My husband, who is a high level quadriplegic, and I will be taking our first cruise next month in the Eastern Carribbean. Due to his injury, my husband uses an electric chair with VERY low clearance. We will be bringing a backup manual chair, but it would be a lot better for him and easier on both of us if he can tour in his electric chair. We have a portable 2 foot ramp that we will try to bring along onshore if necessary.
Our itinerary includes stops in St Thomas & St Maarten. We have already booked an accessible van excursion on St Thomas. Can anybody recommend accessible restaurants, points of interest or shopping areas/stores on either of these two islands close to the ship? We don't want to try to transfer into a cab. Also, my husband needs my assistance with personal matters so I need to try to find out if there are any family/unisex handicap accessible restrooms or other restrooms that would meet our needs..
I am not aware of any lift-van transportation in St. Maarten. All the tours use regular vans or buses. It is a far ways into town.
We nearly always take the manual chair ashore. Too many shops have no ramps, few towns have curb cuts, and this lets us use taxis (we take a slide board with us). We reserve the power chair for use aboard. If your power chair has poor clearance, it can also be a real problem getting it on/off the ship, esp. during high or low tides. At tender ports, they generally will not lift disabled passengers into the tenders in a power chair, but will in a manual chair.
My family will be traveling the RCCL Explorer E. Caribbean August 8-15, 2004. It sounds like the same ininerary you are taking. What ship are you going on? My husband and I are both in wheelchairs. We have been on Carnival and went W. Caribbean so if we can be of any assistance, I would be glad to offer any advice I could. I would love to chat more with you about your trip, esp. after you return. Feel free to email me if you want.
Here's a link to my article which has some info about access on St. Maarten. http://emerginghorizons.com/select/southCarib.html
Personally I'd recommend using the manual chair for this shore stop as transportation will require a transfer. It not one of the most accessible islands but it's do-able for a lot of manual wc users. Also if you have that portable ramp with you, you might want to try the Butterfly farm. It has a few steps at the entry, but otherwise OK.
I have done st Thomas an accessibility vans are great there and so is the tour they have does anyone know of other island thats are accessible or have the vans like St Thomas I will tell you they have theses cruise ships that go to the island the shjips should invest in a few big buses when they dock to accomodate special needs and also wheelchair beach chairs so special needs can enjoy like like the rest of everyone