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dani negreanu

Stressful end to a James Touring Service tour

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Since we were not interested in spending time on beaches, I booked only custom-made private tours or group tours, which had the option to skip the beach time and return to ship directly. Also, we didn't want to spend more than 4-5 on any tour.

I've thoroughly researched what we'd like to see on every island, beside beaches and contacted only tour operators who offered the custom-made private tours.

Custom-made private tours come at a cost, and we were willing to pay it.

For St.Lucia we decided we'd like also to skip the usual visit to the Vulcano and the Mud Baths, and to go back by boat instead of car.

James offered this custom-made + return by boat option. I've sent him the list of our wishes, he quoted a price of 115$ pp (which seemed quite steep,but, since it involved a return by private?? boat, we agreed), and, at my request, he confirmed the itinerary. (Just as a reference point, for Antigua, only the 2 of us with the driver, 5 hours tour – 100$ pp).

We arrived at the meeting point 15 min before his "sharp" departure time of 9AM. He didn't even ask our names, just led us to wait nearby, for the other(?) guests to arrive. So much for a private tour.

After a few minutes, another couple showed up and introduced themselves, asking if they were on the "right" tour, since James didn't ask for their names either. We told them we're on the "short" tour, returning by boat, at 2PM at the latest. They were relieved, said "OK, so we're on the same tour like you, we absolutely have to be back on the boat by 2PM, we're part of a competition group, which starts at 2.30PM"). We waited some more.

Then James came to fetch us, very upset. Seems another "private" couple was a "no-show". He asked up front for the payment and both couples paid.

We started the tour, the car was clean and air conditioned, but the other couple and us were under the clear impression that James hasn't the"foggiest" idea who are we and what tour we agreed upon…. He asked us what we'd like to see…

We looked astonished at each other, and I replied – "no banana plantation, no vulcano, no mud baths and return to ship by boat at 2PM the latest".

We "finished" the itinerary both couples were interested in quite quickly, and, since it was too early for lunch, James suggested to "send" us to the Botanic garden. He said he will pay the fee entrance, but we'll have to pay for the guide. Since the other couple seemed interested, we decided to be "game" and not spoil the day.

I repeated both couples' request – to be back by 2PM, and he said "not to worry".

We toured the Botanic garden, and James took us for lunch at a restaurant he has a contract with. OK lunch.

By then it was past noon, we've seen everything we wanted to see, and James took us to the catamaran we were supposed to get back with. It was 12.45PM. He said "that's the boat", bye….

We took place on the upper deck, and chatted a bit with the other couple. After about 20 min, the other couple got edgy (it is supposed to be a 40 min ride back to ship) and I accompanied the other lady to ask the captain when r we sailing. He was surprised at our question, and said it will take some time, but we'll be back to ship by 4PM!!!

4PM??? – NO WAY!!! That's not what we agreed upon. What r we supposed to sit there in the heat and sun and wait for almost 2 hours for the boat to move?

The captain was also surprised at our astonishment, and said "too late to contact James, he's already on his way back to Castries". We said "we paid for a private tour and boat to take us early to ship" and he said "that's the only boat you'll get".

To make an already long story short – we waited almost 2 hours on the boat for it to be so full, that it was standing room only and people around us were voicing concern about the safety of such an overcrowded boat.

By then, we were resigned to our "fate" and our only wish was to make it to the cruise ship on time.

To make matters worse – the boat sailed about 5 min, and then stopped for more than half an hour for people to swim and snorkel. Then it stopped for people who rented houses at different stops -- the "local bus".

Those were more than 3 futile hours spent on the boat, and we made it to the "all aboard" with only minutes to spare !!!!:(

Edited by dani negreanu

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that is awful. I do have some questions though. When you arranged for a private tour, and another couple joined you, why didn't you ask him then and get your money back? You could have had a cab driver at the port probably take the two of you to various places nearer to Castries. You went all the way to Souferie but you didn't want to do the volcano or the baths. Other than the Pitons, I don't believe there are many other attractions. There are a number of tour boat operators that have a marvelous tour by boat up and back or land/sea tours. These really are not what I would call crowded. Maybe 10-12 tops? I have been on at least 3 different ones and will be doing Spencer next year climbing the Piton. I do appreciate you sharing what happened with James though. Have you contacted him to be reimbursed for any of your day or simply to share your concerns? I understand the advantage of it just being the 2 of you which is why we rent cars occasionally at islands and do our own thing. Are you able to do this comfortably? Hopefully the rest of your trip was successful

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Thanks, Jean.

