We recently took the Stenaline Belfast to Liverpool ferry as a family of six.

We took the daytime ferry on the way over, and overnight coming home. The trip was around 8 hours long either way. 

I’ve compiled some tips for families thinking of ferry travel this summer with your child with special needs.

1. Consider getting a flexi ticket instead of economy.

Then if your plans change, if your child gets sick (like ours did) or something comes up before you leave and you need to change your tickets, you won’t have to pay the amendment fees.

2. Be sure to book in as a wheelchair user if your child uses a wheelchair, adaptive pushchair or walking frame.

That way you will get in a line much closer to the lift generally get board and disembark at the start.

3. Consider booking a cabin, even for the day sailing.

Our family enjoyed just chilling out in our own space and getting away from the noise.

The family cabin (2 bunk beds) is not accessible for wheelchair users but we lifted the buggy up two flights of stairs.

The other option if you need something truly accessible is booking a disabled cabin (sleeps 2) and a standard cabin for the other parent and child/ren.

4. Overnight vs daytime…

The overnight sailing passes much quicker than the daytime as you are sleeping for most of the hours!

For our family, it was far easier than travelling all day (10.30am to 6.30pm). That being said, the girls enjoyed trying the sailing by day and by night!

5. Bring everything you need out of the car. 

Snacks, books, extra clothes and changes need to be brought with you as there is no return to the car during sailing!

6. Take a walk on the deck with the kids!

Get their jumper or coats on and get your children outside on deck for some fresh air.

Brielle especially enjoyed walking with her sisters and feeling the wind in her face and blowing her hair!

7. Explore the ferry and walk, walk, walk!

Brielle has cerebral palsy and she’s not an independent walker but can move when holding onto your hand.

She loves nothing more than walking and exploring her surroundings.

8. Spend some time relaxing in the cinema.

Depending on your child’s age and needs, it may be an option to watch one of the free movies on board!

9. Check out the play area. 

Be sure to pick up your child’s free balloon animal if they are being done, and let them have a play in the soft play area if it is suitable for your child. 

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