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 Motion
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 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 Smells
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 Light
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 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 Mobility
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.