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kyriecat

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About kyriecat

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About Me

  • Location
    Sugar Land, TX
  • Interests
    Cruising
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Whoever has the itinerary I want
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    St. Lucia

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  1. My family stayed at the Hotel Casa Blanca in Old San Juan a couple weeks ago pre-cruise. Rooms were a little small but location is great - close to restaurants, shops, forts, clubs. The staff was helpful with recommendations for places to eat and get around. They let us borrow towels for a beach day so we didn't have to bring extras. There is not a pool at the hotel but there are 4 single-person soaking tubs on the roof.
  2. Thank you for the information, Aviator of the Seas. I was not aware that Puerto Rico had a government agency for tourism. Island Marketing is not on their list. Lesson learned. I never saw the "beach club" so don't know where it is located or who actually owns it. I didn't expect the beach itself to be private since most are not. I did, however, expect there to be a bathroom and changing room available. I should have realized there were several red flags regarding this tour. I didn't notice until the driver pointed it out to me, that the website and tour information says "access to beach club and facilities" but do not specifically state that access is included in the tour price. Even though Island Marketing insists it is clear that access is not included and requires purchase of their beach break package, I have yet to find anything that actually says that. I even searched for white text on white background in case they hid it. Hopefully exposing IM's tricks will help others avoid being misled. Unless something is specifically stated as being included in the tour price, assume it's not and there is an extra fee.
  3. I posted the same review as above on another website and Island Marketing posted the following response (their response in purple, my commentary in red): We tried to be as clear as possible that there is an extra cost to use the facilities, I have asked multiple times for them to point out ANYTHING on their website tour description or in correspondence to me where this is specified. They keep saying it is clear but will not provide details where.· Beach chairs and umbrellas: Can be rented for a price of $5.00 each. (if not consuming)· Food and drinks Extra charge: Cannot bring food or drinks to this beach club.· Food cost approx: $12-$18.00 for lunch per person.· Drinks cost approx: $5.00-$10.00 I think the fact that they did not include the COMPLETE tour description provided to me that specifically states access to beach club and to bathroom and changing facilities speaks more eloquently about their integrity than anything I could add.This is why we offered our beach package to save you money. We offered 2 packages our food and drinks packages. You would have only had breakfast, we figured you would like to have lunch on the beach since you would be there till 1:30PM then to the airport. We also offered our drink package as well for $29.00 which also includes umbrellas and chairs, juice/water and sodas. Best rate on San Juan's beach for drinks, food, chairs and use of facilities. I was not told $29 per person for the food and drink package. I was told $45 for adults and $27 for teens. The food/drink package information I was provided is below in blue text: Beach break Tour pricing: $45.00usd per Adult (18yrs and up) $15.00usd for Children (4yrs to 11yrs of age) $27.00usd for Children (12yrs to 17yrs of age) Wave runner Pricing: $120.00usd Per machine Must be 18yrs and up to drive Tour Specifications: Wave Runner rentals available by reservation only, Book online and save! This Beach Break is Exclusive: to Island Marketing and located along a beautiful stretch of beach in Isla Verde. Drink and food package for Adults: includes 4 drinks (local brands Vodka, Rum or gin) or 5 local beer or a bottle of wine or Sparkling wine, or juice/soft drinks from a fountain 1 bottle of water and an American Lunch from a preset menu. Premium alcohol and beer is available at an extra charge. Drink and food package for Kids and Teens includes: Kids (4-11yrs) 3 soft/juice/ (chicken wings/fries, French fries, grilled cheese/ fries) TEENS (12-17yrs) 4 juice/water/soft same food as adults menu. All Island Marketing: adult and Teens are guaranteed beach lounge chairs! Kids(4-11yrs) are not guaranteed chairs. For those arriving later in the day and wish to stay, you can make your way to the roof top lounge area. Based on the information they gave me above for the San Juan City Tour & Beach Escape tour description, we thought that we would be able to buy food and drinks a la carte at the beach club so did not add the