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FirstAnthem

Conflicting reviews of COSOL—should we take the tour?

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I have been reading reviews of COSOL because we are booked for their tour for our October cruise. The good reviews are really good, but there are some pretty bad reviews too, complaining of the large crowd on the tour, describing a caravan of vehicles with 100 people total being rushed from spot to spot, spending more time in the van than actually seeing anything. But the good reviews say it was the best tour people have ever been on. How can the reviews be so different? There are enough bad ones to make me worry about taking the tour. A caravan of vehicles and crowded stops isn’t our idea of fun. Anyone have any insight? Thank you! 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, FirstAnthem said:

I have been reading reviews of COSOL because we are booked for their tour for our October cruise. The good reviews are really good, but there are some pretty bad reviews too, complaining of the large crowd on the tour, describing a caravan of vehicles with 100 people total being rushed from spot to spot, spending more time in the van than actually seeing anything. But the good reviews say it was the best tour people have ever been on. How can the reviews be so different? There are enough bad ones to make me worry about taking the tour. A caravan of vehicles and crowded stops isn’t our idea of fun. Anyone have any insight? Thank you! 

The reason for my post is to give you some "peace of mind".  Unfortunately, I think you'll see this pattern in reviews for any tour company.  We've never used Cosol ourselves and have no first hand experience touring with them, but friends of ours have toured with them twice and loved them.  We've toured with Spencer Ambrose (another tour company in St. Lucia) twice and their reviews are the same as you mentioned for Cosol's.  We loved both our tours with Spencer & will be touring with them again the next time we get to St. Lucia. 

 

This is speculation on my part, but I do think a lot of the "really bad" reviews are from people that just can't be pleased/love to complain.  Most of St. Lucia's sights/scenic hi-lights are in the Soufriere area, which is a good distance from the port in Castries.  It doesn't matter which tour company you use...Cosol's, Spencer's, cruise line sponsored, etc., in order to get to those sights it does take some time getting there.  But, hopefully in your case, what you'll see/experience will be worth it...St. Lucia is BEAUTIFUL, very scenic.  St. Lucia is on of our favorite islands.  As for the size of the groups, some will be larger than others and a lot of that may depend on how many cruise ships are in port on a certain day.  We have been fortunate on both of our visits to St. Lucia, we were the only ship in port, so we had smaller groups. 

Again, no first hand experience with Cosol, but I hope this will ease your mind some.  I think you'll have a wonderful time. 

Edited by pghsteelerfan

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19 minutes ago, pghsteelerfan said:

The reason for my post is to give you some "peace of mind".  Unfortunately, I think you'll see this pattern in reviews for any tour company.  We've never used Cosol ourselves and have no first hand experience touring with them, but friends of ours have toured with them twice and loved them.  We've toured with Spencer Ambrose (another tour company in St. Lucia) twice and their reviews are the same as you mentioned for Cosol's.  We loved both our tours with Spencer & will be touring with them again the next time we get to St. Lucia. 

 

This is speculation on my part, but I do think a lot of the "really bad" reviews are from people that just can't be pleased/love to complain.  Most of St. Lucia's sights/scenic hi-lights are in the Soufriere area, which is a good distance from the port in Castries.  It doesn't matter which tour company you use...Cosol's, Spencer's, cruise line sponsored, etc., in order to get to those sights it does take some time getting there.  But, hopefully in your case, what you'll see/experience will be worth it...St. Lucia is BEAUTIFUL, very scenic.  St. Lucia is on of our favorite islands.  As for the size of the groups, some will be larger than others and a lot of that may depend on how many cruise ships are in port on a certain day.  We have been fortunate on both of our visits to St. Lucia, we were the only ship in port, so we had smaller groups. 

Again, no first hand experience with Cosol, but I hope this will ease your mind some.  I think you'll have a wonderful time. 

Thank you!! We have never been to St Lucia and are really looking forward to it. You did ease my mind, much thanks. 

