Guest Blog – Accessible Cruise w Alex Yates & Janet Lavern

Today, my colleague, Alex Yates, is guest blogging for me about an accessible cruise she is hosting with another of our colleagues, Janet Lavern. (Alex is pictured above with her adult son, Kieron.)

If you, or one of your family members, has special needs when it comes to traveling, please give Alex and/or Janet a call!

But don’t wait too long – they’re starting to attract some media attention to what they are doing… and space won’t last for long.




About a year ago, my good friend Janet Lavern and I started talking about the idea of creating some group cruises for folks who required a little extra support. Janet has had a number of clients who have extra support needs, whom she has helped with cruise options in the past. And I have helped many folks during my 14 years as a Travel Advisor.


I have many clients who need extra support – everything from requiring someone to help them navigate the complications of travel (a helping hand, if you like), all the way to someone requiring full care.


My 24  year old son has multiple disabilities, and we have traveled extensively with him. I have also hosted a number of Disneyland and cruise groups for people with extra support needs, their family and friends over the years.


Janet and I recognized that we live in a population that is used to traveling. But…

a.) the first wave of baby boomers are retired (or getting close to retiring), and may be restricting their travel options due to health concerns.

b.) Single folks (especially those who are newly widowed) may not want to travel alone, and/or pay for a single supplement. (Ask about the Travel Match service we have designed.)

c.) In addition, inter-generational travel might be affected if Grandma or Grandpa was getting a little frail…

d.) Alternatively, Grandma or Grandpa might be worried that a grandchild with a disability would not be accommodated.


In December 2012, Janet and I negotiated a group rate with Celebrity Cruises on The Celebrity Solstice, June 28th 2013, and designed an eight night group package that we could present to anyone who has any barriers to travel.


We chose to start with an Alaska Cruise on Celebrity Solstice, out of Seattle. This was a strategic decision based on a number of factors:

  1. Seattle is easy to get to,
  2. Alaska, as part of the United States has stringent accessibility rules, based on the Americans with Disability Act,
  3. Both Janet and I would be available to act as hosts on the cruise,
  4. Celebrity Cruises really “gets it” in terms of accommodating people with disabilities, and the training their staff receive around supporting people with extra support needs is top notch, and
  5. Alaska is a fantastic cruise destination.



We decided that our package should be fully inclusive, so that our travelers would be able to pay upfront, and have no further expenses other than getting to Seattle (which, of course, Janet and I would make as easy as possible), travel insurance, and souvenirs!


We negotiated a great rate for a pre-cruise night in Seattle at a world class Hotel, and because we are members of Virtuoso, our group will be getting a number of special upgrades!


We even included in the package price port excursions at each of the ports of call, as well as including gratuities and all transfers.


We created a Facebook page called “Accessible Cruises” which has been growing steadily! 


On Feb 8th, a Press release went out nationally and today an article about the Accessible Cruise is in the Province Newspaper! (Here is a link!)


Last week, Janet and I also had a conversation with The Southeast Alaska Independent Living Society (SAIL). SAIL is launching a project to provide assistance and support to Visitors to Juneau who have extra support needs. We are so excited that they are willing to partner with us to create a truly unique experience for our Accessibility Cruise!


So if you, or someone you know, wants a worry free travel experience with a group who “gets it”, feel free to contact myself or Janet at the links below!


Alex Yates :

Janet Lavern: