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What's Included

Staff Assisted Cruises
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.
Interactive Brochure Pic

Adults with Special Needs - Services

Staff Assisted 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 by themselves, with their 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

adults-with-special-needs---accomodations-and-servcies All services outlined in our Staff Assisted Cruises, are provided to each of our adults, adjusted to accommodate each guest's ability.  Please review our Interactive Brochure for more detailed information and a sample schedule of activities.

Customized Activities

adults-with-special-needs---private-activitiesWe customize the activities we provide, based on the adults traveling with us.  We provide a 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.

Adults in AO with Staff


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 getaway from the hustle and bustle of all of the ship's activities, as well as the opportunity to enjoy ship venues in a Private setting.


Staff and Respite

adults-with-special-needs---staffThe 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 participation and to ensure each adult experiences all the cruise has to offer. 

Parents and caregivers of adults with Special Needs cruising with us receive the same amount of Respite as do Parents with children 17 and younger.  There is NO aging out of our services.

Click here to learn more about our staff and Respite we provide for Adults.

Adult Group Home Services

Adult Group 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, organizations 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:

Additional services: For all types of Groups and Organizations

adults excursionOur Guidance

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 the 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 traveling.

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 liaisons 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.

Group Discounts

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)
  • Low-fat
  • Low-sodium
  • Lactose-free/soy milk
  • Rice Milk
  • Indian-style vegetarian meals
  • Kosher for Passover meals and Kosher Requests (except Celebrity Cruise Line)
  • Gluten/Casein-Free Diet
  • Each cruise includes the following basic GFCF items available at meals:
    • Bread
    • French Fries
    • Chicken Fingers
    • Pancakes
    • French Toast
    • Scrambled Eggs
    • Grilled Chicken Breast
    • Steak
    • Fish (Cod, Salmon, Tilapia, Lobster, Shrimp, etc), grilled or broiled
    • Vegetables
    • Fruit
    • 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 unopened original packaging/container.  Some items, like pasta, can be brought onboard and prepared by the ship chefs. 

NOTE: Specific "Brands" of food items are not included in the above accommodations.  If a diet requires Specific "Brands" of food items, please contact us.

Father and Son with Tuxedo T-Shirts107 0263 600


Exemption for Dinner Dress Code

Guests with Autism are 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.

Buffet Reserved Tables Reserved Tables for ALL Meals

  • You, your family and your 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......

395893 600 Staff Assistance during All Meals

Our staff assists 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 de-escalate when needed, take them to the bathroom, and provide overall support and help.

Special Dietary "Specific Brand" Service

Special Needs Group 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.  More information is available after you book.

 Our exclusive Special Needs Equipment supplier, Special Needs Group:
SNGandSNS revised

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
    • Dinner seating
    • Private venue sessions
    • Reserved show seating
    • Siblings and child friends can attend our respite sessions
    • ... etc, etc.

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
 *Some sailings may not guarentee Respite, due to factors including, but not limited to, number of guests, size of respite venue, etc.
Pre-Cruise Planning & Services


Our Guidance

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 traveling.

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.

Cruise and Vacation (PECS)

We offer a variety of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) images and Cruise images that depict a number of actual events that take place during a typical cruise, which are provided to help you develop custom Social Stories, Visual Cues and/or Calendars.  Our photo library offers parents a number of choices they may want to use along with the child’s usual picture icons. 

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 Stories

“Social Stories” has been created to assist special needs guests with what they can expect during the cruise.   

  • Various versions have been created for varying functional abilities (in various formats)
  • You can download these files to your computer or mobile device
  • There are PowerPoint files available that can be modified to customize them for your use.

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 into 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.

Beach6Dolphin swimKey West excusrion


Pre-Vacation Questionnaire

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

Special Needs Equipment Rental

Our exclusive Special Needs Equipment supplier, Special Needs Group:
SNGandSNS revised


Mobility Impairments

Onboard staterooms and social areas are designed to accommodate guests with disabilities.

Visual Impairments

Discover how Braille is used to make cruising as enjoyable as possible.

Hearing Impairments

From "portable hearing room kit" monitors to ASL Interpreters, every attempt is made to help all guests.

Accessible Staterooms

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.

Service Animals 

*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.

Paperwork Requirements

  • The guest is responsible for supplying a copy of the following paperwork, and bringing a copy of each with them on the cruise:
  • A copy of the service animal's 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 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.

Private Venue Entertainment Sessions

Ship Venue Entertainment Private Sessions   

Staff Assisted Cruises ONLY

We provide Private Sessions for our entire group (siblings, parents, friends and family) to participate in most of the ship's 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 assistance from our staff
  • The 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 friends 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 participating in and taking advantage of all of our Private Sessions and Activities.  Please Note:  If you book with another Agency, or direct with the Cruise Line, all "Staff Assisted Cruises" related Services and Activities are NOT included. Some services and activities vary depending on the cruise line, ship and resort. 

Flowrider AllureStaff Ice Rink306349 10150371105187885 175823567 n1
Staff help kid Rock WallPool-Slide


  • "Rock Wall"
  • "Jump Zone (bungee trampoline)"
  • "Ice Skating Rink"
  • "Inline Skating Course"
  • "Zip Line"
  • "Pool Slide"
  • "Bumper Cars"
  • "Basketball Court"
  • "Flow-Rider"
  • "Ropes Course"
  • 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.
Shore Excursions - Staff Coordinated/Assisted

Staff Assisted Excursions

There are some shore excursions that are better suited and more accommodating to your family’s needs than others.  We have developed a series of accommodations to assist you and your family.

Beach with flagExcursion Reviews

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    
Staff Assisted Cruises ONLY

Excursion mtg 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.





Excursion mtg Private Excursion Meeting with Cruise Line Excursion Specialist    
Staff Assisted 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.



Beach excursion walking toStaff Assisted Excursions - organized by AotS Staff   Staff Assisted 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 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 the price in mind and in some cases we are afforded discounted beach fees.




Staff with kid beachIndividual Excursion Assistance by AotS Staff   Staff Assisted 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.







staff helping child on raftstaff on bus to beachStaff with kid water
Special Needs Accommodations & Services

Port Arrival - Staff Assistance  

Staff Assisted Cruises ONLY

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  

Staff Assisted Cruises ONLY

Our group is provided with a priority waiting area for boarding the ship.  Our staff is on hand to assist.

Muster Drill - Private Area  

Staff Assisted Cruises ONLY

NOTE: On Royal Caribbean cruises, the Muster Drill has been discontinued and replaced with an "Instructional Video" you view on your own time and a required visit to your "Muster Station" on your own time, prior to Sail Away on Day 1.

We provide our group with an inside air-conditioned lounge, which replaces the traditional standing side-by-side, outside on the deck with hundreds of other passengers.  Our children are free to walk about and play.


Cruises without our Staff

We will coordinate with the cruise line for you to have an alternate venue/drill (or remain in your cabin during the drill).

NOTE: On Royal Caribbean cruises, the Muster Drill has been discontinued and replaced with an "Instructional Video" you view on your own time and a required visit to your "Muster Station" on your own time, prior to Sail Away on Day 1.

Priority Disembarkation from Ship 

Staff Assisted Cruises ONLY

We provide our group with separate luggage arrangements and the 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 the first for getting off the ship.  This allows for an expedited departure the morning the ship returns to port.

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. 

For more details:

Royal Caribbean International

Celebrity Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line

Club Med

Disney World  


Strategy Services and Resources - Overcoming Cruise/Vacation Special Needs Challenges


Strategy Services and Resources
Overcoming Cruise/Vacation Special Needs Challenges

Staff with kid during check-inMany 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.

Parent Connect
We can have past guests contact you to discuss their experiences, through our Parent Connect Program

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 and guide 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 a consultation so they are prepared to help you with any challenges, no matter how small or seemingly impossible to overcome.   Meet our:  Group Leaders

Intro session2We 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,

  • Email
  • Phone
  • 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, etc)
  • Images (and in some cases video) from the 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
  • FAQ’s

*May be used months in advance of the 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.

Strategy Services and Resources - Request Form

Please let us know your name.

Please let us know your email address.

