The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas pin

Harmony of the Seas of the Royal Caribbean International is the world’s largest passenger ship at 226,963 GT. The ship carries over two thousand rooms and can house over five thousand guests. We were lucky to be hosted on one of Harmony’s inaugural voyages as part of Royal Caribbean’s advisory committee for autism travel.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas head

Embarkation

On our two nights trip to the Bahamas from Fort Lauderdale, we were accompanied by media people, others on the advisory committee, and travel agents. Embarkation was speedy. We encountered a small line when we got there because we were originally scheduled to arrive at 2 PM but decided to come earlier. Royal Caribbean prides itself on assisting families with autism, and a staff member did walk us through the embarkation process.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas wall

Ship Decor

The general décor of the ship was modern and elegant. While other ships typically have more flashy decorations, the Harmony of the Seas ambiance was more subdued with a few touches of color. Visitors will see many of the brighter bits in the Boardwalk and pool areas while the Central Park and Promenade are much more conservative.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas legs

We liked the fact that many parts of the ship are either completely open to the air or partially, providing many public areas with plenty of natural light. 

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas skeeball

Activities

This ship is part of the cruise line’s Oasis-class fleet and has family friendly features that the Royal Caribbean has developed in the last two years like the Sports Zone and different neighborhoods.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas car

The Boardwalk area is all about fun. Visitors can enjoy several stores and eateries.For amusement, the Boardwalk has plenty for kids, such as a hand-carved wooden carousel, two wall climbing areas, and The Ultimate Abyss. In the Ultimate Abyss, people slide through a ten-story high purple tube on a cushion from the top deck all the way to the sixth.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas window

There is also an Aquatheater with afternoon and night performances of a Cirque du Soleil-like show aimed to wow all ages. Our son with autism loved the various activities as well as the green rocking chairs where he could sit back and relax.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas gold

The Central Park area on the eighth deck boasted more adult venues. There is no real entertainment in Central Park, but the area houses several specialty restaurants. Like its NYC namesake, this relaxing garden features live trees and bushes, with fresh plants brought every few weeks on the ship. One can hear bird sounds, and not all of these are artificial. Real birds often ride in the ship’s Central Park between destinations.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas food

Similar to its sister ships, the Harmony of the Seas features the Royal Promenade with Sorrento’s pizza, a coffee shop/sandwich area along with several upscale shopping stores. These stores include brands like Le Vian, Citizen, Chanel, and Michale Kors. Visitors can enjoy “duty-free” shopping, meaning that these items are tax-free as long as the goods are purchased out of the country. 

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas carousel

The ship also has a huge Sports Zone on the top decks. For guests who love swimming, there are several indoor and outdoor pools with two FlowRider areas. Avid outdoor fans should try the rock climbing, zip lining, ping pong, basketball, mini golf and ice-skating.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas fun

 

The ship also had several interesting artistic pieces displayed in its public areas. One of these was a beautiful mirror head statue, called “Head” with interlocking pieces that continuously moved to change its face. Artist David Cerny designed this art piece for the Royal Promenade.
The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas view

Dining Options

When we ate at the Windjammer Buffet, we noted several significant changes. Appearance wise, The Windjammer now featured more modernized and upscale decor. The buffet is based around the concept of an open fresh market, displaying the food for patrons. They offer a wide variety of buffet items as well as freshly baked goods.We appreciated the fact that the staff required guests to wash their hands before entering thus helping minimize norovirus cases onboard.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas salt

The Boardwalk included some of our son’s favorite spots, such as Johnny Rockets with its burgers, Sabor which makes terrific fresh guacamole, and the not to be missed complimentary Boardwalk Doghouse with delicious hot dogs. 

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas food

 

Central Park featured plenty of high-end restaurants, such as 150 Central Park, Jamie’s Italian, Chops Grill, and Izumi. The area encompassed Park Cafe where guests can have a fresh salad or sandwich made in front of them. 150 Central Park is a posh restaurant with a seasonal menu that is not conducive for little kids. We dined in the first one aboard Allure of the Seas back in 2011 for Thanksgiving and had a great time.Our kids still remember the different flavored salts, from simple to spicy to fragrant. 