No offense - but I live in Israel, went several times to the Dead Sea, so the vulcano and the mud baths were not our priority.

Reading other posters opinion, my understanding was that doing the whole tour by car, when you're prone to motion sickness, it's not recommended. So I went looking for a "land+sea" tour, so that at least one half of the tour would not be by car.

Cosol and Spencer Ambrose were high on my list, but they replied that "they will not be doing a 'land+sea' tour" the day our ship was docked.

My "wish-list" itinerary included: Castries market, Morne Fortune, Anse la Raye fishing village, the Canaries and the Pitons.

In hindsight, I'm glad James didn't stop at Castries market. Lots of the stops, like the "fishing village" turned out to be a 5 min stop.

Our ship stop was quite short, and we didn't want to spend time renting a car. We wanted a relaxing vacation, with no driving on the "wrong" side of the road involved.

Yes, we were very happy with Elmo in Antigua, and with Thenford Grey in St. Kitts. In St. Thomas we took a tour to St. John with the ship, and it was a bust, but it involved (again) a trip by boat and we didn't want to risk not being back on time. In Barbados I've negotiated a flat rate with a cab, who took the 2 of us to Bathsheba and then to Harbor Lights for 70$.

Re: asking for my money back...You should see James.... beside, he was already very angry about the 3rd couple who stood him up...:o

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That is such a shame. Please post your review to Trip Advisor. I understand you may be hesitant as you would be affecting someone's livelihood but imagine if someone else unbeknownst took his tour and actually missed the ship!! I had to post a 1 star review on TripAdv for a company who would not reimburse my deposit for an excursion when we had to cancel because our cruise was canceled. 5 months out and this operator would not reimburse me nor would PayPal. I explained the whole scenario in detail and 4 months later, am STILL getting thumbs up, emails...etc... from others thanking me and people stating "yes the same thing happened to us and we lost our deposit also". Of course the proprietor wasn't happy and posted his response but the word was out. I don't like being treated poorly by businesses that I am paying for and I am sure you feel the same way.

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When I see a review and responses like this, I just want to :loudcry:. Unlike, the people who have submitted replies, I can actually say that I have gone on a tour with James and we had a hell of a great time. Although we had one of Jame's other tour guides on our tour, we saw James throughout the day and he was always asking if we were having a good time. I would gladly recommend James to anyone who would ask.

 

So maybe James was having a bad morning, what kind of mood where you in. Remember it takes two to tango. And I also know that you make the best of the situation no matter what hand you are dealt.

 

And I think you were expecting caviar dreams from the cost of a can of tuna. It is obvious that you did not do a sufficient job researching.

 

If you had, you would of seen that the average tour cost by land only is approximately $75 per person and the cost of a land/sea tour starts around $100. For land tours, most small tour operators have a van that can fit 6-8 passengers and these operators will not do a tour unless a minimum number of people reserve. So if you are looking for a private land tour, you are looking of at a cost of at least $300 in total. And if you are looking for a private land and sea tour, expect to pay at least $500 plus in total. Note: In 2013, I paid four hundred dollars for a four hour private snorkeling tour in St Croix and $1200 for a four hour private whale and dolphin watch in Hawaii last year.

 

You also mentioned you had excellent tours on other islands but you did not mention the price, type of vehicle (cars are cheaper than vans) or how many ships are in port (the more ships, the higher the price).

 

I am truly sorry that you did not enjoy your tour with James, but in all reality I do not think you asked the right question of James. If you had done your research, you would have known more about the pricing and the questions to ask.

 

As for the boat portion, did you ask James who you would be sailing with? With Catamarans, there are few places for shade. And for smaller ships, like sloops, the only place is below deck.

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So maybe James was having a bad morning, what kind of mood where you in.

 

Remember it takes two to tango.

 

And I also know that you make the best of the situation no matter what hand you are dealt.

 

And I think you were expecting caviar dreams from the cost of a can of tuna. It is obvious that you did not do a sufficient job researching.

 

I am truly sorry that you did not enjoy your tour with James, but in all reality I do not think you asked the right question of James. If you had done your research, you would have known more about the pricing and the questions to ask.

 

As for the boat portion, did you ask James who you would be sailing with? With Catamarans, there are few places for shade. And for smaller ships, like sloops, the only place is below deck.

