The following is just a peek into some of the highlights offered on Buddy Cruise 2011
Saturday October 15th a large number of attendees of BC11 took part in a precruise reception at the Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach. The event was a time for families to check in for the cruise, get to know new friends, and reunite with old friends. This year’s reception was made even more special by AbleNet Inc. Brenda Arndt attended on behalf of Ablenet and made a donation to Buddy Cruise of $1000. The check was presented as part of promotion that AbleNet ran for Buddy Cruise in the fall. AbleNet also presented an iPad to Gary James, one of the presenters for BC11, for his mission of providing iPads to children with special needs.
Sunday October 16th before setting sail from Port Canaveral for a 7 night voyage onboard the Freedom of the Seas, Buddy Cruise attendees took part in the opening session. There everyone found out what was in store for the week ahead and got to meet the presenters. Keynote was given by Troy McClain and everyone got to meet Brad Hennefer, the first “Soul Knows No Bounds” Self-advocate winner! After the opening session everyone explored the ship and, after an amazing dinner, danced the night away!
Monday October 17th was a day at sea. Presentations were given by Celeste Clancey with Prudential, Brad Hennefer our Soul Knows no Bounds self advocate, Gary James of A4cwsn, DoraLynn McClain - self advocate, and Scott Knight - advocate & president of NEMDSS. There was also a book signing with several authors and a special event where we met with the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers.
Tuesday October 18th we spent a fun filled day in Labadee, Haiti. Families could enjoy the beautiful beaches, fly through the air on the zipline, ride a coaster through the lush mountainside, shop from local merchants, or just about anything they chose. Once back on the boat everyone gathered for ice cream and to exchange autographs and contact information. Later that night there was another Buddy Cruise dance, but this time it was under the stars, and what a beautiful night it was!
Wednesday October 19th we arrived in Falmouth, Jamaica. There was no shortage of excursions for families to choose. Some took a scenic tour, others spent the day shopping, some spent the day on the boat and yet others chose to climb a waterfall!
Thursday October 20th we had scheduled an amazing day at a center that offers dolphin therapy for children with special needs. However, when we arrived at Grand Cayman the weather had other plans. It was too choppy to tender to the island, so we spent another day at sea. We explored the ship, had a lesson in turning towels into cute animals, took part in a session by Michelle Knight - advocate & board member of NEMDSS, there were impromptu games and activities for kids of all ages that even included a concert by one of the attendees who brought his guitar.
Friday October 21st was a fun filled exciting day in Cozumel Mexico. But before we departed there was a chance to learn a few Spanish phrases taught by Rosa Arnoldson. Families explored the Mexican city, shopped, ate and from all the photos we have seen….had an absolutely amazing time! Back on the boat after dinner we had another bedtime stories event sponsored by Woodbine House publishing. Later that night there was a ship-wide 80’s dance party that starred 4 of our very own Buddy Cruisers! What a great opportunity for awareness that was!
Saturday October 22nd was our last day on the ship. We took part in another full day of sessions. Today’s sessions were presented by, Jennifer Thomas, Jorge Arnoldson, and Michelle Knight - educational advocates and educators, Troy McClain - CEO of McClain companies, Dan Kulp - inspirational comedian, Gary James of A4cwsn. Our closing session was a time to say goodbye and offer our thanks to the captain and crew of the Freedom of the Seas.
Sunday October 23rd we met in the theatre one final time as a group to disembark the ship. People who started their voyage as strangers, now, were leaving as family.
We look forward to welcoming you to the Buddy cruise Family onboard the Freedom of the Seas in 2012!