Caters to ALL Special Needs Guests regardless of age; Children Travelling with Family, Teenagers Travelling with Family, and Adults Travelling with Family or Group Home. Our highly qualified AotS Staff cruises with our guests to provide and coordinate Private Activities, Respite and Services: Respite times throughout the cruise ranging from 1 to 3 hours at a time, Private sessions assisted by our Staff at most of the ship’s exciting venues, Reserved seating for shows so guests do not need to arrive early, Private Muster Drill, Expedited boarding and disembarkation, Reserved seating for all meals, and SO MUCH MORE…
Our Online Interactive Brochure provides Descriptions and Pictures of all of our services, including a SAMPLE SCHEDULE, click here.
Cruises without our Staff
This option allows guests to pick the cruise of their choice on various cruise lines. Guests who book with us receive our Cruise Assistance Package at no cost: Our guidance and consultation on any concerns, needs or issues guests may have, accommodated boarding, accommodated disembarkation, accommodated muster drills, information on guests children for the cruise line youth staff, excursion reviews by our past guests, special name tags for children, AotS t-shirts and so much more. Guests pay the same rates found on the cruise lines websites. Detailed Information on our Cruise Assistance Package. Please Contact Us with any questions, or for additional information.
Services that are listed below are included on Cruises WITH and WITHOUT Staff, except where noted: Staffed Cruises ONLY
Adults with Special Needs - Services
Staffed Cruises ONLY
We cater our vacation services to all adults with Special Needs (including Autism, Down Syndrome, and all Cognitive, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) who travel with thier family, group home or caregiver. We provide the same opportunities and services for adults as we do for children cruising with us. From the same amount of respite with our staff, to private venue sessions..... everything.
Accommodations & Services
All services outlined in our Cruises with our Staff, are provided to each of our adults, adjusted to accomodate each guests ability. Please review our Interactive Brochure for more detailed information and a sample schedule of activities.
We customize the activities we provide, based on the adults traveling with us. We provide an Adult oriented Questionnaire to be completed prior to each cruise, so we can learn the likes and dislikes, needs and expectations of each adult cruising with us. Many PRIVATE activities will be custom planned for each cruise, based on the preferences of our adults with autism. These activities may include Karaoke, Dance Parties, Board Game Sessions, Group Shore Excursions, and more.
Private Adult Events and activities
There are opportunities for our adults to socialize in low key, quiet areas, and we will have Private gatherings organized as a great get-away from the hustle and bustle of all of the ships activities, as well as the opportunity to enjoy ship venues in a Private setting.
Staff and Respite
The Autism on the Seas staff accompanies you to coordinate all of the private activities,services and Respite we provide. Our staff interacts with our adults of all disabilities during all of our events and activities to promote articipation and to ensure each adult expereinces all the cruise has to offer.
Click here to learn more about our staff and Respite we provide for Adults.
Adult Group Home Services
We understand how difficult and time consuming it can be for groups of adults, organizations and group homes to plan and coordinate vacations. We work closely with parents and group homes around the country, in customizing and planning vacations, and our goal is to be your all inclusive resource for your special needs adult vacations.
Learn more about:
Full Travel Plan Services
Flexible Payment Plans and Schedules
Vacation Spending Budgets
Group Home Staff Assistance and Respite
- Group Discounts
Additional services: For all types of Groups and Organizations
Our Planning Staff works with you through the entire booking and planning process. Our goal is to make the entire process as easy and effortless as possible.
Full Travel Plan Services (airfare, hotel, ground transportation)
Not only do we handle your Cruise/Resort Stay reservations, but we can also arrange your Group's airfare, hotel reservations (for pre and post cruise stays) and ground transfers from/to airport to port/resorts.
Flexible Payment Plans and Schedules
We have very flexible payment options and understand the financial needs of our adult organizations. Groups can make any number of payments, and at any interval from as much as over a year in advance from the trip date. Final payments do apply (no more than 3 months prior to trip date), but other arrangements can be made in certain situations.
We can provide customized Payment Schedules for each group, and also for each individual travelling.
Vacation Spending Budgets
We work with our groups to help them establish budget plans and techniques to use to help them with ancillary costs while they are traveling onboard the cruise or at the resorts.
