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Activities Onboard – A Guide to Cruise Fun For Travelers Who Have a Special Need (Part 2)

Cruising is an ideal option for travelers seeking a mostly inclusive vacation, and a cruise can be a wonderful option for travelers who have Special Needs.  

As we covered in our previous post, some of cruising’s biggest perks include the many on-board activities, events and amenities found on most cruise lines. 

Below, we’ve outlined a few of the most common, on-board, entertainment options, as well as a few tips on how best to take advantage of them as a traveler with Special Needs: 

Pool/Lido Deck: It’s an iconic image associated with cruising – travelers relaxing in the sun, drink in hand, soaking up the rays poolside.  If you will need a pool lift, be sure to contact the cruise line before you sail should special arrangements need to be made. 

Besides the traditional pools and hot tubs offered on cruise ships these days there are many who have waterparks. On Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway take the plunge on five multistory waterslides including Free Fall – the fastest drop slide at sea and for the little ones –  a larger-than-life figurine of SpongeBob surrounding a shallow pool; Stroll alongside the 150 fountains of the Aqua Park with poolside gelato bar, and a waterslide for teens on the MSC Divina; A 765 ft. water coaster, 4-decks high ending in a lazy river on the Disney Fantasy and the Disney Dream; Royal Caribbean’s Flowrider Surf Simulator offers lots of entertainment, even for those who opt to just look, and the H2O Zone is a kid friendly interactive waterpark. 


Formal Nights: Depending on the length of your cruise and the specific line you’re sailing with, there may be one or more nights dedicated as formal events. These are typically black-tie evenings, so be sure to pack appropriate attire if you plan to attend. These formal evenings generally include entertainment, fine dining and plenty of photo-ops.  For travelers with Special Needs, ask the cruise staff about preferred/accessible seating options. 

Kids’ Clubs/Activities: Many cruise lines will happily accommodate families who have children with Special Needs, and, given advance notice, they may even provide staff members who are trained in sign language or special needs childcare. Ask your cruise line about the specific activities, clubs, and events they offer for children. If notified early about your child’s Special Needs, the staff can plan accordingly.  Note that some cruise lines are more child-friendly than others, and keep this in mind when booking your next family cruise. 

Movies: For the traveling movie buff, many cruise ships show newer and classic films both in-cabin, in shipboard movie theatres and in giant outdoor movie screens.  Princess Cruises pioneered the giant outdoor movie screen concept with Movies Under the Stars but now many cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean, Disney, Holland America and Carnival, have some sort of outdoor movie screens.   

Check the daily itinerary or contact the concierge for information on showtimes.  Travelers with hearing or visual impairments should inquire about the services available and accessible seating.


Do you have a cruise experience or Accessible Travel tip to share? We’d love to hear! Feel free to share with us in the comments, below, or on Facebook, and Twitter.




SNG Image taken onboard the Norwegian Breakaway. 


June 2, 2014

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