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Quiltincruiser

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Ship docked in Castries, St. Lucia at 10:00 am. Cleared customs at 10:30. Went ashore at 10:50. Assaulted and absolutely beaten down by the tour and taxi people at the pier, we turned around and were back on ship by 11:20. Will never go ashore in Castries again!


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Yes it can be crazy with aggressive vendors trying to sell you stuff and take you places. It was the same way in St. John, Antigua too. We were on the Oct. 7 AOS sailing.

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[quote name='OCruisers']Maybe consider booking an excursion thru your cruise line to avoid all of that.[/QUOTE]



No excursions that were of interest to us. We usually do schedule excursions and only do so through the cruise line, for our protection. But to not be able to get out of the port area, and to actually feel unsafe, is a ridiculous situation from the aspect of an island that depends on return visitors for their livelihood.


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[quote name='Quiltincruiser']No excursions that were of interest to us. We usually do schedule excursions and only do so through the cruise line, for our protection. But to not be able to get out of the port area, and to actually feel unsafe, is a ridiculous situation from the aspect of an island that depends on return visitors for their livelihood.


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We researched and went on a private tour with Cosol Tours, it was the best tour we ever did!

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Were you physically assaulted or were they just aggressive? This is fairly typical of many ports. I have found that a firm "No, Thank You" generally works well.

We had a great time in St Lucia 2 years ago. Maybe things have changed, but St Lucia vendors / taxis were mild compared to those in Jamaica.

I guess it depends on your past experiences, but I always find it interesting that people feel intimidated by vendors in these countries. I am from a city of 650,000 and have to tell people begging for money daily I am not interested.


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Not physically assaulted but grabbed, and grabbed at. A firm No, works until you take another step and then there were 10 more grabbing and yelling. I was told that the other port (across the harbor) is better as the taxi’s are not allowed as close to the ship. Regardless, there are too many other Caribbean islands for me to enjoy. There were multiple warnings in the compass about being aware of your surroundings in St. Lucia and when I spoke to the crew they also said that it was an unsafe port. I am glad that others have enjoyed their time in St. Lucia, I will live vicariously through their stories!


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[quote name='Quiltincruiser']Not physically assaulted but grabbed, and grabbed at. A firm No, works until you take another step and then there were 10 more grabbing and yelling. I was told that the other port (across the harbor) is better as the taxi’s are not allowed as close to the ship. Regardless, there are too many other Caribbean islands for me to enjoy. There were multiple warnings in the compass about being aware of your surroundings in St. Lucia and when I spoke to the crew they also said that it was an unsafe port. I am glad that others have enjoyed their time in St. Lucia, I will live vicariously through their stories!


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That's not good to be grabbed! I guess it is best to do a tour then. We really enjoyed all the sites we saw. This time we are doing a snorkel trip, I was thinking of also shopping after, but ....

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Spoke with the Excursions manager on board and she was upset that I left St. Lucia with that attitude about the island. I promised her that if a cruise I’m includes St. Lucia (I believe our 1/15/18 cruise does) I will book an excursion to give them a fair break.


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Have to sympathise with vendors trying to feed their families.

For those of us not comfortable with being closely surrounded by strangers it can be intimidating. I've found that remembering they are people just trying to earn a living eases most of the stress.

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[quote name='broberts']Have to sympathise with vendors trying to feed their families.

For those of us not comfortable with being closely surrounded by strangers it can be intimidating. I've found that remembering they are people just trying to earn a living eases most of the stress.[/quote]

[B]Have to sympathise with vendors trying to feed their families. +1[/B]

Been there many times and once you get past the initial hoard of tour guides and monkeys in diapers people the town is very nice. They do make their livings with tourists and most people either take a ride, get a monkey picture or walk right on past them with a pleasant No Thank You..,

bosco

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That is so unfortunate, as this is one of our very favourite islands in the Caribbean. For those who are planning to travel to St Lucia we only tour with Frank's St Lucia Taxi and Tours. He was recommended by our travel agent a few years ago, and we have toured the island with him twice - no issues, no problems. In fact, he took us everywhere on the island and showed us how wonderful this place in paradise is. He is well known and well respected here.


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[quote name='boscobeans'][B]Have to sympathise with vendors trying to feed their families. +1[/B]

Been there many times and once you get past the initial hoard of tour guides and monkeys in diapers people the town is very nice. They do make their livings with tourists and most people either take a ride, get a monkey picture or walk right on past them with a pleasant No Thank You..,

bosco[/quote]
No monkeys in St Lucia mate. You're thinking of St Kitts.. Whole different spot..

