Seniors on cruise ships are like salsa on tacos, you just can’t have one, without the other. That’s because the game is played that way. Work hard, retire and then kick back and enjoy life. Throw in the fact that after they retire, they all magically migrate to Florida, where hopping on a cruise ship is also as easy as putting the salsa on the before mentioned taco. Lots of spare time and discretionary income, plus a short drive to the port, makes it such that you can’t sling a tortilla on a ship and not hit a geezer.
At the Tropicante, many of our guests are seniors and often they email me questions about getting around in Mahahual, especially those with wheel chairs, scooters and walkers. But even seniors who can walk just fine, know like everything else we used to do so well, with walking too, we need to be more careful how far we can go. I say we, because I too am getting to where I can’t walk as far without tiring myself. Many emails and questions about the trek into town, so I thought a quick general blog on getting around the Costa Maya port and Mahahual area might be needed.
The biggest obstacle for any with walking disabilities is getting off the ship, down the pier and through the commercial port area. For many, that is a full day in and of itself. I tell people, walking from the ship, down the pier and through the commercial area, is about the same as walking from the back of the mall parking lot, into the mall, and then walking once through the mall. No small feat for many. But for the seasoned senior traveler, that is not a problem. They just get wheels.
Costa Maya Pier and Port Mall
Which brings us the the often asked question, “can my wheelchair or power scooter work if I go into town?” Well, yes and no. Most people with wheel chairs manage okay in Costa Maya, but nothing outside the port, in the town or surrounding areas, are what in the US is ADA approved. No ramps, and bathrooms are not always what you find in the US. No wide stalls or grab bars.
Taxis outside the port’s gates can handle most chairs and scooters though. The dispatcher at the taxi stand, about 50 yards outside the gate, is Captain Charlie, and he will get a vehicle of the size needed. They even have vans they can remove back seats if need be and lots of strong guys to lift heavy chairs into the back. The driver will drop you right at your destination, so from there, there is little walking and the malecon that runs the entire downtown beach front, is paved, flat and easy for any chairs, walkers or scooters.
Downtown Oceanfront Malecon
As for the beach, people push chairs right onto the beach and because the sand is loose on top, but a couple inches down, it is hard packed, chairs can move on it with just a little extra help. Most beach clubs are very accommodating and can help with chairs and scooters.
Bathrooms are always a big challenge, and unfortunately, few places have large enough privacy stalls that a chair can be driven into them. Also, bathrooms in Mexico tend to have plumbing done in a manner that requires raised floors, with steps up into bathrooms, and again, a problem at many places for those totally chair bound. If bathroom wheelchair access is needed, it is probably best to stay inside the port, where the bathrooms are handicap accessible. Otherwise, you’ll be fine in most cases.
So getting into and around downtown is easy for most, a little work for others, and probably to be avoided by a few. If a few steps are okay, and you just use the wheelchair or walker for distance, coming into town is fine, but long, because of the long pier and port you must get through. And then of course one must remember, that long trek I compared to the mall trip earlier, you must do again on the way back. But I know most can do that, because I’ve seen all those cars parked at the end of the mall parking lot at Christmas, and those people made it in and back out. And they didn’t have near the fun you’ll have coming into Mahahual, when you visit Port of Costa Maya. See you then.