Grand Princess passengers were the first to experience a new shore excursion option in St. Thomas designed especially for visitors in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. The new tour, which debuted June 26, is operated by the island company, Accessible Adventures, and was developed in partnership with Princess Cruises. The St. Thomas excursion is currently exclusive to Princess passengers.
A total of nine Princess guests, including three in wheelchairs, helped inaugurate the tour company`s specially outfitted trolley last month. The two-hour trip takes passengers to the island`s many historic and scenic attractions, and features stops at accessible points of interest.
Currently available on Grand Princess sailings, the new excursion will also be offered on Golden Princess, Sea Princess and Dawn Princess 2002-03 Caribbean sailings, beginning in autumn.
“Princess has made accessibility a top priority for many years now, leading the industry by naming the first full-time access compliance manager who was just recently honored with a presidential appointment,” said Dean Brown, Princess` executive vice president of customer service and sales. “We are now pleased to join Accessible Adventures in implementing this unique tour option, a collaborative effort that for the first time offers a custom-designed activity for passengers with limited mobility or those who simply want to enjoy the island at a slower pace.”
Guests on the tour travel in style aboard a colorful trolley fully equipped with lifting devices and four-point tie-down systems. Each vehicle has flip-up seats accommodating up to three wheelchairs. Accessible restrooms are available at two stops along the route, and St. Thomas` famed Mountain Top area is equipped with a platform lift to reach the observation area.
Departing from the ship, the tour journeys back in time, visiting the historic sites of St. Thomas. Knowledgeable local guides share stories about the many landmarks in the town`s center. The tour continues to the world-famous Mountain Top, where passengers can enjoy spectacular views of Magens Bay and the Atlantic Ocean from its 1,500-foot elevation on the summit of St. Peter Mountain. The next stop is Drakes Seat, where legend has it that Sir Francis Drake perched to watch his fleet sail the passage and spy on vessels entering the channels. A journey along Skyline Drive offers passengers magnificent views of neighboring island St. John and the nearby British Virgin Islands. Guests will also have plenty of time for shopping and taking photos from the scenic outlooks before they return to the ship.
Future tours are being developed for more Caribbean destinations, and additional facilities to assist other passengers—such as the hearing impaired—are also under consideration.
Princess offers one of the cruise industry`s most comprehensive programs for guests with special needs. Princess Access provides a variety of helpful onboard features, including more than 145 wheelchair accessible cabins across the fleet. Princess was the first cruise line to employ a manager of access compliance—who was recently appointed by President George W. Bush to the United States Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Access Board.
The charge for the St. Thomas Island tour from Accessible Adventures runs $32 for adults and $22 for children.