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Top Autism Friendly Cruises

24 March 2023

Kids in Pool

What Autism Friendly Cruises are Available?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects millions of people worldwide. For individuals with autism, travelling can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. That's why several cruise lines have made efforts to become more autism-friendly. In this post, we will take a closer look at Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Disney Cruise Line and their autism-friendly offerings.

Often thought of as a busy environment with thousands of people, it might feel as though there isn’t anything in place for those with Autism and other disabilities that’s quiet or tailored specifically to your needs. A lot of cruise lines, however, have a great variety of amenities on offer for those with disabilities - from tailored products and services, to different programmes.

Read on to find out more information about what’s on offer onboard these autism friendly cruise ships, including autism friendly films they show throughout the cruises, social stories and priority embarkation and disembarkation.

Royal Caribbean Autism Friendly Cruises

Oasis of the Seas
Oasis of the Seas

Royal Caribbean is a popular cruise line that offers a wide range of activities, entertainment, and dining options for all ages. They also, however, offer initiatives for those not only living with autism, but other developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome. These comprehensive initiatives include dietary menu options and sensory friendly toys and films amongst other services within the Royal Caribbean kids club Adventure Ocean. Some of the other Autism friendly services include:

There are also professionally trained staffed cruises run by the organisation Autism of the Seas which cater for guests of all ages, which include additional services such as assistance with onboard products and services, respite sessions, private sessions and specialised activities. Autism of the Seas staffed cruises are also offered by Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line.

Other onboard services include the Autism Channel which is a complimentary, on-demand channel with exclusive content. Available on all Quantum, Oasis, Freedom, Radiance and Voyager Class ships, the Autism Channel provides guests with information about how to support those with developmental disabilities, including in-depth interviews with medical professionals. There is also a toy lending program, and several social stories available onboard to help individuals to cope with the social situations they might face throughout their cruise.

Celebrity Cruises Autism Friendly Cruises

Celebrity's Fleet
Celebrity's Fleet

Celebrity Cruises is known for their luxurious ships, top-notch service, and exceptional dining experiences. For individuals with autism, Celebrity Cruises has developed several initiatives similar to that of Royal Caribbean, including sensory-friendly toys and films, special dietary options (including dairy and gluten free), a toy lending programme and priority embarkation/disembarkation.

There’s also pagers/phones available for parents of the children who are within Camp at Sea to keep up-to-date with how their children are coping, along with flexible grouping by ability for children in the kid’s program (for kids aged 3-12).

All youth staff onboard receive autism awareness training covering a wealth of topics, including communication tactics and characteristics of developmental disabilities.

Disney Cruise Line Autism Friendly Cruises

Disney Dream
Disney Dream

Disney Cruise Line is known for its magical experiences and exceptional customer service. A beloved family-friendly cruise line, it’s no surprise that they offer a wide variety of activities and services for those with autism and other developmental disabilities.

These offerings include priority check-in, assistance from crew members at theatres and restaurants, Family Movie Fun Time (popular family-friendly films shown in a relaxed environment), hand wipes in the Disney Oceaneer club (for those with sensory issues) and advice from Youth Activity Counsellors as to what times are the quietest in different ship areas.

What to Consider When Booking a Autism-Friendly Cruise

There are several factors to consider when booking a cruise if you or a family member has ASD or another developmental disability. For example, you’ll want to ensure that you choose a time of year that suits your needs; if large crowds are overwhelming, then a cruise in the school holidays will not be suitable. Instead opt for a cruise at a quieter time of the year, out of school holidays or bank holidays.

Secondly, make sure to read through exactly what the cruise line you’re looking at has on offer for those with developmental needs. Even though there are often similarities with what they have on offer, there might be more specialised services that are more suitable for you or your loved one. Similarly, before booking, compare the size of the ships with autism-friendly programmes available, as a large ship might feel more overwhelming than one that’s quieter and more intimate.

If you’re considering a fly cruise, make sure that you arrange your flights with plenty of time to spare. By ensuring that the flight before and after your cruise is as smooth as possible, it will lead to a more relaxed start or ending to your holiday.

Book an Autism-Friendly Cruise Today

Travelling with autism can be challenging, but these cruise lines are making strides to create an autism-friendly experience for individuals with ASD and their families. Through their extensive training, and specialised programmes, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, and Disney Cruise Line are leading the way in autism-friendly travel.

To find out more about these cruise lines, discover our selection of cruises available. Alternatively, see our recent blog - Best Family Cruises Summer 2024 for more information.


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