1st Cruise with a special needs child (CP)-Share your experience on a cruise

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by SixtoMouse, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. SixtoMouse

    SixtoMouse Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2014
    Messages:
    36
    Hi
    I am a mother to a sweet and loving:love: 4 yr old who has CP, Gtube, Non Verbal in a wheelchair. My son had a hard start in life but we are at the stage where he stable and enjoying life. He is my sweet angel who loves to smile and be around other children. To see the joy on his face when he hears other children around him is priceless.
    This is why we choice Disney Cruise to be our first official vacation as a family.

    I am nervous about our trip and would like to hear other family's experiences on the cruise

    Any suggestions to make this experience easier would be greatly appreciated.
    THank you in advance
     
  2. Avatar

    Google AdSense Guest Advertisement


    to hide this advert.
  3. krosmith

    krosmith Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    111
    We did a cruise in Dec with my 12 year old brain injured son. He is in a wheelchair and has a special diet. They were so accommodating for him. I spoke with the restaurant manager the first day, and picked what he could eat and they finely chopped and puréed it for him. After the first day, at the ean of dinner each night, I chose his meals for the next day, and how it needed to be prepared. And they had it ready when we arrived. They were so accommodating to our needs and were very helpful. Feel free to ask any detailed questions.
     
  4. SixtoMouse

    SixtoMouse Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2014
    Messages:
    36
    THank your for you response.
    Did you do any ports? How did you manage with the wheelchair? Where some ports easier than others? Did you opt to stay on the ship?
    Sorry for so many questions i am trying to get a better understanding how we are going to manage with a wheelchair.
     
  5. wdwgoofydaddy

    wdwgoofydaddy DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2014
    Messages:
    540
    Hi there, my family and I have just completed our 6th Disney Cruise in 5 years. We have a 10 year old son with special needs and I have always found the experience amazing. The cast members and crew have always been accommodating. Although my son did not require a wheelchair I found the experience enriching for his development and to see him smile made it all worth wild. Please note that the cruise cabins are quite small and tight therefore you may have some challenges with the wheel chair but I'm sure Disney has that all figured out. My other concern was nothing that Disney can really control which was other guest and their lack of tolerance or acceptance of child with special needs. I guess we generally deal with that everywhere we go.

    Depending on your cruise and budget, I would recommend you look into adding on an Adventure by Disney option to your cruise for excursions. Disney will completely take care of everything for you with this option however it is a bit pricey.

    Hope this helps.
     
  6. SixtoMouse

    SixtoMouse Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2014
    Messages:
    36
    Thank You for your response i will look into the disney excursions.
     
  7. twinmum

    twinmum DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2006
    Messages:
    799
    You have chosen well! We just returned from our 3rd Disney cruise with our twin sons (now 15). One of our sons has CP (uses a walker or w/c and is otherwise age appropriate). This time, he was very recently released from hospital after major orthopedic surgery (had been in hospital for acute and rehab care for 3.5 months!). He is still not able to use his walker, so we brought his powerchair.

    Our experiences with DCL have been very, very good. The CMs are very accomodating. In fact, the biggest challenge with first time cruising is figuring out what your needs will be and asking for assistance. I don't think I have ever asked for help and not seen the CMs do their utmost to accomodate.

    The elevators get busy, so bring your patience! Also, we found working with the power chair to be a mixed blessing - wonderful for our son to have his independence (I almost cried the first night he made his way home from the teen area (Edge) on his own!) but excursions/ports were definitely more challenging. The manual w/c was easier. Still, there's lots to do onboard, so staying on the ship isn't such a bad option!

    Happy to answer more specific questions - would probably be best if you told us your itinerary etc. ARe you in a handicapped accessible cabin? We can help you better with as many specifics as you are comfortable sharing, I think.
     
  8. SixtoMouse

    SixtoMouse Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2014
    Messages:
    36
    Thank you for you response
    I do have a question
    How wide are the door ways?
    First we had an accessible room but had to switch because of the sleeping arrangements and now we are a regular 1 bedroom room. We have a stroller/wheelchair type that can be taken apart in two pieces. i was hoping that maybe we can squeeze thru instead of breaking it apart.
     
  9. lanejudy

    lanejudy Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2011
    Messages:
    6,020
    The regular staterooms have narrower doorways than the accessible cabins. But assuming your son's stroller/wheelchair is a pediatric size, you'll probably be fine getting into the stateroom. However, unless you have an interior stateroom it may not fit around the queen-size bed into the "living room" area of the stateroom unless it's light enough to lift/carry.

    Enjoy your cruise!
     
  10. lost*in*cyberspace

    lost*in*cyberspace DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2005
    Messages:
    8,942
  11. Despinoza8a

    Despinoza8a Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2015
    Messages:
    1
    Hello I hope you get this. I happened to be searching info on the cabin disney dream 8590 and somehow I ran into a thread where you commented and I would love to add you as a contact/friend request for refernce? If tou dont mind? I will review your posts more tomorrow, but I feel a relief to know I wont be alone or first kne taking a son with special needs to the cruise. I have a son in a wheelchair also, non verbal altho he has a communication device, but I have several questions and was hoping you dont mind if I look through your posts and add you as friend. My son is 9 and will be 10 when we cruise to bahamas in Jan 2016. He just got his power chair bit its a working progress because still practicing driving. My name is daisy by the way. I hope I post this right, first time on this site.
     