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas chair

And speaking of an incredible experience, parents can take a night out and go to Wonderland on deck eleven. The entire restaurant emphasizes the concept of surprise. Guests enter through a tunnel and receive a piece of paper and a brush. The menu appears when patrons take the brush and wet the paper. The food is categorized based on themes, such as Sun, Ice, Fire, Sea, and Earth.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas wonderland

Finally, topping the cruise experience guests should check out the bionic bar where robots mix drinks. Alcohol bottles hang from the ceiling as the robot arms mix the drinks ordered by guests on an iPad.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas robot

Shows and Attractions

The Harmony showcased several parades with the Dreamworks characters. During our sailing, the Harmony had its Holiday Parade, an event where they celebrate every holiday at the same time.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas stage

Families can also enjoy Grease the Musical. This musical includes all songs from both the seventies hit Broadway show as well as the movie.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas ice

Studio B, the ice skating rink, hosted 1887 a Journey in Time. This story is set in Paris and follows Juliet and her time traveling companion Tempus discovering the wonders of the world.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas irish

The Aquatheater on the Boardwalk  showed the Fine Line Aquashow, which displays acrobatics and extreme sports athletes in immersive 360 degrees.As it was in the nighttime and the theater is open to the elements we left the show early when our son with autism said he was cold.

Escape the Rubicon, an escape room for which guests need to pay in advance was a great hit with our son. Groups of up to twelve get transported to “another time” and need to solve the puzzle to break out in sixty minutes.
Originally we booked it for 5 PM, but our son forgot all about it and showed up an hour late. He almost didnt get in but a sweet young gal galantly offered him her spot and averted what could have potentially been a meltdown.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas night

Kids Clubs

The Harmony of the Seas offers several clubs for children and teens of various ages. The cruise line divides children into Aquanauts (3-5 years), Explorers (6-8 years) and Voyagers (9-11 years). Each group partakes in different age appropriate activities, and all kids can visit the Adventure Science area and Imagination Studio. Teens get divided into age 12-14 and age 15-17, and most of these spaces revolve around video games and socializing.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas club

We checked out the teen club, shown around by Victoria, an enthusiastic staff member.
The ‘Living Room’ is comprised of a large room divided into smaller spaces with various seating arrangements.There are plenty of gaming options such as PS4, XBOX 360, XBOX One, WII, and other video games. There’s also board games, card games, and arts and crafts.

Furthermore we spoted a a place to dance and even a mini buffet with sandwiches and a beverage station that makes virgin drinks.

 

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas chair
It is important for parents to know that this is not a place where kids sign in and out.

Teens can move independently through the club from ten in the morning to two in the morning. Also, no parents are allowed to be in this room unless they have special needs.Although the staff is eager to help those with special needs, this is not a one on one program.

 

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas stairs

A point to note is that the ship’s WIFI is fantastic, so relatives can call or message kids at any point if they need to stay in contact.

The Autism Friendly Harmony of the Seas pose

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should book any activities online to avoid disappointment or lines.
  • At shows, parents should request seating close to the exit in case kids get restless.
  • Parents should introduce their children to Grease songs ahead of time so they can enjoy themselves at the show.
  • Families should try to book activities like the Abyss either when they first open or late in the afternoon or evening. Also, they should try to schedule these on days in port when there are fewer people if these activities are open.
  • Those who want to try specialty dining should go on the day of embarkation when it is less crowded, and the dress code is flexible.
  • The Boardwalk is always lively, and families can always leave if they feel overwhelmed. However, they should not book a room facing this area as it is busy and noisy.
  • Each neighborhood features several Purell stations for keeping hands clean.
  • The ship does have a mandatory muster drill with some physical exertion, which includes walking up stairs, in Studio B. Those who can’t participate in some parts of the muster drill need to contact the special needs department ahead of time. Parents of kids with noise sensitivities should bring ear plug as the muster drill includes seven horn blows.

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel PIN
When our family went on the Harmony of the Seas inaugural cruise, we chose to spend the night before the cruise at the W Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Located on 401 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, this hotel proved to be a great stay for our family despite the fact it typically caters to couples.

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel building

 

What Makes it Family Worthy?