Custom Cruises and Resort Stays
Aside from our scheduled Vacation options (click here), we work with groups in arranging custom Cruises and Resort Stays, around their schedule and ports of departures closest to them. More information.
Group Home Staff Assistance and Respite
Our staff, works with your staff during the entire vacation. We coordinate all of the activities and services, and our staff acts as liaison for all issues and requests needed by the group.
One of the greatest features to our vacations, is that Group Home Staff actually get their own Respite. At various times during the vacations, our AotS Staff will provide respite for the special needs guests, providing a much needed, and deserving break for Parents, Guardians, and/or Group Home Staff.
Discounts are earned based on the number of people booked, up to and including free cruises. This assists Group Homes (and other groups) in attaining their vacation goals.
Dining / Meal Assistance / Dietary Needs
Special Dietary Accommodations
We work with the Cruise Line and Resorts to meet most, if not all, of the dietary accommodations for each guest. Special dietary accommodations include (with 6- days notice):
- Food allergies
- Vegetarian (except vegan/macrobiotic)
- Lactose-free/soy milk
- Indian-style vegetarian meals
- Kosher for Passover meals and Kosher Requests (except Celebrity Cruise Line)
- Gluten/Cassien Free Diet
- Each cruise includes the following basic GFCF items available at meals:
- French Fries
- Chicken Fingers
- French Toast
- Scrambled Eggs
- Grilled Chicken Breast
- Fish (Cod, Salmon, Tilapia, Lobster, Shrimp, ect), grilled or broiled
- Ice Cream
Other items may be available as well, and special requests are welcome. You are welcome to bring your own GFCF food and beverages onboard the cruises, as long as they are in an un-opened original packaging/container. Some items, like pasta, can be brought onboard and prepared by the ship chef's.
Rice milk (available on Cruises with our Staff only).
*Specific "Brands" of food items are not included in the above accommodations. If a diet requires Specific "Brands" of food items, please contact us.
Exemption for Dinner Dress Code
People with Autism have been granted a complete exemption to these guidelines, so they may wear whatever they are most comfortable wearing, when attending Dinner in the Main Dining Rooms.
Reserved Tables for ALL Meals
- You, your family and friends will dine in a Specially Selected Area of the Main Dining Room for dinner.
- Our tables are seated adjacent to windows and near the exits, to allow our guests easy access and the flexibility for our children to freely use the windows to help adjust and occupy themselves during dinner.
- We have reserved tables for Breakfast and Lunch. These tables are our for the whole cruise, to maintain consistency for our children.
- Other dining venues are provided as well, as it is your choice to dine where you please for every meal......
Staff Assistance during All Meals
Our staff assist your family during all meals. We will watch the children while you get your food at the buffet restaurant, take them for a walk to deescalate when needed, take them to the bathroom, and provide overall support and help.
Special Dietary "Specific Brand" Service
Special Needs at Sea, our preferred Special Needs Equipment supplier, is able to meet a variety of special dietary requests, including specific brands of dietary items, purchased prior to your vacation and delivered directly to your cabin (or hotel room). More information is available after you book.
Extended Family & Friends - Can book with us too
Our cruises are open to all Extended Family and Friends.
Extended family and friends can book directly with us, and they also receive all of the same benefits and services, including:
- Expedited/priority boarding
- Private muster drill
- Dinner seating
- Private venue sessions
- Reserved show seating
- Siblings and child friends can attend our respite sessions
.. ect, ect
To book with us:
- Call Us, or
- Fill out our Booking Form or Quote Form
- And just let us know which family you are with
Pre-Cruise Planning & Services
We've made vacationing with autism and developmental disabilities our expertise and we're here to help you. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns, especially as it relates to autism and travelling.
Communication with your Ship
We communicate to the actual ship (via the cruise line headquarters) of your special needs information, and accommodation requirements. Getting your information to the actual ship you will be vacationing on is crucial.
We offer a variety of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) pictures for our special needs guests. The photos depict a number of actual events that take place during the cruise to help families develop a vacation picture schedule. Our PECS photo library offers parents a number of choices they may want to use along with the child’s usual picture icons. A printable link to the PECS is available to our guests approximately 2-4 weeks prior to your vacation. If you need assistance in creating an PECS schedule for your child, feel free to let us know.