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It is an awful experience to be bombarded like that, but unfortunately it can happen in multiple ports. One tip I have is to WAIT for a while before departing the ship. Most of the tour operators are there right after arrival. But if you give it an hour or two before you set ashore its gets much quieter.

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[quote name='Quiltincruiser']Spoke with the Excursions manager on board and she was upset that I left St. Lucia with that attitude about the island. I promised her that if a cruise I’m includes St. Lucia (I believe our 1/15/18 cruise does) I will book an excursion to give them a fair break.


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Good for you to give them another try! I really recommend Cosol Tours, google them. Also go to the St. Lucia part of CC, you will see him and others are recommended, or go with the cruise line.

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[quote name='Quiltincruiser']Ship docked in Castries, St. Lucia at 10:00 am. Cleared customs at 10:30. Went ashore at 10:50. Assaulted and absolutely beaten down by the tour and taxi people at the pier, we turned around and were back on ship by 11:20. Will never go ashore in Castries again!


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This is a port of call where my recommendation is to either do a tour or stay on the ship. There is very little to see on your own and my own view is once you get a few blocks from the port it is scary.

Keith

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St. Lucia was our favorite port the last time we did a southern caribbean itinerary. We signed up for the segway tour thru the cruiseline which was our absolute favorite and best value. We got a tour around the island to Rodney Bay, segway portion was only about an hour, but then went to pigeon island where we hung out at the beach and hiked up a nicely maintained trail to a vantage point/fort. Gorgeous view.

This time around we are doing the sail to the Pitons with zipline. Hoping for decent weather.

Hope you give st. Lucia another try. Think a reputable tour will make the difference!

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I agree that St. Lucia was the most aggressive port we've visited in the Caribbean. We didn't have a "plan" other than to find a way to a beach where we could snorkel for the day. We wasted almost 2 hours waiting for the guy hustling to sell out our boat before we were allowed to leave. Everyone on the boat paid a different rate depending on what they'd "negotiated". Just not comfortable or welcoming compared to a lot of other ports. Being shuttled into a building where you're surrounded by hustlers doesn't help- there's no escaping them. We will definitely be booking an excursion on our next visit to St. Lucia.

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I'm sorry your experience was so bad. We just returned from a cruise and our visit to St. Lucia was wonderful. We booked a tour with James Tours and he was right there to meet us. We were quickly ushered away from the port area so I guess I didn't experience what you are talking about. The island is beautiful and the mud baths were so fun. I bet if you give it another try with a specific booked tour you will change your mind.

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St. Lucia is one of the best ports we have visited in the Caribbean. Never been "assaulted" by tour vendors at the port. Have found people to be very nice there.
Don't be afraid to experience it.

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To be honest there isn't much to walk to, shops in port, market, you would have been better with a pre booked shore excursion, I too recommend cosol tours


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[quote name='merinski']We researched and went on a private tour with Cosol Tours, it was the best tour we ever did![/QUOTE]



I completely agree that Cosol provides a great experience and is a vet good value. I have recommended Yellow Bird and the tour to many people and they never fail to thank me!


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[quote name='LynnT3']I'm sorry your experience was so bad. We just returned from a cruise and our visit to St. Lucia was wonderful. We booked a tour with James Tours and he was right there to meet us. We were quickly ushered away from the port area so I guess I didn't experience what you are talking about. The island is beautiful and the mud baths were so fun. I bet if you give it another try with a specific booked tour you will change your mind.[/quote]
When we go in December we were hoping to grab a taxi to go to the mud baths. I've done Cosol several times and really just wanted to go to the mudbaths again. But after ready this thread I am nervous. There are 4 women in my group.

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[quote name='bcjs']When we go in December we were hoping to grab a taxi to go to the mud baths. I've done Cosol several times and really just wanted to go to the mudbaths again. But after ready this thread I am nervous. There are 4 women in my group.[/quote]
No different than many ports. Uniformed license drivers available, make sure the taxi has a "TX" license plate as those are rhe licensed drivers (and "H" license plate denotes a hired driver, many tour operators have these).
Be firm and polite in what you want to do, no problem. A cab one way to the mud baths is $90USD and will take approximately 75-90 minutes one way.. So you have some negotiating power. A firm no thanks is all you need for turning someone down.. no worries. Enjoy your visit.

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[quote name='Quiltincruiser']Ship docked in Castries, St. Lucia at 10:00 am. Cleared customs at 10:30. Went ashore at 10:50. Assaulted and absolutely beaten down by the tour and taxi people at the pier, we turned around and were back on ship by 11:20. Will never go ashore in Castries again!