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FirstAnthem, You should find out how many ships are in port the day you are in St Lucia.

 We’ll be there in late September & will be on the only ship so I doubt we’ll have the crowd-factor to deal with for our Cosol Tour.  We only chose Cosol over Spenser Ambrose due to all fees paid at conclusion of tour while SA requires a $10 PayPal deposit.  Not a huge deal but I like the flexibility in case we change our minds when we get there.

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2 minutes ago, soonernstlouis said:

FirstAnthem, You should find out how many ships are in port the day you are in St Lucia.

 We’ll be there in late September & will be on the only ship so I doubt we’ll have the crowd-factor to deal with for our Cosol Tour.  We only chose Cosol over Spenser Ambrose due to all fees paid at conclusion of tour while SA requires a $10 PayPal deposit.  Not a huge deal but I like the flexibility in case we change our minds when we get there.

Thank you! There will be two ships when we are there, ours and a Carnival, so there will be about 6,000 passengers there. I think I’m going to stick with Cosol and cross my fingers that the day is what we hope for! I always feel a bit nervous when planning excursions because we might never make it back to these places, and I want to try my best to do thorough research for a great day. But then I start overthinking things! Even if it’s a little crowded, we will still be in St Lucia, right?! Haha I keep reminding myself of that! 

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I’ll give you a “near date” review when when get back around 10/1.  For now, St Lucia is the only port (out of 5) that we’ve booked an excursion.

 

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2 minutes ago, soonernstlouis said:

I’ll give you a “near date” review when when get back around 10/1.  For now, St Lucia is the only port (out of 5) that we’ve booked an excursion.

 

Ok sounds good! I just got our last excursion planned today. What are your ports? Maybe we are taking a similar itinerary. 

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2 minutes ago, soonernstlouis said:

Fascination-St Thomas, St. Maarten,

St Kitts, St Lucia, Barbados & 1 sea day to recover.

We are doing St Maarten, St Kitts, St Lucia, Antigua and Barbados! Also with 1 sea day to recover as well! We are on Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas. 

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We considered Freedom of the Seas when we booked last month.  Price won out this time over luxury.  That ship also does an Aruba-Bonair, Curacao, St Maarten route I’d like to try in the future.

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We did the Cosol tour this past September and certainly didn't see/feel the negative situation you're describing reading...Just where and when were these posted?

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2 minutes ago, Ashland said:

We did the Cosol tour this past September and certainly didn't see/feel the negative situation you're describing reading...Just where and when were these posted?

I’m glad to hear you had a good tour with Cosol! I read them right on Trip Advisor. 

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6 hours ago, FirstAnthem said:

I’m glad to hear you had a good tour with Cosol! I read them right on Trip Advisor. 

There are some people that will complain about a "free lunch".... Don't hesitate to book with Cosol...Enjoy, and do come back to post your experience. I have a feeling you'll join the majority.

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3 minutes ago, Ashland said:

There are some people that will complain about a "free lunch".... Don't hesitate to book with Cosol...Enjoy, and do come back to post your experience. I have a feeling you'll join the majority.

Good point! I will definitely post my experience! Thanks for your help! 

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I'd like to weigh in on this topic for just a moment. We just cruised last week on the NCL Dawn and we booked COSOL tours in St Lucia. I have been cruising for 20 years and this Cosol Tour was absolutely one of the best tours I have ever been on in any country.  Not liking the price gouging by the cruiselines on shore ex, we usually hire a taxi when we arrive in port and have them take us wherever we like. However, this being my first time to St. Lucia I didn't want to miss anything. Cosol offered all the highlights I wanted to hit (as opposed to the cruiseline that offered only some of the sites. 