 

I don't particularly care about the patronizing tone of your post, so let's call your bluff: it has "James asked me to do this" written all over it.... Your first 6 posts, made 5 years ago (!!!) were "guest appearance" in a Celebrity roll call...

And, suddenly, after 5 years, you just happen to stumble upon a post in a very specific Caribbean board, with very little traffic, made only by a few posters looking for info on those ports and the helpful people who have been there many times over.

From all the islands in this sub-thread, you go to the St. Lucia's posts.... and blame me for telling the truth about the worst scenario for a cruiser -- missing the ship while on a non-sponsored cruise line trip.

You conveniently forgot that we were not just "2 to tango" - there were 4 of us. We didn't know the other couple, and, since they are still cruising, they didn't yet post their experience. Misteriously, they had exactly the same info like us, and they were promised, by sheer coincidence, the same things - a short tour, no more than 4-5 hours, with return by boat, no matter which boat, and be back NO LATER THAN 2PM.

You do the math.

James booked 3 couples for this short trip. 230$ X 3 = 690$, not exactly a can of tuna. No our fault the 3rd couple was "no show".

James's prices quoted 2 years ago were 70$ + 20$ for the return by boat. So he uses this boat every day, couldn't have said: "I can't deliver 2PM". There is only one boat per day, and it doesn't leave Soufriere before 3PM. No way you'll be back by 2PM. You'll have to take the car round trip, or find another tour".

All he kept saying was "do not worry"....

BTW - James offered me a full refund IF I remove the post. I see it as my moral duty to my fellow cruisers to give them the info and let them judge for themselves.

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Yes James asked me to look at your post. I would do that for anyone I have done business with and has provided excellent service. I have read Jame's side of the story and your side; and I don't believe either version. The story lies somewhere between the two.

 

My point was that you were expecting a private tour for the price of a regular tour. In your statement:

"which seemed quite steep,but, since it involved a return by private?? boat"

  • You thought the price was steep and
  • you question the validity of the return by private boat

It is obvious, you had no idea of the going rate for tours in St Lucia and that you had some doubts about the private part of the tour. As a result you had higher expectations for this tour and it is wasn't what you expected.

 

When I am booking tours for myself and friends, I research the average rates for tours (including private tours), so I can make an informed decision. And when I am going on a cruise, I use the ship's excursions pricing in determining if the pricing is reasonable. If I was in your shoes and did my research, I would question if this was actually a private tour.

 

And like you, I believe it is my moral duty to inform readers of what prices to expect and to let the reader decide. BTW, in your original post, you never said you missed the ship only that you were the last one on.

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i have been following this thread - not because I am going to book with this company (I am ready booked with another non cruiseline tour), but because I always book with independent tour operators when we travel and I like to compare what is available. The reason I book independent is two fold:

1) I don't travel well in busses

2) I don't care to travel with a bus full of people when I have the option not to

3) it is ALWAYS priced the same or less than traveling with a cruise line tour to go private or small group

 

 

So DonMills when you compare the research that someone has done with private tour options, and suggest that anyone paying less for a private tour vs the cruise line tour has not done their homework and expecting less as a result.....well, I have to disagree with you. There you miss the mark completely.

That said, when you suggested that at the initial point of contact with this tour operator that dani did not speak voice on not being private....well.....I do have to agree with you on that.......and yet in the same situation what would you have done? You are in the moment, you have arranged what you thought was private, and another couple tunes up.....do you walk away with no plans? I don't know......but for me there sure would have been some dialogue and clarification around it.

 

 

In all our private tour encounters, I will say that once, in Cairo, it went sideways. Well researched company with excellent reviews. THEY screwed up and didn't want to own it..... Not a good port for that to happen....but my point is, that it does happen even with the best....

So the high road would be for this tour operator to admit they let this customer down rather than try to bribe their way out of it by offering a refund if OP takes the post down.

That in itself blows their credibility and quite honestly right of respect. JMHO

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Hi Vineyard

 

You make a couple of good points. I use private tour or small size tours for the same reasons you do plus the fact it is more intimate and personal. And the cruise line prices are highly inflated.

 

The point I was trying to make was with a private tour, you will be charged the same amount, no matter the number of people travelling. That price would be what the operator would get if he sold out the tour that day (possibly discounted). Common sense say you can't get a private tour for the same price as the regular tour if there are only two of you. That would automatically raise a red flag with me. So when I go on a trip with friends (minimum four people), we tend to go private because the cost is spread out over the four people. When it's my wife and I, I tend to look for tours that guarantee a small number of people. For road tours that would be no bigger then a van.

