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Small Ship Cruising can be ideal for Autistic People

#autism #sustainability cruises windstar yacht cruise Feb 10, 2024
Small ship with only a few decks in port that you can walk off the ship in certain ports

For autistic people particularly, large cruise travel with all the noise, shows, and people can be quite overwhelming.  With all the water slides, multiple restaurants you can't keep track of, and potentially miles of walking to get around the ship, it is often not even a consideration.  


However, if you are autistic and enjoy the water, small ship cruising, such as on the Windstar ships, may be just what you are looking for.  


I took a 10-day Greek cruise on the Windstar Star Legend and experienced small ship cruising first hand.  During my cruise, there were only about 137 passengers on board.  Most of their ships range from 150-300 passengers and all contain only suites.  


As soon as I got on board, I was introduced to my cabin steward.  They showed me how everything worked and were there everyday to straighten up the room and turn down the bed at night, which was done by the time I returned from dinner.  Prior to boarding, I let them know my birthday had just passed, and one day I went back to my room to find balloons and a message.  They even brought a special cake to the dinner table one of the nights, which I shared with people I met onboard.  


While, obviously, this will only work for you if you can handle being on the water for long periods of time, you will find the suites to be spacious by cruise standards.  I had a suite to myself with a small balcony.  I was able to prop the doors open at night and get fresh air.  However, I did find it more difficult to sleep with the sound of the water rushing by at night.  One night, I had the experience of seeing a large group of seagulls flying at night and chasing a school of fish--which I found quite exciting--but ultimately, about halfway through the trip, I decided to close the doors at night to sleep better.  


There is not much entertainment beyond a couple of shows, some music at various locations, and lectures about the shore excursions to help you decide which ones you might want to do.  It was very laid back, and there was no one forcing me to participate if I didn't want to.  


That being said, I did choose to go onshore in each port.  I often went on walks by myself to explore.  I was able to make a few friends and spent some time with them as well.  


If you enjoy spas, there is one onboard.  I really enjoyed the heated tiled beds to relax in after using the dry sauna.  We were able to use them even on days when we did not have spa services booked.  It was a calm and serene place to relax in a robe for an hour or so.  


There were only four places to eat on board: the buffet where breakfast was served, the Portuguese restaurant, the outdoor restaurant for burgers, etc., and the regular dining room.  Over the course of the 10 days, I found myself eating at all of the restaurants.  One thing I regret is not eating during my port calls more often.  I felt like the food was very good, however, it wasn't the same as eating in a local restaurant among locals.  And due to the time of year--right on the cusp of November--there were very few tourists.  It was easy to get a driver at each port. Traveling during an off peak time is a sustainable travel principle that might also benefit autistic people when choosing to travel.  You can still enjoy the culture and atmosphere while not being overwhelmed by crowds and long lines. 


If you think a cruise on a small ship, like Windstar, might be for you or people with autism you know, be sure to reach out to schedule your no obligation consultation at [email protected] 

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