Cruising with Special Needs Kids: Children with Disabilities

Cruising with Children

 that have Special Needs

We are extremely delighted that our Friends at Special Needs Group (Duree Ross), has contributed a marvelously informative article covering a subject near and dear to us. Cruising with Special Needs Kids. For those who may be unaware, Special Needs Group is a service provider to the Cruise Industry that handles all types of medical and mobility equipment needs for our Special Needs Cruising Customers. They provide excellent reliable and caring service and always are able to arrange for the equipment needed to be on board the ship awaiting our passenger’s arrival, or they can even arrange to have it waiting at the pier for checking in and embarkation.

So without further ado, Please Make Welcome our Friends at Special Needs Group, and once again we say THANKS!



Cruising is an excellent vacation choice for families with a special needs child.  It’s a chance to visit multiple destinations without flying or driving from city to city and the family only has to unpack once–important plus for your special needs child. Once settled into your stateroom, there are few disruptions to routine.  Cruising with Kids is absolutely a wonderful way to take a vacation, and experience true family together time. (See A Video Short Take)

Today’s passenger cruise ships are very accommodating to persons with special needs, and more kid-friendly than ever. Almost all ships offer supervised, age-appropriate activities for children plus menu options that appeal to young people, from pizza and hot dogs to ice cream and cupcakes. Flexible dining hours and multiple venues make it easier for families to dine together, or for parents to feed the children early and enjoy a quiet dinner alone later.  Importantly, there are activities for your child throughout the day, and often into the evening. 

If you are considering a cruise with your special needs child, here are a few tips from Special Needs Group to ensure smooth sailing.

Book early.  Most lines have a designated number of accessible staterooms located through the ship. Book early for the best choice of cabin location and configuration.  Whether you want to be near the elevator, or need a bathroom with safety rails on the right, booking early presents the most options.

Alert the line.  Ships with designated youth programs are prepared to accommodate children with disabilities, and often employ staff experienced in working with special needs children.  Holland America Line, for example, has Youth Program staff members specifically trained to work with disabilities. Lines, such as Carnival Cruises even have children’s staff trained in sign language. It’s essential that you contact the line in advance to let them know your child will be onboard, outlining the specific disability. Some of the lines will add extra staff if they know a special needs child will be attending activities, and all lines will ensure your child is placed in the most appropriate programs. Royal Caribbean International, for example, groups children in their popular Adventure Ocean program by ability rather than age and provides pagers for parents.

Boarding An advance call also facilitates boarding and disembarking assistance. Rather than waiting in line, you may be eligible for priority boarding.

Shore excursions.  Evaluate the itinerary to see how often the ship docks portside—the easiest on and off—or anchors out, using a tender to bring passengers ashore. You may want to select a cruise requiring the least tender use, and check in advance for accessibility ashore.  Disney Cruise Line provides a limited number of beach wheel chairs for children, at no charge, on its private island, Castaway Cay, on a first-come basis.  Ask your professional planner, agent, or cruise line what’s available.

Arrive the day before.  Flight delays and last-minute “dashes” to the port are stressful. Arrive Early and Relax. Many times your Professional Cruise Planner will be able to find you the best deals in pre and post hotel accommodations that are conveniently located near the port and put you in short easy access the morning of your cruise. Many times the cost of pick up from the airport, as well as transport over to the pier, are included in your hotel rate, so why not make things less stressful on yourself.                           

Rent the equipment you need.  Why haul a wheelchair, oxygen or other special needs equipment from home when it’s easy to have everything waiting for you in your stateroom?  Special Needs Group provides pediatric wheelchairs, pediatric oxygen concentrators and flow meters, bed rails meant for children, and more, including beach wheelchairs.  According to Andrew Garnett, founder and CEO of Special Needs Group / Special Needs at Sea, Make-A-Wish calls frequently to arrange for their traveling children. “In addition to the equipment, we can also deliver baby formula, diapers, nutritional supplements such as PediaSure, and specific baby food directly to the ship.”

Let your professional cruise planner, or travel agent know precisely what your child will require while on the cruise—or call Special Needs Group direct. As a Preferred Supplier for the cruise lines and the only Preferred Accessibility Partner for Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry organization, Special Needs Group / Special Needs at Sea can make your cruise easier and more enjoyable. 

“We deliver the full range of special needs equipment to staterooms and cruise ships at ports around the world,” says Garnett. “We can even arrange equipment for your pre or post cruise land stay.

There are several organizations to help you learn more about cruising with special needs including the Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality ( and CLIA (  Look for travel agents who specialize in special needs travel, and start planning your cruise.

About Special Needs Group, Inc.

Special Needs Group, Inc. is the leading global provider of wheelchair rentals, scooter rentals, oxygen rentals and other special needs equipment rentals. It also offers a broad range of special needs equipment for purchase. Recommended by the world’s major cruise lines for superior service and value, Special Needs Group also services guests visiting hotels, resorts, theme parks and convention centers. Special Needs Group is the only mobility and oxygen equipment supplier that is approved to deliver to all major cruise lines.  Special Needs Group / Special Needs at Sea is the industry’s only total special needs travel solution. It is located at 2860 West State Road 84, Suite 107, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. For more information, visit or call 1-800-513-4515.

