The skyline of St. John’s, the capital and largest city of Antigua and Barbuda, is dominated by the beautiful white baroque towers of the St. John’s Cathedral. The towers are the first sight of Antigua for about half of the island’s visitors each year, many of whom arrive by cruise ship. With its recently completed cruise ship dock in several hotels, St. John’s is a lively hub for shopping and dining. There are 365 beaches on Antigua, and Nelson’s Dockyard and the English Harbor is one of the premier tourist attractions on the island.
Most cruise ships dock at Heritage Quay, although some ships also dock at the adjacent Redcliffe Quay. The largest and more modern of these two docs, Heritage Quay offers two floors of a wide array of duty and tax free merchandise such as electronics, local music, cigars, liquors, fine crystals in China, and clothing. This isn’t even to mention the huge volume of souvenirs and trinkets you can purchase. There are dropped curbs that allow you to access the sidewalks on either side of the pedestrian road, and most of the shops either have a ramp or flat entry.
If you have arranged a tour through your cruise line, you will meet your guide or representative at the entry to Heritage Quay under a large pavilion. From there you will walk to the other end of the shopping area to board your tour bus or vehicle. I booked Al wheelchair accessible tour of the Nelson’s Dockyard through Princess Cruise Lines, and the company’s name was Happy Taxi. All parts of the excursion were accessible, including two remote restrooms at a scenic overlook. There were a couple of buildings at the dockyard itself that had steps, but one was a bar and they were more than happy to bring me rum punch if I so desired.
It is not advisable at all to leave the Heritage Quay shopping area and venture into St. John’s on your own. The sidewalks and roads are in very poor condition, if the sidewalks exist at all. Traffic is incredibly busy, so rolling on the streets is not a safe option. There are also no good options for dining or shopping outside of the port area for wheelchair users. I would highly advise booking an accessible tour through your cruise line or with Happy Taxi directly if you wish to enjoy the beauty and charm of Antigua outside of the port area.
Are you interested in booking a wheelchair accessible cruise that calls on Antigua? Contact me at Spin the Globe/Travel and we’ll get started!
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