We are thinking to go on a cruise next spring (during our 7-yr-old's spring break). We have a 7year old boy and a 2 year old boy with Down Syndrome.
We seem to have narrowed down our choices to Disney (Magic) and Carnival (not sure which ship yet). I've heard on a DS list that there is a wading pool on the Disney ships that allows swim diapers (non potty trained kids), and someone at Carnival told me that all their ships have one small pools allowing the same. This would be very good for the younger guy, since chances are he won't be potty trained anytime soon. He may not be walking by that point, for that matter.
Carnival's kid clubs go down to 2 and they *don't* have to be potty trained for that either, and the person at Carnival told me that their counselors have experience dealing with kids with special needs. On Disney we'd have the 2-yr-old with us all the time (except a few times in their on-board reserve-ahead nursery for a charge).
The Disney cruise that week is E. Carib; there are about 12 Carnival to choose from, but the actual ports aren't as important on this particular trip; in fact, we'd prefer not too many ports where we have an actual interest in seeing alot at the port.
So, does anyone have any experience with either or both lines that could help us decide between them?
You have definitely done your research as far as facilities available for a two year old on Carnival and Disney. Yes, Carnival's youth program accepts kids as young as two years old. I was recently aboard and there was a two year old who seemed to have some special needs (she seemed to have difficulty focusing and interacting with others) and the counselors were patient with her. However, Carnival's youth program gets huge numbers of kids so the counselors may not have much time to focus on any single child. I'd suggest if you go with Carnival, go off season such as Oct/Nov or late April (which is when we went) or May, when there are less kids aboard ship.
We also have used Disney's nursery which will insure much more of a one-on-one (but not exclusively one-on-one) caregiver to child scenario. My 7 month old son fared very well there and I found the caregivers very gentle and kind. You do have to pay for the hours your child stays in the nursery. Maybe you want to try out Disney while your child is under two years old and if it goes well, then "graduate" to Carnival once your child is three years old.
Feel free to ask me additional questions. I'll be on the road from 8/19-29.
Luisa Frey Gaynor
Family Cruise Editor
I think we are definitely tilting toward Carnival; also, we really only have the one week, since we are trying to do this as a spring break thing, and older son has spring break earlier.
Younger son with DS fortunately doesn't need (much) more personal attention than any other kids his age (he will be 28 months by the time we hope to go) and is used to day care; he just needs someplace that will (a) take him (being under three) and (b) allow the non-potty-trained kids. The fact that Carnival will change diapers and not merely page us to do it is a plus.
Now we just need to figure out what we can do in various ports to figure out which cruise to take.