ship may end up skipping a  port entirely due to unforeseen reasons.
    If you decide to pre-book a private tour and pre-pay (Which I don’t recommend), then check their refund policy and your travel insurance to make sure you are covered if something goes wrong.
  • Also double check the time it takes to get from the ship to your intended destination and back through traffic since if things don’t go as planned, you may miss your ship.
  • Make sure your child has some form of identification on their person at all times when going ashore, in case they get lost.
  • Parents of nonverbal kids with autism should look into using temporary tattoos with the child’s name and a cell number to call in case the child wanders off especially in a foreign country.
  • Prepare a small shore excursion bag with sunscreen, insect repellent, first aid kit and a small fan if temperatures get unbearably hot.
  • Always carry a bottle of water and some sealed snacks as some ports will not allow you to come ashore with any fresh food from the ship.

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Cruise Ship Muster Drills Tips for Autism

In recent years, there have been some emergency situations and even tragedies in the cruise line industry.
In June 2015, the deadliest boat disaster in China in almost 70 years occurred when 456 people, mostly older citizens, were on board a cruise when disaster struck, and only 14 passengers survived.
In 2010 and 2011, the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Triumph respectively had engine fires, and there were several passengers injured.
In 2012, one of the worst maritime disasters in modern Italian history occurred when the Costa Concordia sank, and 32 passengers died, and 64 were injured.

As much as we don’t want to think about things going wrong on our planned holiday, travelers need to learn what to do when emergencies happen.So just like airlines have their flight attendants explain emergency procedures in the event of emergency landings, the cruise lines conduct their muster drills.

Cruise Ship Muster Drills Tips for Autism kids

What is the Muster Drill

Though each cruise liner has their method for carrying out a muster drill, they are mandatory, and the aim is to familiarize all guests and even the crew with valuable information.
By law, the drills must be done immediately before setting sail, but a minority of cruise lines do it the next day once the ship has already left port.In the past, the drill was done outside on the decks in the actual mustering stations, but in recent times, it is performed indoors where people can sit comfortably instead of stand for 20-30 minutes.

Years back when we first started cruising, we were told that muster drills were compulsory for every passenger –much like cough syrup: it tastes awful, but it is good for you.’ Dressed in uncomfortable life jackets, standing outside in the hot afternoon sun we all tried to listen to the lengthy presentations accompanied by loud sirens.
Many times we didn’t even get there; it all depended on the extent of our son’s whining, complaining and crying that day. I  distinctly remember several instances when I got lectured by crew members after my son wondered off.Eventually, we got more savvy and learned to avoid the comments and looks all together.
On one of our voyages, someone at Guest Services suggested we asked the cruise lines if we could get away with sending a family delegate to the muster drill instead of trying to make our son attend.
They agreed, and it made a positive difference in our cruising experience.

But that all changed for the better with the new trend of having the drill indoors.
During our past cruise on the Golden Princess,  all passengers assembled in the ship’s  air conditioned amphitheater and listened to a much more interesting presentation.

Cruise Ship Muster Drills Tips for Autism speech
Our Takeaway from the Presentation

During this drill, additional safety information was presented, and passengers were taught what actions needed to be taken in the various situations.
The most important guideline was for everyone to have their medication and cruise cards ready to grab from their cabins at all times.
Furthermore, everyone needed to have an item of warm clothing handy because it can be chilly out on the open sea during a potential evacuation of the ship.
The presentation continued to explain that in a time of any emergency; there would be crew members that would direct the passengers and assist with life jackets and direct travelers to the lifeboat and life rafts.


Cruise Ship Muster Drills Tips for Autism crowds

Autism Travel Tips

  • Ask customer service for a private room or an exemption if your child can not attend but it is important and recommended that your child is still taught by you what to do in a time of a crisis.
  • The drill; anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes in length, contains loud noises, including the sounds of the signals so if your child is sensitive to noise, bring noise canceling headphones.
  • Make sure to visit the actual muster station with your kid to familiarize him/her with the place – the location is clearly marked on the back of your cabin door.
  • Have your kid watch the video  (link below) in increments so that he or she remembers what to do and is prepared.

