Cruising – the ultimate autism friendly family vacation…

So I am back on board after being quite unwell for the last week, combined with the world of research being quite busy.  What better way to return than by celebrating cruising and autism! Now this is a little bit of a deviation from my regular topic because…where’s the plane?  What is an AV geek without a plane?  But this post is purely devoted to autism friendly holidays, and here is why:

  • Cruising offers a wide range of activities, but in a fairly contained environment so as to not be overwhelmed by too many choices.
  • There is a daily schedule and structure. Every evening, the next day’s schedule is delivered to your cabin so you know exactly what you will be doing at any given time the next day if you are not going on a shore excursion.
  • On the days where the ship is docked, you can partake in a guided shore excursion which are usually very well organised and can be booked months ahead of your cruising date.
  • Cruises generally have so much variety in the way of foods that is you have a food allergy/intolerance (or are casein/gluten free), this can be easily catered for.
  • Speaking of food, when you dine in the restaurant you have the same table every night and can choose to dine with others or just with your party.
  • Most cruise lines have disability services that offer expedited check-in and alternate muster drills to allow for sensory difference (always check this out when booking).
  • I will preface this next point by saying I am in no way paid by Royal Caribbean, this is purely my opinion. Royal Caribbean became ‘Autism Friendly’ in 2014 (although our last cruise was before this and we still found that the staff were more than happy to accommodate our needs). What this consists of is:
    • Priority check-in, boarding and departure
    • Special dietary accommodations including gluten-free and dairy-free
    • Kids club flexible grouping by ability for children 3 to 11 years old
    • Water play toilet-trained policy exception
    • Pagers/phones for parents of children in the Adventure Ocean program while signed in to our care (subject to availability)
  • If you are lucky enough to be taking a cruise out of the United States, Royal Caribbean offers a limited amount of ‘staffed cruises’ which cater for all ages of autistic cruisers and their families. These offer additional services including:
    • Extra professionally trained staff in caring for individuals with developmental disabilities (provided at one staff member for every two to three special-needs guests)
    • Assistance with Royal Caribbean’s products and services
    • Specialised respite sessions
    • Private activities and sessions

For more information on Royal Caribbean’s Autism Friendly services, check out:

For more information on Autism on the Seas staffed cruises, check out:


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