Aside from my family, there have been two other loves in my life: The Miami Dolphins and cruising. It may seem far-fetched that these two distinctly different passions could end up colliding in a way that would change my life and career, but it did.
Back in the mid-2000s, while working a full-time job, I decided to pursue my dream of running a niche travel company specializing in group cruises and resort stays. We started out focusing on group cruises for college alumni and branched out to other vertical interest groups, but nothing really caught fire. That is until 2007, when my long-time sports hero and former Dolphins quarterback, Dan Marino, offered some indirect inspiration.
Like many who followed the Dolphins and Dan Marino’s career during the Hall of Fame years, I couldn’t help but know about Dan’s son, Michael, who was diagnosed with autism, and The Dan Marino Foundation that he formed in support of his son’s disorder. The Dan Marino Foundation is extremely successful in south Florida and continues to grow each year. This connection, and the subsequent summary knowledge it provided me about autism through the years, intrigued me.
As I worked on the business and continued to research new and different markets to home in on, I came across a group cruise for physically handicapped individuals. This discovery immediately led to a search for cruises for people with autism. Needless to say, no one was accommodating special needs families on cruises. Worse again, no one was accommodating the vacation needs of these families, period. That was the moment of my epiphany. Autism on the Seas was born and my dream became a fulfilling vocation beyond my imagination.
Now, seven years later, Autism on the Seas (AotS) [http://autismontheseas.com/] has established itself among the leading travel options for families with special needs. Our cruises and resort vacations are geared for families and adult guests with special needs, including autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other cognitive and intellectual developmental impairments. What sets us apart is our staff , whose experience, dedication and education in caring for special needs individuals makes them uniquely qualified, sensitive and suited to our clients’ accommodation requirements.
In addition to our exceptional staff, AotS is led by an esteemed team of advisors whose purpose is to provide guidance to Autism on the Seas through feedback and input regarding policies, procedures and services. This oversight and support enables us to maintain an effective program, and ensure that expectations of our guests are met and exceeded whenever possible.