Guernsey German Occupation Museum with Kids


Although this UK Channel Island had been demilitarized and secretly classified as an area with no strategic value by the British government, the Germans still chose to bomb the small island of Guernsey on June 30, 1940.
Over 30 people lost their lives that day as many others would in the days to come. Even the local tomato harvest did not escape the destruction as the group of trucks conveying the produce to the harbor was bombed after being mistaken for a military convoy.

Exploring the Guernsey German Occupation Museum with Kids mapSomewhere between 17,000 and 25,000 people left Guernsey in the days that followed the initial attack.
At first, the local government planned to evacuate all of the island’s schoolchildren as well as any of their parents who wanted to join them.
But it soon became apparent that more people planned on leaving the island than first thought and could be carried out safely.

Those in charge soon realized that this could become a problem so they changed their tune and encouraged people to stay if they could. The result was that most of the islanders ended up remaining on Guernsey for the duration of the war.
The island was occupied by German troops for nearly five years before finally freed by the Allies on May 9, 1945.

The Guernsey German Occupation Museum

What started off as one family’s project to chronical the experiences of those who stayed on Guernsey during the occupation became the Museum of German Occupation.
This modest establishment, which received a 2013 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, documents the local populace’s struggle for survival and shows how they overcame the everyday challenges that were presented by the German occupation.

The well-lit museum contains some dioramas and historical videos that show how difficult life was in those days. The building is home to artifacts like a 4.7CM anti-tank gun, a four-wheel Enigma machine, a gas mask for horses, and even a mini cooking stove made out of scrap metal.
Reprinted copies of newspapers from the period even line the walls so that travelers can easily get an idea of what was going on at the time.Exploring the Guernsey German Occupation Museum with Kids horses
We visited the island on a short shore excursion while cruising the British Isles.We explored the small but highly informative museum -six rooms in total.
Our kids were surprised to discover that there was a German internment camp on the island that housed over a thousand prisoners and that the island even printed its own currency during the occupation.

After ending the museum visit, we strolled around the St Peter’s  Port area and admired the quaint private homes that sported names instead of numbers.


Autism Travel Tips

  • Those visiting the museum should allow themselves several hours to see everything that the site has to offer. Of course, the friendly staff members are glad to answer any questions that their visitors might have.
  • The Museum can be reached by local bus from the nearby village or by cab from the port area for those who visit on a cruise ship shore excursion.
  • Visitors that come by car will be happy to learn that there is free parking nearby as well.
    There are restrooms in the building and an on-site café so guests here need not leave until they have gotten their fill of the exhibits.
  • Between the months of April and October, the museum is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm. From months of November to March, the hours are reduced significantly as the building only stays open until 1 pm. The site is also closed on Mondays during this period.
  • The admission costs remain the same year round at £5 ($7.69 USD) per adult and £2.50 ($3.84 USD) per child.

Tips to Booking a Cruise Vacation for Families with Autism


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.

 Tips to Booking a Cruise Vacation for Families with Autism ship

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.


Cabin selection

  • 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.

Additional Accommodations

  • 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.”

Visiting Cabo San Lucas’ El Arco With Autistic Kids

 Cabo San Lucas is one of the best destinations when cruising the Mexican Rivera., made famous back in the 1980’s by the popular  Love Boat TV series.
For first time families traveling with kids that aren’t strong swimmers and can’t snorkel, a glass bottom boat tour to the iconic El Arco’s (Land’s End ) where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean are a good choice.

Since weather can be stormy or windy at different times of the year, it might be best to book a tour the very day the ship docks in port instead of ahead of time..

Land’s End

Travelers will see multiple vendors offering the glass boat tours upon arrival at the pier. Since the cruise price isn’t fixed and can be ‘negotiated’ you can get a better and cheaper deal if you are part of a larger group.
For families seeking an interactive experience check out the Buccaneer Queen pirate ship offering day and sunset trips that include a buffet style meal and unlimited drinks.

