Just back--A Review of the New Spencer's Snorkeling Tour

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#1
190 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
I just want to preface this by saying I did a lot of research in advance, and heard wonderful things about all of the Spencer Ambrose tours. I also want to say that this was our particular experience on this particular day.

We booked this tour 6 months ago. Contacting Spencer was very easy, and through paypal, we paid our deposit. About two weeks before our tour, I contacted Spencer to confirm our tour, and received an email back right away saying that everything was OK and they were looking forwards to seeing us. I did receive another email from them right before we left for our cruise confirming our tour.

On the day of our arrival, after disembarking our ship, we were greeted by a representative of Spencer with a sign, immediately after the port area. We were directed to another person to collect our payment. There were several different tours running, but we were all initially kept together. Most were doing the island tour or beach break, but some of us were doing the snorkeling tour. We were led to a dock, where we were divided into groups based on our tours, and placed on boats.

Up until this point, everything ran very smoothly. But then...

We were placed on a boat with about 20 people, who were either doing the snorkeling adventure or the beach break. Directly on Spencer's website is the following about the tour:
Spencer's Snorkelling Adventure
approx. trip duration: 3- 3 ½ hours
total snorkelling time: 2 hours
boat transportation: 30-40 min
Tour Cost: $65 USD/adult
Tour Highlights: * Round-Trip Speedboat Transportation * 1-hour snorkelling at Jalousie/Sugar Beach
* 1-hour snorkelling at Anse Chastanet * Beverages included


We like to go on early morning excursions that get us back to the ship to enjoy some time while the ship is somewhat empty. That's why we booked a tour that was around 3 - 3 1/2 hours. We were also looking forward to 2 different 1 hour long snorkeling locations.


So we boarded the boat, and were off to our first stop. Within a few minutes, thick, black smoke was coming off the back of the boat, and working it's way forward into the boat. We were on a Disney Cruise, so I'll just say that there were lots of children on our boat. The smoke was quite noxious, and some of the children were getting sleepy--concerns for carbon monoxide poisoning! We were supposed to be on a "speedboat", getting to our destination in 30 - 40 minutes, but there was definitely a problem with our boat, and it took us a very long 1 hour and 20 minutes to get to Jalousie Beach.


When we arrived, the beach was packed, and there were none of the promised "free beach chairs" there. Most of the people on our boat were on the beach excursion, so they went off in search of a place to put there things. It turned out there were only 4 of us on the snorkeling excursion. I asked one of Spencer's crew members what those of us on the snorkeling excursion should be doing, and he did not even know that there were people on the snorkeling excursion. Eventually he got Spencer on the phone to talk to me, and that's where things really went downhill.


Our second stop was supposed to be at Anse Chastanet, but when I spoke to Spencer on the phone, after we had arrived at the beach and had previously been introduced to Spencer on the dock, we were informed that we would not be going to Anse Chastanet that day because the sea was too rough. He said we could just stay at the beach that day. But the four snorkelers all wished to have a morning excursion and go back to the ship. They said we could just snorkel there and we could get on a boat back to the ship in two hours. OK, but there was still no place to put our stuff, and we were not offered any snorkeling equipment.


Three of the four of us went into the water (very rocky entrance), while I waited on the very crowded beach. During that time, Spencer took another boat to the beach and I spoke to him in person. We were most concerned about the terrible trip we had to the beach, with the noxious smoke, AND that we were not being given the tour we had signed up for. Supposedly Spencer knew this before we left, but this information was not conveyed to us or his staff. Customer service goes a long way, and we received none. If Spencer had just apologized in any way, for the boat problem, or not letting us know that our excursion was going to be altered, we all would have been OK with that. But Spencer firmly denied having any control over any of the situations, and said these things just happen. Um, it's your company, with your name on the boat, and you're telling us that you're not responsible for the working condition of the boat? And you knew that our tour was going to be altered, but did not bother telling us or your staff about it in advance?


The three other snorkelers spent some time in the water and then we waited for a boat to come take us back to our ship. On this boat were the four people on the snorkeling excursion, and a family with a small child who got sick from the smoke on the ride to the beach. Our trip back was much faster, but also very rough, and myself and the small boy would up getting very sick on the trip. But eventually we made it back to our ship, about 2 hours later than we originally expected to.


Also, the rest of the people on beach excursions through Spencer's came back a few hours later on several boats. We were not on those boats, but we heard later that one of them started sinking on the way back, and had to wait for another boat to rescue them. One of the mom's who was on our original boat was thrown around on that boat, and suffered a black eye. I did not speak to her about it, but I did see her and her black eye back in the port area.