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Staff, Staff Assistance and Respite

Staff at beachStaff Qualifications & Requirements Staff

Assisted 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 (and internationally), 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 all levels of behaviors or functioning abilities of all types of developmental disabilities.
  • The AotS Staff are led by our professional volunteer "Cruise Group Leaders".
  • The AotS Staff clear National Background Checks and Sex Offender Checks.
  • The AotS Staff successfully complete extensive criteria and interviewing process.
  • The AotS Staff conforms to and integrates with all applicable Cruise Line policies.
  • JOIN OUR STAFF  See the form below.

For more about AotS Staffing, Assistance & Respite please visit our What's Includedpage.

Bilingual Staff - Espanol Staff

Assisted Cruises ONLY

Selection of Staff for each cruise  

Staff Assisted Cruises ONLY

  • We select our staff (from our pre-qualified staff pool) using special needs information collected from parents/guardians to ensure we have the proper skill sets, experience and sufficient number of staff to properly care for the children, teens and adults with special needs traveling with us on each cruise.

Staff at hotel

 AotS Staff Ratio   Staff

Assisted 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)

*Staff ratios may fall slightly above 2:1 on some cruises

For more about AotS Staffing, Assistance & Respite please visit our What's Included page.

Interested in joining our Staff? 

Complete the form below to obtain Staffing information and an Application.

  • Minimum Personal Requirements Include: 21 years or older and may be from any country
  • Minimum Educational Requirements Include:4-year degree in a qualifying major
  • Licensed Physical Therapist, Physical Therapist Assistant, Occupational Therapist, Occupational Therapy Assistant or Registered Behavior Technician
  • Minimum Experience Requirements Include: 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 for Application

Please let us know your name.
Please let us know your email address.
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Introductory Sessions  

Staff Assisted 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

Staff Assisted 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, etc. 

NOTE: Most ships have rules prohibiting guests that are not potty trained from using the pools (Contact Us for more information and options).

staff with kids at pool   staf with kids in hotub


Babysitting by our Staff

Staff Assisted Cruises ONLY

BabysittingOur staff makes 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*  

Staff Assisted 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)

Children and adults (of ALL ages) with special needs are cared for by our Autism on the Seas staff during these respite times.

Learn more about our Staff, their Care and Ratios

staff with kids at respite             Staff respite coloring


*Our Respite sessions are Private, and separate from the cruise line children's program.

Respite Grouping


Interactive Play Room/Area
Active respite room/area, and interaction with other guests with and without disabilities.  Staff keep the environment as sensory controlled as possible.

Quiet Room/Area
Quiet respite room/area, where sensory stimulation is low, and interaction with others is minimal except by Staff

Ship Explorer “Option” – Teens and Adults
Transport to different ship venues when ship activities are available.  These typically include karaoke, shows, movies, trivia, etc...  Staff will consult with parents and evaluate the suitability of activities for guests accordingly.

Typical 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 (exceptions can be made if a 1:1 Staff is acquired).

Notes on Respite Groups:

  • Respite is often 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
  • Guests will be placed into a Group depending on the parents' initial input and the staff’s continued evaluation.
  • Guests may be moved from one group to another as appropriate during each respite session.
  • In some cases, we will merge our respite into the cruise line children's program, either if appropriate or if private venue space is unavailable..
  • On Disney Cruises, Respite Sessions may be reduced in number and/or length.  See Disney Cruise pages on this site for more information

toys4   toys1  

Ship Youth Center – Child Care

In addition to our Autism on the Seas Respite Sessions (Staff Assisted 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.  

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. (Staff Assisted 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.(Staff Assisted Cruises ONLY)

Port Excursion - AotS Staff Assistance

Port-ExzscursionStaff Assisted 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 Staff Assisted Cruises ONLY

We provide Transition Assistance during the cruise.  Whenever requested (or whenever our staff observes the need), our staff will assist in transitioning your child from/to any place on the ship to events, shows, respite, meals, etc..... 24/7 throughout the entire cruise.  We also provide assistance while departing the ship on the last day.

staff transition assist walking in hall   Staff with child going down escalator

1:1 Staff Member dedicated to your family

Available on Staff Assisted Cruises/Resort Stay ONLY  *additional fee applies

Scroll down for Request Form

Our regular (included) staff ratio is 1 staff member for every 2 guests with special needs.  We understand that some of our families may require, or may like to have, additional and exclusive assistance during their cruise/resort stay.  We offer the opportunity for you to request one of our AotS Staff members to be dedicated to you and your family during your vacation.     


