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Aruba (Oranjestad)

By John Sage

aruba-disabled-access-reviewBecause of its Dutch heritage and flat terrain, Aruba disabled access is better than many Caribbean islands.  Wheelchair ramps on sidewalks and wheelchair accessible vans make getting around the island easier than other destinations like Grand Turk, Grenada, and Freeport.

Visiting the main attractions doesn’t include steep hikes to waterfalls, old historical buildings, or mountainous terrain.  Disabled cruise passengers will have a much easier time in Aruba than other ports of call!

I gave Aruba disabled access a 4 Star Sage Accessibility Rating because the cruise pier has step-free access and there are wheelchair accessible vans to get around the island.  It did not get a higher rating because some of the most popular activities, snorkeling and scuba diving, don’t utilize boats with roll-on wheelchair access.


View Aruba Wheelchair Accessible Shore Excursions


Best Aspects of Aruba Disabled Access

Flat terrain – Although the island of Aruba has a few hills, the vast majority of the island is relatively flat.  It is flatter than hilly islands like St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Puerto Rico and much flatter mountainous islands like Jamaica, Grenada, and Dominica.

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Cruise ships dock in the middle of town – While some ports like Freeport, Cozumel, and St. Thomas have piers outside of the town center, cruise ships in Aruba dock at a pier right in the middle of Oranjestad.

Wheelchair accessible Aruba cruise terminal and port exit – The cruise terminal in Oranjestad has a wheelchair ramp (shown in the photo on the left) and the exit to the port has flat access (shown in the photo on the right).

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Accessible van transportation is available – If you need a vehicle with a wheelchair lift, you can reserve an Aruba wheelchair accessible van excursion to show you around the island.

Wheelchair ramps at many sidewalks – Many of the sidewalks in Orangjestad have ramps located at the street intersections (shown in the photos below).

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aruba-disabled-access-review6Accessible beach visits are possible – Because the beaches are sandy instead of rocky, visiting the beach with the assistance of a beach wheelchair is possible.

Home of one of the most fascinating shipwrecks in the Caribbean – The eerie underwater shipwreck of the WWII era German Antilla transport vessel is one the most fascinating wrecks in the Caribbean.  It is in relatively shallow water, so you can view it either by snorkeling or by scuba diving.

Can experience Land and Sea in a single day – Aruba is a small island…only 20 miles long and 6 miles across at its widest.  Consequently, it’s easy to see many of the islands land attractions while still saving time for viewing the underwater sights located just offshore.


Worst Aspects of Aruba Disabled Access

Low dock so steep ramp to get off ship – The cruise dock in Aruba is lower than most cruise docks, so the ramps used to get of the cruise ship are steeper than other islands.

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Many of the attractions are located away from the cruise dock in Oranjestand – Many of the wheelchair accessible Aruba attractions, including the best snorkeling options are located outside of Oranjestad so you’ll need transportation to reach them.  The longest drive you will probably make is from Oranjestad to the southernmost point.  The 14 mile route is shown below.



No true roll-on wheelchair accessible boat on the island – There are no boats with roll-on access on the island so wheelchair users will need to be able to transfer our of their wheelchair to travel on snorkeling and scuba diving boat.

No wheelchair accessible taxis – There are no Aruba wheelchair accessible taxis so you’ll need to book private wheelchair accessible transportation before you arrive.  Because only 1 or 2 wheelchair accessible vans are functional at a given time, you should book your transportation several weeks in advance.

No accessible shore excursions provided by cruise lines – The major cruise lines, including Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean, don’t offer any Aruba disabled accessible shore excursions.  You will need to book private accessible shore excursions in Aruba.


View Aruba Wheelchair Accessible Shore Excursions