I know that any time you take an excursion, things can go wrong. I also know that most of the time everything runs smoothly. Based on our experience, I cannot recommend this company. Sure, when everything goes well, everyone is happy. But when things go wrong, it's all how things are handled. Spencer could have just apologized and we would have gone on with our day. But multiple things went wrong, and Spencer was just denying everything. It is the bad customer service that is the main reason for me recommending against this company. I did tell Spencer that I would be writing a negative review when I got back, and his only concern is that it would ruin his reputation.


Thanks for reading through this long review, just a warning to others. Our other excursions were all wonderful, so it is not just me, but the service we received.
#2
219 Posts
Joined Apr 2016
Sorry this happened to you guys.
We had an exact opposite experience.
We did the same snorkel tour with Spencer in November. I also posted on our roll call and several other couples joined in as well. It was one of the best, most memorable days I've ever had and definitely the best day of our 20 day cruise. The ride to base chastanet took about half an hour or so. We then snorkeled for maybe an hour and experienced the best snorkeling I've ever had. Then a 15 min ride to a small village where lunch was picked up and then over to sugar beach between the pitons for lunch and more snorkeling. Then on the way back stopped at several spots of interest. The entire way back and part of the sugar beach was spent enjoying the scenery and drink piton beer and rum punch.

The only hiccup was that when we arrived at the beach for lunch a few of us who had signed up for the snorkel adventure didn't realize lunch was not included in the $65 cost of that tour. The crew made a special trip back to the village and picked up lunches for those that didn't get theirs (for the cost of $5 I believe) this was my fault because I didn't read the tour description closely. Thumbs up to Spencer's crew for making the extra effort. On top of all this, one of the ladies working the tour for Spencer, I believe her name was Ilsa took the time after her shift to take my wife and I to the local grocery in town.
I feel bad your tour had boat trouble, but if you look at Spencer's reviews you will see that it's far from the norm and they have never missed getting anyone back to their ship in time.
We are going back to st Lucia in march and just last night emailed Spencer to see what's available, because I'm itching to go back and spend another day with them... just can't decide on doing the same tour again as it was wonderful or one of their other tours.
Thanks again Spencer and Illsa.
Jack
Ps as for chairs available at sugar beach, they tell you they are not guaranteed, but I think there were enough on the day we visited.
#3
North Carolina
577 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
Sorry you had a bad time. Like Optotronics, we used Spencer's and had a great experience. Our tour was last week. We got dropped off at Anse Chastanet and had about 1-1/2 hours of snorkeling there before heading to the beach between the Pitons.
The snorkeling was great at both sites - the water was crystal clear and there were plenty of fish.
Yes, there were fewer loungers on the public side of sugar beach and the entrance to the snorkeling area was very rocky. We ended up sharing two loungers with another couple when we weren't in the water. When we go back to St. Lucia, we will use Spencer's again
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#4
10 Posts
Joined Dec 2017
Originally posted by jajsmom
I just want to preface this by saying I did a lot of research in advance, and heard wonderful things about all of the Spencer Ambrose tours. I also want to say that this was our particular experience on this particular day.

We booked this tour 6 months ago. Contacting Spencer was very easy, and through paypal, we paid our deposit. About two weeks before our tour, I contacted Spencer to confirm our tour, and received an email back right away saying that everything was OK and they were looking forwards to seeing us. I did receive another email from them right before we left for our cruise confirming our tour.

On the day of our arrival, after disembarking our ship, we were greeted by a representative of Spencer with a sign, immediately after the port area. We were directed to another person to collect our payment. There were several different tours running, but we were all initially kept together. Most were doing the island tour or beach break, but some of us were doing the snorkeling tour. We were led to a dock, where we were divided into groups based on our tours, and placed on boats.

Up until this point, everything ran very smoothly. But then...

We were placed on a boat with about 20 people, who were either doing the snorkeling adventure or the beach break. Directly on Spencer's website is the following about the tour:
Spencer's Snorkelling Adventure
approx. trip duration: 3- 3 ½ hours
total snorkelling time: 2 hours
boat transportation: 30-40 min
Tour Cost: $65 USD/adult
Tour Highlights: * Round-Trip Speedboat Transportation * 1-hour snorkelling at Jalousie/Sugar Beach
* 1-hour snorkelling at Anse Chastanet * Beverages included


We like to go on early morning excursions that get us back to the ship to enjoy some time while the ship is somewhat empty. That's why we booked a tour that was around 3 - 3 1/2 hours. We were also looking forward to 2 different 1 hour long snorkeling locations.