This wave-shaped luxury hotel boasts 430 rooms and sits on beachfront property overlooking the Atlantic. The hotel is an SPG property, so guests can both use and earn SPG points during their stay. The hotel is near several great recreational locations and activities, including the Museum of Discovery and Science, the Sawgrass Mills Mall, and the Fort Lauderdale Ghost Tour.As mentioned before, the hotel mainly caters to couples, and we mostly saw couples during our stay. However, families and other groups are certainly welcome at this hotel.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel elevator

Our Arrival

We requested our usual accommodations of feather free pillow for allergies and a quiet location for our son with autism. However, when we arrived at our room, we discovered the hotel had given us a couples room that was not at all appropriate for families. Our shower had a clear glass wall so that people in the room could see whoever was showering. While the hotel did give us a curtain, we found that the room was still not working for us, so the hotel thankfully moved us to a suite.

 

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel couples

Hotel Decor

The Fort Lauderdale W prides itself on his whimsical, humorous touches. The W features dark decor, lots of velures, and metallics on white and black backgrounds. We appreciated the amazingly decorated elevators done in metal with pink-reddish light. The mat outside the elevator changes three times a day, so it says “good morning” “good afternoon” and “good evening” as appropriate.The wall behind the counter had a large stamped “W” symbol. There was plenty of dim lighting throughout the lobby, some of it cleverly hidden behind walls or in crevices.  The hotel is made up of two towers, one of which boasts residential properties, where we stayed.

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel view

Our Room

The kitchen boasted an island with a pull-out sink faucet. We found the trash can stored underneath the sink, and next to the sink was a working dishwasher. Near the island was a dining table with several chairs where guests could sit together and have a meal.

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel sofa

 

The closet by the door had a motion detector light and large safe. The safe in the closet sat at a convenient height on top of a set of drawers. We also saw another closet near the bathroom that guests could lock, an excellent additional security feature. We found a third closet in one of the bedrooms, which had shelving, a bathrobe, an ironing board, a luggage rack, and a chest of drawers. Something we noticed about the closets was that they were all painted black, which made the clothes stand out.

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel breakfast

The living room was decorated with faux-marble white walls. The living room had a nice offwhite L-shaped sofa with an attractive coffee table. Over the couch, we saw a black and white blanket. The living room had a third TV over another black chest of drawers.

 

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel safe

Our suite had two bedrooms that looked incredibly similar. Both bedrooms had blue carpeting that simulated waves, with similarly decorated curtains. The rooms each had a chest of drawers in black wood, above which we could enjoy a 45 inch TV mounted on the wall. The wall behind the bed in each room was a bold silver taupe. The rooms both had king sized beds with nightstands and night lights on each side. Each nightstand featured an outlet and two USB ports. Finally, both rooms had a sitting area with a standing lamp and an unusually designed chair. The seat was wide, sleek black, and looked like a cross between a lounge and regular chair.

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel ROOM

Perhaps the best feature of the room was the provided washing machine and dryer. In-room access to clothes washing machines is perfect for families, especially for extended stays.There was adjustable air conditioning in every single room, ideal for family members with temperature sensitivities.Our room had a balcony with spectacular views of the ocean. The room had two sliding doors, one in the living room and one in one of the bedrooms. Unfortunately, both sliding doors had only one easy -to-open lock, not the best to stop wandering kids.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel bed

Overall, the decor of the room was a pleasant blend of metallic colors and neutrals, with the bright blue kitchen standing out in the room. The room felt like an upscale two bedroom apartment.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel lock

 

Our Bathrooms

Our suite featured two bathrooms, one next to each bedroom. A sliding door without a lock led into the first bathroom. The flooring of the entire bathroom was a tile that simulated wood in tan colors. The decor consisted of white walls with a cherry wood vanity. The sink was a Corian material and had toiletries, tissues, and a magnifying mirror. Our amenity kit was from Bliss, a sample of the hotel’s onsite Spa supplies.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel bliss

The toilet was in a separate room with a door for privacy. The shower area boasted a cherrywood shelf. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a handheld showerhead or grab bar, which can be an issue for some families. However, the shower did have an overhead light. Also, while most of the shower was tile like the rest of the bathroom, the flooring by the shower drain was made of small stones.

 

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel sink

The second bathroom was next to the master bedroom. This bathroom was not separated from the bedroom by a wall or door. The first thing we saw was the large jacuzzi tub. As we went into the bathroom, we saw the sink with more bliss products ad toiletries.The area also had light up mirror and a mini magnifying mirror.Similar to the other bathroom, the tiles in this room were neutral and light tan. The shower of this bathroom had the same setup as the first but with stone tiling and an area to sit.

Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel tub

 

Amenities

Travelers who want to take full advantage of the W Fort Lauderdale’s beachside location could sign up for the hotel’s Beach Boot Camp and Seaside Yoga. There, depending on the day guests could take complimentary classes involving different types of yoga and cardio exercises.A fitness center featuring state of the art pilates, treadmills, free weights, and balance balls was available to patrons. Most of the gym equipment also had iPod docking stations.The hotel also featured the Bliss Spa, where guests could get things like massages, manicures and pedicures. The Bliss Spa also has a “legendary” brownie buffet for guests to try.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel gym

 

As well as the beach, guests can also swim at the hotel’s outdoor infinity edge pool WET West on the fifth floor. Travelers can relax on one of the many loungers surrounding the pool, shaded by several umbrellas. The hotel also has a relaxing hot tub near a gas powered fire pit.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel pool

Not only was the hotel pet-friendly, but it also offered guests an exclusive Pet Suite. Those staying in the Pet Suite could expect to see in the room several “Tinkle Turf” pads, a plush dog bed, food and water bowls, fancy dog snacks, pick up bags, and a special dog menu. The hotel also provided a special limited edition dog bandana. Sadly, the property has no accommodations for cat owners.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel cabanas

 

Dining

The hotel had several on-site dining options. Diners looking for fancy dining could try Steak 954. The restaurant featured different delicious steaks from chef Stephen Starr that customers could eat while enjoying beautiful oceanside views. Unique to this venue was the restaurant’s jellyfish aquarium, which extended 15-feet behind several sitting areas and was lit up with bright blue and green lights.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel pool dining

Swimmers at the hotel’s WET West could stop for a bite to eat at the Wet Bar. Along with cocktails, guests could get salads, wraps, and burgers. The bar also offered several smoothies and shakes.

The W Cafe was the perfect place for grabbing a quick bite to eat or coffee. Hungry guests could enjoy everything from yogurt parfaits to teas. The W Cafe also advertised themselves as dedicated to health food.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel steak 24

 

Cost

Pricing starts at $200 a night and includes access to the mentioned amenities as well as the free high-speed internet for SPG members. Non-SPG members must pay $14.95 per day for internet access.
Our Family Stay at the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel brch

 

The hotel site recommends that guests take an Uber, taxi, or shuttle from the Fort Lauderdale airport to get to the hotel. However, those traveling in their car can use the on-site valet parking for $36 per day.

 

Autism Travel Tips

  • The hotel is a dog-friendly property and allows those staying to bring along pets as well as service animals. Families dealing with allergies should request a hypoallergenic room.
  • While our room did not have a grab bar, other rooms in the hotel do have these as well as other accessibility features. Families should request these features when booking.
  • Families staying in the couple oriented rooms should request a curtain for the “peeping” shower so as to give everyone more privacy.
  • Parents need to bring a non-slip bathmat, as the hotel does not provide one.

 

Five Family Friendly Fort Lauderdale Experiences

Five Family Friendly Fort Lauderdale Experiences pin

Full of wildlife and vegetation, history and art, Fort Lauderdale is an exciting destination. Sometimes referred to as the Venice of America, Fort Lauderdale in the state of Florida is surrounded by beaches, swamp land and nightlife. With constant warm weather throughout the year, this city is a lovely vacationing area that all families can enjoy. For parents planning a visit here are our top five family experiences to try.

Five Family Friendly Fort Lauderdale Experiences sign

Anne Kolb Nature Center

Fort Lauderdale has plenty of places to explore for animal and nature lovers. One such place is the Anne Kolb Nature Center. This location features about 1,500 acres of coastal mangrove wetland. It is home to a variety of plants and animals including some threatened and endangered species. Their Exhibition Hall holds a series of interactive and static displays that help explain to kids the West Lake Park’s Mangrove ecosystem and significance. There is also an Eco Room where kids and parents can enjoy hands-on nature experience. They can also observe the 3,500-gallon saltwater aquarium. Visitors can enjoy different trails such as a fishing trail, bird observer trail and a trail designed for walking/bike riding.