Cruise Information and Tips Document
We have developed a document of cruise tips and information that first time cruisers and/or first time cruisers with special needs guests typically have questions and concerns about. We have specifically addressed many special needs topics in this document. A printable link to this Cruise Tips Document is available approximately 2-4 weeks prior to your cruise.
Vacation Social Story
A special "Social Story" has been created to assist our special needs guests. The Social Story is designed to assist guests with what they can expect on the first day of the cruise. A printable link to the Social Story is available approximately 2-4 weeks prior to your departure. We are constantly working to improve our service and provide families with the tools to ensure a successful transition on their vacation.
Excursion Reviews - Complied since our first cruise in July 2007
We maintain a list of reviews (100's and growing...) of Excursions from different cruise ports from parents and caretakers of our special needs guests, who have provided us with this information on the Feedback Form we send them upon the completion of their cruise. These reviews provide invaluable insight to some of the choices of excursions available at the ports you will be visiting, from a special needs perspective. A printable link to these Reviews is available approximately 2-4 weeks prior to your cruise.
This questionnaire will be sent to you to complete approx. 3-5 weeks prior to your departure. It is designed to collect specific information on each special needs person that will be traveling. This information will be used to help us customize the activities we provide, and to prepare the staff for your children. For Individual Cruises, this information will be sent to the cruise line children’s program staff to help them prepare for your arrival.
Special Requests and Needs
If you have any other special requests that would assist you or your child with autism in having an extra special vacation, then please specify when booking or contact us.
Mobility and Disability Access & Service Animals
Access and Services
Onboard staterooms and social areas are designed to accommodate guests with disabilities.
Discover how Braille is used to make cruising as enjoyable as possible.
From "portable hearing room kit" monitors to ASL Interpreters, every attempt is made to help all guests.
Every ship has staterooms that are specially designed to be wheelchair accessible.
Medical, Dietary, Transportation and Other Needs
The cruise lines can accommodate most of your transportation needs, dietary needs, medical needs, including oxygen and dialysis.
*Please contact us for other information regarding cruise lines other than Royal Caribbean.
Royal Caribbean welcomes guests with service animals onboard all of their ships.
A 4-ft x 4-ft wooden box with mulch or sod is provided in a relief area on a designated open deck. Disney supplies grass in a plastic tray.
Service animals are welcome anywhere on the ship where there is public access.
The guest is responsible for supplying a copy of the following paperwork, and to bring a copy of each with them on the cruise:
A copy of the service animals current vaccination records to ensure that all shots are current. NOTE: Some countries you will visit require the vaccination paperwork to be dated no older than 6 months (see website below).
Any required permits for the service animal to get off and on the vessel in ports of call. You may access foreign embassy information at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/pet_travel/pet_travel.shtml to assist you in obtaining the required permits.
A copy of the service animal certification is recommended, but not required.
There is no requirement that Service Animals disembark at ports of call. Service Animals may not be left onboard unattended.
Special Needs Equipment Rental
Our preferred Special Needs Equipment supplier, Special Needs at Sea: http://www.SpecialNeedsatSea.com
Private Venue Entertainment Sessions
Ship Venue Entertainment Private Sessions Staffed Cruises ONLY
We provide Private Sessions for our entire group (siblings, parents, friends and family) to participate in most of the ships entertainment venues, such as the ones listed below.
The purpose of these PRIVATE sessions:
- To allow the opportunity for guests with special needs to receive the assistance from our staff
- Use of these venues for just our group aides and removes the typical challenges of Public Venues (lines, crowds, etc.)
- For extended family members and freinds to use the venues, while staff care for children with special needs, who otherwise might not be able to have the opportunity
ALL family members and friends who book with us will be part of our Group, and are open to participate in and take advantage of all of our Private Sessions and Activities. Please Note: If you book with another Agency, or direct with the Cruise Line, all "Staffed Cruises" related Services and Activities are NOT included. Some services and activities vary depending on cruise line, ship and resort.
- "Rock Wall"
"Jump Zone (bungee trampoline)"
"Ice Skating Rink"
"Inline Skating Course"
- "Zip Line"
- "Bumper Cars"
- etc, etc...
- Most of these venues have certain restrictions for use, such as height, weight, age, etc.
