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Staffing, Respite & Assistance

  • Staff at beachStaff Qualifications & Requirements Staffed Cruises ONLY

    • The AotS Staff are Professional Volunteers who have degrees relating to child development, behavior therapy, and/or special education.

    • 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

    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.

    Staff at hotelAotS Staff Ratio   Staffed Cruises ONLY

    • The ratio of the AotS Staff per guest with special needs is a minimum of 3:1, but is usually closer to 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

     

     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.

     

    Join AotS Staff - Request Form

    Your Name*
    Please let us know your name.

    Your Email*
    Please let us know your email address.

    Your State of Residence (or Country):
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    Cruise Availability - Please list any cruises you are able to commit to, from our list of cruises: Click here for Schedule
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    Questions or Comments
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  • 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.Intro session1

    - To spend some time with the children to begin our relationship with them.

    - To answer questions, and to address any concerns families may have.

     

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  • Respite Sessions*    Staffed Cruises ONLY

    Respite-SessionsRespite 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

     

    staff with kids at respite             Staff respite coloring

    Respite Grouping

    Our Special Needs Guests are often divided into appropriate Groups, or may be combined depending on the ages of all children/teens/adults on each cruise, coupled with the availablilty of venues on each ship.

      • Children Group

        • Accompanied and supervised by the AotS Staff.

        • This group regularly has children ranging in ages from 3 to 12, but often exceptions are made for young teens to join this group, depending on each child’s unique circumstance.

        • Most Respite Sessions for this group are held in the Youth Center facilities and utilize all of the Youth Center toys and games (including video games), and when practical, our staff will integrate our children with the Youth Center organized activities with the typical children onboard..

        • Typically an area is available for the children to watch movies and nap.

        • When required, our staff will transition children to quiet rooms/area’s as needed. 

        • NOTE: All children cared for by AotS Staff in respite must be at least 3 years of age, although exceptions will be made for children with special needs (contact us for more info).  Note: Many cruise ships have nursery and toddler services for children under 3 years of age.

      • Teen Group

        • Accompanied and supervised by the AotS Staff.

        • This group regularly has teens of all ages and sometimes exceptions are made for young adults to join this group, depending on each adult’s unique circumstance.

        • Most Respite Sessions for this group are held in the Youth Center Teen facilities, which offer video games, karaoke, and other age related activity items.

        • When required, our staff will transition the teens/adults to quiet rooms/area’s as needed.

        • In some cases/times during the cruise, as needed, these sessions may be held in an alternate room just for our teens/adults to enjoy private games and/or a movie.

        • In some cases, when appropriate, our staff may also bring the teens to enjoy other age related venues onboard the ship, such as mini-golf, basketball, on-deck movies, etc.

      • Adult Group 

        • Accompanied and supervised by the AotS Staff.

        • This group regularly has adults with special needs of all ages.

        • Most Respite Sessions for this group are held at various venues onboard the ship, all depending on the unique abilities, likes and dislikes of the guests cruising with us.

        • Respite sessions may include: going to shows, playing board games, karaoke, hot tub use, on-deck movies, shopping, mini-golf, basketball, movies in private rooms, etc.

    Siblings

    Typically developing siblings traveling with us are free to join any of the respite sessions.  Siblings must be at least 3 years of age.

     

    * Please Note, that on Disney Cruises, Respite Sessions may be reduced in number an/or length.  See Disney Cruise pages on this site for more information.

     

    TFH Logo hiresSpecial 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
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  • 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)

  • 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).    

     

    Features

    1 on 1 StaffAotS 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.

     Or

    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

    Either:

    1. You pay.

    2. Aide pays.

    3. No insurance.

    Included in “AotS Cost”
    Staff/Aide Travel Insurance

    Either:

    1. You pay.

    2. Aide pays.

    3. No insurance.

    Included in “AotS Cost”
    Staff/Aide Liability Insurance

    Either:

    1. You pay.

    2. No insurance.

    Included in “AotS Cost”
    Staff/Aide Salary

    Either:

    1. You pay.

    2. No salary

    Included in “AotS Cost”

    AotS Staff are volunteers

    Cabin Privacy

    Either:

    1. Aide stays in your cabin

    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”

    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.

    Staff/Aide Cancels

    If aide cannot go on cruise:

    1. You will be responsible for paying any cruise line cancellation fees.

    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.

     

    1-on-1 Staff Service or More Information - Request

    This service is ONLY available for our "STAFFED Cruises".
    "Cruise with AotS Staff" Date:
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    Request:

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    Booked?

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    Booking (Invoice #)
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    Special Needs Person you are requesting this service for:
    Full Name
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    Age on Cruise Date:
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    Height:
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    Parent or Guardian Name
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    How many staff members do you require?

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    Male or Female Staff Member:

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    Use your own Caregiver/Aide or Request Specific AotS Staff

    I would like to Request a Specific Staff person

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    Name of AotS Staff volunteer
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    You may list more than one name

    Name of Caregiver/Aide
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    Caregiver/Aide must apply and qualify as AotS Staff. Link to Request AotS Staff Application: https://autismontheseas.com/join-our-staff



    Send me a sample schedule for an idea on the times that staff member will be assisting:
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    Questions Notes and Comments:
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  • Babysitting by our Staff  Staffed Cruises ONLY

    BabysittingOur 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.

  • 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.

    Port-Exzscursion

    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.

  • 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

    staf with kids in hotub

    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.

    staff with kids at pool

     

     

     

     

  • 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

    staff transition assist walking in hall

    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.

    Staff with child going down escalator