package. Since 2 of our group don't drink alcohol and 2 were teens, based on a la carte prices we were originally quoted, we figured $18 for food and 1-2 sodas/water at $5 each would cost $23 to $28 per person. The other 4 in our group drink and figured $35 to $40 per person for the drinkers. If we planned to consume 4 drinks each in less than two hours, buying the package would have been cheaper, but we wanted the option to choose our food and beverages instead of using their preset menu. There is also nothing in the food/drink package information that says purchase of the package is required to access the beach club. The driver, however, told us that we could not go to the beach club unless we had bought the beach break package. We told him tour description did not state that and we had planned to buy food and drinks there, but he claims he spoke to the office and was told we could not go to the club without first paying for the food/drink package. I have been to resorts/clubs where we were told that a minimum food/beverage purchase was required, and if we did not make the minimum purchase, we would be will billed the difference. I cannot find anything stating that Island Marketing has a minimum food/beverage purchase required. We cannot use facilities anywhere on PR's Public beaches, there are no private beaches in the San Juan area. We have an exclusive deal for selling this package online and have had alot of success, mind you with some failures.Nothing is perfect nor are we. But we leave our customers wanting to come back for more.We were in communications, we email as often as possible sometimes only once a day but we never stopped. We also spoke with your guide who felt was spoken rudely/aggressively by a male adult in your group and felt it better not to have this incident go further than it did. At the end you chose not to spend any money at the beach club. I have no idea what they mean about emailing me as often as possible sometimes only once a day. The only emails I received were responses to questions that I sent to them. My husband did say "That's BS" when we were told to use Burger King if we wanted to change clothes. It was rude that he cussed in front of the driver, but in his defense, the driver seemed to be trying to provoke a response. He was laughing at us when he said that we were not misinformed about having access to changing facilities - we could walk to Burger King.The fact you did not want to pay for chairs or food and drinks did affect your time but nothing we can do about that.We always try to have a satisfactory outcome with all misunderstandings but in this case we could not and we do apologize but the establishment does not allow access if not consuming. It's not true that we did not want to pay for food and drinks. We explained to the driver multiple times that we wanted to buy food and drinks at the club but did not want to buy the package. The driver refused take us to the club until we paid for the package. Maybe we should have bought it, but it felt like extortion since we were not informed that we had to buy their package to use the club until we were actually on the tour. Everything prior to that implied that beach club access was included in the tour price. Despite my complaints, the San Juan City Drive and Beach Escape Tour description on their website still implies that access to the beach club is included in the tour price. There is nothing that states an additional package or that a minimum food/beverage purchase is required. It seems to me that they plan to continue misleading their customers. I would be very wary of using them for any tour.
  4. They claim we were provided everything that was promised and it's not their fault I misread the tour description and assumed beach club access was included. No refunds. The driver practically admitted that it was a scam. He was correct that nowhere does it say that beach club use is included, but it is implied. If I had added the beach break package when I booked, we would have been taken to their beach club. They don't tell you that beach club is not included without paying extra because they know some people (like me) would cancel. Instead they wait until the beach stop then give you the shakedown to pay $45 per person in cash (they won't let you pay with credit card because they know some people would dispute the charge) if you want to go to their club. This group are pros at deceit and misdirection. After being told to prove they told me beach club use was included in our tour price, I looked over all the emails and realized they are careful not to state that anything is "included." For example, I asked if there were showers that we could use. I did not receive a "yes" reply. I was told "those are available at the beach club," which I misinterpreted to mean yes. I feel really stupid now that I know what this group does. Hopefully exposing their tricks will prevent others from being ripped off like I was.