For more information on cruising and traveling, you can contact Mike via email   . You can tweet (or follow) Mike at  . To “Join” our Travel Club go to  .

Please feel free to leave a comment below on this articles’ contents. We are always looking for ideas or suggestions to expand and improve on our content! If you found the information helpful why not include (a tweet to followers) or (share a like) with your facebook friends, that they might benefit from the information as well. Thanks For Visiting, and please come back often to this daily Blog. – Cruise with Mike


About cruisewithmike

Mike is a Professional Cruise Wedding Planner, Wedding Officiant,and owner of CruisewithMike Wedding Planners. With over 20 years of experience in the Travel Industry, as an Independant Travel Consultant, Customer Service Agent, and a retired Va. Magistrate, and Clergy. Mike has a very unique perspective on Customer and Wedding Service Needs and strives to provide custom service that's "TOPS" Totally Outrageous Professional Service, with every customer he works with.
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22 Responses to Cruising with Special Needs Kids: Children with Disabilities

  1. Barbara says:

    After reading your blog post I browsed your website a bit and was just amazed. Great info here. Thank you for such a quality article highlighting the Special Needs community. I think you should do more like this, and hope that you will. Keep up the quality posts!

  2. Jerry says:

    Excellent! Nice work indeed. This is great content. Thanks So Much for caring enough to tackle this important subject. You’re doing something that most won’t or can’t take on. Bravo! I will definately keep watching this site for more.

    • Jerry,
      I do appreciate first your stopping by our site. Then for your kind words. We are so happy you liked our article, a subject which is very important to us. Hope you are able to visit back with us, and often!-CruisewithMike

  3. I just had to tell you how great it is to see someone giving time and attention to such important topics. So often, we are a forgotten segment of the total marketplace when it comes to vacation sites. Thanks Again, for the fantastic work!

  4. Paul Green says:

    Really liked this post. Nice to see someone giving this subject matter the attention it seriously deserves. Many thanks.

    REPLIED: Many Thanks to YOU Paul, for taking the time to comment on our post!-CruisewithMike

  5. billT says:

    Really enjoyed this article. After a study some of the blog posts on your blogsite, I definitely like your method of blogging. My partner and I have bookmarked them to my personal bookmark website list and will also be checking back soon. Hope you keep up the great work.

  6. Alexander Krulik says:

    I wish to applaud you, for such a wonderful article as this. Your format and content is both refreshing and informative. Please keep them coming and Thank you.

  7. Marie M says:

    After reading this marvelous post I was moved to write you, then I browsed your blogsite a bit more and couldn’t help but notice the wonderful work you are doing. How different, a blogsite that offers truely helpful and informative content. So now I just want to say thanks to you the cruise world is a better place. Keep up the quality posts!

  8. Paul Green says:

    Great Post! Keep up the good work.

  9. TomK says:

    Thanks for such a wonderful post!

  10. Stephanie Thompson says:

    Hi Mike, oh I am so glad I found you. I am toying with going on a cruise, but I am disabled with injuries due to two car accidents. But really my main concern is I have a 4 year old and a 12 year. My 4 year old has Autism. Is there anything out there for us? that keeps us doing things together as a family?
    Thanks you for any information, I love all the information I have already found because of going through your blogs and website.
    Stephanie, Nathan, and NIcole

    • Dear Stephanie, Nathan, and Nicole,
      Glad to hear you like our site. There are several cruise lines which in my opinion offer great cruise experiences especially for challenged passengers. Since they vary from line to line, I will communicate with you via email so that we might be able to “hoan-in”, on the best pick for your particular situation.Thanks for the Comment!-CruisewithMike

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  12. Mike says:

    Great site Mike! Have to say we are extremely disappointed with Disney Cruise lines and their refusal to accommodate special needs kids…this seems to be a new theme with Disney in general seeing the other changes they have made at their parks in regards to how special needs kids are treated. Up until a year ago Disney was great and now in the last year they have really become anti-special needs children. WE cruised on the Dream 18 months ago and they were very accommodating for our daughter and flexible in the rules of the 3-12 kids club…now this past week we booked again and the agent confirmed it would be no problem for our 13 year to take part in the same kids club as she functions at the 9-10 year old level and just needs the secure environment so she cant wander the ship on her own—Disney has flat out told us that they will make no accommodations for special needs kids anymore! Very very disappointing for us as she loves their kids club. Unlike Disney Carnival and Royal C are more than happy to accommodate special needs kids and allow for grouping by not just age but also ability. Shame on Disney for their discriminatory practices against the special needs community!

    • Dear Mike,
      I too am saddened to hear of your experience with Disney, and hope our readers will take note when making important cruise line choice decisions. Thanks for sharing with us. – CruisewithMike

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