 

In any booking I make, I would ensure that any correspondence includes the wording "private tour" or "no other quests". I would also call the tour operator and reconfirm that it is a private tour. This is a great as it allows you to build a comfort level with the operator (or a gut feeling). As the tour gets closer (4-6 weeks prior), I would confirm the details of the the tour with the operator as well as advise him of arrival and departure times.

 

If when I arrived and I found that this was not a private tour, I would definitely try to renegotiate the price. If he refuses to renegotiate or for some reason you are not comfortable with sharing the vehicle with others, I would walk away. With local tour operators, it's a cash business and they rarely take a deposit. I'm not out any money and I wont be spending the day complaining about the tour. I would be disappointed, but I would try to get on another tour or take a taxi to a beach. I wouldn't let it ruin my day or my trip.

 

I have advise James on what I think he should do; it is now up to him to take the advise or not.

 

P.S. I know James is a big guy, but he picks you up at the cruise terminal where there is lot of security and a short walk to your ship.

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If the OP booked a private tour with James and with the understanding they needed to be back by 2PM then it doesn't matter what any other tour charges or does. It does not matter what James regular tours do. What it comes down to is that James made a deal that he had no intention of honoring. He apparently knew that he would drop them off and have nothing left to worry about even though they would not be back in time. AnythingDonMillsCruiser posts can be disregarded since he/she has admitted to being associated with James.

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First, my opinion does matter. I said that we went on a tour by James Tour and had a great time. He asked me to look at the review providing me with his side of the issue. I stated I do not believe either story and the real truth is somewhere between the two stories.

 

My point is that if you did your research, you would of known that the price quoted was more in line with regular tour prices and not private tours. That would make me question what I was getting.

 

 

Your suggestion that James is a dishonest Tour operator has no merit. I don't think you know the damage you could do to James income in a country where making a living is tough. You might want to keep your personal assumptions to yourself.

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James sounds unscrupulous. He ought to unconditionally fully refund your money. If he assured you that he would return you by boat to get to the ship by 2p, and he failed to produce, then he's in breach of contract. There are plenty of private touring options on St. Lucia, and it only takes a few (warranted) negative experiences for a guide(company) to get a bad name. I think these guys(that do pretty good for themselves) catering to cruise ship tourists may at times forget how much their livelihoods depend on providing exemplary service, as well as going the extra mile to make sure that they come through with what they've agreed to do.

 

Regardless of the cost, it sounds like a bait and switch to accept the inquiry of a private tour w/out informing that the private tour would actually be shared by other couples. It's called proper communication. To not even know the couple's names is insulting. Yes, I get that these tour guides do this day in and day out, and I'm sure it gets old running the same tours, every day, every season, only different faces. However, that's what they choose to do.

 

Start treating one's clients/guests like they're simply #s and word will get around. Sounds like James was pissed that he missed out on a fare, and he decided to put his frustration of losing $ over the enjoyment of his guests. He ought to realize that he'll likely miss out on even more money due to less than favorable reviews, either here on CC, or on TripAdvisor.

 

SEE: There's plenty of other tour guides willing to go the extra mile on St. Lucia. We've toured with both Herod and Spencer, and they both provided for great days while in port @St. Lucia. I would have no qualms with recommending either of them.

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I wonder how much "embellishment" there is in this story. In the first post the OP says they got back to the ship with minutes to spare but later imply they missed the ship. The OP also implied that they were too intimidated to ask for their money back when they found out the tour was not private. However in the first post they stated that they paid after James returned without the third couple. Why didn't they just leave when James left to get the third couple? At that point the OP was clearly not getting the "private tour" that he thought he was paying for. In my evaluation the OP is not telling the whole story or is exaggerating parts. It doesn't make sense that you would go to a foreign country and get into a stranger's vehicle when they are changing the terms that you feel you established when you communicated with them previously. If this scenario happened as the OP states, why would you let someone who has clearly deceived you drive you to the other side of the island? Clearly the OP was not satisfied with the tour but we are only allowed to judge the quality of the tour operator based on what the OP says. James is not permitted to come on and present his side of the story and the OP doesn't seem to be telling the whole story.

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I'll repeat the facts --

 

James confirmed a short itinerary and a short time frame (4-5 hours tops, starting at 9AM “sharp”). One way by car, return by boat.

