Now that you have completed all of the pre-travel preparations and your child knows what to expect along the way and at your destination, you will want to orient your child to the features and activities available on the actual cruise ship.
Talk to the director on the first day. They aim to please, so explain in detail your kids capabilities and behaviors. It will be beneficial to everyone if they know what’s going on sooner rather than later.
Walk around the ship with your child and check out the activities, the movies, and the library. On the newer boats, the popular activities book quickly, so you don’t want to deal with a tantrum because you weren’t able to book a preferred activity.
Ask to participate in ship activities before or after regular hours. There are fewer crowds, and less of a possibility of rude remarks about why you can’t wait in line, etc.
Get acquainted with the ship security person if your child is a wanderer or escape artist.
Go to onboard activities when the ship is in port. Especially for the older children with autism – the ship is much less crowded and your child will get more attention from counselors.
Book off-season. You might get lucky and your child will be one of a handful and get private attention.
Try all the games and lessons! You never know what your child might learn or enjoy even after the cruise.
Go to the shows. Ask to be seated in a convenient place where you can exit fast and the noise isn’t as overwhelming.
Consider buying an internet package. Ports of call usually have Wi-Fi spots. Research ahead of time or walk around and try to find free internet. Starbucks, cafes, and bookstores usually have free internet but they want you to consume something before giving you access to their network. Many hotel lobbies are also free.
Bring snacks to the room if your child is a night eater and ask the room attendant to empty the cooler. Room service is free but it still entails calling, waiting 20-30 minutes, and opening that door in the middle of the night. It is much easier to have everything ready.
If you are planning to allow your child to visit the Kids’ Club, there are some additional considerations to keep in mind.
Block their card from shopping/arcade as they might misunderstand the real value or try to impress their peers by treating them to freebies at your expense. You also might want to print out an itemized list of charges daily to ensure no extra charges are on there.
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Don’t allow your child to walk alone on the open deck. You might encounter joking peers or strangers.
Tell your child is to stay in the club and inform both parents and the Kids’ Club Director if he or she decides to leave, as well as where he or she is headed next.
If possible invest in a two-way walkie-talkie system.
Give your child some tips on social conversation topics or sentences that can be applied at the Kids’ Club, and how to start a conversation with a new friend. Help your child by creating a conversation topic list of at lease five topics relating to the cruise, the games, etc. It may be helpful to create a social story of what your child may experience and what might come up in the Kids’ Club.
If they can’t attend the activity in the kids club ask for it to be brought to you. Coloring pages and small arts and crafts projects such as coloring t-shirts are easy to do anywhere.