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Cruise Port of Call Wheelchair Accessibility Review: St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

St. Thomas is the gateway island of the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. It’s known for its beaches and snorkeling spots. The territorial capital of Charlotte Amalie, founded by the Danish in the 1600s, is a very busy cruise ship port. Historic buildings include a 1679 watchtower called Blackbeard’s Castle, in reference to the areas pirate history. On the harbor, 17th-century Fort Christian is now a local history Museum. Seemingly above most other attractions, St. Thomas is known for its extensive shopping opportunities, from bargain bazaars to deals on luxury jewelry and precious gemstones.

The primary dock for cruise ships is at Havensight, also called the West India Company Dock. Once you disembark your cruise ship, you will be right in the middle of what looks like a miniature downtown. There are more than 50 shops, many of which are outposts of Charlotte Amalie’s better-known boutiques. The great thing about St. Thomas for wheelchair users is that it is a US territory, so technically it must comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. All of Havensight is very easy to maneuver with ample ramps and accessible public toilets. Just outside of this shopping facility are convenience stores, coffee shops, and cafés that offer free Wi-Fi. There is also an upscale shopping and dining area called the Yacht Haven Grand Marina within rolling distance.

If you want to leave the port area and see some of the more scenic parts of St. Thomas, or just head straight into Charlotte Amalie for more shopping, you will have to take a wheelchair taxi. These are extremely sparse and must be arranged ahead of time. I arranged for a 4-hour accessible tour in a wheelchair van through ICBW Mobile Transportation (which stands for It Could Be Worse). St. Thomas is extremely hilly, so be prepared for some rough roads, tight turns, and a lot of back and forth in a van. We were able to get up to some very high vantage points for beautiful scenic overlooks of the famous Magens Bay before driving to the beach itself for a few photos. We drove around pretty much the entire island through various neighborhoods, then ended at Mountain Top, probably the most popular scenic overlook on St. Thomas.

If you are feeling more adventurous, I have read that there are many more sightseeing opportunities in St. Thomas for wheelchair users because it is a US territory. There are ferries that cross from St. Thomas to St. John in only 20 minutes, and I believe that these ferries are wheelchair accessible. However, I cannot comment on the accessibility levels in St. John or what there is to do or see there. I am also aware that there are opportunities for accessible snorkeling or scuba diving in St. Thomas, although I did not take part in this myself. If you make arrangements to go to the Main Street area in Charlotte Amalie, there are over 400 shops there. I did not visit myself, so I cannot comment on the accessibility of these shops.

Are you interested in booking a wheelchair accessible cruise that calls on St. Thomas? Contact me at Spin the Globe/Travel and we’ll get started!

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