  5. I've seen several posts recommending Island Marketing, but I would be very hesitant to use them. In my opinion, they are deceitful. I booked their Old San Juan City Tour and Beach Escape excursion and was provided the information below before I booked: Tour Information Choice of beach Stop: · Beach club: With access to Roof Top Terrace, Pool and beach club. · Approx: 2 hours at the beach · Beach chairs and umbrellas: Can be rented for a price of $5.00 each. (if not consuming) · Food and drinks Extra charge: Cannot bring food or drinks to this beach club. · Food cost approx: $12-$18.00 for lunch per person. · Drinks cost approx: $5.00-$10.00 · Access to: bathroom and changing room. · Total Tour time: 3.5 hours includes City Drive and beach stop. add an extra: 1 hour for only $60.00. For our group of 8, the tour was $420. They pushed us to add the "beach break package" for an additional $45 per person that was lunch, 4 drinks, and a beach chair. We did not want to pay another $360 so declined. On the day of our tour, we were taken to a beach with no bathrooms or changing facilities. When we complained that the tour description said we were supposed to go to a beach club, the driver told us we should have read the description more carefully because it does not say the beach club is included, only that we have access. Access costs $45 per person, payable in cash. That is nowhere on their website or in the emails I have from them because I would have cancelled if I had known. I complained to the company and received the response below from Angelo, the manager: “But in no way at any time did we lie to you. Our tour information is very clear and states the different costs to stay at the beach club. (I disagree with this statement!) Your stay there is not free. Seeing the emails that were sent to you it was offered to you though, the beach break package Sorry this happened to you but we sold you exactly what you’re getting.” I asked him to point out exactly where on their website or in the tour information I was given that it states the beach club use costs extra for the Old San Juan City Tour and Beach Escape . I was told to prove they said it was included. They are correct that none of my emails or the website specifically state that it is "included," but in my opinion, listing it in the tour description implies that it is included in the tour cost. Make sure everything you expect is specifically listed as "included" in writing if using this agency.
  6. I would be very hesitant to use Island Marketing. In my opinion, they are deceitful. I booked their Old San Juan City Tour and Beach Escape excursion and was provided the information below before I booked: Tour Information Choice of beach Stop: · Beach club: With access to Roof Top Terrace, Pool and beach club. · Approx: 2 hours at the beach · Beach chairs and umbrellas: Can be rented for a price of $5.00 each. (if not consuming) · Food and drinks Extra charge: Cannot bring food or drinks to this beach club. · Food cost approx: $12-$18.00 for lunch per person. · Drinks cost approx: $5.00-$10.00 · Access to: bathroom and changing room. · Total Tour time: 3.5 hours includes City Drive and beach stop. add an extra: 1 hour for only $60.00. For our group of 8, the tour was $420. They pushed us to add the "beach break package" for an additional $45 per person that was lunch, 4 drinks, and a beach chair. We did not want to pay another $360 so declined. On the day of our tour, we were taken to a beach with no bathrooms or changing facilities. When we complained that the tour description said we were supposed to go to a beach club, the driver told us we should have read the description more carefully because it does not say the beach club is included, only that we have access. Access costs $45 per person, payable in cash. That is nowhere on their website or in the emails I have from them because I would have cancelled if I had known. I complained to the company and received the response below from Angelo, the manager: “But in no way at any time did we lie to you. Our tour information is very clear and states the different costs to stay at the beach club. (I disagree with this statement!) Your stay there is not free. Seeing the emails that were sent to you it was offered to you though, the beach break package Sorry this happened to you but we sold you exactly what you’re getting.” I asked him to point out exactly where on their website or in the tour information I was given that it states the beach club use cost is additional for the Old San Juan City Tour and Beach Escape tour. I was told to prove they said it was included. They are correct that none of my emails or the website specifically state that it is "included," but in my opinion, listing it in the tour description implies that it is included in the tour cost. If you chose to use these shysters, make sure everything you expect is specifically listed as "included" in writing.
