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BY Margalit

6 Important Tips When Choosing a Cruise Cabin for a Family with Special Needs

Many parents don’t realize that one of the more important decisions when cruising with a special-needs child is the choice of a suitable cabin. In the past, one had to rely on their travel agent to help them chose a cabin, but nowadays you can make the decision by simply referring to the ship’s deck plan on the cruise line’s website. For those less familiar with doing so here are some tips to get you started.

1. Avoiding Motionmotion cruise ships

If this is your first cruise, and you don’t know whether your family members get sea sick your best bet is choosing a cabin in one of the ship’s middle decks or as an alternative one in the back of the ship. .To find them simply calculate the number of decks available onboard and divide by two-so like on Royal Caribbean’s  ‘Allure of the Seas’ where with a total of fifteen decks (starting at deck 3 and ending at 18) you should pick your cabin on deck ten or eleven. Once you figure out the decks you want to stay on, you want to try to locate a cabin as close to the middle of ship as possible.

2. Avoiding NoiseCruise Ship Noise

If your special-needs child is noise sensitive, you should look for a stateroom on a deck wedged between two decks of cabins, far away from any dining or entertainment venues. Bear in mind in mind most ship cabin walls are wafer thin so even the smallest insignificant repetitive sounds might end up disturbing your child.

Should you be forced to book a cabin above or below any of these areas remember pools, buffets and the gym open early in the morning and will disturb you if you like to sleep in, while theaters and lounges close past midnight, which might not work for you if you are used to falling asleep early.

Casinos and elevators are by far the worst offenders with continuous noise day and night. The exceptions to the rule are the promenade facing cabins on some Royal Caribbean ships in the freedom, independence and oasis ship classes that come equipped with sound proof windows and provide a good way to watch the promenade parades for kids with autism from a distance.

3. Avoiding SmellsCruise Ship Galley

Few special-needs kids are sensitive to strong smells but for those who are choosing a cabin over any restaurants and kitchens is not a good idea. The trouble is that though ship restaurants are well marked on the ship’s deck plans, cooking kitchens might not always be so the only way to discover where they are located is to call and ask the cruise line directly. The safe distance is to choose a cabin at least five staterooms away since cooking scents can propagate through the cabin vents and still enter your cabin, particularly on older ships.

4. Avoiding LightCruise Lighting

In the case, your special needs’ traveler is light sensitive booking a cabin with no balconies or windows is your best bet. However, since some cruise lines like Disney and Royal Caribbean have started in the last two years to offer virtual picture windows or balconies for inside cabins it is better to contact the cruise line prior to booking to make sure you can turn the system off completely when you go to sleep.

5. Cruise Ship SafetyCruise Ship Safety

Recommended cabins for families whose main concern is their kids wandering off would be mid ship inside or porthole staterooms away from staircases and elevators kids can use to access outdoor areas like the pools with no lifeguards. Any cabin with a balcony is not a good idea since many older kids are physically able to open the balcony door locks and possibly try to climb on the railings.

Families can choose between budget friendly inside quad rooms that can accommodate up to four passengers in a small space with upper bunks or inside connecting rooms. Inside connecting rooms are pricier alternatives with more space to move around and two bathrooms but less safe since there are two doors your kid can potentially exit from.

6. Limited MobilityAccessiblity

If your special-needs child requires a wheelchair, you might want to book a stateroom in the mid ship area in close proximity to the elevators for easier navigation of the ship. Most first-time cruisers underestimate the amount of walking done per day walking through long corridors getting from the varius dining and entertainment venues back to their cabin. Since each ship has a limited number of accessible cabins with modified doorframes that can fit wheelchairs make sure you book well in advance and discuss your specific needs with the cruise line agent before you book.

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Written on February 11, 2014 by:

Margalit Sturm Francus has lived in five different countries on three continents. In 2009, she established a nonprofit website, Autistic Globetrotting, to inspire and encourage autistic families to explore the world. Her articles have appeared in many media publications, including , SATH and Autisable By communicating with both the autistic and travel communities, she aims to raise autism awareness and facilitate the implementation of much needed accommodations for special needs travelers.

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