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Dolphin Experience and "Rail and Sail" Excursion on St. Kitts


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I had some questions about two of the excursion options on St. Kitts. I'm hoping some here have done one or both of these and can offer their feedback.



First, my wife is really looking forward to is the Dolphin Experience on St. Kitts. We saw after looking at the list of available excursions that there are actually four different options for this:


  1. A bare-bones, ride the boat and look at the dolphins without getting in the water trip, for fairly cheap
  2. A get-in-the-water option, where you'll be at standing depth and the dolphins come to you, for about double the cost of the first one
  3. A swim option, where you're in the water but also get to grab a dolphin's dorsal fin and "ride" on it out into the water and back, for considerably more
  4. An "I wanna be the SeaWorld performer" option, where you get all of the above and have two highly trained dolphins push you through the water by your feet until you're hydrofoiling and inevitably lose your balance and face-plant into the salty brine, for those with more money than sense (or concern for the dolphins' welfare)

If anyone has done one of these, please help confirm my suspicion that all four are really the same excursion that everyone gets on at once, and you just get a band indicating what level you paid for. Reason being that while we'd all like to go and see dolphins as a family, my wife and maybe one of my girls would like to do the second option, while I (mobility limited) and my other daughter would just as soon ride out on the boat and stay there, me possibly sipping a spiked fruity beverage. If everyone has to choose the same level at time of purchase, we'll either skip it entirely or I'll let my wife and one daughter do that while the other one and I find something else in the same time slot.


I guess a related question around this is: Is it worth it? St. Maarten also offers a dolphin experience (although the window for that shore day is from 7 AM to 5 PM, vs. 9 to 6 in St. Kitts, and may not work as well). We've also heard that these excursions involve animals that may not have been treated very well, and we'd rather not participate in something that directly or indirectly promotes animal cruelty.




The second excursion, which I am really interested in, is the "Rail and Sail", where you start off riding the historic train through the sugar fields and forests of St. Kitts, followed by a trip on a catamaran around the far side of the island. But the description notes that people doing that trip have to be able to walk into the water and climb a ladder onto the catamaran.


For context, I've had about six major and minor surgeries on my right foot, which among other things have fused the ankle, heel, and shin on that, along with making my right leg nearly an inch shorter than my left. I have to wear a modified shoe to level out my walk, and going barefoot is possible, but only for about the length to cross a room or walk down a short hallway (like bed to bathroom).


Climbing something like a pool ladder is basically impossible for me now from the pain that would cause due to strain on my achilles tendon in a foot that doesn't flex or bend and trying to lift myself on those narrow metal rungs. But I've seen some videos of people doing snorkeling trips on catamarans, and it seems like the "ladder" they use to get into and out of the water is really more of a stairway, with wider rungs you climb diagonally instead of straight up.


If that was the case, and I can carry my sneakers with me to put on as soon as I'm on the ship, I think I could manage. If not, I can at least do the train by itself and maybe follow that up with some other activity in town before boarding the ship again. And St. Maarten has two different schooner sailings that I'm also keen on, so I don't feel like I'd be missing out if I couldn't do the catamaran part on St. Kitts.


If anyone has been on this particular excursion and can let me know how easy or hard it was to get on the catamaran, that would be a huge help.


It kind of goes without saying, but beaches are no longer my friend due to the unstable footing, and trying to walk onto one and cross half of it in search of a lounger or cabana to sit in isn't really high on my list of preferred things to do. I know the rest of my family wants some beach time, but I figure when they do that I'll find something else. Unless there is a nice chair and umbrella with tropical drinks just off the sidewalk. Then maybe.  ;) 

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I have not done any of the dolphin excursions in St. Kitts...but I will say that if your children are older than 10, they would probably be bored to death with the Dolphin Encounter.  That's basically a petting option (and not the kissing kind of petting...).  The dolphin swim is a LOT of fun and well worth the money (at least it was for us).  As you suggested, you get to interact with the dolphins and actually swim with them.  Frankly, I have never even heard of the third option, which sounds a little too "interactive" for me !


Regarding sailing or snorkeling options, it has been my experience that if you have a full ladder to get back onto the boat you are lucky !  I have problems getting back into a boat from the water, too (I'm just fat !) and even with a full ladder that extends somewhat above the side of the boat I have problems.  A couple of times I have had a shortie ladder that does not have a handrails that extend above the side of the boat and believe me, my entry back onto the boat from the water was extremely UNgraceful.  "Beached whale" is the only term that comes to mind.  It was NOT pretty !  I guess the best option for me is really the "hoist" option which is isn't practical on a boat !

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Did the train in St Kitts (something different, kind of interesting but wouldn't do it a bunch of times), didn't do the sail part of it though (ours was Rail'n'Bus).


Have done a lot of Catamaran sails though ... usually there is a stairway that lowers in the bow for boarding ... judging by the physical condition you give I think it would be borderline for you. On a calm day if the boat pulls up and you are just walking out through the surf and then up the ladder you are probably ok .... if there is any wave action and you have to semi-swim at all to get onto the stairway I think you would be struggling.

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