- Some or all of the above mentioned activities will be provided depending on ship/resort facilities, cruise itinerary and other activities.
Special Needs Accommodations & Services
Port Arrival - Staff Assistance Staffed Cruises ONLY
On our Cruises with our Staff, our Staff greets you at the port when you arrive. Our staff directs you where to go and is there to offer assistance as needed and to answer any questions you may have.
Priority Boarding onto Ship
We provide "Priority Check-In" at the port, for getting on the ship. This greatly reduces the time in the normal lines.
Priority Boarding Waiting Area Staffed Cruises ONLY
On our Cruises with our Staff, our group is provided with a priority waiting area for boarding the ship. Our staff is on hand to assist.
Muster Drill - Private Area Staffed Cruises ONLY
We provide our group with an inside air conditioned lounge, which replaces the traditional standing side-by-side, outside on deck with hundreds of other passengers. Our children are free to walk about . play and we also run a moive to help entertain them.
Cruises without our Staff
We will coordinate with the cruise line for you to have an inside air conditioned lounge (or remain in your cabin during the drill), which replaces the traditional standing side-by-side, outside on deck with hundreds of other passengers.
Priority Disembarkation from Ship
Staffed Cruises ONLY
We provide our group with separate luggage arrangements and first group called for getting off the ship. This allows for an expedited departure the morning the ship returns to port. Having separate luggage tags keeps our luggage in a group for easy retrieval.
Cruises without Staff
We provide you with the service of being first for getting off the ship. This allows for an expedited departure the morning the ship returns to port.
Staff Assisted Shore Excursions
There are some shore excursions that are better suited and accommodating to your family’s needs than others. We have developed a series of accommodation to assist you and your family.
We maintain a list (100's and growing...) of reviews of Excursions from all of the cruise ports from parents and caretakers of our special needs guests, who have provided us with this information on the Feedback Form we send them upon the completion of their cruise. These reviews provide invaluable insight from the viewpoint of those who already experienced the excursions with their special needs children. These priceless reviews are included when you vacation with us.
Private Excursion Meeting with Cruise Line Excursion Specialist Staffed Cruises ONLY
During each Cruise, we will coordinate a PRIVATE session with the onboard Cruise Line Excursion Specialist. The Cruise Line Excursion Specialist will make recommendations, and answer any questions and concerns you might have in making Excursion Plans for each port we will visit. This Private Session, also provides you with the opportunity to see which excursions other families are taking to help coordinate plans to go as a group.
Staff Assisted Excursions - organized by AotS Staff Staffed Cruises ONLY
NOTE: Visit the Itineraries on our Cruise Schedule to see which ports we will be organizing beach excursions.
- Our staff coordinates Beach Excursions on each cruise.
- A typical 7 night cruise will have 2 coordinated Beach Excursions.
- Our staff will escort you to the Beach.
- At one or more of the excursions, our staff will spend the 2-4 hours helping you care for your children.
- We choose the most convenient and accommodating beaches closest to the ship, so the journey to the beach is as short and inexpensive as possible.
- Transportation and beach fees are not included in your cruise fare, but we always keep price in mind and in some cases we are afforded discounted beach fees.
Individual Excursion Assistance by AotS Staff Staffed Cruises ONLY
Families are free to ask our staff to join them on port excursions to assist with small groups or individual families. This service requires the fee of the excursion to be paid for the staff member by the family or small group, and any other rate negotiations are between the staff member and the family. Please feel free to inquire to our Group Leader once onboard. This is not a service that can be arranged prior to the cruise.
Standard Cruise Services
Cruise Line / Resort Standard Services
All services that the Cruise Line / Resort provides are included.
Almost everything is taken care of - your accommodations, gourmet meals and snacks throughout the day.
All activities including the amazing fitness centers, entertainment and award-winning Children's Programs are all included in the price.
Even room service is included....
For more details:
Strategy Services and Resources - Overcoming Cruise/Vacation Special Needs Challenges
Strategy Services and Resources
Overcoming Cruise/Vacation Special Needs Challenges
Many families have concerns related to cruising and vacationing that prevent them from considering a cruise vacation, and/or they have challenges that concern them about their upcoming cruise. We can help, and we are here to help.
