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Accessible Excursions in Eastern Caribbean


Barb_and_Sean

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I use a wheelchair and am looking into what excursions would be fun for us to take on our wedding cruise in October. I am mainly interested in excursions in St. Maarten, Nassau and San Juan. We love snorkeling, and I am a strong swimmer. If anyone has some great ideas, I sure would appreciate it. I read the Eastern Carib resources thread but didn't really get many ideas. Thanks so much.

 

Barbara

Wedding Cruise

Explorer of the Seas

10/17/04 -- 10/24/04

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have been in contact with Royal Caribbean and they were not very helpful. You can try contacting them yourself. The e-mail they sent me listed one accessible excursion in St. Thomas. I don't believe there was anything in St. Marteen. Wheelchair getaways is available in Puerto Rico but they charge of $75 an hour. There is a company in Nassau Bahamas but they charge $100 an hour. I don't know what the extent of your disability is but if you can transfer out of your chair and use a manual chair you might be better off using a taxi. You can find some information on this message board. Here are a link or two to get you started.

 

http://www.accessvi.com/

 

http://candyharrington.com/clips/twi.html

 

http://emerginghorizons.com/resources/index.php3?viewCat=176

 

http://emerginghorizons.com/topical/coralWorld.html

 

http://majesticholidays.com/

 

I am disabled and will be cruising on the Explorer of the Seas to the Eastern Caribbean also. I also use a wheelchair and in my situation cannot transfer to a taxi and use a manual chair. I have a big old power chair. I hear that in most of the ports though there is plenty to do right there when you get off the ship or within walking distance. I am going on September 19 of this year and will be glad to tell you of my experience when I return. Our ship gets back in on September 26 so if you want to e-mail me a day or two after that to remind me I will tell you of my experience. My e-mail address is u2lightmyway@bellsouth.net

 

Congratulations on your wedding and I hope you have a lovely time.

 

Dwight

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There are wheelchair accessible cabs available in San Juan and there is this tour company:

 

http://www.anticipationtours.com/

 

This company apparently has wheelchair cabs in Bermuda:

 

E-Mail: resimons@ibl.bm

 

You can try this company in St. Maarten:

 

E-Mail: medicall@medicall.net

 

Can you transfer to a cab? If so, this would be the easiest way to get around.

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If you are talking about official shore excursions (sold by the cruise lines) the only ones they really have available are the Trolley tour is St. Thomas (which you have to book through the cruise line because of an exclusivity agreement) and the Puerto Rico van (which you can book on your own by contacting Rafael at Wheelchair Getaways in San Juan).

 

Other than that you pretty much have to research transportation options on your own, and in most cases they are extremely limited. Click on the first subject (resources) on this message board and you will see some of the salvaged resources from the old message Board on this subject (it has been covered more than once).

 

Oh yeah, I'd skip the Medicall folks in St. Maarten. Not reliable at all and they don't actually understand access. Best bet there is to try and transfer to a van at the pier (if possible).

 

Candy

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I called Anticipationtours about two or three weeks ago and was told they no longer have the vans available. Actually he said not at this time and when asked if he had ever he said up until about two months ago. I tried to ask when he thought they would have them back if ever but after getting disconnected three times stopped calling. Anyone know anything about this?

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I know Anticipation Tours also provides paratransit services for the locals (contracted out by the city) so at times he does not have the vans (last time I talked to him they had 2) available for tourists. There is not a whole lot of accessible transportation on the island so at times their resources are stretched quite thin. But I've never heard of hom no-showing or canceling a tour, so basically I think he probably has a relaistic view of his schedule/load and he schedules the taxi/tourist runs in accordingly.

 

Candy

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I just returned from the Eastern Caribbean route on the Explorer of the Seas last week. The ship itself is very accessible. However, the shore excursions are not. We started out with excursions booked through Royal Caribbean; however, once we started to get on the vans, we were told they were NOT accessible. We ended up just getting cabs and taking island tours and they were great. No one seemed to know anything about any company who ran accessible vans.

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Trina is right. Outside of two shore excursions, most cruise lines don't offer any truly accessible ones. It really doesn't matter which ship you cruise on, there are limited (access) resoruces in the Caribbean (especailly accessible transportation). Most shore excursion managers are clueless about any excursions or providers outside of the ones they sell. In fact, some haven't even been on all of the shore excursions they sell.

 

And yes, they will say a shore excursion is accessible but they tend to forget about those 2-3 steps up into the bus (so you need to ask specifically about a ramp or lift-equipped bus/van) . There are limited accessible options in the caribbean for people who cannot transfer and have to remain in their own wheelchair, but yes the best option if you can transfer is a standard van/taxi (or in some cases a station wagon taxi).

 

It takes a lot of research to find the accessible options in the Caribbean, and they keep changing.

 

Candy

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  • 1 month later...

My spouse is a paraplegic and uses a manual wheelchair. He too is a strong swimmer and loves to snorkel. We have booked numerous snorkeling tours through the ships that we have been on. First we discuss it with the shore excursion department to be sure they will reimburse us if the snorkeling crew refuses to board us. We have had good luck with RCCL and Celebrity. Most of the snorkeling excursions board close to the ship so transportation (ie bus) is not an issue. The crew is always helpful and more than happy to assist us. They usually will pick him up, wheelchair and all, and place him in a safe location on the catamaran. Once we are at the final location, the crew assists putting him in water and when he is finished, they assist him back on.

We have nothing but kindness and pleasure from our snorkeling trips in the Caribbean.

 

As far as tours, we have always taken private tours via cabs. In St. Maarten there are plenty of cabs at the dock that will take to on a tour of the island. We had a cab driver there named Mello. He drove a van that was not handicapped accessible and too high to transfer into. However, I think he knew or was related to every person on the island. Every time he stopped, he whistled and a gang of friends would lift the wheelchair out of the van. I believe our cost for a half day was $100 and we had 4 people. He would take you any place you want and stop for awhile if you wanted to shop, etc.

 

In San Juan, we have used Wheelchair Getaways. It has been several years, but I believe we paid $100 and there was 4 of us. We were given a tour of the island and also went to the Barcadi plant. We were there recently this year and did not take a tour. Instead we went shopping in old San Juan and also went to the casino. These were within strolling distance of the ship. Old San Juan is very hilly. However, we noted how many curb cuts there were around.

 

We have not taken tours in Nassua. Shopping and the straw market is within strolling distance and is accessible. There are also numerous cabs at the dock that could take you to Paradise Island to see the famous Atlantis Hotel. It is not that far so the cost is not that much. The water taxi is not accessible.

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