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Help my daughter enjoy herself....


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We are taking our 18 year old daughter on a R.C. cruise over Christmas. She is in a motorized wheelchair weighing about 250 lbs. Our ports of call are as follows: Coco-Cay, St. Martin, and St. Thomas...We are somewhat aware that she would have to be tendered at Coco-Cay so we will must likely remain aboard. But would like to sight see on the other two islands...So for those of you that have been either in a chair, or accomponied someone in a chair.Please tell us the high points, and low points. Also if you can share tips while we are on board that would be helpful also...Thank you in advance.


Hannah's Dad!:)

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My son is 26 and uses a motorized wheelchair with a sip and puff mechanism. My wife and I are taking him on his fourth cruise in January. He has not yet taken a shore excursion, but generally visits the shops in the vicinity of the pier (if he leaves the ship at all). I am considering taking an accessible tour in St. Thomas from the website accessvi.com, but I do not have any experience with these people so cannot recommend them. Onboard, Joey is pretty much independent, and comes and goes on his own. He asks help for things he cannot do, and has never had a problem making friends. He likes to play blackjack, and the casino and other passengers are most accommodating. My job is to place the bets, and pick up the winnings! The only down side is the fact that you are a long way from home if you have a problem with the chair, as we did last year. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have, just let me know.

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Lets se:


1. take the "shop manual" for the wheelchair, especiallly

the electrical circuit diagram . I f you do not have, ask the vender to

get for you. RCI< NCL has trained folks but most never worked on a chair.

Any electronics tech can fix the simple things that go wrong with a sip and puff, sometimes.


2. have the check checked before leaving, consider if she uses a joy stick a back-up, new battery? insure all wires look good, a tech will do but charge.

Perhaps there a guys at a local ILC center who can do for free.


Some access points on ships have a rough bump, sometimes the cabin access needs to be covered with such as cardboard, I find the manual chair a hassle on some carpet and deck areas, the automatic doors are race with fate,

bartenders wanting to hand you stuff rather than reaching for it myself,

cup holder and containers for hot or cold items with spill proof lids,


read the old posts here: great advise..enjoy the lifeboat muster drill

:rolleyes: RCL seems to put "us" all in the same boat last cruise:

then let us leave earlier (that was smart). I arrive early. Hey, we had a meet and greet for the "gimps" on the ROS. How did they know who was in

a wheelchair? I never use a accessable cabin.






some shop manuals I hear are on-line or can be sent by the manfacturer.

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If your daughter can transfer to a manual chair, consider taking or renting one. Power chairs are great aboard ship, but most limit you greatly ashore. In fact, your daughter may even be able to go ashore at tender ports if she is in a manual chair. And I believe most cruiselines have beach chairs on their private islands. If so, ask about how long you can use the chair. At Labadee, my husband was only allowed to use it long enough to get to a beach chair.


There is a limit to what your daughter will be able to do in each port. If she likes to shop, there are small shopping areas at the pier on both islands. In addition, the main shopping areas on both St Thomas and St Maarten are reasonably accessible, especially if she is in a manual chair as many shops have one step at the entrance. Otherwise, I would suggest taking a tour of the each island. I know that you can arrange for accessible transportation in St Thomas, but am not sure about St Maarten. Can she transfer to a taxi?

I also know that Coral World on St Thomas is partially accessible, but have not been there so I can not tell you what she could or couldn't see.


As for tips. Communicate! Make sure that the cruiseline knows what you will need. And get any promises like accessible transfers in writing (or an email.) I have found that there are plenty of slip-ups between the Special Needs Desk and the pier or ship. Also, check the status of the pool lift if your daughter wants to go in the pool. My husband doesn't do go in the water, but other posters have indicated that the lifts often don't work or have been disabled.


Unlike what a previous poster said, get a accessible cabin if at all possible. Not only is it bigger, but the bathroom is larger with a roll-in shower and roll-under sink.


Take an extension cord for the battery charger. Generaly the cord reaches the plug, but sometimes its up too high or you want to place the chair further away so you do not trip over it. Take a tire pump if your daughter's chair does not have flat-free tires. The ship's mechanics are always willing to maker small repairs if they can, but they sometimes do not have a pump with a nozzle that will fit.


Most of all, relax and have a great time. Cruises are great vacations because most ships are very accessible and most crew members are eager to assist.

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The tour in St Thomas can be booked thru the cruise line now. They take you around the island to a lookout for a photo op. They use a van with a lift. I think only one other is allowed to accompany her but that may be changed. Do go to the web site. Ensure you get a H/C room for her. We had one that fit all three of us in the room.


The buffet is difficult at times as people like to stand at the enterance to the ramping area. On Navigator there were two ramps but one was hard to get to if people were sitting near the bottom. I found the waiters here did not want to help unless you told them to help you. They assume that the person next to you is with you.


I found if I eat on the upper dining room I could get my chair in easily and out without aid or disturbing others. I had the one on the right side on the door looking over the balconey.


The shower head is the hand held type or you can leave it in the bracket. The shower was a roll in one with a pull down seat. The clothset has a pull down bar. There is an emergency pull by the bed and in the bathroom.


Ensure she uses sun block as the sun reflecting off of her chair can burn her. The pools are nice but I was told it would take two hours to get the machine up and running as they took it down so that the kids would not play with it. Later on I seen staff playing with it.


I also suggest if at all possible to take a manual as well. One with the large wheels at the back. Light weight if possible. St Thomas comes under ADA to a point but it is still an island. St Maarten dose not have to follow your ADA. As above most places will have one or two steps but can be handled.


