This post is supplied by written by  HOLLY CAULFIELD a Cruiser from Buddy Cruises

A special vacation at sea


Shortly after I retired from 30 years as a
special education teacher in the public school system in 2007, I heard about the
Buddy Cruise. I was at loose ends looking for something to keep me busy and involved with the special needs community that had been a part of my life for so long.  I was on the inaugural cruise in 2008 and have been onboard 5 of the 6 sailings to date (and have my cabin booked for cruise number seven, BC 2014)!

So what keeps me coming back?
I could go on and on about the phenomenal ships and crews, the delicious food and the amazing ports of call but it’s more than that.  It’s the families and the children especially the adults with Down syndrome that is the draw for me. 
When I started teaching in the 70s we still had state institutions, families were still being told not to take their children home from the hospital.  The winds of change were blowing but expectations were still low or nonexistent for individuals with Down syndrome. 

Listening to self-advocates share their stories, their trials and successes inspires me, making me a better person and more understanding professional.  Every minute of every day on board my friends with DS are shattering myths and raising the bar.  Whether surfing the flow rider, climbing the rock wall or singing Karaoke they are proving they are just like everybody else.   And no, not all of us will climb that rock wall, myself included, but we will face challenges and grow stronger as a result. 

I’m reminded of one young man who, on board after seeing a video  modeling app on self care  that was presented in a workshop, went back to his cabin and initiated and independently took a shower for the first time in his life (he was in his early 20s).

An inclusive cruise gives us all a wonderful chance to spend a week living and playing together 24/7 sharing and learning from each other.  It gives all of us a chance to experience new things, face new challenges and make friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. Take it from me there are so many pluses to a vacation at sea!