08 Nov Top 5 tips for Preparing for a Disney Cruise – From the View of a Special Needs Parent!
WE DID IT!!! We accomplished a long term “goal” of successfully traveling as a family on the Disney Cruise Line. There have been many factors over the 20 + years since my husband and I went on our first Disney cruise that has stood in the way of successfully accomplishing this goal. Fear was the biggest hurdle. As I have previously shared, my oldest son is living with Fragile X Syndrome. Would he tolerate the motion of the boat? Would he be able to tell us if he was feeling unwell or would he only display undesirable behaviors? Would he want to participate in the various activities? Would he want to get off at the various port of call?
The following tips are what we did to prepare by hoping to lessen any potential behaviors that might come along with his constant desire to know, “what’s next.”
5. Research your ship and itinerary. Your Me and The Mouse Travel Specialist can help provide you information. This helped us prepare a plan of action. For example, we had a special opportunity to visit Castaway Cay twice!! We knew that we would plan on enjoying the island at least until after lunch. We shared our plan with Matt, in general terms: Beach, swim, rest, lunch, then boat. He understood what the day would look like, and to ensure we left on a high note, my son and husband decided to head back as soon as lunch was over. This meant on day 2, he was ready to go and enjoy the island again!
4. Download the Disney Cruise Navigator App! There is a lot of great information on there, but what we enjoyed the most was the countdown calendar. We would check it frequently and it was a fun way for us to encourage meaningful conversations!
3. Bring MUST HAVE items with you. The amazing staff will bend over backwards to make sure you have everything you need to have an incredible experience. However, if you are on a cruise, there is no Amazon Prime delivery available. Often times, Matt uses his iPad and earbuds to help filter the noise in loud situations which we knew there was the potential for noisy situations. We brought a mini iPad (we did not plan on purchasing a data package and had repeated conversations about movies only on the iPad) and earbuds with several back up pairs.
2. YouTube is your friend!! There are many family-friendly YouTube Channels. We watched countless videos leading up to our embarkation. This was definitely one of the most effective tools we used. Matt is a visual learner and to be able to pair his beloved watching of YouTube and prepare for our cruise was a match!!
1. Disney Cruise Line Special Services is an invaluable resource. They have created a very comprehensive resource that is available here. After you review the resource brochure, you can submit any accommodation requests via an online form, via email: SpecialServices@disneycruise.com or you can call (407) 566-3602.
We are very fortunate to have been able to enjoy this experience as a family. Our fears leading up to this trip were unfounded and this was the best vacation we have ever been on. We had an amazing time! This may have been our first Disney cruise as a family, but it will definitely NOT be our last!!