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[B]I have tee shirts from every Caribbean island that I have been to .When I go to St.Lucia I will wear a St.Lucia tee shirt .They know that I have been there before and do not hassle me.[/B]

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[quote name='flipflopgal']It is an awful experience to be bombarded like that, but unfortunately it can happen in multiple ports. One tip I have is to WAIT for a while before departing the ship. Most of the tour operators are there right after arrival. But if you give it an hour or two before you set ashore its gets much quieter.[/QUOTE]
So true!

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I often sail solo and as a solo female, have always walked through the throngs and firmly, but politely, said No Thank You! and kept walking. On this island, I simply said "I have a tour with Cosol" and they left me alone.

St Lucia is beautiful. I feel bad that people will miss a beautiful island just because they won't walk though a crowd. As others have said, the vast majority of the people on these islands are very poor. Even those of us who are not wealthy are in comparison. We show up by the thousands to invade their island paradise on a daily basis. I do not begrudge them one bit for trying to make a living off of the tourism. That's about the only way they can these days.

Anyway, did my 3rd tour with Cosol on 11/12. Had Baptist as our driver, who I'd also had on my first visit in May 2009! It was great to see him again.

Fantastic tour. Lots to see. Good food and drinks. And the beautiful beach between the Pitons. Cannot believe anyone would say there's little to see there!

Of course, if your idea of a "good" Caribbean port is one with tacky tourist shops and a Margaritaville or Senor Frogs, you'll be disappointed.

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WOW, I have been sailing 25+ years in the Caribbean and for some reason was never able to book one with St Lucia. I am St Thomas, Antigua'd out, with the other islands being hit every couple of years. SO, I have been looking forward to visiting St Lucia, but these posts remind me of it being kind of an Antigua. Which we have no problem, because we just go over the boardwalk and leave through the other gate. What is at the port, being our first time, we don't want to do a tour, just get a lay of the land, so they say. What kind of shops are nearby, restaurants?

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[quote name='BeachPhoenix']That is so unfortunate, as this is one of our very favourite islands in the Caribbean. For those who are planning to travel to St Lucia we only tour with Frank's St Lucia Taxi and Tours. He was recommended by our travel agent a few years ago, and we have toured the island with him twice - no issues, no problems. In fact, he took us everywhere on the island and showed us how wonderful this place in paradise is. He is well known and well respected here.


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Do you know if Franks is still in business? The email came back failed and his FB page is outdated.

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[quote name='myfuzzy']WOW, I have been sailing 25+ years in the Caribbean and for some reason was never able to book one with St Lucia. I am St Thomas, Antigua'd out, with the other islands being hit every couple of years. SO, I have been looking forward to visiting St Lucia, but these posts remind me of it being kind of an Antigua. Which we have no problem, because we just go over the boardwalk and leave through the other gate. What is at the port, being our first time, we don't want to do a tour, just get a lay of the land, so they say. What kind of shops are nearby, restaurants?[/quote]
There's little in Castries proper for visitors. It's not a pretty city, it's very much a working capital and there's not much in walking distance to explore.
Castries Craft and Food Market is right nearby, and was named third best food market in the world by NatGeo a few years back. Interesting to stroll and see the different produce, meats, spices, etc. There's some food stalls if you want to have a local meal.
The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception is fairly close by, worth a walk past - you'll also pass Derek Walcott Square, which is a small lovely Park.
Or walk over to Vigie Beach - 20-30 minute walk, with boardwalk, beach, chairs, local food and drink, etc.
There's shopping inside the port areas, typical tourist ships, DI, etc. St Lucia isn't a shopping destination like other islands, namely St Thomas or St Maarten.
Pigeon Island is a lovely natural Park with history, ruins, small beach, some hiking, and excellent fare at Jambe des Bois.
Otherwise, for views, etc you'll need a cab ride at the least - up Morne Fortune for some excellent views, then over to Pink Plantation for wonderful fresh local meals. Or up to Rodney Bay for more dining options, beach, etc
St Lucia is much better known for our natural lush tropical scenery and Pitons, etc - none of which is near port. You'd need a tour or taxi ride down to Soufriere to see what really sets ups apart from the likes of Antigua or St Thomas, etc.
Enjoy.