  12. lanejudy

    lanejudy Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2011
    Messages:
    6,020
    Welcome, Daisy! :welcome:

    Feel free to ask any questions you may have. You might also check out the Disney Cruise Line Forum for cruising information.

    Enjoy your cruise!
     
  13. PatMcDuck

    PatMcDuck DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    May 12, 2000
    Messages:
    6,230
    I was not that happy with the cruise experience; it did not really work for us.

    It was over 10 years ago, DS was about 8? He can walk, he has Downs and Autism. But he had surgery on both ankles, a fews months before, so we had him in a MacLarren stroller on the ship when we were walking around, to rest him. It was tough at times when I was walking him alone, to juggle opening a door (manually) and pushing him through the doorway. There was sometimes a large lip that was hard to push him over, too. (I understand WHY, it is to keep water out on rough seas, of course).

    We had been told (by a friend who worked for DCL) that we could leave him in the childcare from time to time, before we cruised. I should have double-checked on that info. The truth was, not really. The staff was polite but not prepared for him. (he would not be in the stroller there, he would be walking, but he is not really verbal) He was small for his age, and happy, not upset for us to leave him at all. We did leave him once for an hour, but we were too nervous to try that again (it went fine).

    DS LOVES all things Disney, and the Parks. For us, the Parks are easier to manage. The cruise had me and DH taking turns walking the ship alone at night, while the other stayed in the room with DS. (he goes to sleep at about 9 pm). So we did not get to experience much.

    That said, my 6 year old daughter LOVED the child care program. She even wanted to eat her meals with the group. And my other 2 sons, aged about 13 and 15, also loved the teen experiences. The trip was not a bust or anything, we had fun, it was my first cruise. Loved all the food, and Castaway Cay of course.

    I am just being honest here..... I would love to take a cruise without DS someday. I take him to Disney twice a year, he is always so excited for those trips, and I can manage him pretty well (an adult in a Convaid chair at the parks).

    I hope your Cruise is perfect, things may be different now, they have newer ships and this was awhile ago too. Have fun!
     
  14. SixtoMouse

    SixtoMouse Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2014
    Messages:
    36
    Hi
    Daisy i have not taken our trip as of yet. The trip is coming up March 1st. I have been working closely with my TA to make sure she is contact with special services to request things we may need for my son. I will take notes and i hope to have a report on our experiences once we come back. If you have any questions feel free to ask me or you can ask the board there is a lot of people who have cruised with children with special needs who can share their experiences.
     
  15. michelle9343

    michelle9343 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2004
    Messages:
    1,451
    I have been on 4 cruises with my special needs daughter. The first one was when she was 9 . She is in a wheelchair. I do love the cruises and have another one planned for next year. I tried to use a non handicap accessible room and it was a nightmare for us. When traveling my daughter become very attached to her chair. We would have to take her out of the chair and take it apart. She would cry like crazy in the room.... All she wanted was her chair.. Needless to say we spend a ton of extra money and only get an accessible room.. We have never used the kid clubs , she is non-verbal and not toilet trained. As far as the ports none of the excursions are wheel chair accessible. We have taken her off the ship to just walk around the ports. We went to Cozumel, Costa Maya , Nassau. Grand Cayman you have to tender so she could not leave the ship.
    If you have any other question please let me know.
     
  16. blondietink

    blondietink DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2008
    Messages:
    1,772
    We took our first DCL cruise in December and it was not very good. We have cruised on other lines and found that they are more accommodating than DCL was with our son, who is now 24 years old. We could not get an accessible cabin even though we booked 9 months in advance. The ocean view room set up was very problematic and the spit bathroom was terrible to negotiate. Why on earth would they have a toilet and sink in one room, but then you have to go to the other bathroom to take a shower? Hallways were narrow, elevators extremely small, the buffet area was near impossible to navigate with a wheelchair. Trying to get out on deck was difficult due to the high lips on the doors to outside. Staff overall was not very friendly or helpful other than dining and stateroom staff. No help getting on and off the ship at ports. And by help, I mean just a friendly face to ask if we needed help with the ramp to get on/off as they can be steep.

    On the bright side, Castaway Cay was awesome with the beach wheelchairs and of course, the nightly shows were terrific.

    For the money, we will sail other cruise lines that are more accommodating in the future. We expected more from DCL and they failed.
     
  17. tobikaye

    tobikaye DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2009
    Messages:
    1,095
    I would definitely try to see if a HA stateroom comes available. My sister uses a rollator for most trips so we booked a HA with a connecting non-HA stateroom. She would not have been able to get her rollator into the non-HA room without folding it up. This is something she would not have been able to do on her own while opening up the heavy door.