So we boarded the boat, and were off to our first stop. Within a few minutes, thick, black smoke was coming off the back of the boat, and working it's way forward into the boat. We were on a Disney Cruise, so I'll just say that there were lots of children on our boat. The smoke was quite noxious, and some of the children were getting sleepy--concerns for carbon monoxide poisoning! We were supposed to be on a "speedboat", getting to our destination in 30 - 40 minutes, but there was definitely a problem with our boat, and it took us a very long 1 hour and 20 minutes to get to Jalousie Beach.


When we arrived, the beach was packed, and there were none of the promised "free beach chairs" there. Most of the people on our boat were on the beach excursion, so they went off in search of a place to put there things. It turned out there were only 4 of us on the snorkeling excursion. I asked one of Spencer's crew members what those of us on the snorkeling excursion should be doing, and he did not even know that there were people on the snorkeling excursion. Eventually he got Spencer on the phone to talk to me, and that's where things really went downhill.


Our second stop was supposed to be at Anse Chastanet, but when I spoke to Spencer on the phone, after we had arrived at the beach and had previously been introduced to Spencer on the dock, we were informed that we would not be going to Anse Chastanet that day because the sea was too rough. He said we could just stay at the beach that day. But the four snorkelers all wished to have a morning excursion and go back to the ship. They said we could just snorkel there and we could get on a boat back to the ship in two hours. OK, but there was still no place to put our stuff, and we were not offered any snorkeling equipment.


Three of the four of us went into the water (very rocky entrance), while I waited on the very crowded beach. During that time, Spencer took another boat to the beach and I spoke to him in person. We were most concerned about the terrible trip we had to the beach, with the noxious smoke, AND that we were not being given the tour we had signed up for. Supposedly Spencer knew this before we left, but this information was not conveyed to us or his staff. Customer service goes a long way, and we received none. If Spencer had just apologized in any way, for the boat problem, or not letting us know that our excursion was going to be altered, we all would have been OK with that. But Spencer firmly denied having any control over any of the situations, and said these things just happen. Um, it's your company, with your name on the boat, and you're telling us that you're not responsible for the working condition of the boat? And you knew that our tour was going to be altered, but did not bother telling us or your staff about it in advance?


The three other snorkelers spent some time in the water and then we waited for a boat to come take us back to our ship. On this boat were the four people on the snorkeling excursion, and a family with a small child who got sick from the smoke on the ride to the beach. Our trip back was much faster, but also very rough, and myself and the small boy would up getting very sick on the trip. But eventually we made it back to our ship, about 2 hours later than we originally expected to.


Also, the rest of the people on beach excursions through Spencer's came back a few hours later on several boats. We were not on those boats, but we heard later that one of them started sinking on the way back, and had to wait for another boat to rescue them. One of the mom's who was on our original boat was thrown around on that boat, and suffered a black eye. I did not speak to her about it, but I did see her and her black eye back in the port area.


I know that any time you take an excursion, things can go wrong. I also know that most of the time everything runs smoothly. Based on our experience, I cannot recommend this company. Sure, when everything goes well, everyone is happy. But when things go wrong, it's all how things are handled. Spencer could have just apologized and we would have gone on with our day. But multiple things went wrong, and Spencer was just denying everything. It is the bad customer service that is the main reason for me recommending against this company. I did tell Spencer that I would be writing a negative review when I got back, and his only concern is that it would ruin his reputation.


Thanks for reading through this long review, just a warning to others. Our other excursions were all wonderful, so it is not just me, but the service we received.
Wow! I'm so sorry to hear that you had this experience! This was a company that we were strongly considering for our excursion, but over the last couple of weeks, I feel like the number of reviews I've read, a couple on here and a few on Trip Advisor, have had increasing mentions of issues with the boats, so we ultimately decided to book with Cosol instead. I completely agree with you that things can go wrong, and how things are handled in those moments can really define a company/person. Thank you very much for sharing your experience with us.
#5
190 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
Originally posted by kimesu
Wow! I'm so sorry to hear that you had this experience! This was a company that we were strongly considering for our excursion, but over the last couple of weeks, I feel like the number of reviews I've read, a couple on here and a few on Trip Advisor, have had increasing mentions of issues with the boats, so we ultimately decided to book with Cosol instead. I completely agree with you that things can go wrong, and how things are handled in those moments can really define a company/person. Thank you very much for sharing your experience with us.
Thanks for this. No one likes to see a negative review. In fact, our experience was great, until it wasn't. I do believe how a company handles adversity says a lot about them. Fortunately, most people only have a good experience. But we had too many negative experiences in one day, and they were not handled well.
#6
211 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Jalousie/Sugar Beach was a huge disappointment for us last week. We were on the full day tour with Cosol. The snorkelling area was small and crowded. There were a handful of beach chairs and a hundred people crowded in a small space. It was lovely to see the Pitons, but very, very crowded.
#7
nj
745 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
Ive been to that beach before with Herod and it can get very crowded if everyone there at once. We were there all day and noticed that at times it got quite busy. If you like snorkeling then honestly you just need to place stuff down (towel and bag) on beach where you can see it or ask Spencer or whomever your tour person is where to put the stuff if it's crowded. I understand if you are just there for the beach then you may be disappointed in the amount of chairs. When I wasn't snorkeling, I was walking around taking pictures and just enjoying that gorgeous view and beach. If speed boats and lack of chairs bother anyone, this may not be the excursion for you. If you want great snorkeling and great views then go. As for the food, when I'm snorkeling, I get very hungry so I love their selection. And it's food on a beach. It isn't Le Bec Fin or Chops Steakhouse. Spencer posts the menu on his website. If you don't like it, then eat a big breakfast and bring some protein bars. I believe everyone when they voice complaints or issues and I do appreciate the feedback. What I don't understand is the complaints about the chairs and food. This is all info listed on Spencer's website. If it doesn't sound appealing then don't book the excursion.
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#8
10 Posts
Joined Dec 2017
Originally posted by 2206
Jalousie/Sugar Beach was a huge disappointment for us last week. We were on the full day tour with Cosol. The snorkelling area was small and crowded. There were a handful of beach chairs and a hundred people crowded in a small space. It was lovely to see the Pitons, but very, very crowded.
Other than that, did you enjoy the Cosol tour? We are taking that in a couple of weeks, so I'm curious...
#9
east coast
943 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by jean87510
Ive been to that beach before with Herod and it can get very crowded if everyone there at once. We were there all day and noticed that at times it got quite busy. If you like snorkeling then honestly you just need to place stuff down (towel and bag) on beach where you can see it or ask Spencer or whomever your tour person is where to put the stuff if it's crowded. I understand if you are just there for the beach then you may be disappointed in the amount of chairs. When I wasn't snorkeling, I was walking around taking pictures and just enjoying that gorgeous view and beach. If speed boats and lack of chairs bother anyone, this may not be the excursion for you. If you want great snorkeling and great views then go. As for the food, when I'm snorkeling, I get very hungry so I love their selection. And it's food on a beach. It isn't Le Bec Fin or Chops Steakhouse. Spencer posts the menu on his website. If you don't like it, then eat a big breakfast and bring some protein bars. I believe everyone when they voice complaints or issues and I do appreciate the feedback. What I don't understand is the complaints about the chairs and food. This is all info listed on Spencer's website. If it doesn't sound appealing then don't book the excursion.
Have to agree with you on this, is every tour perfect, no. However you just have to decide what points of interest are important to you or your family. I chose Spencers tour based on getting to see all of the many things included in his land, sea, beach all day tour. Was a little concerned when I started reading these recent reviews or accounts, but it's not as if everyone has had the same experience. I'm going to keep my reservation with them and look forward to it and just make the best of it. It's nice to know what to anticipate and go with realistic expectations and have a great time, after all we will be in St. Lucia .
#10
211 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Originally posted by kimesu
Other than that, did you enjoy the Cosol tour? We are taking that in a couple of weeks, so I'm curious...
Yes, we had a great day. There were only 10 in our van and the tour itself was interesting. The guide was great. I really don’t understand why every tour goes to this particular beach, though.
#11
219 Posts
Joined Apr 2016
Originally posted by 2206
Yes, we had a great day. There were only 10 in our van and the tour itself was interesting. The guide was great. I really don’t understand why every tour goes to this particular beach, though.
Maybe because it's the only beach between the pitons? Not sure, I was not overly impressed with snorkeling at sugar beach, but the anse chastanet had the best snorkeling I've ever had! I'll have to ask Spencer if they can make a tour where they spend half a day at anse chastanet. I'm going back just for that
#12
West Hempstead, NY
5,517 Posts
Joined Jan 2003
I am very sorry to hear about your terrible experience. As has been said, things happen and things can go wrong. Others have used that tour company and have had good experiences. That said, if the operator can't admit that there were things wrong and he is responsible, then I really wouldn't want to do business with him, no matter how many others had good times. I'll be those people would be whistling a different tune had that happen on their excursion. The owner, Spenser has to take responsibility and own up to it.


Cheers
Len
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