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Accessibility in Southern Caribbean


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My mother and I, as well as possibly some family and friends, are looking into booking a southern caribbean cruise with RCCL. We are looking at three different itineraries with the following stops:


1) Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; St. Johns, Antigua; Castries, St. Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados.


2) Oranjestad, Aruba; Willemstad, Curacao; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas.


3) Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Gustavia, St. Barts; Basseterre, St. Kitts; Castries, St. Lucia; Bridgetown, Barbados; St. George's, Grenada; Margarita Island, Venezuela; Willemstad, Curacao; Oranjestad, Aruba.


I use a power chair that is very custom made to fit my needs, so unless I get a new manual chair that I can bring with, I would not be able to transfer into a cab.


I was wondering if someone could share information with me on accessibility on these islands, especially things for people in power chairs (transportation, tours, etc). I would especially appreciate email addresses, web sites and phone numbers of places that I can contact.


We did go to St. Maarten and St. Thomas in January, but we could not find much to do there that was accessible for me - except for the trolley which was fantastic.


Thank you :)

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If you plan to leave the ship, I would strongly encourage you to take your manual chair. While the power chair is great for on-board, most ships will not take you ashore in a power chair at any tender ports (such as St. Johns), and once you get ashore you will find few curb cuts, few shops or attractions (even within the port are) which do not have 1-2 steps to get inside, etc. My mother uses a power chair full time, but when we go ashore, we take the manual chair so we can use the tenders and so we can bump her up a step or curb or two when needed. Not as convenient for her, but preferable to staying on the ship at every port.


Of the ports you mentioned, I only know of one (St. Thomas) with lift equipped tours, and that company is having problems currently, so not sure of their availability. Some of these ports such as Curacao and Aruba offer some shops within walking distance of the pier.

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If you can transfer to a car or van, I would also srongly suggest you take a manual chair. Most of these islands have little, if any, availablity of handicap transportation. And even if they do, you will find a manual chair easier to deal with in ports with limited accessibility. As a result, we always cruise with 2 chairs. Mu husband's power chair provides him independence aboard ship while the manual chair gives us flexibility ashore. It also allows him to go ahore at some tender ports.


If you do not want to purchase a manual chair, you could either rent one in your hometown or have one delivered to the ship by a company like CareVacations.


We have been to all the ports you mentioned except for Barbados and St Barts. You have been to St Thomas and St Maarten so I will not mention those except that I was told that Coral World was partially accessible.


We usually rent taxis for a tour of each island.


In Antigua we went to Nelson's Shipyard which is a historical site, but most of the buildings have been turned into shops so we did not find it very interesting.


We loved the ride out to the Volcano in Saint Lucia. My husband could not access the volcano because of steps, but the ride out there was beautiful and our cab driver made the trip very interesting.


In Aruba we saw, among other things the natural bridges, and a lovely wooden church. I understand that there is an accessible butterfly farm there, but we did not get there because my husband became ill during our 2nd cruise that went to Aruba


In addition to touring Curacao which had some interesting architecture, we went to the acquarium which was accessible. From another post, I understand that the floating bridge is also acessible, but my memory was that the sidewalks downtown were quite narrow. On Curacao there is also an old Jewish Synagogue which was interesting, but I do not remember if there were steps at the entrance.


I hope this helps.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We recently came back from the Carnival Legend to St. Maarten, Barbados and Martinique. My soulmate needs a w/c for distances.

In St. Maarten the pier was quite long, but we were behind another ship, too. We walked it, but they do have golf cart type shuttles up and down the pier. At the end is a group of shops and bars and a visitor center. They have recently gone through a "beautification" and they have curb cut-outs in this area. We walked (About 15 minutes) around to the boardwalk, which I believe is also new. There is a sidewalk, although only wide enough for a w/c and 1 person side by side, but also with cut-outs. The worst part was a rickety bridge over a little canal and graveled area just before the boardwalk.

Lots of little shops once you got to the gravel. Along the boardwalk there are plenty of beach areas, where you can rent chairs and umbrellas, etc. We stopped by the Holland house, shortly after Taloula Mangos. For 2 Lounge chairs (With cushions about 4" thick), an umbrella and a small table it was $15.00 and you got a ticket to use their restrooms, although we did not see ramps into the hotel. Two of the guys from the Holland House carried w/c and all to our chairs! The sand was firm in most spots, near the chairs, but you could not push a w/c in it. The shopping area of Old Phillipsburg was just one street over. Land taxi's (Mainly mini vans) were $3.00 one way and we took that back to the pier.

In Barbados, take the shuttle from your ship to the terminal, which had quite a few stores. The pier seemed to be U-shaped with narrow streets and much activity with ships being loaded, etc. We did the Malibu Rum excursion here. You see a bit of the factory and a little video, which was in a building with 2 steps. There was a store that was w/c accessible, too. They also have their own beach, again, sand. The chairs were free with the tour and I don't know if you can do this on your own. They did have restrooms and changing rooms with showers, a small place to get drinks and food and a patio area.

Hope this helps!


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