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RCCL cruising with disabled 4yr old


necorner

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I have a question primarily about the kids program on Royal Caribbean. We will be cruising with them for the first time this fall. Our daughter cannot walk and has a wheelchair. She is cognitively on-track, but unfortunately only speaks a few words of yet (she used to have a trach which prevented her from making any noises so her speech is delayed). She's also just starting potty training and I don't know if she'll be completely trained by the cruise.

Anybody out there cruise with a disabled child and use the kids program on Royal Caribbean? I'm concerned that they will just reject us and say we can't put her in there. We also have a 7yr old son with no issues so he definitely will be in the kids program. He loves his sister dearly and would undoubtedly want to help with taking care of her there.

One more question--I read recently that RCCL no longer has in-cabin babysitting. Is this true? We're counting on that for some adult time! Last year we cruised with NCL and they don't have in-cabin babysitting. Our daughter was miserable in their kids program (so unlike her) and our son hated it too. Hence we wound up with absolutely no adult time whatsoever. We're really hoping for that to change this time!

Any insight will be greatly appreciated. I'm sure I haven't even thought of all my questions yet!

Denise
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I can tell you that all kids must absolutely, positively be potty trained to participate in RCI's kids programs. This rule is the same for able-bodied and disabled kids and there are no exceptions. The programs are great and the kids centers are accessible, although the programs are not confined to just that area (they have things going on throughout the ship). I would think your big obstacle is going to be the potty training.

I don't know about the babysitting. I would check with RCI's special services and confirm that 1. they still have in-cabin babysitting and 2. there will be no problem with the sitter watching your daughter.

I do recall some time ago that there were problems with the sitters caring for any kids who had a disability. The sitters were mostly off duty employees and they got paid cash directly from the parents, so they could have discontinued the service once they ramped up their kids programs. Again i would check directly with RCI regarding this.

Candy
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I don't know about RCI but on Princess I don't tell them that my kids are incontinent. My oldest is 14 and the youngest is 6, they both have spina bifida and are in wheelchairs. I tell them that the youngest one won't have to go to the bathroom so they don't have to ask her. She is cathed before she goes in the program and then while she is with me for lunch and then before she goes back after dinner. The 14 year old just goes and caths when it's time for her to. It has not been a problem they love the Princess kids program.
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You know I've often thought the same thng CJH. I mean if you don't volunteer the information how is the staff going to know if your child wears diapers or pull ups? In most cases (unless the child is wandering around in a T-shirt and a diaper) it's not like you can actully tell just by looking at the child. It would seem rather odd to me for someone to question if an 8 year old (wheeler or AB) was potty trained. I mean if they just wear a diaper or pull ups in case of an accident and they are not going to have to be changed while in the program I'm rather in favor of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. But that's just me.

Candy
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RCCI is just about the only line that still offers in cabin sitting for $10 an hour (the price has recently gone up). The only problem with not telling the staff that the child is not potty trained is that there usually are tell-tale signs that they are wearing diapers, most noticeably the smell. It's different for kids that are cathed, but for those in diapers, there will come a point when the counselors will know that they are in diapers.
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Thanks for all the input. I have to admit that it had already occurred to me not to mention it if my daughter is still in diapers, just because she'll be sitting in her wheelchair the whole time and it won't be obvious. It's also quite probable that she may be trained to do her BMs in the potty by cruise time but still may need a diaper for urine. (My son was that way...I think that's common for a lot of kids.)

I have as of yet to get a hold of people at Royal Caribbean...I sat on hold for a very long time today and finally gave up. I want to tell them of my daughter's special needs before the trip. Here's hoping for lots of positive words from them...

Denise
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I agree with you about the telltale signs kitty, but I was talking more about those kids that are cathed and wear pull ups or diapers in case of an accident. I mean, whose to know if they don't have an accident? I can understand the RCI sraff not wanting to change diapers (some day care centers have that rule too), but I think older kids who wear them just "in case" should be ok if the parents don't say anything about it.

certainly if the child wears diapers and isn't cathed or potty trained, I don't think you shoud fib about that. They will need their diaper changed, the staff will figure it out and the kid will be kicked out of the program (and probably embarrased too). Hard feelings all the way around.

Kitty, do you know if RCI babysitters will do in room babysitting for kids that are disabled. I've heard two different (opposing) experiences on this. One parent says yes and the other no.

candy

candy
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Candy, it seems to be different on every ship. Sometimes they will sit with special needs children and sometimes they won't. I guess the problem is liability for the cruise line. The people who do babysitting are untrained crew members who might not feel comfortable with dealing with a special needs child. After teaching in that area for so many years, I can understand their reticence.
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