Five Family Friendly Fort Lauderdale Experiences water

Sea Experience

Sea Experience is a scuba diving, and snorkeling shop open to the public all year round. They provide diving lessons and are welcoming and encouraging of beginners. The staff takes travelers out on the water in a glass bottom boat so they can view the underwater world. Sea Experience has a variety of diving sites, and experienced divers can suggest a site to the crew. A couple of the diving sites include shipwrecked areas.

Five Family Friendly Fort Lauderdale Experiences beach

Museum of Discovery and Science

This museum is very interactive and makes learning fun. The Museum of Discovery and Science has its own AutoNation IMAX that presents 3D films in fantastic quality. There are also a couple of flight simulators that will take visitors on an incredible journey to Mars or have them soaring through the skies on a jet. What is also amazing is that the museum often has animal-centered demos that allows kids and adults to connect and get closer to animal life. Their new exhibit Powerful You is all about the human body and uses fun interaction to learn about the human body and the technology used by health professionals.

Five Family Friendly Fort Lauderdale Experiences pool

Young At Art

The Young At Art Museum is the perfect place for creative travelers. There are regular events held at the museum, so there’s always something to do. Visitors can check out the ArtScapes exhibit and learn about the history of art and how it crosses time, culture and place. In this exhibit, travelers can wander through The Cave, a human-made cave, and view 5,000 years of images of art and its histories set to music. While exploring The Cave people are encouraged to leave a message on the walls for future visitors.

Five Family Friendly Fort Lauderdale Experiences bird

At Avenue A, visitors can “ride” a New York subway and explore the world of graffiti and its history. Guests can also visit the Portrait Gallery which allows them to create a self-portrait inspired by artists through the ages.

We highly recommend taking some time to check out the CultureScapes. This exhibit honors the artists from different cultures that make up America. They display art from cultures such as Haiti, Latin America, Cuba, Africa, Native American, and Asia, etc.Moreover, kids can learn how the artists interpret their culture and tradition and how it influences their art.

Five Family Friendly Fort Lauderdale Experiences jeff

Everglades Airboat Ride

Lastly, for those up for a little adventure, we suggest a ride in Everglades Park. Here, travelers can see the local alligators in their habitat. There are plenty of venues that offer airboat rides as well as information about alligators and their habitat. One of the more famous sites is the Holiday Parks which also invites travelers back to the park to meet rescued alligators and witness events held by the park staff.

Five Family Friendly Fort Lauderdale Experiences gator

Autism Travel Tips:

  • The Museum of Discovery and Science is highly interactive and recommended for kids who are tactile and energetic.
  • Parents should make sure kids know how to conduct themselves safely during Airboat Rides. Getting up close and personal to alligators can be dangerous.
  • For the nature center, parents should pack hand wipes as it is a hands-on wild experience.
  • Parents should bring either earplugs or phones when visiting some of the exhibits like the Subway exhibit for Young at Art if their kids are noise sensitive.

Five Family Friendly Fort Lauderdale Experiences park

 

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina pin

Fort Lauderdale on Florida’s southeastern coast is famous for its beautiful beaches and wide canals that attract travelers who love outdoor activities. With its sprawling beachfront promenade lined with food and entertainment venues along with its international cruising port, it makes for a family -friendly destination. When staying in Fort Lauderdale, parents should consider the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina for comfort in a hotel worthy of the Hilton name.
Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina cloud

What Makes it Family Worthy?

This four-star hotel contains approximately 589 rooms and suites. Travelers will appreciate the location, near the Everglades cruising port, the Convention Center, and the Las Olas shopping area, at 1881 South East 17th Street. A large percentage of the hotel guests are traveling families and couples spending the night before or after the cruise. Moreover, due to the proximity to the Convention Center, this hotel also hosts business people and those attending conferences.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina ocean

Hotel Decor

The lobby featured lots of subdued yellows, oranges, and whites, with curved sofas and a large circular overhead lighting fixture that gave the area a modern, futuristic look. The lobby area, divided into several sections, was large, so guests could sit quietly or work as they waited to check in.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina white

Our Room

We stayed in room 1116 on the 11th floor, a floor reserved for the Hilton Loyalty Program guests. As usual, all the pertinent safety information was on the back of the door. The door also had two locks to help secure the room.

