I just returned from a cruise to Roatan, Belize City, and Cozumel on Royal Caribbeans Mariner Of The Seas. It was my first cruise ever and it was absolutely wonderful. Always things to do onboard and I was able to get off the ship at each stop. I use a power chair full time and this is how things worked out.

Roatan-we booked a private tour with Juan Carlos Rodriguez of Islander Tours. Here is his web site if you want it- http://www.islandertours.com/index.html Apparently there's only one wheelchair accessible van on the island and the owner of it subcontracts it out to whoever has need of it for that day. It is more of a minibus type vehicle with seats for 16 people if I counted correctly plus a spot in the rear for someone in a wheelchair. It has a lift and I drove my power chair up onto the lift, it raised me up and I backed into the vehicle, just like on any other ordinary wheelchair lift equipped van. Juan Carlos arranged for us to have this vehicle for the day and it came fully complete with a driver and also a tour guide. Her name was Kimberly and she was very nice and friendly and very knowledgeable about the island. First we stopped at the highest point of the island to take some pictures then we proceeded to the eastern end of the island. Then we stopped for some of our group to try out the zip line and we played with capuchin monkeys. Next we drove to the western part to an old church that my brother wanted to get pictures of. We asked Kimberly about a restaurant on the water and she suggested a place called Gio's for seafood. We ate on the patio overlooking the sea and it was really cool, wonderful view, good food, what more could you ask for? Well, how about some coconut bread? I wanted some coconut bread and Kimberly knew a place that should have some. We looked for two of these places but the ladies had already sold out of it for the day apparently. So we stopped at a bakery and they were out also. We had to settle for some pineapple cookies and they were not bad at all. Next they returned us to the dock area and we had time to do a little shopping before going back aboard ship. I got to see most of the island and I liked what I saw and wished I could have stayed for three or four days. Beautiful scenery. And if I ever do make it back, Kimberly has promised to bake me some coconut bread with her own two little hands. You better remember your promise Kimberly, because I sure will. The shopping area at the dock is very wheelchair accessible and so is the restaurant that we ate at. Other than that, I cannot say about the rest of the island. The roads are a bit bumpy. No matter how good of a driver you are, you cannot miss all of the potholes. But it was really not a big deal.

Belize City-I had been told that this was a tender port and that you need to be able to transfer out of your wheelchair in order to get on the tender boat. Consequently I had made no plans to go ashore or book any excursions or anything at this stop. My mother and aunt were going cavetubing and my brother went scuba diving. The morning we stopped there, the cabin steward asked if I was going ashore. I said no, I can't get on the tender boat. He informed me that yes I can, there is at least one tender boat that you can drive your wheelchair right onto. And he was right. I drove my power chair up the ramp, onto the tender boat, sat there for the 20 minute ride to shore, then drove down the ramp and onto the dock. Hot damn, I was ashore! Royal Caribbean needs to update their information so that their little reservation people can tell people about this. Now, I needed to figure out something to do. I ended up just staying in the shopping area around the dock and purchased a few souvenir items. I had been told not to go out in the other part of the city because it is after all, a third world place. I did go behind the shopping area and looked out the gates at the other part of the city and concluded that yes, I probably didn't need to go there. So we stopped at the waterfront bar for a drink then headed back to the ship. But at least I can say that I went to Belize now. The day that I did this the seas were rather calm, if the water had been rough and the tender boat had been bouncing around a lot then I don't know if they would have let me get on or not. This shopping area also is very wheelchair accessible.

Cozumel-I knew we would be docked here so I made arrangements for another wheelchair accessible van. Josue Trejo Paredes has a van with a wheelchair lift and he has a web site http://www.handicaptaxicoz.com/
It didn't look to me like I would have enough headroom in his van so I contacted him and he arranged to get a Toyota high top van to drive us around in. We dropped off three women at Hotel Cozumel so that they could go on an underwater mini sub adventure and Josue took my brother, my father and me to see the Mayan ruins at San Gervaiso. Josue said that I would not be able to get around to see very much of it in my wheelchair and ordinarily he would have been correct. But I took a detour off the path and did a little four wheeling and into the grass and was able to find a way around the building then I was able to get back onto a couple of paths and I think that I ended up seeing most of the ruins. Then we collected the women once again and went to Buchannos Beach Club for lunch. We ate on the patio looking out over the azure waters and the waving palm trees while people frolicked in the pool beside us. Then we were off to a pharmacia, the Mega store then back to the shopping area near where we had docked. Here is a helpful tip if you want to buy some vanilla for gifts or whatever other reason-- get it at the Mega where it costs 90 instead of the tourist shops where the same stuff will cost you $5.00. Josue took us wherever we wanted to go, he is a polite gentlemen and he has a fine looking mustache. The dock area is very wheelchair accessible and I would think that most of the tourist spots are. But the pharmacia we went to and a bakery that we stopped at each had a couple of stairs at the entrance and I could not get inside. We were several blocks from the waterfront and I think that most places where not many tourists go are not very wheelchair friendly.

Mariner Of The Seas-this ship is very wheelchair friendly. Everywhere on board that I wanted to go to, I could get there, except for the helipad. All of the shows, the restaurants, the shops, all of them are easy to get to. And there's always plenty of room on the deck to maneuver around. We had a junior suite with a balcony on deck 10 and it worked out great. There were four of us in the room and we had my power chair, my Manual chair, my shower chair plus our luggage and a roll away bed in the room. In other words, we had plenty of stuff in the room with us and you might think that it was a bit crowded. Once we got the roll away bed folded up in the morning and pushed over into the corner, there was plenty of room for me to get around. Even out on the balcony, there is enough room for me to drive out there and go to the left or the right, turn around and come back in. The roll in shower was plenty big. Our cabin steward and both of our Waiters were all great guys, good at their job and fun and friendly. This really added to the overall enjoyment. All in all, things worked out wonderfully.