    The HA room had an automatic door so that made it easier for her to get in and out of the stateroom. She used the HA bathroom to shower, but was able to navigate the step up into the non-HA bathroom for the toilet and sink if someone was in the other bathrooms. She needed the HA bathroom for the shower as the non-HA bathroom had the round tub with the large step in that might have been dangerous for her.
     
  18. MakiraMarlena

    MakiraMarlena It's a big black fish to you

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Messages:
    5,994
    An issue you will have with ports is that there is no ADA in foreign countries. When DCL lists excursions, they will note in the writeup for each one whether a wheelchair can be accommodated or not.

    To make it easier for families to get ready at the same time, you don't have to wait for someone else to finish up. It is unfortunate that you were not able to get an accessible room.

    A child who needs one on one care cannot be left in the children's clubs. No adults other than youth counselors are permitted in the clubs during "secured" programming, including adult caretakers of special needs kids. Youth counselors cannot provide one on one care. Children must be toilet trained and able to go to the bathrooms without assistance. Open house hours are scheduled relatively often, where parent(s) can visit the clubs with their children.
     
  19. blondietink

    blondietink DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2008
    Messages:
    1,772
    On other cruise lines we have sailed with a split bathroom, there is the toilet, sink and shower in one of the split, then the other split has a shower/bathtub and sink. Two or more people can really get ready much easier in this kind of configuration.
     
  20. PatMcDuck

    PatMcDuck DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    May 12, 2000
    Messages:
    6,230
    I think I was confused by the child care rules, because obviously they watch young kids that are not toilet trained? My ignorance, for some reason I thought they even watched babies and toddlers in one area. (not being sarcastic, not at all. I trusted my friend who worked for DCL at the time for my information). My son would likely not need to even use the bathroom on a short stay, and if he did, would maybe only need someone to make sure his pants were pulled up after he went. I was not prepared for the situation. In hindsight, I understand the liability issues, I just was unaware. That was my fault.

    My son would not need one on one care, and was not medically complicated. They were concerned about his lack of language skills, and that he would not respond well if told he had to take turns on the computer with the other kids. (its possible he would not respond to that, who knows.

    It all was long ago, and we go to the parks and all is well. Just giving the other side to the experience.
     
  21. lanejudy

    lanejudy Moderator Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2011
    Messages:
    6,020
    Some clarification on the DCL kids clubs as rules have changed somewhat in recent years ...

    Children must be able to function in a group setting without 1:1 assistance. Unfortunately, due to liability issues, no adults are allowed to attend with a child at any of the kids' spaces during "secured programming." Kids are not allowed to "age down" to attend a younger group. Open House times are offered as accommodation to those who may not be able to participate in secured programming. With the exception of the nursery, Open House times are schedule in each space for usually at least one hour each day of the cruise. This is a time that parents may accompany their children, and/or children of a different age group may utilize the space.

    The nursery is available for children under age 3, and they will do diapering but you must provide the supplies. They will also feed foods you provide, no other food is offered at the nursery. There is a charge for the nursery, I believe it's $9/hr, possibly a lower second-child rate. If children have not yet had their 3rd birthday, however close, they may only attend the nursery. This is a quite recent strictness on age.

    The Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab are for children ages 3-12. The Club generally has programming aimed at ages 3-7 and the Lab programming for ages 8-12, but there is no specific age requirement for any of the activities offered in either space. While it used to be a requirement that the child be "fully potty-trained" that is no longer the case. Children wearing pull-ups are allowed, and the family must agree to return periodically (I've heard every 30 minutes or every 60 minutes) to check on the child and take him/her to the restroom if necessary. A child who is not wearing a pull-up must be completely independent with bathroom -- able to undress, do their business, wipe, and re-dress without assistance. CMs are not allowed into the Club/Lab bathrooms with a child, but will remain outside the entrance. Meals are offered at a set time, and tend to be basic along the lines of a cheese sandwich and piece of fruit. CMs will not make any child attend or eat the meal, but there will be no other food available. Most families feed the kids prior to dropping them off, but if you wish for your child to eat at the Club/Lab you will want to instruct the child to go when it is announced so they don't miss it.

    The Edge is the tween space for ages 11-14. These children are allowed to come and go as they wish, so families must be comfortable with that concept. Some of the schedule activities at Edge are "out and about" style such as scavenger hunts. 11 or 12 yr olds who need secured programming may attend the Club/Lab. This group is typically quite social, with friendships usually established at the ice breaker session the first night.

    Vibe is the teen space for ages 14-17. Like Edge, these kids are allowed to come and go as they wish, with several activities taking place outside of the actual Vibe space. This group is also quite social, with friendships established at the planning session on the first night. Depending on the ship, this space may have it's own pool, and possibly even an elevator that can only be accessed by those with a Vibe KTTW card. Once a teen has his/her 18th birthday, they will not be allowed back into Vibe even if still in high school or with special needs. It's a liability issue and 18 are considered adult, no adults are allowed into any of the kids' spaces except during open house times.

    HTH
     

Share This Page