My husband Bill and I just spent a couple of weeks in the southern Caribbean, where we spent a week aboard the SeaDream I, a small luxury cruise ship that caters to no more than 112 people at a time. Before we embarked on our cruise, we spent a couple of days on the lovely island of Antigua, which was where we were to embark. I was looking for fun things to do on our one full day in Antigua and came upon reviews of Segway Antigua, a unique tour operator located near the capital city of St. John’s.
When we lived in Germany a few years ago, Bill and I had seen Segways used on tours. Although neither of us had ever really talked about trying out the personal transporters ourselves, I was intrigued by the many glowing reviews Segway Antigua was getting on sites like Cruise Critic and TripAdvisor. Since our vacation would be spent with so much time on a cruise and engaged in water based activities, I thought trying the Segways would be an interesting change of pace. I also had to admit, the Segways looked like a lot of fun.
Checking Segway Antigua’s Web site, I found out that the tour operator offers several different tours that last from approximately three to five hours at a time and cost $65 to $119. The Conquerers of the Fort tour is the shortest and least expensive of the tours; it’s offered three times daily, Monday through Friday. The medium priced Ffryes Bay Fiesta runs four hours and is offered three times on Sundays. Either of these tours can include an optional lunch for an additional cost. The fact that our one full day in Antigua would be on a Saturday made our choice easy. The only tour offered on Saturdays is the Valley Bay Addiction. Running at five hours, this tour includes a picnic lunch and is the most expensive tour offered by Segway Antigua.
I filled out the online booking form indicating our choice of tours and used a credit card to secure our reservation. A few days later, our tour was confirmed. We were sent a voucher to print out which would serve as proof of payment. The voucher also included information about how we would be getting to the tour. For an extra cost, Segway Antigua will pick up guests at their hotel or, if they are coming from a cruise ship, at the port.
We were waiting outside our hotel at 8:50pm when Juliette Marcelle, Segway Antigua’s CEO, drove up in a small SUV. It turned out we were the only ones who had signed up for a Segway tour that day, so she drove us straight to Segway Antigua’s office. There, we signed paperwork, arranged for final payment, and watched a short safety video. We also met Juliette’s husband, Kadesh, and their adorable little daughter.
Once the formalities were taken care of, Kadesh drove Bill and me to a grassy area next to a beautiful beach. Kadesh would be following behind us in an SUV, so we were able to leave our stuff in the car with him. Another Segway Antigua employee was there with three Segways, one for Bill and I and one for herself. After donning sunscreen, a helmet, and elbow pads, we learned the basics of operating a Segway safely. The trickiest part of Segway riding seems to be mounting and dismounting the device. Our guide was very interested in making sure we got the process down and learned how to stop, go, and adjust our speed without having an accident.
Though I was a little nervous at first, I soon got the hang of the Segway, which seemed to be a very intuitive device. The Segway responded to the way I shifted my body and adjusted my weight. The one drawback I quickly discovered is that my feet got fatigued. Because of the way the Segway operates, you can’t move your feet without putting yourself in danger. Consequently, your feet get tired after some time on the Segway. Our guide was careful to show us how to relieve the fatigue without putting ourselves in danger. We also took several rest stops.
I take a tumble!
Before the start of our tour, we watched a safety video which showed the many gruesome ways people can fall off of Segways. I didn’t know it at the time of our tour, but last year, Segway tycoon Jimi Heselden died in a freak Segway related accident. I was doing pretty well with the Segway when it was time for our first rest stop by one of Antigua’s many gorgeous beaches. When it was time to mount again, our guide told Bill and me to ride the Segways between two posts. A small hotel shuttle had pulled near the posts, so I was trying to negotiate the posts without hitting the shuttle. One of the tires on the Segway got caught by a post. The next thing I knew, I was lying on the ground seeing stars. Thankfully I was wearing the helmet, because I hit my head pretty hard. All that was hurt was my pride. I was okay again after a cup of water and a few minutes rest.
The tour continues
Once I was back on the Segway, we continued our tour, which passed through a few of Antigua’s better known resorts, down a few country roads and meadows, and along beaches where other tourists eyed us with interest. Our tour was joined by Juliette and her mother, who had come in from Miami and had fallen in love with Segways. We learned about Antigua as our guide spoke to us through a bullhorn. We learned about the local sugar trade, local flora, and some of the history of the island. We even stopped for a sugar cane break, where we were taught how to taste it like a local!
After negotiating a few tricky mud puddles and allowing a couple of vehicles to pass us, we stopped at a beachside picnic area, where we enjoyed water and fresh tropical fruit skewers. Juliette took pictures of us, which she said she would email to us within a couple of weeks of the tour. Had we had two more with us, we could have gotten a souvenir music video, too.
The tour ended on a beautiful beach near a beachside bar. As we enjoyed a couple of Wadadli beers, Juliette set up a table for us on the beach, complete with a table cloth, flowers, and a bottle of wine. We enjoyed a delicious hot lunch of barbecue chicken, rice, salad, plantains, and cake. After lunch, we went swimming in the beautiful water. We were allowed to stay as long as we wanted, then Juliette drove us back to our hotel. All in all, we had a wonderful day! We would happily book this tour or a different one through Segway Antigua again.
Things to know about Segway Antigua’s tours
* All Segway participants must be between 100 and 260 pounds and at least 13 years old.
* Segways can be dangerous. It’s important to pay close attention to the guides when learning how to use the equipment.
* The less expensive tours may or may not include lunch.
* Wear plenty of sunscreen and comfortable shoes.
* You must wear a helmet and elbow pads.
* Bring a bathing suit and a towel. It’s likely you can go swimming if you want to after the tour. There is a place to use the restroom and change.
For more information, please visit www.segwayantigua.com.
Brooke, Chris http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1315518/Segway-tycoon-Jimi-Heselden-dies-cliff-plunge-scooters.html