Cruising has turned out to be a fantastic way for our family to vacation... for many reasons! While we love our outdoor adventure vacations, they do tend to be a lot of work and very tiring for our son with Down syndrome. And, well, maybe he just isn't as interested in beautiful scenery as we are. Some of our sightseeing vacations tend to wind up with lots of time spent in the car. While he loves movies, his vacation should be more than that. Then, along came cruising!
In addition to the activities for kids on the ships, cruising offers a host of other benefits for families with kids with disabilities. My son is a particularly picky eater. The ships we've been on have each had a buffet restaurant that is available for extended hours during the day. Therefore, not only is food available when needed, my son has many options from which to choose, so he can always find something he likes and will eat. He particularly liked steak for breakfast every morning. At the sit down restaurants at dinner, the staff has always been very accommodating at bringing a special order, replacing something my son doesn't like, or bringing him lots more of something he does like. He has also always been treated with respect.
Sometimes it's the small choices and opportunities for independence that really make my son happy. He loves being able to take the elevator instead of the stairs, then meet us on the agreed upon deck. We now make sure he wear something that has pockets for his cabin key, as this allows him to go back to the cabin ahead of us or to get in if we're not with him. He loves when bands play in public spaces, and he can join in on the dance crowd. Now that he's older, and we know he knows where our cabin is, he loves being able to check himself in and out of the teens club without his parents. The Disney Cruise Line has even recently made available an app that can be used while on-board to text each other while cruising, without having to purchase the internet plan. This has allowed him additional freedom, as we can actually contact him if needed. Sightseeing cruises, like the Celebrity Alaskan cruise, also allow us to spend more time sightseeing and less time pack and unpacking to get to new destinations. While this is a benefit for us as parents, it's also a benefit for kids who do better with consistency and who prefer to exactly what to expect and what comes next.
With all of this, yes, we will definitely continue to cruise in the future!
We have been on several cruises now with both Disney Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises. One of the primary reasons we love cruising, aside from the copious amounts of amazing food, is the level of independence that we can bestow upon our son while on the ship. The activities are fairly consistent and routine. We make quick work of showing him around the ship when we get there and ensuring that he knows where our cabin is. Dinner will always be at the same time, and a show always follows, so he knows what to expect each evening. During the day, if we're at sea, we are able to offer him choices. His favorite things are the pools and the movies during the day. On the Disney cruise ships, the kids most often chose to go to the kids clubs, which, for younger kids, are like day care on super-mega steroids. So much to do, so little time. On other cruise lines, more sightseeing is involved, and we generally spend the day out and about exploring. Naturally, we like to spend those times together as a family. However, once back on ship, choices once again abound.
Thank you to Brenda Dinne and family for providing an insight to why they enjoy Cruising as a family of 4. The Dinnes are from Maryland and they were special guests on our 2014 Alaska Mission Possible Cruise.
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