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View Full Version : Excursions for handicapped child in St. Thomas, Castaway Cay and St. Maarten


cbw4lsu
02-06-2012, 11:41 AM
Does anyone have experience with shore excursions in St. Thomas and St. Maarten with handicapped kids? This will be our first cruise with the kids (2 14 year olds and an 8 year old--all boys), much less Disney. We are going on the Fantasy with stops in these 2 ports as well as Castaway Cay. I would assume that Castaway Cay would be just as accessible as Disney World so I'm not as concerned about it. Disney World is his favorite place on earth so we are hoping the cruise will be just as fun for him. When I preview all of the excursions for St. Thomas and St. Maarten, they all seem to say no wheelchairs allowed. :confused3 We were thinking a private boating trip or swim with the dolphins might be something he could do, but we have no idea about accessibility and transportation. Also, he would love to go parasailing. Any help anyone can give would be very much appreciated. Any other suggestions would be welcome as well.:thanks:

Thanks,
Brandon

kcashner
02-06-2012, 11:47 AM
It would be helpful to know more about the issue without prying into your personal situation.

For example, DD had a friend who used a wheelchair in choir with her--the girl got on the tour bus by riding piggy back on one of the large guys. They did make sure that the overnight places were HA accessible, but the guys could carry her when a singing venue was not.

My point is that there may be ways around the fact that the islands are not as accessible as most US places. Some excursions are accessible if the individual is able to transfer but not otherwise. An 8 year old might be small enough to lift while a 14 year old might not be.

Castaway Cay has beach wheelchairs available, smooth paths, accessible restrooms, etc. You won't have issues here.

cbw4lsu
02-06-2012, 11:49 AM
We are able to pick him up to get him on the bus, but we weren't sure if the wheelchair itself would be allowed. He will be one of the 14 year olds.

Thanks

mdvlprof
02-06-2012, 11:51 AM
Henry's EEE Tours [St Thomas] has a van with a wheel-chair lift.

cbw4lsu
02-06-2012, 02:27 PM
Thank you mdvlprof. Anyone else have any suggestions?

GoofTroop
02-06-2012, 02:54 PM
We did Bernard's Tours at St. Marteen. Wonderful tour for all of us (5 adults, kids ages 18, 14, 11, two 6 year olds, and a 2 year old).

Maybe call and talk to them, and see if they'd work a deal with you for a private tour?

We did a private tour because 2 of our boys are special needs, however, not in a wheelchair.

IncredibleboysMom
02-06-2012, 03:53 PM
Subscribing because I have the exact issue and have also been researching a bit. When is your cruise? We are on the Oct 6 Fantasy Eastern Caribbean. Two of our 3 boys have physical disabilities, one uses a wheelchair only for long distances, the other, who is 6 does not walk or stand independently.

My first thought is that, since these are the US Virgin Islands, are they not subject to the ADA? Second, it does seem that the wheelchair comment for the Disney shore excursions seem to be an automatic thing. I wonder if you could choose a few excursions and contact Disney in advance to see what the real deal is. I remember reading a thread where someone indicated that the tour operator contracted with Disney mentioned that they had a vehicle that would have accommodated the wheelchair, if only they had known in advance. Finally, do a web search for Dial a Ride in the Virgin Islands. Sounds like it might be a solution to the transportation issues, however, the latest articles indicate some funding issues.

We have been to St Thomas and St Martin before the kids, and Castaway Cay many times with the kids. CC is wonderfully accessible, no worries there. My oldest son (age 11 at the time) and I parasailed on Castaway Cay. We went up together. If your son can sit up independently, he could parasail on Castaway Cay.

For St Martin, we were considering taking a cab to either a beach (Le Galion?) or a resort (Grand Case Beach Club). Our youngest sons wheelchair, while it doesn't collapse, can be disassembled enough to fit into the trunk of a car. We were REALLY wanting to visit St John from St Thomas, ideally on a Disney excursion. That whole line about tour operators refusing to transport anyone who shows up in a wheelchair is REALLY off-putting...

Thanks for the thread, I will be eager to see what people's experiences have been.

cbw4lsu
02-06-2012, 11:47 PM
We aren't going until June 2013. I will be very interested to hear how your experience is.

sissy_ib
02-07-2012, 12:04 AM
Subscribing because I have the exact issue and have also been researching a bit. When is your cruise? We are on the Oct 6 Fantasy Eastern Caribbean. Two of our 3 boys have physical disabilities, one uses a wheelchair only for long distances, the other, who is 6 does not walk or stand independently.