James uses this boat daily, so he knew that it doesn’t leave Soufriere before 2.30-2.45PM, and then it has a scheduled stop of 30 min for swimming and snorkeling. After that stop, it stops for others (non cruise passengers) along the way, before returning to port. When we (both couples) understood that not only we’ll not be back by 2PM, but we might even miss the ship altogether, we started asking around if there are other people from cruise ships, in order to put some pressure on the captain to step on the “gas”. The vast majority were not cruise ship passengers, therefore they didn’t had “all aboard”. Some pax were from Carnival, but their “all aboard” was 5PM, whereas for us (Jewel) and for the other couple (Seabourn) was 4.30PM.

James asked for and received his asking price in cash even before we entered his car (9.20AM).

The short itinerary was delivered and finished by 11.30AM.

Since it was early even for lunch,James offered us a Botanical Garden tour “on the house”. We weren’t interested, but didn’t want to spoil it for the other couple.

By noon we had lunch, and then it was time to return to the cruise ship by boat.

The deadline (2PM) was repeatedly reminded to James, who confirmed with “don’t worry”.

He left us by the boat at 12.45PM, KNOWING that it will not move for another 2 hours….

 

Therefore, James KNOWINGLY confirmed a booking and accepted full cash payment, even though he was aware BEFOREHAND that he will not honor it within the time frame agreed with 2 couples.

 

 

P.S. "...the worst scenario for a cruiser -- missing the ship while on a non-sponsored cruise line trip".

We almost missed the ship... the key word is "scenario".

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Dani - thanks for your report. I believe your story and do not think that your story changed as someone suggested. The idea that we cruisers have a duty to do all this research to make sure that the price charged is a going market rate seems kind of silly. Yes, you could have handled things differently when you first learned of issues - but I can imagine that the wife and I probably would have just put up with it, as you did. As someone has said, the really basic unacceptable service here is the issue with the promise of 2 pm return and then what happened. The rest is interesting but ultimately not that big a deal. The failure on the early return is a big deal. If this had happened to us, my wife would have gone nuts and, believe me, I would have heard plenty about my failure to do proper research on the tour operator. What I would do now on a St Lucia port of call if one of the well known top guys is not available is to ask Spencer to tell me who else he will assure me that I can rely on - could never pass on what he may or may not say to such a question of course. Spencer, his daughter and Terry have given us great days many times. DonMills - your last couple posts were a lot better than your first - your first post did not help James at all.

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FROM TITOS JAZZ:

 

Hey fellow cruisers, James is a good friend of mine and I was asked to respond to some of these lies that are being written on cruisecritic about an honest businessman. This "Dani Negreneau" asked James for a private tour including a tour back to the ship by boat by 2PM sharp. A price of $399 US was quoted for herself and her partner. When James met her that morning and asked for payments, she took out $230 US total which is a normal land and sea tour, knowing full well the price already stated for the private tour was $399 US, which she originally agreed to. With the $230 US she paid, she had a buffet lunch, entrance fees, drinks on the bus, in addition to the return by boat. Its CRYSTAL CLEAR that this woman is upset that she either misunderstood the original agreement or that she was unable to outsmart the gentleman. After James saw the review on tripadvisor, he emailed her about her behavior that she didn't pay for a private tour. When James confront her that she didn't pay for a private tour and he has the emails to prove it, her answer was:

 

It's the "sea" part of the tour that I'm complaining about – you should not sell a tour, which is operated by a third party, who doesn't care about your clients. All the "captain" cared about is to fill his boat to over capacity, and wait for every one and his sister who forgot themselves somewhere at the beaches. And I didn't mind paying the guide, I even suggested to pay her more, but Michelle said "10$ per couple is too much".

Instead of leaving the 4 of us at the pier, saying "not to worry", you could have said:

"I know that you paid for a return by boat, but this boat will not move in the next 2 hours at least, and you'll be sitting in the heat. And, when the boat will finally move, he will travel 5 min, and stop for people to go swimming and snorkeling for at least 30 min. You'll sit boiling in the sun, because the boat moved sides, and it is so full of people, that you have to stand if you want to avoid the sun. And, then the boat will stop for people who rented houses/are staying at resorts. Finally, when we you'll see your ship, Jewel, waiting in the port, the boat will stop first for people on the Carnival boat… In the end, you'll run like crazy to Jewel, and be the last 2 persons boarding".