During the short cruise, you can enjoy spectacular rock formations some home to colonies of sea lions and pelicans that feed on the local fish without even getting off the boat. If you chose to get off the boat, you could check out the area’s famous beach called Lovers’ Beach with its calmer waves that are best suited for families and younger kids.Those seeking adventure can try ‘Divorce Beach’, yes, that’s what the locals nicknamed it; with rougher waters and better snorkeling opportunities. Needless to mention that families with younger kids can just opt to play in the sand or watch the marine wildlife.

Autism travel  tips

As the boat sails into the open sea, the water waves often  get rough, so if you or your kid are prone to sea sickness, you may want to take some Dramamine pills or patches before boarding.Many of the boats are open to the elements so have your kids sit on the inside part away from the water to avoid them from falling into the water or getting wet.If your kid is temperature sensitive look to book a boat that is partially covered and provides some sun shade. It would be useful to bring a  one dollar packable poncho along to cover him /her from the water splashing on them when the boat speeds up if they are sitting in an open vessel.
There aren’t many places to buy any food items particularly for those with dietary restrictions so bring along snacks, bottled water, and sunscreen in a day bag from the cruise ship.
Closed toe shoes such as Crocs or water shoes are highly recommended for getting on and off the boat where there are slippery floors to negotiate.
In case, your family members are planning to swim or snorkel consider purchasing life jackets and bringing them along since the beaches authorities do not employ lifeguards.
Remember to warn your kids against climbing the steep rocks since they can get seriously injured.

Have you visited Cabo San Lucas with your family; if so what are your tips?


First Five Things To Do After You Enter Your Cruise Cabin

First Five Things To Do After You Enter Your Cabin inside


After you board the cruise ship, your first instinct is to walk around and explore the different activities and ‘welcome aboard ‘giveaways.
Not so fast!
Before you relax and start having fun, you really should go to your assigned cabin and check five essential things that may help you enjoy your vacation better.

The Five things to check:

  • Make sure that all the room keys work! We have had several instances when one or more cabin keys were not synched to work with the door lock and couldn’t open the door
  • Check the cabin’s plumbing and electric systems to make sure everything is in order since sometimes they malfunction and it is much harder to get someone to fix it during the night hours.If something is leaking or backed up, the quicker staff members are aware of it, the better.  You should turn on the faucet, toilet, shower and tub if there is one, air conditioning/heating system, refrigerator, room lights, TV, phone and even the safe deposit box if you intend on using it.
  • If you do discover something is not functioning adequately or broken report it immediately to the room steward or customer service.
    Check the location of the room vent and make sure that it isn’t blowing over directly your kid ‘s bed especially if he or she is temperature sensitive.
  • If it is, try to either designate a different bed for your child with autism or move the existing one away from the vent.Lift up the bed mattress and check (with the help of a flashlight) the back and seams carefully for any dark dots or spots.Luckily many cruise ships use metal frames, so the chance of cabins infested with bed bugs is smaller than hotels rooms.
  • Carefully wipe down the cabin door knobs, shower and faucet handle with a cleaning wipe.Then proceed to clean the remote control, TV buttons and all the electrical switches. The last thing to wipe clean or spray with a mini Lysol is the toilet seat and shower floor.
  • Though cruise lines clean the cabins; you should take extra precautions since you are traveling with a special needs person especially if he or she touches everything and continuously puts their hand in their mouth to try and lessen the chance of germs and disease.

Autism Travel Tips

  • Write your cabin room number on your kid’s t-shirt or inside his shoes so others will know how to find you, if he/she gets lost.
    If you are traveling with kids that wander off; check that the balcony door (if you have one) IS  LOCKED.
  • You should stick any contact alarms if you brought any on the cabin door and check that they work adequately.
  • Place a poster or any picture on your cabin door so your kid with autism can easily distinguish it from the neighboring doors especially if he/she can’t memorize cabin numbers quickly.
  • Take a minute and show all your family members where the nearest emergency exit door is located so they will remember in times of a real crisis.

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