Hi Yall, I will be sailing on the Sensation this summer but I have a question about my 8 year old daughter Melissa. She is very special and has Autism. She is Moderate to Mild functioning. She has minimal verbal skills but understands alot. She is alittle hyper and can play side by side but not one on one. I wanted to put her into Camp Carnival every now and then but I am worried about the supervision for her. What I mean by that is she would need an extra eye on her. Can that happen? When I was on another cruise line they told me it would be ok to put her in the camp and needless to say it didnt go over well and I didnt feel like I was able to enjoy my cruise because I was always worring about my daughter. I would of understood if they told me from the beginning that they didnt want to deal with a special needs child, but they kept insisting they can handle it and then I would get beeped to pick her up. I did not enjoy my cruise as much as I wanted to needless to say. That was a 4 day so as you can see with a 7 day I am even more worried. I do have confidents in Carnival because I have been on a Carnival before (without the children) but I wanted to know if you have had children on your ship like my daughter and if you think it will be a problem. I should also note that I have two other children and one at of the two would be in the same age group. So that he can be with her as well and be somewhat of a help. Anyway sorry for the long letter but I hope you can respond. I should also say I cannot wait to come on board. I am very excited. Lynn G.
Tough question. I am particularly interested, as a cruise travel writer, in folks with special needs.
I don't think that the kids' program people are trained or otherwise enabled to deal with kids who have special needs such as Melissa does. It would be a plus to have a sibling along who understands Melissa and her needs.
Could you take a care-giver (nanny sort) along for Melissa? The extra cost would be minimal compared to knowing that your daughter was well-cared for and that you could enjoy your cruise knowing that she was in good, careful, and competent hands ... under YOUR control.
The employees magaging the "kiddie gulag" have their hands full aready with spoiled brats whose parents just want to dump them somewhere. I once spent an entire day in a "gulag" doing research, and could not believe the attitudes of some parents. Or the way their children (did not) behaved.
People who take that job must be saints.
I think your "extra eye" would best by a nanny-type. You really can't expect staff to be prepared or trained for a child with exceptional needs. I do admire you for your concern for Melissa There are too many parents out there who expect everything from the kids' staff so they can spend all the time they want in the casino or downing brewskis on the pool deck with little or no regard for their children, so long as they are out of sight and out of mind.
Let me add to this that MOST parents and their kids are very well-behaved and it's fun interacting with the kids as I had the opportunity to do once. (Except when some smart little 9YO beat me at chess.)
I certainly didn't mean to tar everyone with the same brush that a few brought along.
If I offended well-behaved parents or well-behaved kids, I totally apologize. But there ARE such sorts. And they make the experience rather less than it should be. As in, the brats and demanding parents take up about 80% of the time when the staff should be able to ineract with ALL the kids according to their needs and interests.
I am now trying to search out a "special kid's mom" who sailed late last year with a special needs child so she may be able to help Lynnie with her own experiences.
Me, I wouln't like my kids (backtracking many years) to be in the same place as the little hellions who are dropped off without any interaction on the parents' part with the Kids' staff. The sweet kids (and their concerned parents) take a serious second seat to the brats.
Not all kids in the kids' program are spoiled brats and I didn't mean to imply that. But they are are there.
We have a 3yo who is mildly autistic. We are taking our first cruise in November. We decided to leave the kids with Grandma. (I know we are very fortunate to have this option). You are right, autistic kids are very special. My main concern is that my guy is a climber and loves the water. Jonny around that much water is more stress than I could bear. Also, Jonny is our youngest of three and we really need this week by ourselves to recharge and return better parents. Whatever you choose have a great time and take care of yourself. Willa
My daughter had special needs. (Luckily, she has outgrown them by age 13). While we never cruised until recently, we did go to a resort with wonderful kids programs. While the whole program may not cater to special needs, I found it helpful to find one counselor that will be with the child for the day and explain a few of the most important things they need to know about your child and ask them to watch her. Don't overwhelm them with too much or they'll forget, tune out, or be scared of your child. Maybe like some people do with room stewards, slipping that person 'an extra something' each morning may help. Your tone also helps, such as an informative tone of voice rather than 'demanding' things for your child. Good luck!