If you are flying, take the manual so that you can take certain parts off. You will not be charged for the chair or equipment required for it. Have a nice trip. Cruising is the best vaction I have found for me. If I have a bad day there is room service.

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Unlike what a previous poster said, get a accessible cabin if at all possible. Not only is it bigger, but the bathroom is larger with a roll-in shower and roll-under sink


Yes, I was talking around the fact that we as retired can afford the "Owners Suite" as on some lines the rooms are just to small for me. Balcony helps as well. But I feel bad as few are gonna or should spend several thousands for the extra space. Not all owners suites have great access in bathrooms. Cruise lines know they have a few cabins that could be total access but profits are always issues. Sometimes they do not even book the top cabins.




besides I have no desire to leave my $ to anyone :)

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You MUST have an accessible cabin if you have a power chair. The regular cabin doors are too narrow to admit a wheelchair, the bathroom doors are too narrow and there is nearly always a 4-6" step into the bathroom. Only those who are ambulatory can use a regular room, and even then most cruise lines will no longer allow you to park a scooter or power chair in a hallway.


We always take a manual chair for use ashore. They will not lift a power chair on/off the tenders, even with the ships that have tender lifts. We can get a manual chair just about anywhere, and can use cabs after we transfer (we take a slide board for the transfers too). We have found people to pick up a manual chair and carry it with my mother in it up two flights of stairs (in South America mostly)....no one will do this with a power chair. And we don't have to risk damaging our expensive power chair ashore.


Be aware that the accessible tour in St. Thomas MUST be scheduled through the ship. They will not accept private reservations for cruise ship passengers. Book this well ahead of time or it will sell out.


In San Martin there is nothing to see at the pier and a very long walk into town. You really need to see both sides of the island (Dutch and French). A cab would be best. There are no accessible buses or tours here.


Don't skip Coco Cay if possible. Tendering is an adventure, and should not be skipped unless it is too rough (when they won't let her go anyway). There are beach chairs there, but you will have to grab one early as they must be shared by many.

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  • 3 weeks later...

There used to be "Beach Wheelchairs", manual chairs with huge wheels that can go through the sand much better than regular wheelchairs. If I remember right, there are "paved" paths and packed sand paths, etc, so she could get to the buffet area, etc and there are little shops right where the tenders land.


I have always seen lots of help for people who are handicapped helping them on and off tenders. I have arthritis and use a cane all the time, a chair some of the time and have always had lots of help!

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  • 2 weeks later...

In San Martin there is nothing to see at the pier and a very long walk into town. You really need to see both sides of the island (Dutch and French). A cab would be best. There are no accessible buses or tours here.



There are several vehicles available as taxis for the disabled in St Maarten as of 11/04. The excursion dept. (Maureen) of the Oosterdam was instrumental in rounding up all manner of transportation for us and the ship's shop even custom-made a transfer board for one power chair-user who could not get into a regular vehicle seat without one... Scooters and power chairs were hoisted into vans by the drivers and other helpful people...wish I had asked for business cards... The Butterfly Farm was accessible over a hard sand-base path (wet from rain when I took the tour but very acceptable). The farm, with an outdoor presentation, has sloped areas and ramps and a very helpful staff.


Orient Beach has some hard-packed sand sidewalks that lead to at least one commercial building (Waikiki bar) that has a wheelchair accessible restroom...long story about THAT one...

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Hi...My husband and I took our first RC cruise since I became an amputee. I rented a scooter for the ship (Brilliance of the Sea) and had my own w/c for shore excursions. Power chairs and scooters would have been impossible in the ports we were at (St Croix, St. Martin, San Juan, St. Thomas etc.) the streets are very narrow, curbs very high, and most stores had high steps to get into the store to shop. People were always very pleasant and willing to help, but it was not fun for me in the chair. Most of the shops were very busy (sometimes as many as 3 to4 ships are in port at the same time) thats lots of people walking around.

Prior to going on the cruise I called the 'special needs desk' (and spoke to a young man in Florida for over 1 hour) He and I went thru all of the shore excursions and determined which would be ok for someone in a w/c that can transfer and walk short distances (with my prosthesis on). On his recommendation we booked 3 tours. What a disaster...none were w/c accessible. We were told the tram tour in St. Thomas was completly w/c accessible and it had 38 stairs to climb to the tram cars and then you could only stay at the top of the ride (no hand rail to reach the building with the parrot shows which were further down an uneven path ...not safe for a w/c even if you could get there.

It took a lot of discussion with the Pursor's desk to get a complete refund...but we did eventually (the day before we arrived back from the cruise our account was credited) the point to all of this is don't trust anyone that has not been on one of the tours, or on the ship you are going on.

I still had a great time on the cruise....great room, good food, and beautiful weather (it was snowing in Chicago) and we met some great people.

Enjoy the cruise...you will have a good time even if you dont go into port. I encouraged my husband to take some tours on his own...which he did and he was not completly satisfied with the tours he took either.

Hope this is not too negative....inspite of this we are taking another cruise in March to Hawaii from LA. This time on Princess.

Good Luck

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I agree - Paradise Point Tramway is not accessible at all. Yes -- many, many steps. Many ABs have problems!


But I'm wondering if there couldn't have been some kind of mix-up or confusion with terminology. The trolley (another attraction and very easy to confuse with "tram") is very accessible (in fact they offer accessible tours through RCI).


But for the most part, yes I agree the Caribbean is very difficult for power wc users. (those who cannot transfer to a vehicle seat). I have found some accessible options, but not many. And in most cases the cruise lines do not offer them at all.



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