key west, non-drinker fam with physically challenged wife
After a long year fraught with several family hardships (emotional & physical), I'm taking my wife & daughter on a short (4 day) Carnival cruise at the beginning of May. Because of numerous medical bills we're on a shoestring budget (but my fam really needs something fun in their lives right now). Ever dollar is precious but we know we'll have to spend at least something to have some fun.
My daughter is 14 & my wife is recovering from recent back surgery. She can walk but probably can't walk more than 1/3 mile at best.
Our Carnival ship stops in Key West one day & Cozumel another. The Key West times are 7:30 am to 2:00 pm. We would probably like to shop a little & see some sights-- including the southermost point. I have a number of questions that I hope those familar with Key West can answer.
1. Do these ships tender or port?
2. Do we have to cross through a military base before we can get transportation?
3. Should we do the Conc Train, the Trolley or the Island bus? & are these available right after disembarking?
4. What other things should we do/see (cheap & these need to be fairly accessible from our trolley/train/bus)-- Pirate Soul? Shipwreck? Lighthouse? Anything else?
5. Are we better off booking a Carnival excursion or doing our own?
Key West is a docked port. Shopping is available adjacent to the pier. We took the Conch Train and found it to be a good overview of Key West. You can catch it at Mallory Square which is close to the pier and you can hop on/off at any stop. Many of the other attractions are close to the pier.
Explorer of the Seas October 2013
Caribbean Princess July 2006, May 2010 & November 2012
Monarch of the Seas November 2008
Crown Princess November 2007
Celebrity Zenith November 2005
Enchantment of the Seas August 2004
For your situation, the Conch Train would be best (or the other one-one of them lets you get on and off at different points which would be good for shopping as Duval is a long street). Its maybe a block or two from the pier when you factor in walking the pier to the street. It will give you pretty good overview of the town, etc. You might also like Wings of Imagination which is a small butterfly sanctuary. Its quite peaceful, but very humid inside. There is a little shop attached too. It is near the Southern Most Point. We took a cab there from the ship (we have an infant and 4 yr old son) and then walked back down Duval to wear our son out.
Having lived in the Keys, heres a little tip to help you save $$. Look for the little newspaper type stands along the sidewalks and pick up the free tourist guides. Inside they have many coupons for restaurants, shops, and tours. Theyre not much, but every little bit helps right! Also, be aware that some of the streets are cobblestone and might pose a problem for your wife. My mom (bone cancer) had trouble walking on them and handling the large curbs (they do have the ramp type things on them) so be sure to help your wife. Keep in mind too that some of the hole in the wall type places/restaurants are often very good (ie Sloppy Joes). Many are bars, but you dont have to drink (we didnt). For some wonderful aloe products, try Key West Aloe too. They have a website.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful time. Youre a wonderful person to do this for your family in such hard times. I hope things improve for you all too.
you mentioned your wife is just recovering from back surgery..since this is a topic I know something about (spinal fusion)...I would like to suggest that her physical therapist give her some exercises she can do in the pool or in the spa that will help her movement
I went on HAL Zuiderdam 4 months after my operation and they have a hyrdo therapy pool in the spa that was a life saver
have fun but make sure she has the ok from her doctor because even the slightest aggrevation will not be pleasant for her
You will love your cruise. I am a non drinker as well and did Key West last year. It was beautiful,and just to be there and have lunch was a treat. The ocean is beautiful and I just want to encourage you to really keep the vacation simple, you will enjoy it more and it will be cheaper.(sometimes just sitting with the one you love looking at the scenery can be better than any shore excursion) I will keep you and your family in my prayers,but for me,save 40 bucks for one day of bingo for you and your wife. All you have to do is sit,and it can be entertaining. Bonvoyage!!!
We were in Key West with Costa and they brought the train up to the ship because they do not allow you to walk through the base for security reasons. The train took us to town and dropped us off at the station down town. We could also get the bus tour from the boat. Another option is rent an electric cart in Keywest. It is similar to a golf cart with 4 seats. Key West is easy to get around.
Cozumel is tender boats after the hurricane. They were big double deck and easy to get in and out. They dropped us of down town near the shopping district.
I hope you have a good time and get the well deserved rest your family needs.
Lots of great suggestions. FYI. Dining in Key West can be awfully pricey, but we found a great casual eatery: Billy's. Or, Billie's. It's right off of Mallory Square. There's a bar on one side and a restaurant on the other. Great conch fritters, and one of the only reasonably priced places we found in a lengthy stay in town.
Carnival Sensation Feb. '03
RCI Vision of the Seas April '05
Carnival Conquest June '06
The problem with having a car or electric cart is parking. It can be very difficult and expensive to park in Key West, and even then you will still have to walk around. It all depends on when you are there and crowds.
The Conch Tour Train is your best bet for a general overview of the island. In the Shipwreck Museum you have to climb stairs to the second floor exhibits (didn't notice if they had an elevator). Close to port is Mel Fisher's Treasure Exhibit, a small aquarium, and straight up Whitehead Street is Hemingway's house which you can tour. There are plenty of inexpensive restaurants in Key West including Margaritaville on Duval Street (yummy smoked fish dip) and Monty's on the dock (terrific fish tacos and a large swimming pool smack dab in the middle of the open air restaurant that you are welcome to dive in to) and Pepe's on Caroline Street (don't let the facade fool you, this is the best kept secret in Key West), to name a few. And, for dessert, don't forget the Blond Giraffe right off Front Street for the best key lime pie in town.
I am some physical limitations, too, and in Cozumel, I will sometimes just shop in the duty free shops right by the pier..on it, actually. I don't know the status of those after last year's hurricanes. There are 2 places that cruise ship can dock in Cozumel now. The last time we took a cab into town, I thought my back was going to divorce me. Just FYI.