Army of Professionals
Our organization is the world leader in assisting special needs families on their vacation. The AotS Staff is comprised of hundreds of volunteer developmental disability professionals, including special education teachers, ABA Therapists, Autism Experts and College Professors. Our staff is led by our Group Leaders who manage our staff on each of our cruises who guides and assists our families cruising with us. Our Group Leaders have hundreds of cruise experiences and unique challenges in which they’ve assisted families that enable them to experience a true vacation, and continue to have true vacations.
Our Group Leaders are available to assist you with your concerns and challenges, prior to your cruise and during your cruise. Our Group Leaders have at their disposal, our network of hundreds of professionals from around the country for consultation so they are prepared to help you with any challenges, no matter how small or seemingly impossible to overcome.
Meet our: Group Leaders
We can also have past guests contact you to discuss their experiences, through our Parent Connect Program, see below for more information.
We can assist you with Strategies for overcoming challenges such as these, and any others you may have
- Concerned my child will not adapt to the ship or being away from home
- Concerned over challenges in getting to/onto the ship
- Concerned my child will be drawn to water/the ocean
- Fear my child will jump overboard
- Concerned my child will not adapt to sleeping in a new place/on a ship
- Concerned by child may elope
- Concerned the ship will not be able to accommodate my child’s diet
- Concerned that my adult child will not fit in or there will not be enough appropriate activities
- Concerned my child’s behaviors will be too much for us to manage
- Concerned my child will leave our cabin without us knowing
- Concerned the AotS Staff cannot handle my child’s behaviors
- Concerned my child will not act appropriately at meals or in public
- Concerned my child will be affected by not maintaining their Therapy Plan (ABA, Behavioral, ect)
- Overall concerned of the effort involved with managing my child and our challenges, that this will not be a true vacation
- What are your challenges? We can help.
Our Group Leaders (or past guests, see "Parent Connect" below) will contact and communicate with you, in the manner of your choice
- Skype (or other web based video)
- In person, depending on your location relative to the AotS Staff Locations
*Strategies and Resources we provide, include but are not limited to:
- Communication with “the” Group Leader for YOUR cruise
- Increased understanding of the elements of a cruise in relation to your unique challenges
- Modeling, Simulation, Progressive Exposure, Desensitization and Coping Techniques
- Social Stories, Countdown Calendars, PECS
- Assistance in maintaining Therapy Plans (ABA, Behavioral, ect)
- Images (and in some cases video) from actual ship for your customized use
- Parent Connect – We can put you in touch with parents who previously cruised using our services
- Ship Tour, via our “Seas for Autism” Cruise Ship Tour Program
- Channels to other Families – Private Message Boards and Facebook Group just for families with special needs
- Cabin type and location consultation
*May be used months in advance of cruise when needed
Effective Experience and Successes
We’ve heard from parents: “NO WAY”, “I’M NOT BRINGING MY CHILD ON A SHIP”, “WE NEED TO GET OFF THIS SHIP RIGHT NOW”, “THIS WILL NOT WORK FOR US”, “MY CHILD WILL NOT HANDLE THAT”, etc, etc… And we’ve helped them to have great vacations. All it takes is your desire to believe that it is possible, to trust us as thousands of guests have done already, and for you to contact us. It IS possible, and you WILL enjoy a true vacation.
Contact Us Today
Fill out the form below or call us at 800-516-5247.
Staff, Staff Assistance and Respite
Staff Qualifications & Requirements Staffed Cruises ONLY
The AotS Staff are Professional Volunteers who have degrees relating to child development, behavior therapy, and/or special education.
- We maintain hundreds of qualified Professionals from around the country, to ensure our cruises are staffed appropriately.
The AotS Staff have extensive experience caring for children and adults of all ages with developmental disabilities.
The AotS Staff can manage any level of behaviors or functioning levels of any type of developmental disability.
The AotS Staff are led by our professional volunteer "Cruise Group Leaders".
The AotS Staff also provides complimentary Strategies and Resources to help families and individuals meet their unique challenges, see more on our Strategy Services and Resources for Overcoming Cruise/Vacation Special Needs Challenges
The AotS Staff clear National Background Checks and Sex Offender Checks.
The AotS Staff successfully complete an extensive criteria and interviewing process.
The AotS Staff conform to, and integrates with, all applicable Cruise Line policies.