  7. I booked the Old San Juan City Tour and Beach Escape excursion offered by Island Marketing in February for a June 30 tour. I booked this tour because my extended family was arriving in San Juan via cruise ship in the morning but did not have a flight home until early evening. My mum-in-law has difficulty walking and wanted to see some of the sights in Old San Juan and several others wanted to relax at the beach before we had to fly home. This tour seemed to be a perfect fit for my group of 8 since it included pick up at the port, a drive through OSJ, a stop at the beach, then drop-off at the airport with luggage storage during the tour. A Google search of "Island Marketing Puerto Rico" will list their website to confirm the tour details for the Old San Juan City Tour and Beach Escape excursion. I cut-and-pasted the information from the website below: The San Juan City Drive and Beach Escape Tour will transport you by air-conditioned van to New San Juan and through the beautiful colonial streets of Old San Juan while your expert guide narrates the history and folklore of these locations. Old San Juan City and Beach Escape Tour Details: - State Capital Building: With its amazing marble structure from 21 different locations. - Fort San Felipe Del Morro: The oldest Spanish Fort in the New World. Fort San Felipe Del Morro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. - The Santa Maria Magdalena De Pazzi: One of Puerto Rican famous landmarks, this historic cemetery overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. - Condado District: Scenic drive through modern New San Juan. - Beach Club: Relax at our exclusive beach club and be swept away by the soft rolling sounds of the ocean. On Feb.16 I emailed an inquiry whether they could accommodate a group of 8 for a June 30 tour. I received a reply on Feb. 17 that our date was available and included the details below: Tour pricing: $160.00usd 1-4 passengers $35.00usd Per extra passenger The balance is due at time of excursion in cash only. Tour specifics: Pick Up and Drop Off Information Transport: included by air-conditioned vehicle with pier pick up and airport drop off (no wheelchair access) • All meeting instructions: will be provided in your confirmation. • Meeting location: close to your ship. • Prepare yourselves: to disembark your ship on your own to be on time. • Please provide a cell number that you will be traveling with when reserving Tour Information Choice of beach Stop: · Beach club: With access to Roof Top Terrace, Pool and beach club. · Approx: 2 hours at the beach · Beach chairs and umbrellas: Can be rented for a price of $5.00 each. (if not consuming) · Food and drinks Extra charge: Cannot bring food or drinks to this beach club. · Food cost approx: $12-$18.00 for lunch per person. · Drinks cost approx: $5.00-$10.00 · Access to: bathroom and changing room. · Total Tour time: 3.5 hours includes City Drive and beach stop. add an extra: 1 hour for only $60.00. I noticed that they changed the price to $230 for 1-4 people and $45 for each additional person on their website today (July 2). The same prices that were provided to me above were on the website yesterday. I have screen shots of the tour web page that confirm the prices and tour description when I booked several months ago. They offered a package that included lunch, a few drinks, and a beach chair for an additional $45 per person, but since we were only going to be at the beach for a couple hours and over half our group is either underage or don’t drink alcohol, we thought buying food and drinks a la carte at the beach club would be less expensive and declined purchasing the additional package. On Feb. 17 I booked the tour, paid the deposit, and received a confirmation via email with the tour name, date, and meeting time at the pier (9 AM). The tour was $160 for the first 4 people and $140 for the other 4 people. We also paid an additional $60 for a private tour and $60 for an extra hour at the beach, bringing to tour cost to $420 for 8 people (6 adults, 2 teens). To ensure we were on time, we got the earliest disembarkation time and were off the ship and waiting with our luggage by 8:30. The driver/guide arrived a little after 9 and once our luggage was stowed, we began the OSJ portion of the tour. The driver seemed knowledgeable though not very personable, and my mum-in-law was able to view the forts, churches, and cemetery that she would not have seen without transportation. The bait & switch began when we arrived at the beach. Based on the tour information I was given, I thought we were going to an “exclusive beach club” that had bathrooms and a changing facility. However, the beach that we stopped at was a public beach with no facilities available. It was wide and sandy with beautiful blue water, but it was not what the tour had described. I asked the driver about the bathroom and changing room. None of us had worn our swimsuits because we thought there would be changing facilities available. He told us that our tour did not include access to any facilities. I tried to show him the email with the tour description stating access to bathroom and changing facilities. The driver told me that I should have read the confirmation email more closely instead of going by the tour description. He said that the confirmation does not specify anything about use of the beach club or facilities. Other than meeting time and place, no tour details were included so it did not occur to me to question why access to beach club facilities was not specified. Besides that, I did not receive the confirmation until after I had paid so I had no way of knowing the tour described in the email and online was not what they were providing The driver then told me that the people in the office will say anything to book a tour then leave it to him to enforce the actual policies. He said despite what the website and emailed tour description show, use of the beach club facilities is not included in this tour unless we add the beach break food and beverage package. That was never explained to