OR –

"You can travel by car with me and a/c, back to Castries, and be safely, on ship, by 2.30PM."

James has been dealing with this boat for more than 8 years. Ive had hundreds of people, including families, groups booking tours with me with this boat, with no problems. If Daniela had paid the $399 as promised in the agreement, she would have gotten the personalized treatment that she was looking for.

The captain of the catamaran said that this one Daniela was very rude and that she was dictating to the captain that the boat should leave with her now, because she "paid" for a private tour.

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TitoJazz - As I said in my prior post, I have no opinion of any kind about the private tour thing - that could well have been simply a mutual misunderstanding, with no one specific to blame.

 

My interest (to the extent I have any interest) is in the question of what was said when they got to the boat to take the cruisers back to Castries.

 

I am not sure I understand your post. Are you saying that James said all of this to the four people:

 

"I know that you paid for a return by boat, but this boat will not move in the next 2 hours at least, and you'll be sitting in the heat. And, when the boat will finally move, he will travel 5 min, and stop for people to go swimming and snorkeling for at least 30 min. You'll sit boiling in the sun, because the boat moved sides, and it is so full of people, that you have to stand if you want to avoid the sun. And, then the boat will stop for people who rented houses/are staying at resorts. Finally, when we you'll see your ship, Jewel, waiting in the port, the boat will stop first for people on the Carnival boat… In the end, you'll run like crazy to Jewel, and be the last 2 persons boarding".

 

OR –

"You can travel by car with me and a/c, back to Castries, and be safely, on ship, by 2.30PM."

 

Whether or not James said all of that, it is kind of hard to believe that they heard it and got on the boat. I am not saying James did not say it - just that it probably was not heard.

 

 

I have reason to believe that James is a decent guy with a good reputation generally who had a bad day for a variety of reasons, and happened to cause serious dissatisfaction for some customers. His response on the other site probably was all he needed to say.

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TitoJazz -

My interest (to the extent I have any interest) is in the question of what was said when they got to the boat to take the cruisers back to Castries.

 

I am not sure I understand your post. Are you saying that James said all of this to the four people:

 

"I know that you paid for a return by boat, .....".

 

OR –

"You can travel by car with me and a/c, back to Castries, and be safely, on ship, by 2.30PM."

 

Whether or not James said all of that, it is kind of hard to believe that they heard it and got on the boat. I am not saying James did not say it - just that it probably was not heard.

 

Thank you, SnorkelAway.

TitoJazz/James selectively "cut and pasted" my email to him, in reply to his offer to receive a full refund IF "This Daniela" would agree to remove her post.

My reply was along this lines ... : "The decent and fair thing you James COULD have done, when you KNEW the boat schedule, was to let us decide whether to return by boat, or take the long but sure way, and return by car:

He James could have said --

"I know that you paid for a return by boat, ....."

or ---

"You can travel by car with me and a/c, back to Castries, and be safely, on ship, by 2.30PM."

 

It could have saved us and him all this saga.....

 

"Private" - as long as I got the itinerary and the time frame I wanted (when the other couple showed up and turned out that they have the same tour), I didn't care whether we'll be 2 couples or 10 couples, the more the merrier. I actually find it awkward to be alone with the tour operator and having to make "small talk".

Same with the boat - I didn't care whether it was a dingy, a speed boat, a catamaran with 200 people partying on it, an aircraft carrier or an exclusive yacht - as long as it "delivered" the time frame which was agreed upon.

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If the OP booked a private tour with James and with the understanding they needed to be back by 2PM then it doesn't matter what any other tour charges or does. It does not matter what James regular tours do. What it comes down to is that James made a deal that he had no intention of honoring. .

 

 

 

Exactly!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Thank you, SnorkelAway.

TitoJazz/James selectively "cut and pasted" my email to him, in reply to his offer to receive a full refund IF "This Daniela" would agree to remove her post.

My reply was along this lines ... : "The decent and fair thing you James COULD have done, when you KNEW the boat schedule, was to let us decide whether to return by boat, or take the long but sure way, and return by car:

He James could have said --

"I know that you paid for a return by boat, ....."

or ---

"You can travel by car with me and a/c, back to Castries, and be safely, on ship, by 2.30PM."

 

It could have saved us and him all this saga.....

 

"Private" - as long as I got the itinerary and the time frame I wanted (when the other couple showed up and turned out that they have the same tour), I didn't care whether we'll be 2 couples or 10 couples, the more the merrier. I actually find it awkward to be alone with the tour operator and having to make "small talk".

