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Shore excursions in the Caribbean with an elderly traveler

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Feb 3rd, 2013, 08:18 PM
  #1
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Shore excursions in the Caribbean with an elderly traveler

My father and I are cruising out of NYC in March to Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Thomas, and Tortola. He uses a cane and moves slowly, but is alright with a moderate amount of walking. I was thinking that we would spend some time at the cruise center in Grand Turk, and take a trolley to El Morro in San Juan, without needing to book a shore excursion in either place.

We are on Carnival and they offer a bunch of shore excursions in both St. Thomas and Tortola. and I think we might have more fun there if we took one. There's a sort of floating barge with glass viewers available in St. Thomas. This one is obviously accessible, but there's an expedition to Virgin Gorda and the Baths in Tortola which I think might appeal to my dad, but it maybe a bit beyond him at this point. Any thoughts or suggestions?
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Feb 4th, 2013, 07:07 AM
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Getting to the Baths in Virgin Gorda may be too strenuous for your father even though it's a great excursion. But I think any boat trip may be very pleasant for him once he gets settled.

Just be aware that it can be a long drawn-out trip to El Morro on the free shuttle in San Juan, and you do have to walk a bit to reach it from the cruise pier. Plus, there's a long walk up to the fortress and then uneven surfaces as well as stairs within. Still, worth doing if you know what is coming. Otherwise, Old San Juan has a lot of hills, so walking there will be particularly difficult for your father.

There's not so much to see at the cruise center in Grand Turk, but you can do a little shopping. That's what my parents did when we stopped there a few years ago, and my Mom also had problems walking. Does he like the beach at all? The beach there is lovely. It's also quite a long walk along the pier just to get off the ship, but most of the excursions there are fairly active, so this may be the best alternative.
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Feb 4th, 2013, 07:27 AM
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He does like beaches, and the pool attached to Margaritaville looks both pleasant and accessible, since he's not going to be able to get in and out of the cruise ship's pool. I'm kind of hoping he can do the hot tub with me to assist, but we'll see. He can do stairs, but ladders are out.

Reasonable distances are fine, and probably good for him as long as he takes his time. Anything under about half a mile is okay as long as he can do it slowly and sit down periodically, and then rest before he has to do it again. The cane is more for balance than mobility, per se. I have given the cruise line a heads up, even though he shouldn't need wheelchair assist. They were, by the way, very helpful on the phone.

I am a little leery of Virgin Gorda and the baths. He's definitely not up to clambering around in a sea cave, but I thought he might enjoy seeing them from the beach. If he's having trouble even getting onto the beach, it might be a no go, though.
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Feb 4th, 2013, 09:17 AM
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The pool at Margaritaville isn't nearly as lovely when it's full of boistrous, drinking cruise passengers who are having shots poured directly into their mouths. But it is a nice pool.

I have always wanted to go to the Baths but have never made it, so I think someone with first-hand experience should tell you how easy access is. I think it's difficult to access the beach there.
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Feb 4th, 2013, 09:18 AM
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You might also repost in the Caribbean forum, at least about the Baths. There are a lot of posters there with BVI experience who may not go into this forum very often.
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Feb 4th, 2013, 04:02 PM
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KVR
 
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From our experience going to Virgin Gorda and the Baths, we took a boat trip from St. John. Once we reached Virgin Gorda we had to get out of the boat into the water and swim to the beach area. It was a few feet out. Once on the land, there was lots of walking through the sand and over around rocks to go through the Baths. I really don't think it's a good excursion for your father.

Here's a few pictures to give you an idea of the area:

http://kvrlvnphotogallery.shutterfly.com/pictures/6207

http://kvrlvnphotogallery.shutterfly.com/pictures/6208

http://kvrlvnphotogallery.shutterfly...ures/6208#6210

The best thing to do is e-mail the tour operator and ask them specifically if this excursion would suit your father's limitations or not.
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Feb 4th, 2013, 04:28 PM
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You may want to consider island tours on all the stops.

Consider St John (UK Virigin Island) when in St. Thomas. It is a boat ride and a bus ride which I think he can handle.

Margaritaville is way too nosiy for my liking. Go over and take a look and move on.
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Feb 4th, 2013, 04:42 PM
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Is your father OK with steps? While walking in the old town of San Juan is not difficult (the cobblestones are flat, not like in Europe) - the "free trolleys" are old buses with steep steps, don't remember 2 or 3 of them.
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Feb 4th, 2013, 05:33 PM
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Steps are okay, especially if there's a railing. Ladders are a problem, especially getting out of water, since he no longer has the upper body strength to easily pull himself up. Swimming to a beach is kind of out. He's never been a strong swimmer, and getting up onto a beach isn't easy, and I can't imagine trying to swim with a cane.

I figured we'd hit Margaritaville early, before the drinkers really got going (possibly before some of them are awake) and then find somewhere quieter. He's getting kind of deaf, so he won't care that much about loud music unless it's really out of hand, but crowds and rambunctiousness may bother him. My experience with Carnival would suggest that there won't be a shortage of well-lubricated passengers on the ship either.

And thanks, guys.
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Feb 5th, 2013, 07:52 AM
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I'd suggest renting a golf cart while in Grand Turk. They are available outside the Margaritaville complex (a short walk) and I believe can be reserved in advance. An easy internet search can find the rental companies.

I rented a scooter while in Grand Turk a few years ago. It was a great way to see the island and noticed those in golf carts also enjoying themselves on the roads of Grand Turk. Yes, you are on the same roads as cars/buses/scooters etc. but the traffic is not heavy (most of the island residents ride bicycles) and was not scary at any time.

You can stop at whatever beach/store/restaurant you want and can also see more of the island -- horses, chickens, donkeys roam the streets and you can see the lighthouse at the other end of the island which is a great photo op. I spent over 3 hours exploring the island. Of course with a golf cart it would be easy on and off for your dad and I know both of you would enjoy it. Something very different than the usual....
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Feb 5th, 2013, 11:10 AM
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The golf cart is a good idea, but I don't drive, and while my father used to, he doesn't see well. I think we'd be a menace, if they'd even let us have one. For a driver, it's a great idea, though.
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