Subscribe for 33¢ / day

A registered nurse who's worked with geriatric patients for decades started a travel agency in Hobart to help seniors with special needs see the world.

Kathy Shoaf runs Elite Cruises and Vacations, a certified special needs travel agency that works with Holland American Cruise Line to book seniors with physical challenges, including many who live in senior housing, on cruises that leave from both coasts. Their medial challenges include dementia, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“I want to make travel possible in an environment that supports their physical health and offers friendships, promotes confidence and enjoyment,” Shoaf said.

Elite Cruises and Vacations' senior travel programs offer RN support, respite sessions for caregivers and educational presentations, such as how to capture memories with photography or live with dementia, diabetes or limited mobility.

Special staff includes nurses, a pharmacist, a dentist, a mobility specialize and a specialized geriatric activity coordinator. The travel agency books a seven-day diabetes cruise on Holland American Line for people up to 96 years old who are Pre-Diabetic, Type 1 Diabetic, or Type 2 Diabetic, including those who suffer from dementia.

"All seniors, including those with limiting diagnosis, still deserve to enjoy every day that God gives to them,” she said.

For more information, call 219-608-2002, visit or email


Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.