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Interview with Travel Advisor specializing in disability groups.

Disability Travel
Kathy Shoaf of Cruise Planners

In addition to my passion for travel, I’ve also worked in the home health field for over 25 years. I’ve always wondered if those with disabilities and family members who are caregivers to elderly relatives would sail on cruises.

I recently met Kathy Shoaf, RN, BSN, ATP, a franchisee of Cruise Planners who specializes in this type of travel!

The Cruise Genius: “Kathy, what is your background in the healthcare field?”

Kathy Shoaf RN, BSN, ATP : “I am a geriatric neurology registered nurse. I worked for years as an executive in Home Health Care, Senior Living and custom power mobility as an ATP – adaptive technology professional.
After years of counseling and educating families on the care and situational options for their loved ones – I chose to create a company that would allow families, including their loved ones- that have a cognitive, mobility, or medical challenge to be able to still travel and enjoy life together.
My mission is based upon “ everyone deserves to still enjoy life.”
With the proper professional support, everyone can travel and enjoy the amazing world that God has made for us.
The professional support includes RN support 24/7 , we also travel with additional professionals at a ratio of one professional to every four travelers.”


The Cruise Genius: “As a CruisePlanners travel agent, what gave you the idea to merge your love of helping people with your passion to cruise?”


Kathy Shoaf
 RN, BSN, ATP “The opportunity to provide -🚢🌴😎freedom to see the world-

Even with a medical challenge. Cruising offers me this opportunity because it allows people to unpack once, eat in the same place sleep in the same place and still have the opportunity to visit and see amazing parts of the world.

The Cruise Genius:
“What medical conditions do you see of those who have cruises with you?”

Kathy Shoaf
 RN, BSN, ATP  “We specialize in dealing with families and their loved ones who have a cognitive challenge. This includes, Parkinson’s, MS, dementia, Alzheimer’s,— but we also frequently work with clients who have arthritis, heart issues, cancer and many are simply slow walkers.
Our groups generally consist of many mobility devices such as cane, walker, Rollator’s, manual wheelchairs power wheelchairs and scooters.”


The Cruise Genius: “Do residents of nursing homes, Alf’s and Ilf’s sail on these cruises?”

Kathy Shoaf RN, BSN, ATP: “Yes!  I have had the privilege to work with several senior living corporate structures to create travel adventures and events for their residence.
Most of these clients live in their assisted living and then their independent living products. But we have had residents who were within the skilled nursing section.
Frequently some of their staff chooses to accompany this group but that is not mandatory.”




The Cruise Genius: “How many cruises have you done in the past, and how many are planned for the future?”



Kathy Shoaf RN, BSN, ATP: “We have successfully completed 34 Elite Supported –  group cruise events.

These cruises had sailed to multiple destinations such as, Alaska, Bermuda, Canada, Panama Canal, Mexican Riviera, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic North East.”

The Cruise Genius: “When you speak to caregivers, what is the one thing that convinces them to take their loved ones one a cruise?”

Kathy Shoaf
 RN, BSN, ATP: “We provide the opportunity for their loved one to have amazing experiences in the moment and we provide families and loved ones with memories that will last a lifetime.
When families travel with their loved ones, we focus on creating a caregiver respite opportunity. This opportunity includes providing two hours of a daily Adult Daycare program where the caregiver can takeoff and spend time in the spa, wine tastings or sitting on the deck.
During that time we create games Music Therapy an art therapy for their loved ones in a conference enclosed space with professionally trained dementia educators who can manage and coordinate activities that will keep their loved ones engaged, happy and having moments that are truly joyful.
Programming also consists of accompanied excursions, group dinner seating, an interactive workshop session for the caregivers along with caregiver circles and probably most importantly we meet and greet every family at the airport as they arrive.
We handle the luggage and accompany them back to the group hotel where we have created opportunities for all of the required Covid testing to be done within the house.”



The Cruise Genius: “Is it usually the family members of these caregivers who cruise with them, or could it be a caregiver with a Homecare agency?”

Kathy Shoaf RN, BSN, ATP: “It is very common that our clients to  travel with a professional caregiver from a home care agency. Many of our clients travel with this agency caregiver as a roommate, or in a cabin that is adjoining to theirs.
They always have the option of traveling with a caregiver that they currently work with in their home from an agency or we will assist in finding A professional agency caregiver that would be interested in traveling.”


The Cruise Genius: “How can people reach you for more information?”

Kathy Shoaf RN, BSN, ATP: “I am readily available on my cell phone the number is 219-608-2002 or toll free at 888-826-6836.”

About Scott Lara

President of MilitaryFares.com. Navy Veteran, Travel Agent, love to cruise!

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One comment

  1. My fiancee and I are going on an Alaska cruise this summer (first cruise) and are looking forward to the thing being awesome for him (cerebral palsy) and me (multiple disabilities) We are going with family!

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