Autism Adventures

Caribbean Cruise

January 13 – 21, 2023


Many families of autism do not go on family vacations outside the area they live. This can limit opportunities for exploring and visiting new places. Autism Adventures hopes to change that! Our mission is to provide supported family recreational experiences. We do this through a therapeutic recreation setting where all family members can reconnect, unwind, and create lasting memories in a supportive and caring atmosphere.

During our Adventures, children with autism have professional targeted support that allows them to further develop their social skills, build their independence, confidence, and self-worth, and make new friends.

Siblings of children with autism will have time to connect, learn from each other, and build meaningful relationships in recreational settings.

Parents of children with autism will receive a helping hand in planning and supporting the child with autism during the cruise. In addition, there are possibilities to interact with other parents with similar family dynamics. This supported therapeutic recreation setting fosters meaningful relationships and possibilities to continue socializing with the participants after the Adventure is over.

Our inaugural voyage in January 2020 was tremendously successful. After a pause for a worldwide pandemic, we are now planning our next voyage in January 2023! A cruise in the Eastern Caribbean awaits you! Read on for more information. Please be advised, COVID Requirements for travel and the cruise industry change frequently. All participants of Autism Adventures will have to adhere to Federal guidelines. Spaces are limited. If your family is interested, please email rob.zoppi@autismokanagan.ca before May 30, 2022.

Specialized Staffing

The success of the adventure rests on the expertise, credentials and support of knowledgeable and caring staff who provide a multi-disciplinary approach to intervention. Volunteer staff members will have vast experiences interacting with children and families of autism with varying educational backgrounds.

Program Eligibility

One or more family members must have a formal diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Families must be full- time residents of Kelowna or West Kelowna.  Staffing would adhere to a 1:3 staff to child (with autism) and be successful in a small group environment. 

The maximum number of families per cohort is six. The limited number of families per cohort has been purposely designed to allow for individualized programming based on volunteer availability and create a small and intimate group atmosphere.

 We have extended the age criteria for the individual with Autism from 4-16. The program will only have one intake a year and cruise travel will take place during the less chaotic travel month of January.

On-Board Cruise

Programming for the child with autism will occur throughout the cruise itinerary. Children with autism can have up to 4 hours of direct programming/respite for the majority of the cruise facilitated by the highly skilled volunteer staff. 

There will be no organized programming for siblings during the cruise. Volunteer staff will be able to support families during morning port excursions if applicable. Parents will be able to attend a free daily orientation hosted by the parent ambassadors for tips and review daily schedules and to answer questions. 

On a “typical” cruise day, respite and programming will take place just after lunch and in the  evening after dinner. On day one, there is no scheduled respite. However, volunteer staff will help get you settled in your staterooms and help the families acclimatize to their new surroundings. On day six of the cruise, scheduled programming/respite will occur from 5:00pm-8:00pm only. This will allow parents the opportunity to dine on their own. On the last day of the cruise, there is no scheduled respite/programming however, volunteer staff can lend a hand with debarkation and assisting parents with regulating the child with autism on the return air travel to Kelowna.

Trip Details & Finances

Westjet is the proud partner of Autism Adventures.

Round trip airfare from Kelowna International Airport to Orlando International Airport (connection in Calgary) per passenger (including taxes) will be approximately $650-$750 CDN per person.

Flight will leave early on Friday January 13th, 2023. Total flight time is approximately five and ½ hours. Flight Arrives at Orlando International just before 5:00pm EST. Participants will overnight Friday in the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport located directly in the terminal. 

Transfers from the hotel to Port Canaveral cruise terminal are approximately 1 hour. Private transportation will be arranged to include all participants of our group. Price per person to be determined.

Return flight is Saturday, January 21, 2023.

Accommodations Prior to Cruise

Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport

Single room with two double beds – approximately $250-275 USD

Cruise Information

Cruise Company: Carnival Cruises

Ship: Carnival Mardis Gras (brand new ship in fleet. Inaugural sailing- January 2022)

Sailing Date: Saturday, January 14, 2023 to Saturday, January 21, 2023

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean- Ports of Call include San Juan, Amber Cove, Grand Turks

Stateroom: Choices vary:  Interior, Ocean View, Balcony, and Suites. Prices vary depending on room configuration, deck level, and number of guests per room.

Estimated Cruise Prices (airfare, transfers, pre-cruise accommodations are separate):

Family of 4 (taxes included in US Dollars not including gratuities)

Balcony Room on Deck 8/9- $2800-$3000 USD

*If you have a family of 5, only certain staterooms are available 

** Prices are not adjusted to the age of passengers. First two passengers pay the majority of the cruise costs and 3rd and 4th guests only pay a fraction of the cost. 

All our board members are volunteers. Please consider donating to Autism Okanagan – all the money we receive goes directly to help us continue our programs and develop new ones.

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