me via email nor can I find it on the website. Several of us needed to use the bathroom so I asked the driver if there were any nearby. He said he would contact someone at the office to see if we could go to the beach club long enough to use the bathroom then told us they said no. We were not allowed at their club. Considering how much we had paid for the tour, it astounded me that they wouldn't even let us use the bathroom. We ended up walking to a restaurant down the beach and buying drinks so we could use their bathroom. I booked this tour was because I thought we would be able to relax on the beach, buy some lunch and drinks at the beach club, then have a place to change clothes and clean up before our flight. When we were not allowed access to the beach club facilities, it ruined our beach time. The beach and water were beautiful but none of us wanted to get in since we weren't wearing our swimsuits. The driver told us that we could walk to Burger King and change clothes there, but if we went swimming, we had nowhere to clean up. None of us wanted to be sticky with salt water for our flight. We rented beach chairs and sat on the beach for a couple hours but no one in my group really enjoyed the time since we felt we had been deceived and were angry. I complained to Island Marketing that I felt misled regarding what was included in the tour. They were supposedly looking into what I had been promised vs. what was provided. Below is the response I received from Angelo, the manager. “But in no way at any time did we lie to you. Our tour information is very clear and states the different costs to stay at the beach club. Your stay there is not free. Seeing the emails that were sent to you it was offered to you though, the beach break package Sorry this happened to you but we sold you exactly what you’re getting.” I replied asking that he specify where on either the website or in the tour description emailed to me that it states there is an additional cost to use the bathroom and changing room and where the costs are listed, but after two days, I have yet to receive a response. While I agree that the confirmation email I received did not specifically state that we could use the bathroom and changing room at the beach club, I disagree that it is very clear there is an additional cost to use the beach club facilities. Despite his claim, I have been unable to find anything in the tour description email or online specifying that there is an additional fee or that purchase of the beach break food and beverage package is required to use the beach club facilities. I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt that this was just a misunderstanding but based on the information I received and attitude of the staff, it seems like it was a deliberate bait and switch scam. Although they have a 4.5 star rating on TripAdvisor, I do not believe this is a reputable tour agency and will not do business with them again.
  8. I was on the Cosol tour June 27th and we had about 1 hr 10 min at the beach. Personally, I wouldn't call the snorkeling amazing. There were plenty of fish around the rocks, but there wasn't a wide variety of them. I only saw about 10 different types, but there were a couple of eels near the shore that were interesting to observe. I thought Barbados was better since we saw a wider variety of fish and there were turtles. I have taken the Cosol tour three times and always enjoy it. Anytime we visit St. Lucia with people who haven't been before, we take them on the Cosol tour to have a fantastic time and see the beauty and diversity of St. Lucia. However, if my primary goal was to go snorkeling, I would choose a different tour.
  9. I took Island Marketing's Old San Juan City Tour & Beach Escape tour today. In my opinion, the tour information is misleading. On the website under EXCURSION HIGHLIGHTS "Access to beach club and facilities" is listed. In the tour details section, it states "Beach Club: Relax at our exclusive beach club and be swept away by the soft, rolling sounds of the ocean." I have screen shots of the website tour information. Since we had an early evening flight and wanted showers after spending time at the beach, I inquired about the beach club facilities and was told that it had showers and bathrooms. At no point was I told that access to the beach club facilities was not included in the tour price. Because we wanted picked up at ship and dropped at airport, our price was $220 for four people, which included an hour tour around Old Town then a couple hours at the beach. It turns out that their "exclusive beach club" is just the public beach with NO facilities, not even a restroom. The beach was very nice, but not what we expected from the tour description. I explained to our driver that the tour was supposed to include access to a beach club and shower facilities. At that point I was told that beach club access was not included in the price and he could take us to the club, but we were expected to spend at least $40 per person in food and drinks to use their facilities. In my opinion, that is a lot to spend just to use the bathroom and take a shower. Many of the other beaches have bathrooms and showers either for free or included if you rent a chair for about $10. I feel like we were taken to this beach because it had no facilities so we would be stuck buying food and drinks from them. We ended up not using the beach so we wouldn't be hot and sticky for our flight home. I complained to Island Marketing and received a reply from Angelo (Port Manger) who claims that their website does not misrepresent what is included in the tour. He said that I should not have assumed beach club access was included because according to him, the website clearly states that they offer access to the beach club but nowhere does it say that the access is included in the tour price. Technically, he is correct, but I expect more transparency from a reputable tour operator. I would not use them for any tours again because of this experience.
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