In March of 2012, I started searching shore excursions for our January 2013 cruise. I am a big supporter of Trip Advisor and spend much time and effort reading reviews and researching locations. (I also write reviews after trips to give back, and try and help fellow travelers) Our 2013 cruise to the Carribean included St Lucia. I was so excited because this was a new port for me. As I collected information, I realized that I wanted to go with a company in St Lucia that went to THE PITONS by sea to aviod the often reported long and difficult trek by land. Son of Man was highly recommended and their WEBSITE looked good. The price was $110 pp for a full day tour including mud baths, waterfall, snorkeling, and lunch. I trust Trip Advisor and their reviews were really good. So, I booked this tour for the 6 people in our party. To hold the reservation I provided a cc # but only to hold the reservation. It was clear on the WEBSITE that no deposit would be taken and we would pay in full on the day of the tour. I made the reservation in April (for the following Jan.) and this is one instance where my planning WAY IN ADVANCE came back to haunt me. I would not have booked them without having seen their website, and comparing it to others.
I am also a member of the cruise critic boards, and I had shared info about Son of Man on my roll call. When a fellow cruiser tried to contact them, they never returned her inquiries. I thought that was odd, as I had had no problem.
Shortly after that, their website disappeared from the internet. I did have all their information in my travel folder including 3 phone #'s, and I did have my reservation confirmations, so I wasn't worried...yet...
Then in September, I noticed a charge of $224 on my credit card? @#$%*#?^%$+ OH NO! I called the first phone # I had. This was the one listed on the website to be the owner Elvis. He answered the phone and assured me that we did have a reserved date and they had taken the DEPOSIT only because our party was large. I asked what had happened to their website and he said something similar to a previous poster that there was a problem with the Domain Name.
It was also at this time that there were less reviews being posted on TA about Son of Man Tours.
And there were rumors all over that they were no longer in business. I asked Elvis about this and he assured me they were still in business AND the website would be fixed soon. OK, I wasn't happy about the deposit, but we still had the tour that I wanted. However, now I was suspicious.
In the next few months there were questions and more bad reviews on TA and more instances of problems with bookings and deposits. There were a few good reviews, but they seem to be people who were staying at Sandals La Toc on ST Lucia and were solicited for the tour on the beach in front of the resort. It is now December and less than a month away from our trip. I am so excited for this 12 day cruise after New Years, but the St Lucia stop is weighing heavy on my mind. If It were only me, I could handle a problem coming up at the port, but I was responsible for 5 other people in our party. So, I called Elvis again to Reconfirm and ease my mind. To my dismay, his # was now disconnected. MORE RED FLAGS. I tried the second phone # I had, and there was an answering machine, so I left a message that said... I WANT A REFUND and At this point I am arranging with another tour company at the last minute, because I don't want to get stuck. (I was definitely not happy, but I was even willing to take the loss of the deposit to make sure we had solid plans for our day in St Lucia.) Well, within hours, Elvis calls me back. He says please don't cancel, they will definitely take us on the tour. He says to make it up to me, he will give us a Private Tour and reduce our price a little. OK, he already had my $224, so I agree to stay with him.
On Jan 10, 2013 our cruise stops in St Lucia. We are met by Gabby of Son of Man Tours! I am so relieved...at first....
But, in the first 10 minutes, Gabby has numerous calls from ELVIS. Elvis wants to talk to me. He says we can have the private tour, but he now has to charge me more than agreed. That was unfair of him, unbusinesslike, and unprofessional. On the spot, I really didn't want to disappoint the others traveling with me, so we went, and paid full price.
St Lucia is beautiful, and Gabby was Really Great! We enjoyed the tour: the mud baths were amazing, the warm waterfall was unforgetable, the snorkeling at Jalousie Beach was the best I've seen in the Caribbean. The others in my party were very happy with the day (noone else knew what I had gone thru for the past 8 months with the arrangements)
To sum up the experience. I would run the other way when dealing with this company over the internet or from the USA. It's possible that if you arrange on the beach at Sandals La Toc (with Cornelius), there is less room for error. The company sub-contracts the boat transportation, and the land drivers. What they are really supplying is the Tour Guide, they don't have their own boat or van that says SON of MAN TOURS. The company seemed VERY unorganized...and not truly professional.
I debated my overall review score for quite a while. Ultimately, I don't want to hurt someone's business intentionally. Unfortunately, I feel responsible to warn other travelers that some of this company's practices are shady.
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