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[quote name='reedprincess']There's little in Castries proper for visitors. It's not a pretty city, it's very much a working capital and there's not much in walking distance to explore.
Castries Craft and Food Market is right nearby, and was named third best food market in the world by NatGeo a few years back. Interesting to stroll and see the different produce, meats, spices, etc. There's some food stalls if you want to have a local meal.
The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception is fairly close by, worth a walk past - you'll also pass Derek Walcott Square, which is a small lovely Park.
Or walk over to Vigie Beach - 20-30 minute walk, with boardwalk, beach, chairs, local food and drink, etc.
There's shopping inside the port areas, typical tourist ships, DI, etc. St Lucia isn't a shopping destination like other islands, namely St Thomas or St Maarten.
Pigeon Island is a lovely natural Park with history, ruins, small beach, some hiking, and excellent fare at Jambe des Bois.
Otherwise, for views, etc you'll need a cab ride at the least - up Morne Fortune for some excellent views, then over to Pink Plantation for wonderful fresh local meals. Or up to Rodney Bay for more dining options, beach, etc
St Lucia is much better known for our natural lush tropical scenery and Pitons, etc - none of which is near port. You'd need a tour or taxi ride down to Soufriere to see what really sets ups apart from the likes of Antigua or St Thomas, etc.
Enjoy.[/quote]


So you would recommended that we do a tour vs just hanging around the dock area

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[quote name='myfuzzy']So you would recommended that we do a tour vs just hanging around the dock area[/quote]
Very much so, highly recommend doing so as there's just little about the dock area that's pleasant, or different than other islands. You're visiting a new place, surely you want to see/explore what makes it different than elsewhere!
Cosol does a wonderful trip, as does Spencer Ambrose, Herod's, Serenity TVL, St Lucia Experience, etc.

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[quote name='reedprincess']Very much so, highly recommend doing so as there's just little about the dock area that's pleasant, or different than other islands. You're visiting a new place, surely you want to see/explore what makes it different than elsewhere!
Cosol does a wonderful trip, as does Spencer Ambrose, Herod's, Serenity TVL, St Lucia Experience, etc.[/quote]


Thanks,
I will check into a tour, but I prefer the ships tours, YES I know they are more expensive, but I don't like just throwing caution to the wind....especially if I have never been to the port before

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[quote name='Quiltincruiser']Ship docked in Castries, St. Lucia at 10:00 am. Cleared customs at 10:30. Went ashore at 10:50. Assaulted and absolutely beaten down by the tour and taxi people at the pier, we turned around and were back on ship by 11:20. Will never go ashore in Castries again!


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Just back from St. Lucia. There are two places that the ships dock. We were docked in the more industrial area. We booked with Cosol, and can't say enough good things about him. It is a long tour, but extremely reasonable. Some people did approach us outside while we were waiting, but we just said "No", and we had booked with Cosol, and were left alone.

That being said, you have to be aware of your surroundings. While leaving the ship, one PAX asked what island we were on, then asked the same question to someone on the gangway, then at least twice on the street. That person did get approached multiple times, but I cannot blame the vendors. Please have some plan for what you want to do before you leave the ship. Just my two cents....

Regards,
Mike

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[quote name='reedprincess']There's little in Castries proper for visitors. It's not a pretty city, it's very much a working capital and there's not much in walking distance to explore.
Castries Craft and Food Market is right nearby, and was named third best food market in the world by NatGeo a few years back. Interesting to stroll and see the different produce, meats, spices, etc. There's some food stalls if you want to have a local meal.
The Cathedral of Immaculate Conception is fairly close by, worth a walk past - you'll also pass Derek Walcott Square, which is a small lovely Park.
Or walk over to Vigie Beach - 20-30 minute walk, with boardwalk, beach, chairs, local food and drink, etc.
There's shopping inside the port areas, typical tourist ships, DI, etc. St Lucia isn't a shopping destination like other islands, namely St Thomas or St Maarten.
Pigeon Island is a lovely natural Park with history, ruins, small beach, some hiking, and excellent fare at Jambe des Bois.
Otherwise, for views, etc you'll need a cab ride at the least - up Morne Fortune for some excellent views, then over to Pink Plantation for wonderful fresh local meals. Or up to Rodney Bay for more dining options, beach, etc
St Lucia is much better known for our natural lush tropical scenery and Pitons, etc - none of which is near port. You'd need a tour or taxi ride down to Soufriere to see what really sets ups apart from the likes of Antigua or St Thomas, etc.
Enjoy.[/quote]

Hello reedprincess,
My main goal in St. Lucia is to go to a bar on a beach and have a piston beer. I'm not into sight seeing. So do you have any recommendations for me? Is there a bar or restaurant on Vigie beach that I can just sit and enjoy a beer? Thank you for your time and input. I'll be in St. Lucia in April 2018.

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[quote name='19pamela68']Hello reedprincess,
My main goal in St. Lucia is to go to a bar on a beach and have a piston beer. I'm not into sight seeing. So do you have any recommendations for me? Is there a bar or restaurant on Vigie beach that I can just sit and enjoy a beer? Thank you for your time and input. I'll be in St. Lucia in April 2018.[/quote]
Not sure you'll find piston beer here. Never seen it anywhere.
You can head to Vigie Beach boardwalk and enjoy ice cold Piton beers.
Enjoy.

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