Let’s start with Puerto Rico. This island is in the US so you won’t need a passport and the Dollar (sometimes referred to as Peso) is the currency. If you like history, fly into San Juan and spend a few days before your cruise. You will become acclimatized to island weather and see some magnificent Forts in the US National Park system and other historic sites as well as beautiful sunrise and sunset vistas. There is Arecibo observatory too; a modern eye to the ski. And the food, well what can I say, it is magnificent. Fish, pork and chicken are featured prominently, but there are great vegetarian dishes also. Be sure and order some Black Beans and Rice, and Mofongo .
If you like Rum, this is the cruise for you, almost every island has a Rum distillery, but Puerto Rico has Bacardi . There are bus tours all day; with accessible ramp and space for scooters and electric chairs. You are taken by bus to a location where you will have a guided walking tour which are all accessible. The tour doesn’t actually go through the distillery, but rather a museum of Bacardi history and mock-ups of the factory. The cost is $15, but while you wait at the visitors pavilion, treat yourself to one of your favorite rum drinks (included in the price). Hint: Take some non-drinkers with you and collect their tickets.
Old San Juan is the heart of the old city and has a daytime, and a nightlife. Visit museums and Spanish fortresses during the day and the downtown restaurants at night. We found the people very friendly and very helpful, so be sure and talk with them as you go along. In addition, there are beach communities and certain areas dedicated to the local cuisine. Visitors are always welcome.
We left Puerto Rico in the early evening. We slid past the city lights of old San Juan and settled in for the cruise activities of the evening. Dinner, a nightclub and then off to catch some sleep.
Additional pictures Here .
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
The sun was rising in the east as we approached the port city and capitol of St. Thomas, Charlotte Amalie. We had a balcony cabin on the starboard side and the sun shone in on us as we drank our fresh coffee delivered to our door as ordered. The sun rose behind cloud formations that were breathtaking.
We had a tour booked so we had breakfast and proceeded down the pier to the meeting point. I could not take the scooter on the tour, but was assured that there was very little walking involved.
Our tour took us to the north side of the island and Megans Bay, a beautiful white sand beach where you can rent a lounge chair and sprawl in the sun for an hour or so.
From there we went to Black Beards Castle which is a place overlooking the southern approach to the island. There are shops, rum tasting rooms and historical displays in an assemblage of building on the side of a hill. At this point you can leave the bus and roam around, and, if you choose, take the “99 Steps” trail down to the harbor. The “Steps” pass through and around shops as well as homes set up with period décor. I chose the “Steps” and regret it to this day. Unless you can walk some distance, stay on the tour bus back to the ship.
Additional pictures Here .
Another beautiful sunrise as we port at Road Town, Tortola. We decided not to do any formal tours on Tortola so we had a leisurely breakfast on board before we went down to the pier.
We had decided to go to an arboretum about 3.5 miles from the pier, so went looking for a van to hire load my scooter into. There seemed to be no such thing in Tortola so I asked a Policeman if I could drive my scooter on the roads; noting that the sidewalks were not designed for mobility vehicles. He said sure but remember that we drive on the wrong side of the road and laughed.
I took off down the road, while the rest of my party found a cab. As I bumped down the roads and through the port town of people waved and greeted me with welcomes. I got somewhat disoriented at one point and asked a gentleman walking in my direction if I was going the right way. He said yes and said he would walk with me to a turning point just down the road. As we walked he told me that he was a native of Tortola, but his government had paid for his Masters Degree in Marine Sciences at the University of California, Santa Barbara; small world.
The arboretum was small, but well maintained and filled with flowers, plants and birds as well as the occasional butterfly. The pathways were compacted gravel and quite easily navigated. Although there was a bright sun, the large trees provided shade and was surprisingly cool. After spending a pleasant afternoon there, we went back to the pier where we meandered through the hundreds of tent shops that paralled the roadway just outside the pier.
Pronounced An-Teag-ah, this is the third island on the cruise. We had no plans for the day, so after a nice breakfast we went topside for a look around. In the center of the main part of the city of St. John’s stood the Cathedral of St. John’s. While the rest of my group chose to shop, I made my way along the local streets, to explore. I was happy to find the neighborhoods full of colorful wall paintings and even came across a community wall where there was a mural painting project beginning.
I could not find scooter or wheelchair access to the Cathedral, but did not drive all the way around it. The Cathedral was build in 1848 and has all the beauty and charm of the Baroque architecture of the time. Just behind the wall that surrounds the Cathedral is a rose garden and cemetery dating back to the mid 1800s. This has been an active Anglican Church since it opened.
Port four was St. Lucia. There are two piers within a short distance to the main city of Castries. They are Place Carenage or Pointe Seraphine. Scooters and chairs can navagate the local area very easily.
As we approached the port, the Black Pearl of Pirates of the Caribbean fame was off the stern and starboard side of the ship. Apparently it is harbored in the area and is hired out for both tours and movies.
Castries is a fairly modern city and has all the hustle and bustle of one. We had booked a tour and snorkling expedition along the coast that left the pier in the morning and lasted the best part of the day.
One thing that was interesting was a local that paddled up to our snorkeling boat and offered conch shells for sail. He charged $5 for a picture, and had gonga for sale to boot.
The beaches here are quite beautiful and there are resorts all along her coastlines. St. Lucia is known as the most lush of all the islands and it really is. The beaches are backed up by palm trees and lush green “jungle”. Many beaches have resort cabanas right on the water.
The next island on the cruise is Barbados. We arrived in the early morning to another magnificent sunrise as we slid silently into Bridgetown.
We took a tour bus from the pier across the island to the east coast. In so doing we passed through rural neighborhoods where people spend years building their retirement homes brick by brick. At the top of the mountain that is the center of the island you can see the overgrown rim of the crater that formed the island as well as the deep blue of the Western Atlantic ocean.
Descending to the beach road we drove along some absolutely magnificent beaches, stopping at several vistas and beaches. At one of these stops we met a woman who made and sold jewelry. She was holding her young pet monkey wrapped in a towel. Lunch was had at a roadside eatery next to the sea.
Again, we did not find any tours that would accommodate mobility vehicles.
The last day of the cruise was at sea from Barbados back to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
All in all the cruise was a great experience. It was, as you would imagine, limited due to mobility issues. If you are dependent totally on a scooter, there is plenty to do at all of the ports. You can spend the entire day exploring the towns, shops, museums and tourist attractions. In all cases, you could spend part of the day ashore and the other part hanging out on the pool deck with an ice tea in your hand.