JOIN OUR STAFF See form below.
For more about AotS Staffing, Assistance & Respite please visit our What's Included page.
Bilingual Staff - Espanol Staffed Cruises ONLY
Ofrecemos personal bilingüe que habla español. Haga clic aquí para obtener más información.
Selection of Staff for each cruise Staffed Cruises ONLY
We select our staff (from our pre-qualified staff pool) "after" we receive our guests with special needs Questionnaires.
The Questionnaires are completed by parents approx 6-9 weeks prior to sailing to ensure we have the most up to date information.
The Questionnaire results are used to ensure we have the proper skill sets, experience and the sufficient number of staff to properly care for the children, teens and adults with special needs travelling with us on each cruise.
AotS Staff Ratio Staffed Cruises ONLY
The ratio* of the AotS Staff per guest with special needs is 2:1.
During our cruises, we are able to afford periodic individualized attention (1:1) to our guests as required.
Each cruise has an AotS Staff Group Leader who manages the staff and coordinates all of the accommodated activities and services with the cruise line personnel, as well as acting as our guests personal concierge during their vacation.
We also offer 1:1 Staff Service (additional fee applies), more info
*Staff ratio’s may fall slightly above 1:2 on some cruises
For more about AotS Staffing, Assistance & Respite please visit our What's Included page.
Interested in joining our Staff?
Complete this form and we will send you Staffing information and an Application.
Minimum requirements include: 21 years or older, 4-year degree in a qualifying major, 1-year minimum experience with individuals with developmental disabilities.
AotS Staff positions are volunteer, and cruise fare is complimentary, on a cruise by cruise basis. No commitment beyond each cruise is required. You can volunteer on just one cruise per year, whatever your schedule will allow.
Introductory Sessions Staffed Cruises ONLY
Parents and Staff
We hold Private Introductory Sessions between our Staff and each family at the beginning of each cruise:
- To explain the Special Needs accommodations, Respite sessions and Private activities in detail.
- To review each child’s unique needs using the Questionnaires the parents fill out prior to their cruise as a foundation.
- To spend some time with the children to begin our relationship with them.
- To answer questions, and to address any concerns families may have.
Pool Time - Assistance
Staffed Cruises ONLY
We provide "Pool Times" during our cruises, typically each morning (when the pools are less crowded) for 2-3 hours on
Sea Days and other times as the schedule permits. This assistance helps allow parents to enjoy the pool themselves in a more relaxing mode. Our staff helps keep the children in the area, assists inside the pools swimming with the children, assists with the children using the Pool Slides, ect.
NOTE: Most ships have rules prohibiting guests that are not potty trained from using the pools (Contact Us for more information and options).
Babysitting by our Staff Staffed Cruises ONLY
Our staff make themselves available for after hours in-cabin babysitting, on a first come, first serve basis. This service is not provided as a service of "Autism on the Seas" but between you and our staff. The AotS Volunteer staff are not permitted to charge a fee for this service, but we encourage families to tip the staff, as they are providing this service on their own time. Please feel free to inquire to our Group Leader once onboard. This is not a service that can be arranged prior to the cruise.
Respite Sessions* Staffed Cruises ONLY
Respite Sessions are held throughout the cruise, while parents can enjoy adult activities. Typical Respite Sessions:
- Sea Days - At least Two Respite Sessions ranging in duration from 1 hour to 2 hours each (typically afternoon sessions are 1.5 hours and evening sessions are 2 hours)
- Port Days - At least One Respite Session ranging in duration from 1 hour to 2 hours each (typically evening sessions are 2 hours)
- A 3-hour Respite Session is provided one day during the cruise through dinner (for parents to enjoy dinner alone)
Your children with special needs will be cared for by our Autism on the Seas staff during these respite times. Please review our Online Brochure (link is available from menu above) for a sample schedule that will include respite times.
Learn more about our Staff, thier Care and Ratio's
*Our Respite sessions are Private, and separate from the cruise line children program.
Interactive Play Room/Area
Active respite room/area, and interaction with other kids with and without disabilities. Staff will keep the environment as sensory controlled as possible.
