First Disney Cruise… with a child on the spectrum

SO, we have finally done it! We took our first Disney cruise on the 19th of January and it was an amazing trip!! We were completely terrified and with absolutely NO reason!

Embarkation day was filled with excitement and wonder and by the time we actually boarded the Dream… things were set to be a Dream!

Our son is very routine oriented and sensory, so we laid out the specifics for him and figured we would have hiccups along the way! We were WRONG! The worst hiccup was that Adam wanted to spend one on one time with Me, and I definitely would not call that a hiccup!


The scheduling of activities in the Navigator daily made it easy to discuss with all of our kids what we intended to do. With that said, there was not much that the kids wanted to do with us! Once the boys explored the Oceaneers Lab and Club, all three were lost to us.


We found there were a few kids like our Adam on the trip and depending on their level of needs depended on whether or not they went to the Club. For us, the club was a gift. Adam found video games, books, arts and crafts, quiet space, and his favorite thing… Disney movies. When by the pool there were plenty of movies on the funnel vision and we also had the opportunity to see first run movies in the theater onboard as well.


The first night we were concerned about the shows and level of sound and quantity of people, so we took Adam and his brothers to the club… we were WRONG! There were a few parts Adam my have struggled with, but he would have really enjoyed it, the colors were amazing and all of the music was right up his alley… so the next night we went. It was remarkable. The show gave Adam the perfect amount of input and dinner afterwards was a breeze!


SO… with that said… excursions to the Bahamas were expensive and we opted to just walk around a little and get back onboard the ship because the boys just wanted to be on the ship. My oldest and youngest decided to go to the Club and Adam and I had a nice date lunch in the Royal Palace dining room… it was by far my most magical lunch. In Castaway Cay, the excursions weren’t completely insane on price, but we felt it better to just hang on the beach, and that is just what we did. The water was a little cold, but the sand was soft and white and all of the boys enjoyed just building sand castles. I was worried because lunch was served on the beach, BUT I did not have to.. they had what Adam ate, typical BBQ food and if it was that bad, a short walk back to the boat was an option… thankfully no walk was needed until we were done enjoying the beauty of the beach.

During the dinner rotation we ate in all three restaurants and Animator’s Palate was Adam’s favorite… I am pretty sure that it was the Mickey chairs! Each night our servers stayed with us and there really aren’t enough words to say how truly great they were. They got to know each child really fast and Adam had his cheeseburger and fries every night along with a cold, iced cup of water with his name and a Mickey on it… always in red, which is Adam’s color!


I can truly say that this trip was amazing and I highly recommend a Disney cruise to everyone… at least once. I could go on for days, but would much rather answer specific questions!

Have a magical day!


2 comments for “First Disney Cruise… with a child on the spectrum

  1. Heather
    3 March, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    We are going on a Disney cruse in November with two boys on the spectrum. This was really helpful to get over my fears. One of my boys is sensory seeking (he is going to love everything) and one is sensory avoiding. I am worried about my one that is avoiding, noise and a lot of movement around him is very over whelming for him. Did you find any time that is less stimulating in the club. I know he is going to love Andy’s room but not if it has 20 other kids.

    I keep reminding my self it Disney and they do amazing thing for children with special needs.

    • Doddlemommy
      4 March, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      Hi Heather… I am so glad to help. My son tends to be an avoider as well and uses headphones often for noise. We took them with us and found he adjusted well and did not use them. I honestly did not find any one time busier than another with the exception of when they opened each day. My son was on his own (not even with his brothers) as that is the way he likes it and we found him in spaces that were not full at all each time we went in to pick him up. Adam was extremely happy in the club, but we did have a day that he wanted to be with just me, so we went to lunch together in the Royal Palace and walked around the ship some looking at different things. After a couple of hours he was ready to go back in to the club. The best advice I can give you is this…
      You know your son, but with that said you need to give him the opportunity to explore and find his place. If he is unhappy he can tell the counselors and they will text you on the wave phone and you can then go up to him. Some parts of the day the kids club is really the quietest place onboard. I hope that helps.

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