  • Staff will care for child exclusively during each Respite Session.

  • Staff can accompany your child into the cruise line youth club during our respite sessions (provided your child meets the age requirements of the youth club). *Except on Disney Cruise Line, where adults, parents and our staff are not permitted in youth clubs

  • Staff will assist family exclusively during Day 1 Port Check-in/Boarding ship

  • Staff will assist family exclusively during Day 1 Muster Station visit

  • 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.  A sample activity/event schedule can be sent to you (with Pricing Request Form below) to review a typical schedule, before you choose to acquire this service

  • Staff will assist you and your family in a mutually agreed upon substitute activity for any AotS Activity/Event you choose not to participate in

  • Staff will assist and accompany you on two Port Excursions for 7-night or longer cruises.
    Guest may choose alternate Non-AotS Group Excursions *Excursion fee for staff member applies to Non-AotS Excursions

  • Staff will assist and accompany you on one Port Excursion for 6-night or shorter cruises. 
    Guest may choose an alternate Non-AotS Group Excursion *Excursion fee for staff member applies to Non-AotS Excursions

  • Staff will assist and accompany you during meals (3) each day

  • Staff will assist transitioning from/to any places onboard the ship, throughout the cruise as requested

  • You may request more than one Staff Member

  • You may request additional in-cabin babysitting and excursion assistance (based on staff members availability)

Sample Cruise Schedule
Not familiar with our services onboard?  Complete the Pricing Request Form below, and you will also receive a sample schedule so you can see an example of how often the servcies above are typically applied.

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.

Review (and accept) Staff member prior to acquisition of Service
Our office will match a staff member to your family, and present that staff members credentials and personal professional information for you to review before you acquire the service. If not satisfied, our office will continue to present staff to you until your expectations are met.  Your acceptance of the Staff member continues through connecting with the staff member, see below.

Connect with AotS Staff PRIOR to Cruise
Once you have accepted a staff member, the AotS office will provide contact information of the Staff member for you to connect with prior to the cruise. You may connect with the staff member to just have an introductory chat, have your child connect with the staff member if you choose, and/or stay in touch with the Staff member until the cruise.  You can even choose to replace the staff member with another staff member after you have connected.

Plan Non-AotS Excursions Pre-Cruise
Guests can substitute Staff Assistance on AotS Group Excursions with Excursions of Guest choice prior to the cruise, which enables Guest to purchase Excursion Tickets for Staff member pre-cruise) as all Non-AotS Excursion ticket fees are guest responsibility).

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Please do not hesitate to Contact Us


Comparison - Bringing your Own Caregiver/Aide versus AotS Staff

  Bring your OWN Caregiver/Aide Use an AotS Staff

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 is based on a discounted cruise fare (AotS Staff cost) for one guest. 
NOTE: This will be equal to or in most cases less than 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”
AotS Staff are volunteers

Cabin Privacy

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”
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, 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 - Varies by Cruise

  • 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, plus miscellaneous staffing expenses.

  • DISCOUNTS apply to:
    • 1st Time use of acquiring a 1:1
    • 2 1:1 Staff for same cruise
    • Solo Traveling parents
  • 1:1 Fee pricing increases closer to cruise, so secure your 1:1 ASAP / LOCK in the Fee / Only requires a 50% deposit (of 1:1 Fee) 

NOTE:  3-6 months advance request will help ensure staff availability.

Dedicated Staff Member (1:1) - Request FORM for Pricing/Service

NOTE: This service is ONLY available for "STAFF ASSISTED CRUISES and RESORT STAYS"

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1:1 Requests can only be requested from Guests who are currently booked on an AotS Staff Assisted cruise.  If you would like pricing of a 1:1 Service for a cruise before you book, please submit a Quote Request for one of the AotS Staff Assisted cruises (1:1 pricing varies by cruise/sailing).


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Contact Person
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Request Specific AotS Staff member or use your own Caregiver/Aide

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Staff Member Requests 

To aide us matching you and/or your family with the best possible available volunteer, and also in case any specific staff member requested is not available, lease answer the following questions.

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Communicate with Staff options

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