Our room, decorated in neutral colors of white and grays, had been newly renovated. The room featured carpetings with lines of brown, taupe, and turquoise along with dark brown furniture. Aside from some artwork on the walls, the décor was minimalistic.
Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina lobby

Since this property did not offer two queen sized beds, we settled for a room with two double beds. Each bed had a small power outlet next to it, so guests could recharge their phones while they slept. Between the beds was a nightstand with a phone, alarm clock, lamp, and shelves where guests could store more belongings.

Across from the beds, there was a desk with a swivel chair, lamp, phone, and full-length mirror. We were happy to discover several electrical outlets next to the desk, which made it the perfect place for working on projects or recharging devices. Near the desk was a glass topped table with two matching chairs, and a floor lamp, which perfectly illuminated the space.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina sofa

 

Like many hotel rooms, ours boasted a large, flat screen TV positioned atop a cabinet directly across from the beds. The dark wood cabinet was topped with glass and had several drawers capable of holding more odds and ins. The room’s mini fridge was behind the cabinet’s only tan paneled door.

A small walk-in closet provided storage in the room with wooden hangers, a small luggage rack, an ironing board, and a medium sized room safe. The frosted glass paneling on the closet doors and motion sensor light inside were nice touches. We particularly liked the fact the whole space was well lit, so finding stored away things was easy.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina lamp

The room had a small balcony  from which we could enjoy spectacular views of the harbor. The balcony furniture consisted of two chairs and a table to allow guests to enjoy sitting outside sipping their morning coffee.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina seating

Our Bathroom

Frosted glass pocket doors led into the room’s bathroom area. We could lock these doors for more privacy, a feature every family would appreciate. The bathroom, decorated predominantly in white, boasted a Corian-like black countertop with big bold tan flooring tiles.

The vanity featured a smallish, round shaped sink with high sides that kept items from falling into the basin. Instead of the traditional cabinet with doors, it consisted of an open one that held extra towels and washcloths. An exceptionally large mirror lined with fluorescent lights hung over the vanity providing ample light. We found two plugs near the light switch so that people could use items like hairdryers without leaving the bathroom. On the countertop was a complimentary amenity kit of bath products.
Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina chair

The shower area, tiled in white porcelain tiles boasted a glass enclosure. The shower featured dark chrome grab bars, and a  hand-held shower head, useful for parents  and caregivers to bath kids. There was a standard toilet, which functioned fine but the handle on it was worn and stood out in the rest of the well furnished, recently renovated bathroom
Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina food

Dining

Travelers looking for a quick meal could go to Antea, the lobby bistro bar, for coffee, baked goods, and sandwiches. At night, Antea turned into a social spot where guests could get to know each other. Nanking, featuring Asian style cuisine and fusion dishes, was by far our favorite. The venue featured bright, Chinese-themed decor and excellent service. We also liked The G by the pool. The area seemed to be a very ‘happening’ spot and attracted many of the younger travelers staying in the hotel.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina drink

The newly opened Waterway Room, serving American breakfast with views of the Intracoastal Waterway, was the perfect place to start our day. Our son with autism particularly liked the fact that he could make his own breakfast smoothie in his personal Nutribullet. Furthermore, the hotel offered room service for those who couldn’t or didn’t want to leave their rooms for dining.

Staying with Family at Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina red

Amenities

The hotel featured a beautiful outdoor pool as well as an up-to-date gym.
Travelers staying at the hotel could take the Water Taxi from Fort Lauderdale to sightsee the main attractions without even exiting the boat.
This Hilton allowed both service dogs and pets to stay in the rooms.
We got free WiFi in the room since we are Hilton Gold Members, but otherwise, there is free wifi in the public areas.

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Autism Travel Tips:

  • This hotel is built next to a waterway. Therefore, it is pertinent for parents that have kids with autism who wander off to ask for a room as far away from elevators as possible.
  • For noise sensitive travelers, ask for a top level floor room away from the pool area and the highway.
  • There is a safety bar in the shower so that travelers with mobility issues can easily access the shower.
  • Our room had a bath mat to provide traction for those that need it.
  • There are double locks on the balcony, which is great. However, the structure might pose a safety hazard for those traveling with kids or other individuals that tend to wander. Therefore, parents should bring their own alarm for the door.

 

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