Quiet respite room/area, sensory stimulation is low, and interaction with others is minimal except by StaffShip Explorer “Option” – Teens and AdultsTransport to different ship venues when ship activities are available. These typically include karaoke, shows, movies, trivia, etc... Staff will consult with parents and evaluate suitability of activities accordingly.Typical SiblingsTypically developing siblings traveling with us are free to join any of the respite sessions. Siblings must be at least 3 years of age.
Notes on Respite Groups:
Respite will be divided into the 2 MAIN GROUPS as stated above as necessary, either in separate rooms/venues and/or within one room as appropriate depending on available respite venues
Each Group may be altered, and/or other groups or fewer groups formed as necessary
Children will be placed into a Group depending on the parents initial input and the staff’s continued evaluation
Children may be moved from one group to another as appropriate during each respite session
In some cases, we will merge our respite in to the cruise line children program, either if appropriate or if private venue space is unavailable
On Disney Cruises, Respite Sessions may be reduced in number an/or length. See Disney Cruise pages on this site for more information.
Special Needs Toys and Sensory Items for our Respite *Sessions are provided by "Special Needs Toys"
Visit them here: http://www.SpecialNeedsToys.com/usa/*Available on most of our Staffed Cruises
Ship Youth Center – Child Care
In addition to our Autism on the Seas Respite Sessions (Staffed Cruises ONLY), the Children's Programs onboard the ships can also offer respite time, with their own staff, where our staff is on call to them for assistance. Most of the ship staffs have experience with children with special needs.
Toilet Training Provisions
Note: These guidelines are specific for Royal Caribbean International Cruises, but are very similar on Disney, Celebrity, Carnival and Club Med as well…
For individuals with special needs who are not toilet trained, please note the following:
If an individual is less than 3 years of age by the cruise date:
Participation IS allowed in the Royal Babies and Royal Tots Programs. This program requires parents to participate as well.
Participation IS NOT allowed in the Children’s Program. This program is for individuals 3 years or older.
Participation IS allowed in the Private "Autism on the Seas" activities within the Youth Center. (Staffed Cruises ONLY)
If an individual is more than 3 years of age by the cruise date:
Participation MAY BE allowed in the Royal Babies and Royal Tots Programs, if the parent feels this is the appropriate grouping for their child. This program requires parents to participate as well. Special restrictions may apply here, please contact us if you have any questions.
Participation IS allowed in the Children’s Program. A consent form must be completed by a parent or guardian, and:
A pager, walkie-talkie or ship phone is required to allow the counselors the ability to reach a parent if necessary.
One Parent or guardian must be present on the ship whenever their child is in the program.
Participation IS allowed in the "Autism on the Seas" Respite Sessions. (Staffed Cruises ONLY)
Port Excursion - AotS Staff Assistance Staffed Cruises ONLY
Families are free to ask our staff to join them on port excursions to assist with small groups or individual families.
This service is not provided as a service of "Autism on the Seas" but between you and our staff.
This service requires the fee of the excursion to be paid for the staff member by the family or small group.
AotS Volunteer staff are not permitted to charge a fee for this service, but we encourage families to tip the staff, as they are providing this service on their own time.
Please feel free to inquire to our Group Leader once onboard.
This is not a service that can be arranged prior to the cruise.
Transition Assistance Staffed Cruises ONLY
We provide Transition Assistance during the cruise. When ever requested (or whenever our staff observes the need), our staff will
assist transitioning your child from/to any place on the ship to events, shows, respite, meals, ect.... 24/7 throughout the entire cruise. We also provide assistance while departing the ship on the last day.
1-on-1 Staff Service
Available on our Staffed Cruises ONLY Not included in your Cruise cost, additional fee applies, see below.
We understand that some of our families may require, or may like to have, one-on-one Staff care for their child during their cruise. We offer the opportunity for you to request one of our AotS Staff to provide you with one-on-one care for your child. This service is above and beyond the regular Staff care ratio we provide on our Staffed Cruises. You need to be booked on one of our Staffed Cruises, which will also provide you with all of our regular services, including additional staffing as needed throughout the cruise (for in cabin babysitting, excursion assistance, additional staff support during all group events, ect, ect).
AotS 1-on-1 Staff Service provides you with one of our staff members for the care of your minor or adult guest traveling with you during these times:
Staff will care for child exclusively during each Respite Session.
Staff will assist family exclusively during Day 1 Port Check-in/Boarding ship.
