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Last month, United Needs & Abilities (UNA) took 33 individuals with developmental disabilities and adequate staff to care for them on a vacation that, for many, would not have otherwise been possible. The agency selected a five day Carnival cruise from Norfolk, Virginia to the Bahamas aboard the Carnival Sunshine. The ship’s ports of call were Nassau and Freeport.

Two of the individuals who went on the cruise celebrated their birthdays aboard the ship and were treated to extra special treatment from the crew. Another client who was battling terminal cancer had a bucket list that included going on a cruise.  He was able to go on the trip and made the most of his time on the ship, going down a giant water slide and singing karaoke three nights in a row. On his final night of karaoke, he told the audience about his illness and received many well wishes and gratitude for his inspiring story.

Serving a population that varies in age from 23 to 65 and has a wide range of physical and intellectual abilities, makes organizing a big trip a daunting challenge. A trip out of the country even more so. However, with a lot of planning and teamwork, UNA was able to make the trip a memorable experience for all of the clients who attended.

The only negative aspect of the trip was with the travel agency, Emerson Cruises Unlimited in Delmar. Just days before the ship was set to sail, the agency informed UNA that fees and gratuities were going to increase the quoted price by close to 50%.

Pictures from the cruise can be found here.