By: Samantha R. Evensen

Buddy Cruise, a non-profit charity dedicated to promoting awareness, acceptance, and inclusion for families with special needs, has created a fun filled weekend for people of all ages and abilities. This is a four night Royal Caribbean cruise departing from Tampa and sailing to Cozumel, Mexico, Thursday March 7 and returning Monday March 11. The people of Buddy Cruise stress that, “families do not have to be a part of the Best Buddies program to take part.” Families that do not have children with special needs are encouraged to join anyway. Everyone who attends will walk away with an abundance of knowledge, new friendships and lasting memories, all the while supporting a great charity. In addition to events already included on the cruise, Buddy Cruise plans their own events so there will never be a dull moment.

Shut Up and Buddy Cruise is their first ever mini event, taking place over a long weekend as opposed to their yearly October conference which is generally a seven night cruise. Typically Buddy Cruise organizes one cruise a year; however, they wanted to accommodate those who were unable to attend the October event.

The March cruise is directed towards the parents and care givers, although everyone is welcomed to attend. Book authors Patty and Gina, of “Shut up about Your Perfect Kid” will be planning activities and talking a little bit about their book. There will also be a session on keeping a marriage strong when you have kids with special needs.

What you do is entirely up to you, you can attend as little or as many of the scheduled events as you please. They encourage everyone to spread the word and make it a fun getaway with friends and family.

Final payment for the March Cruise is due by mid December and although families can still reserve after that date, the earlier you register the better. In addition to cruise costs there is a conference fee of $50 per cabin that is made payable to Buddy Cruise Inc. The money contributes to providing resources, promoting awareness and advocating for the special needs community. Any merchandise or raffle tickets purchased during the cruise will contribute to the cause as well.

In addition to the March event they are also promoting their yearly cruise, which will be taking place at the beginning of October, “Buddy Cruise 2013.” This October event will be their fifth year of continuing their mission of awareness, advocacy, inclusion and education for families touched by Down syndrome and developmental delay.

For booking information for the upcoming cruise visit,  or call 877-BDY-CRUZ (239-2789).




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