Your customized travel experience starts here.
Here’s a glimpse into traveling with us and what to expect on each of our Elite supported, dementia-friendly cruises and caregiver retreats:
Plan Your Dream Vacation
- Kathryn Speer Shoaf, owner of Elite Cruises & Vacations and registered nurse, will assist you in creating travel plans that fit your needs. She specializes in cruises for caregivers and families with loved ones who have arthritis, Alzheimer’s/Dementia, Parkinson’s, MS, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Cancer, and other diagnosis that necessitate extra assistance while traveling. To speak to Kathy directly please call 888-826-6836 or email Kathy@EliteCruisesAndVacationsTravel.com
- Once you have selected a cruise that reflects your travel dreams, whether it’s a tropical beach trip, whale watching in Alaska, or a fall foliage voyage up the East Coast to Canada, a packing list will be provided for you with specific instructions and reminders so nothing gets left behind or lost. Don’t forget to put passports and all medicines in a carry on that stays with you!
- Once your voyage has been determined caregivers will receive a questionnaire so we can best accommodate every traveler on this voyage. These questionnaires can feature everything from mobility and dietary requirements to favorite songs or personal interests that can be worked into activities. These questionnaires help us craft every cruise and shore excursions and ensure that every traveler has an enjoyable and memorable time.
We are a full-service travel agency so please let us know if you need airport transportation, airport wheelchair assistance, accompanied flights, pre-cruise hotel stays (we always recommend to arrive in the departure city the day before the cruise), mobility devices (such as motorized scooters), cabin accessories (detachable showerheads, bedside commodes, etc.) medical devices (such as oxygen concentrators), or if you have dietary needs/restrictions (diabetes, kosher, gluten-free, etc.)
- Before travel we will create an itinerary that reflects the services we have arranged plus what to expect on the cruise so you can plan what best fits your needs and travel style. Feel free to participate in any or all of our exclusive events such as caregiver conferences and circles or our accompanied excursions, or veer off from the group and select your own excursions or use your time in a different way. It’s up to you! For example, we welcome everyone to group meals but if you feel like having breakfast on your cabin balcony you should definitely do that and enjoy your morning coffee with the most amazing view.
- We are a full-service travel agency and can arrange for transportation to and from airports, airport wheelchair assistance, accompanied flights, pre and post cruise hotel stays, and more. Call 888-826-6836 to speak with Elite Cruises owner Kathy about travel options that fit the needs of your family and loved ones.
- Airport meet and greet by Elite Cruises & Vacations staff so we can make sure you and your luggage get to where you need to be!
We will arrange and strongly encourage pre-cruise hotel stays to make sure every traveler has a chance to relax, de-stress, and get to know each other. These early social experiences help travelers form an immediate bond and make the upcoming long first day of the cruise much more relaxed and enjoyable. Pre-cruise activities can also be arranged, such as exploring the iconic Pike Place market in Seattle or a boat tour of Florida canals where the boat leaves right from the hotel dock!
- From the hotel we travel as a group to the cruise port where Elite staff handle luggage check in. All Elite clients will be escorted to their cabins and will have their luggage delivered so their check-in experience is stress free. After arrival in the cabin we strongly recommend keeping passports and larger amounts of currency in the safe.
- Once all settled in we’ll meet up in one of the many dining venues onboard for a get to know each other lunch. Don’t forget to let us know about any dietary preferences, restrictions, and allergies ahead of time so we can ensure that the ship is ready for us!
- After lunch return to your cabin to relax and unpack (please let us know if you need help unpacking!) and watch a brief safety video from Holland America Line. Please note that you must watch this video for your TV to work for the duration of the voyage.
- After unpacking we’ll re-group in our exclusive conference and programs space before participating in a sail away event with a champagne or sparkling juice toast where you’ll start taking advantage of your included beverage package. Wave goodbye to dry land and get ready for the vacation of a lifetime! And don’t forget to tell us if you’re alcohol-free so we can let the bartenders know to make some fantastic mocktails for your trip!
- Settle in for a nice group dinner before exploring the many entertainment options onboard. The Elite Cruises & Vacations staff has a multitude of interests so whatever venue you choose we’ll have someone nearby to help out if needed. Dance the night away at BB King’s Blues Club, win some extra cash at the casino, or enjoy a live theater performance; whatever you decide the night is yours, but with assistance only steps away should you need it.