Staff will assist family exclusively during Day 1 Muster Drill.
Staff will assist family during the Departure off the ship and through customs at the end of the cruise.
Staff will assist the guest at all Group activities and events your special needs guest participates in. A sample activity/event schedule can be sent to you (upon request) to view these times in more detail, before you choose to acquire this service.
Staff will assist the guest in a mutually agreed upon substitute activity and location when your special needs guest chooses not to participate in, or you choose for them not to participate in any regular AotS Group Events.
Staff will assist and accompany you on two Port Excursions for 7-night or longer cruises.
Staff will assist and accompany you on one Port Excursion for 6-night or shorter cruises.
Staff will assist and accompany you during all meals (3) each day.
Staff will assist transitioning the guest from/to any places onboard the ship, throughout the cruise as required.
You may request more than one Staff Member
You may request additional in-cabin babysitting and excursion assistance (based on staff members availability).
Request your own caregiver/Aide
You may request to use your own Caregiver/Aide as your AotS 1:1 Staff member. Your caregiver/aide will need to apply and qualify as AotS Staff first. Just complete the Request Form below and specify your caregiver/aides name, and tell them to apply with us. If they do not qualify, you can still choose to use one of our Staff. AotS Staff Qualifications.
Request a specific AotS Staff
You may request an AotS Staff volunteer (that you know or cruised with prior). See form below.
Comparison - Bringing your Own caregiver/aide versus AotS Staff
Bring your OWN Caregiver/Aide Use an AotS Staff Cost
1. Sharing cabin with family will cost a FULL cruise fare for one guest,
2. Aide in own cabin will be charged double occupancy (two guest fares).
“AotS Cost”: Your cost will be a discounted cruise fare (AotS Staff cost) for one guest.
NOTE: This will be equal to or in most cases less the cost to add an aide in your own cabin.
Staff/Aide Medical Insurance
1. You pay, or
2. Aide pays, or
3. No insurance.
Included in “AotS Cost” Staff/Aide Travel Insurance
1. You pay. or
2. Aide pays. or
3. No insurance.
Included in “AotS Cost” Staff/Aide Liability Insurance
1. You pay. or
2. No insurance.
Included in “AotS Cost” Staff/Aide Salary
1. You pay. or
2. No salary
Included in “AotS Cost”
1. AotS Staff are volunteers
1. Aide stays in your cabin, or
2. You get separate cabin for Aide (at double occupancy cost).
NOTE: Cruise Line policies do not permit non-AotS Staff staying in AotS Staff cabins.
Included in “AotS Cost”
1. AotS 1:1 Staff stays in other AotS Staff cabin
Staff/Aide Travel Arrangements You or Aide coordinates and pays for the aide’s travel to ship
Included in “AotS Cost”
1. AotS Staff volunteers make their own way to departure city.
2. AotS assists staff in hotel fees
3. AotS arranges ground transportation to port.
If aide cannot go on cruise:
1. You will be responsible for paying any cruise line cancellation fees, or
2. You will be responsible for finding a new aide and paying for any name change fees.
If AotS Staff cannot go on cruise:
1. AotS will find replacement, and guest will incur NO costs.
Pricing and Availability
The availability of this service is based on the availability of our Staffing resources, but we should be able to accommodate every request.
The charge for this service is based on the price of the average cost for 1 staff member in the least expensive cabin (with other staff members) available at the time of the request.
A non-refundable deposit must be made at time of securing this service.
Pricing Request or More Information
Requesting a Quote/Booking this Service
1. Complete the form below and submit it.
2. We will contact you within 1-2 business days to give you a price for this service, based on the availability of staff for your Cruise.
3. If you want to proceed with this service, based on the price, we will identify an available Staff Member for you.
4. We will provide the opportunity to chat with them prior to us contracting them for you.
5. Payment must be paid in Full by the Final Payment date for the cruise.
The availability of this service is based on the availability of our Staffing resources, but we almost always are able to accommodate every request.
The charge for this service is based on the "our" cabin price for the Staff Member, plus a small processing fee.
NOTE: 5-9 months advance request will help ensure staff availability.
Requesting more information
1. Complete the form below and submit it.
2. We will contact you within 1-2 business days with additional information and/or with answers to any questions you may have.