The Caribbean with all its rhythm, warmth and beauty is my favorite part of the world to visit. While the majority of Caribbean destinations lack much of the facilities people with a disability are used to at home, wheelchair access just being one example, there should be no reason to stay away and miss out on the fun! Without a doubt you will encounter situations that propose a challenge. Various avid travelers with special needs I talked with, view these challenges as part of the adventure that comes with travelling. Knowing the Caribbean people so well, I am sure that most Caribbean people happily lend you a helping hand. There are various Caribbean hotels that comply with the requirements set out in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Many Caribbean countries have one or more organizations that represent people with special needs that might be able to answer specific questions you may have.
Most travelers will agree that part of the fun of travelling is the preparation upfront. For people with a disability, preparation is not so much about fun but necessity since many of the wonderful holiday destinations have never heard about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or similar laws. Airlines are by law required to cater to people with a disability, even allowing guide dogs in the plane after they have been in quarantine. Contacting the airline upfront should ensure that you would be assisted properly. Whenever possible avoid changing planes since this increases the risks of lost luggage, double check that your equipment is well-packed and that removable pieces of for example a wheelchair are individually labeled. When you travel with an electric wheelchair, remember to verify it runs on a gel or dry cell battery because wet cell batteries must be removed from the wheelchair because of possible leakage. Visually impaired travelers who want to stay in touch with the folks at home via e-mail should consider bringing their own computer with add-ons.
When it comes to choosing accommodation I learned that your best bet is to start looking for a hotel that has been built after 1990 and belongs to an international hotel chain. Alternatively, look for a small Bed and Breakfast hotel, which often provides a more personalized service. Just because a room is labeled “accessible” doesn’t mean it fits your particular needs. Do not make your decision on what an eager tour operators tells you or printed brochures want you to believe, I recommend you contact the hotel directly and ahead of time with a list of your requirements like a minimum door width, the availability of ramps etc. Unless you travel to exclusive and expensive destinations like the Bahamas, St Croix, the US Virgin Islands, Antiqua or Bonaire you properly have to work around the lack of automatic doors, low level wardrobes and roll-in showers. Travelling with someone who can help you getting around such an obstacle is of course ideal.
Have you ever considered renting a large car or mini-van? To drive with your partner or friend(s) to “where ever the road might lead you” fills everyone with a great sense of freedom. Specialized group travel is another option that allows you to explore more of the country. If you are interested in water sports it is good to know that there are opportunities to partake in diving and snorkeling courses and events designed especially for people with special needs.
There are numerous websites that give advice to travelers with a disability. You will discover that most of the sites will agree that having a disability should not stop you from enjoying the Caribbean. In this Debbie section you can read about hotels that people with a disability have stayed in. We hope you will send us your review and welcome suggestions that help us to improve on the information we provide here.
Hotels/Resorts are added to our Review Index Pages as soon as we receive a review for that hotel. So if you have stayed at a hotel recently and don't see it listed yet, send us your review and it will be added to the Review Index.