Same with the boat - I didn't care whether it was a dingy, a speed boat, a catamaran with 200 people partying on it, an aircraft carrier or an exclusive yacht - as long as it "delivered" the time frame which was agreed upon.

 

 

 

I still don't understand his explanation to you on when you booked a private tour why he added other people.

 

Even if others say there was a misunderstanding and by private he meant non ship tour it doesn't explain why he left you off on a boat that wasn't departing for 2 hours! Terrible service.

 

He should be refunding money and not make it conditional on removing a post.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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If there is a tourism group for this port..suggest you report this operator. They might be able to intervene and get some money back...but at least local people would be on Notice,

 

If you post Neg rev on Trip Adv..I believe he can have his shill respond, but still would warn others,

 

We take ships tours so we have recourse if things go bad...but have had mostly very good to excellent tours.

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As someone who's looking for something to do in St. Lucia later this year, I can guarantee that the addition of James' "friends" to this post mean we would NEVER consider booking with him.

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If you post Neg rev on Trip Adv..I believe he can have his shill respond, but still would warn others, ....

 

Indeed, I've posted a neg rev also on TripAdvisor.

James' reply/comment on TripAdvisor was much more "subdued" --- he apologized that we didn't get the tour we agreed upon .....

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As someone who's looking for something to do in St. Lucia later this year, I can guarantee that the addition of James' "friends" to this post mean we would NEVER consider booking with him.

 

 

100% agree. After the initial description in the OP's first post, I was willing to take all information with a grain of salt. I believe everyone's experience is colored by their own perspective and even the best tour guide/company can have an off day. However, that being said, after reading all the responding posts, this tour operator is no longer on our list of possibilities in St. Lucia.

 

It's not just about how you treat happy customers.

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I read threads like this and just shake my head. My idea of a nightmare excursion.

 

OP, you sounds like a reasonable person. Thank you for the heads up.

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Hmmm...was researching this tour company and leaning towards using them but not so sure now.

It's one thing to have bad experiences, that must happen with every company at one time or another. Bad reviews I get and understand and can take with a grain of salt.

 

To see multiple obviously fake CC accounts start posting and arguing with someone who has posted about their bad experience???? That is downright underhanded. Speaks the the character of the man running the company if he was behind the posts.

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To the TWO friends of James that keeps posting:

 

So what is James' excuse for not keeping his promised time of 2PM return time ? Is he saying he never promised it? Is he also saying that he never said "don't worry" when OP and the other couple asked for reassurance of 2PM return time on the day of the tour?

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Thank you for the warning against this company. I believe your post and what happened- I also believe you were probably very irate on the boat and that the captain's claim of you being 'rude' is probably correct. I would also be unconcerned with manners if I had been treated in this way and was worried about missing the ship. It sounds very much like he deceived you when making the booking, just thinking you wouldn't notice or wouldn't care that it was not private and would not get you back at the time you requested.

 

What really gets my goat though, is James asking his 'friends' to post on here and call you a liar. This man clearly does not understand business, because doing that is a huge huge turn off to any prospective bookings. To know that not only we may have a bad experience on the tour, but also to be intimidated and accused when we post a review of what happened- yes, that really makes me want to book with you (um, no).

 

I think its utterly absurd for DonMillsCruiser to imply this is all your fault for not researching as you should have. This is why you book a guided tour, because you don't know the island! But according to them, the fact you didn't understand the exact pricing structure on St Lucia for all tours and the local boat schedule means it is totally your fault that he promised you something he didn't deliver. Totally ridiculous and you are convincing nobody.

 

If James had come on here himself and acknowledged that things went wrong that day, whether it was communication or mistakes on his part- he can tell his side of the story- confirm he has refunded the OP, and will be ensuring this does not happen again, then that would have done a huge amount in repairing his reputation. Everyone has bad days in business, it's about how you deal with it. But clearly it's too late for that now.

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Just a FYI for this tour operator, you have done nothing but hurt your reputation by engaging in this argument in this unprofessional manner. We also will be visiting this port this fall and I can guarantee I would never consider any tour operator with all this controversy. :o

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Wow!! I can not believe this post!! I would never book with James based on this post alone!! His friends are chiming in??? That wrecks your reputation more than the poor service that day!!