My first thought is that, since these are the US Virgin Islands, are they not subject to the ADA? Second, it does seem that the wheelchair comment for the Disney shore excursions seem to be an automatic thing. I wonder if you could choose a few excursions and contact Disney in advance to see what the real deal is. I remember reading a thread where someone indicated that the tour operator contracted with Disney mentioned that they had a vehicle that would have accommodated the wheelchair, if only they had known in advance. Finally, do a web search for Dial a Ride in the Virgin Islands. Sounds like it might be a solution to the transportation issues, however, the latest articles indicate some funding issues.

We have been to St Thomas and St Martin before the kids, and Castaway Cay many times with the kids. CC is wonderfully accessible, no worries there. My oldest son (age 11 at the time) and I parasailed on Castaway Cay. We went up together. If your son can sit up independently, he could parasail on Castaway Cay.

For St Martin, we were considering taking a cab to either a beach (Le Galion?) or a resort (Grand Case Beach Club). Our youngest sons wheelchair, while it doesn't collapse, can be disassembled enough to fit into the trunk of a car. We were REALLY wanting to visit St John from St Thomas, ideally on a Disney excursion. That whole line about tour operators refusing to transport anyone who shows up in a wheelchair is REALLY off-putting...

Thanks for the thread, I will be eager to see what people's experiences have been.

Only St Thomas is a USVI, not St Martin. And the excursions do not necessarily have to be ADA compliant. Also when we visited St Thomas last week we had to tender to the island. I know Disney does not tender every cruise but it is something to consider.

OP-you mentioned a private tour. If you go that route you will need to contact the tour operator. If you need to provide your own transportation, in both St Thomas and St Martin we saw a ton of taxi vans that would have ample space to store a wheel chair.

cbw4lsu
02-07-2012, 04:05 PM
Thanks for the info sissy_ib

cbw4lsu
02-08-2012, 11:32 AM
Anyone have any other suggestions?

sissy_ib
02-08-2012, 11:47 AM
Anyone have any other suggestions?

I don't know if it will help with a cruise but have you tried the disabilities board here on the DIS? I know they have a lot of info for WDW and someone there may be able to help with DCL.

IncredibleboysMom
02-18-2012, 09:27 AM
To the OP, just wanted to share with you the reply I received from the dive shop at Secret Harbour Beach Resort on St Thomas. He advertises as being certified with the Handicapped Scuba Association, so I thought he would have some input. Here is his reply:

Hi Julie.

It sounds like we have just what you're looking for. We have a calm, clear bay right in front of our shop that's ideal for snorkeling, especially for beginners and/or those with physical challenges. The cost would just be the price of the snorkel gear rental ($15), and $40 for me if you would like me to help you out (I'm the owner and the resident HSA - Handicapped SCUBA Association - Instructor)

We have a beach wheelchair that you can use as well,

We are about four miles east of the cruise ship docks, at Secret Harbour Beach Resort - if your youngest chair is fairly portable, you can just grab a taxi and tell them you have a class and have to be there quickly (so you don't get the island "tour" :-)

We also offer beach chairs, paddleboats, a stand up paddle board, snorkeling, kayaks and a great white sand beach that you can enjoy after snorkeling. Right next to our shop there is a great beach side bistro and bar. So if you have others traveling with you, be sure to bring them along as well and we'll take care of them!

If that sounds like what you are looking for, all you need to do is create a reservation using our BookNow link below.

Regards,

Sam



I don't know if we will do this or not, but it sounds promising. The dive shop is Aqua Action Dive Center, and the website is aadivers.com.

MoranClan
02-18-2012, 09:39 AM
While in St. Maarten, we did the Golden Eagle catamaran, and there was someone who was disabled on the tour. I dont remember seeing a wheelchair, but I am sure they had one before they boarded. I would give them a call or email them. http://www.sailingsxm.com/ They will not book direct, as they have a deal with DCL.

We had a great time. They only thing he may not be able to do is swim to the beach, but they do have a boat that goes back and forth with beverages.

Try them. Its worth a shot.

DVC96
02-18-2012, 11:33 AM
I am subscribing since we are also in this situation. We have a 19 yo DD who only uses a chair some of the time - she really isn't able to walk distances at all. We'll be on the 8/25 Fantasy.

cbw4lsu
02-23-2012, 11:28 AM
Thank you to incredibleboysmom and moranclan for your suggestions. I will be sure to check these people out.

cbw4lsu
08-02-2012, 02:08 PM
bump in case someone has gone recently and might have some new experiences.

Thanks

gwtaylor
08-12-2012, 06:05 PM
For St. Maarten, I would note that Joyce Prince, who does tours there, has this statement on her website (http://www.joyceprince.com/Personal%20Tours.htm):

We give only custom, personalized tours. Anything that you would like to see. And please note that we are wheelchair, walker and baby stroller friendly!

A suggestion if you are bringing your wheelchair. If you could also bring your handicap parking placard, it could be of use at some of our stops.

gary