Your Elite Onboard Experience
- Every Elite supported dementia-friendly cruise on a Holland America ship will include two hours daily of caregiver break time. At these times caregivers get the chance to take a break, relax, recharge, and do whatever they want! Drink an umbrella cocktail by the pool, enjoy a massage at the spa, or just take a nap, this time is just for YOU.
- During caregiver respite times the Elite Cruises & Vacations staff will look after your loved ones. Neuroplasticity is always a focus for us so more physically active clients can expect scavenger hunts or games such as cornhole on deck while others can participate in more low key activities like puzzles or music therapy. These sessions are completely customized based on the responses to the pre-travel questionnaire to ensure the safety and comfort of all participants.
- Caregivers can elect to attend conferences which feature different speakers depending on the cruise and these speakers will cover a multitude of topics. Our guest speakers’ goal is to give all caregivers more tools and resources to take home and apply to their day to day lives and increase quality of life and avoid caregiver burnout. Individuals can also participate in Caregiver Circles where caregivers can share their own experiences and connect with and learn from others who have similar caregiving experiences.
- Group accompanied excursions are part of the experience and these will depend on the information provided by the pre-travel questionnaires and the number of people in the group. Depending on location and mobility levels these excursions can be low-mobility location tours such as busses or glass bottom boats or moderate mobility activities such as swimming with dolphins. Please let us know if you are interested in specific excursions featured by Holland America Line that we can integrate into our itinerary or arrange for an Elite staff member to accompany.
Your Holland Onboard Experience
- One of the reasons we choose to travel with Holland America Line is their plethora of amenities that integrate into our philosophy of creating travel experiences for everyone in your family. CLICK HERE to learn more about multigenerational travel that makes memorable experiences for kids, parents, and grandparents alike.
- Take time to relax on one of our spa days where we float around in the mineral pool at the Aqua Spa before enjoying the view of the water on one of the relaxation suite lounge chairs.
- Holland America Line boasts an amazing selection of wine and spirits from around the world. Partake in a group wine or spirits tasting onboard to really relax on vacation…and did we mention this is included in your beverage package? And if you’re not a drinker, no problem! HAL bartenders can make some amazing mocktails so you never have to miss out on any umbrella drinks.
- Take advantage of HAL’s premium dining options with two of these upscale dinners included with your cruise package. One of these dinners will be at the onboard steakhouse and we are still dreaming about the fillet mignon from the last cruise! Don’t forget to inform of us any allergies and dietary restrictions and preferences before the cruise so we can make sure your menu meets your needs before you even sit down.
- Be prepared to eat well! Even if you’re joining the group for breakfast order some fruit, croissants, juice, etc. to take your medicine before setting out for the day. Also take advantage of Holland America’s bedtime snacks where they deliver cookies and beverages to your room before bed. If you’re joining us on an Alaskan Adventure don’t forget to grab some split pea soup to sip while you’re watching for whales or examining glaciers from the deck of the ship!
Your Onshore Experience
- Group excursions will be arranged based on the mobility levels of the cruise group. These excursions are exclusively for Elite Cruises & Vacations travelers and will be accompanied by Elite staff members at all times.
- Group excursions will be displayed on the itinerary before the cruise so please make sure you arrange for mobility devices such as beach wheelchairs or power scooters before the cruise so you can fully participate in all activities.
- Depending on the cruise and group our excursions can include beach days in the Bahamas, Caribbean rum tastings, Mexican Riviera tequila tastings, whale watching or pier fishing in Alaska, historic railway rides in Panama, and leaf peeping on the East Coast where the fall colors are in full display.
- For Caribbean cruises we will have a day at Half Moon Cay that includes feeding the fishes, beach BBQs, can include private cabanas. Your loved ones can have the most amazing beach day on a pristine white sand beach with warm tropical waters where our staff assists with beach wheel chairs, photo sessions, feeding the fish, etc. Ask us about opportunities to make a Caribbean trip truly special.
- Enjoy one last breakfast with the group before departing your ship.
- Elite staff will double check your cabins to make sure nothing is left behind. Don’t forget your passport and valuables that were put in the safe!
- Elite staff will provide luggage assistance and transportation assistance once in port. Taxis can be arranged to the airport from the port or post-cruise hotel stays can be booked, along with accompanied flights home and transportation from the airport to your house. If needed please arrange all flights and transportation with Kathy at 888-826-6836 before your cruise.
- Stay in touch with us and all your new friends by following Elite Cruises & Vacations on Facebook and Instagram. We love sharing memories from our trips and will happily send you any photos we took from the trip!
READY TO JOIN US?
Call 888-826-6836 to start planning your dream vacation today, or contact us below with any questions!