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I believe that there is always 3 sides to every story but in this case, I still wouldn't book a tour with James. James should concentrate on his tours and customer service instead of having "watchdogs" on these threads.

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I don't particularly care about the patronizing tone of your post, so let's call your bluff: it has "James asked me to do this" written all over it.... Your first 6 posts, made 5 years ago (!!!) were "guest appearance" in a Celebrity roll call...

And, suddenly, after 5 years, you just happen to stumble upon a post in a very specific Caribbean board, with very little traffic, made only by a few posters looking for info on those ports and the helpful people who have been there many times over.

From all the islands in this sub-thread, you go to the St. Lucia's posts.... and blame me for telling the truth about the worst scenario for a cruiser -- missing the ship while on a non-sponsored cruise line trip.

You conveniently forgot that we were not just "2 to tango" - there were 4 of us. We didn't know the other couple, and, since they are still cruising, they didn't yet post their experience. Misteriously, they had exactly the same info like us, and they were promised, by sheer coincidence, the same things - a short tour, no more than 4-5 hours, with return by boat, no matter which boat, and be back NO LATER THAN 2PM.

You do the math.

James booked 3 couples for this short trip. 230$ X 3 = 690$, not exactly a can of tuna. No our fault the 3rd couple was "no show".

James's prices quoted 2 years ago were 70$ + 20$ for the return by boat. So he uses this boat every day, couldn't have said: "I can't deliver 2PM". There is only one boat per day, and it doesn't leave Soufriere before 3PM. No way you'll be back by 2PM. You'll have to take the car round trip, or find another tour".

All he kept saying was "do not worry"....

BTW - James offered me a full refund IF I remove the post. I see it as my moral duty to my fellow cruisers to give them the info and let them judge for themselves.

 

Sorry I must agree, do the proper homework in the future!

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Everyone seems to be focusing on the OP's statement of a "private" tour. But after reading, it seems as though she was not expecting a PRIVATE tour with just to the two of them, but more of a CUSTOM tour. I say this b/c she appears to be most upset about the return time. She didn't want one of the normal tours, she wanted specific places to go. The price seems reasonable and consistent with a CUSTOM tour, especially since it's shorter than many of the others out there. The OP knew what she wanted to see and do that day, so it appears to me that she had done research on excursions. I can easily imagine myself in that position. If you have a specific itinerary (CUSTOM), you may not be expecting anyone else on the tour b/c not everyone will have the same places they want to see. I agree with other posters that there are always three sides to a story; however, I think the business is wrong to not get their customers back to the ship at the agreed-upon time, regardless of his reasoning. It was brought up prior to the tour during planning, brought up several times during the day, and all customers on the tour were there for a SHORT tour that clearly turned into an all-day thing. That's not acceptable. It doesn't matter what time the ship leaves (as he said "don't worry"), it matters what time the customers wanted to be back, which they seem to have made clear. For James to tell her to take down the review in exchange for a refund is unacceptable and says volumes about him. I can see how each party may be upset, but that just looks terrible for him. I rely a lot on reviews of tour operators, as I always book my own tours. I appreciate that OP was willing to leave the review up for others to make up their own minds. Every business always has customers that love them and some that don't. That's understandable to me and one bad review doesn't always make up my mind. But the way that James appears to have handled this incident says a lot more to me than the review itself.

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Count me in as one that will not consider taking a tour with James due to the fact he cannot be counted on to do as he says.

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First of all wow! I was reading this thread was in shock in some of the posting.

Overall my dealings with local vendors that I've picked via this website,tripadvisor, or my FB travel group had been excellent with the exception of one.

Wasn't this port but another where the vendor people running the tour was very anti solo cruiser. I placed my review on tripadvisor and on a thread this site. The vendor and also friends (other cruisers who had did the tour) accuse me of trying to get a free tour (I didn't ask for a refund,should had, but gave my assessment as a solo cruiser).

The vendor email me asking for removal of the review. They don't like bad reviews because others will change their minds

I've also booked custom tours in the ports and like o.o stated,it was custom for a reason.

The ball was dropped and not handled the right way.

While I didn't care for the way the vendor did, his friends and their postings on this thread really placed a bad taste and will turn more from him than anything else

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As someone who's looking for something to do in St. Lucia later this year, I can guarantee that the addition of James' "friends" to this post mean we would NEVER consider booking with him.

 

Yep.

Glad I have already booked with Spencer Ambrose.

No need for negativity and drama on vacation.

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