Going on a cruise for your vacation doesn’t need to be placed on the back burner simply because you have an autistic child. There are a few autism friendly cruise lines out there. Each one will make sure your autistic family has everything you need for this time away from home. Disney Cruise Line is one of those cruise lines. I love sending families on a cruise with Disney. You get the Disney magic and time in different destinations. As a travel advisor, I spend part of my client planning time for you connecting with Disney to ensure they know exactly what your autistic family needs. I do this so you don’t need to spend time you don’t have to worry about whether everything is covered. I would love to chat with you and share how I can make your Disney cruise vacation a reality!
Autism-Friendly Disney Cruises
Disney will do everything it can to assist your autistic family from the moment your cruise is scheduled until it is time to disembark. As I mentioned above, I will assist with as much of this as possible. However, there may be a couple of items you need to address once you have boarded the ship.
Today, I am going to share quite a bit of what is available to you when you cruise with Disney. This will allow you to see how it is truly possible to go on a cruise with your autistic child.
Check-In and Boarding
Every guest can easily check in online. This saves quite a bit of time during boarding when you are trying to juggle kids and luggage. To save yourself even more time, I recommend choosing a terminal arrival time. Disney recommends choosing a later arrival time. The first two hours are normally the most crowded. This will ensure you are not waiting in really long lines when you arrive.
Everyone in your family will need to go through security. So, once you arrive at the terminal, alert a cast member that your family requires assistance. You will then be helped through the screening process, as well as the issuing of boarding documents.
Mandatory Safety Drill
If you have been on a cruise before, you know that the safety drill is mandatory. You also know that you must stand still in one area for approximately 20 minutes. And a loud siren will go off. Basically, two things that some autistic children will not be okay with.
Thankfully, Disney cruise lines has a solution for your autistic family. You must all arrive at the safety drill location. However, you should get there about 10 minutes before the drill begins. You can then check in with the drill leader. Only one adult from your stateroom will be required to stay for the drill. The rest of your autistic family can go back to your stateroom until the drill is over.
This time would be perfect for your autistic child to peruse the My Disney Cruise Adventure Booklet. This booklet can be downloaded before you leave for your Disney cruise. It is full of information, as well as fun activities.
Character Meet and Greets
Part of the fun of a Disney cruise is meeting all the Disney characters during a meet and greet. If your child is unable to wait for long periods of time in line, Disney has created a wonderful solution. One family member can wait in line, while you head off to the side with your autistic child.
When it is your turn, you can join the family member in line to meet your favorite Disney characters!
Family Movie Fun Time in the Buena Vista Theatre
Since some of the theaters on the ships may have shows with unexpected visual and audio experiences, Disney created a space for people with disabilities like autism. Over in the Buena Vista Theatre, they leave a few lights on. They also turn down the volume.
This allows your autistic family to watch movies while moving around a little and even talking if necessary.
Your autistic child will be more than welcome at all the different youth activities while on a Disney cruise. Disney offers an open house, so all families can check out the different programs and activities. This is an excellent way to get your autistic child familiar with their new surroundings. It can get crowded though, so keep that in mind. Arriving early or late can help you avoid crowds.
The check-in and check-out process for these activities is fairly simple. Your child will need their Oceaneer Band, if they are between the ages of 3 and 12, for this process. Older kids will not need to check in and out in the tween and teen venues.
If your autistic child does not do well with crowded spaces, you may want to speak with one of the youth activity counselors. They can tell you when the spaces are less crowded. You can also ask them which programs offer less noise and less stimulation. The counselors will do their very best to accommodate all your child’s needs.
When your child is participating in one of the activities, the counselors will be able to reach you through your Wave phone.
The debarkation process can be lengthy, just like the boarding process. Thankfully, Disney has made it possible to obtain the necessary documents in advance. After that, you have a few choices.
You can choose to do the express walk-off. This would involve you carrying off your own luggage though. It does allow you to avoid the long lines inside the terminal.
Another option is the mid-point debarkation. The lines at the luggage retrieval area have usually subsided by this time. This means you won’t have as long of a wait for the debarkation process.
Your last option is to choose delayed debarkation. With this option, you will wait until almost every other guest has left the ship. You cannot stay in your stateroom during this time though. Instead, you would need to wait in a common area. It is important to listen to the announcements if you choose to do this.
Disney cruise line makes cruising with autistic children completely possible. The cast members are there to offer assistance when you need it the most. So, don’t panic over boarding. Don’t worry about whether you will have fun because you will. And don’t think you will be stressed the entire time because you won’t. As your travel advisor, I will help make sure every aspect of your Disney cruise is exactly as you need it to be. All you need to do is contact me today to get started. I will show you how travel can be for everyone!