 

These guys are very organized. Each van holds about 12-15 passengers and we had 3 vans in our "caravan". We were going right from the start at 8:30am. We drove through Castries to get out to the countryside. Our guide YELLOW BIRD (brother of Cosol) was fantastic.  He tells the history of the island as we are driving through the city into the countryside. He answered every question we asked. Stopping for beautiful overlooks, we could get out and take some pix.  Once in the countryside, the real fun begins and the feasting. The food on this tour was amazing. I was never hungry or thirsty. First stop the banana plantation. After a quick history lesson on bananas and how they grow, we sampled banana ketchup and banana bbq sauce on banana chips. Yum. Then we each got a whole banana to try. We washed it all down with a few homemade spiced rum shots - wow 10 am here I come!

 

Then on to see two different fishing villages. In the second village we stop for breakfast. All 3 vans together was less than 50 people and did not feel crowded at all. In fact most of the time we were getting out on the shoulder of the road for photos and we were not a big group. I won't spoil it for you but breakfast was an amazing variety of local foods all cooking right there. One of the vans had the "mobile bar" in the trunk. Water, beer, rum punch, soda, juices. As many as you wanted. I won't detail too much more because you should be surprised and delighted as we were. The water taxi to the beach between the Pitons was quick and the beach is wonderful. Be sure to swim on the hotel side for softer sand. You just cannot use any hotel chairs. We had a full hour there - lovely.

 

Back on the water taxi and on to the volcano. We only had 3 of our van who wanted to go into the mud baths so YellowBird set them up where they needed to go. Then he drove the rest of us up the hill to hear a guide speak about the volcano and sulfur springs. That was not part of it, but he gave us a great tour so we didnt just sit around waiting for the mud pit folks. And he paid all the entrance fees. Then we picked up the mud folks and headed to the waterfall. So beautiful. After working up an appetite we stopped for hot baked bread and cheese. Loving the homemade food on this trip plus of course more  drinks from the mobile bar. 

 

We started to head back to Castries. On the way a car came roaring up beside us honking their horn. Yellow bird got out to meet a woman. He came back into the van with baggies of homemade cookies for the ride back! This tour was absolutely the best bang for your buck and I feel like I got to see the whole island. Oh, and did I mention that it rained for most of the day? Anyone on that tour would agree with me. We were having so much fun that the rain didnt even matter. If you're on the fence, just go for it. You won't forgive yourself if you miss out. Only warning I have, take a dramamine before getting in the van. The hairpin turns are numerous. Ask your driver to show you the one stretch of straight road on the island... it's pretty funny. Have fun!

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6 minutes ago, juneholaday said:

I'd like to weigh in on this topic for just a moment. We just cruised last week on the NCL Dawn and we booked COSOL tours in St Lucia. I have been cruising for 20 years and this Cosol Tour was absolutely one of the best tours I have ever been on in any country.  Not liking the price gouging by the cruiselines on shore ex, we usually hire a taxi when we arrive in port and have them take us wherever we like. However, this being my first time to St. Lucia I didn't want to miss anything. Cosol offered all the highlights I wanted to hit (as opposed to the cruiseline that offered only some of the sites. 

 

These guys are very organized. Each van holds about 12-15 passengers and we had 3 vans in our "caravan". We were going right from the start at 8:30am. We drove through Castries to get out to the countryside. Our guide YELLOW BIRD (brother of Cosol) was fantastic.  He tells the history of the island as we are driving through the city into the countryside. He answered every question we asked. Stopping for beautiful overlooks, we could get out and take some pix.  Once in the countryside, the real fun begins and the feasting. The food on this tour was amazing. I was never hungry or thirsty. First stop the banana plantation. After a quick history lesson on bananas and how they grow, we sampled banana ketchup and banana bbq sauce on banana chips. Yum. Then we each got a whole banana to try. We washed it all down with a few homemade spiced rum shots - wow 10 am here I come!

 

Then on to see two different fishing villages. In the second village we stop for breakfast. All 3 vans together was less than 50 people and did not feel crowded at all. In fact most of the time we were getting out on the shoulder of the road for photos and we were not a big group. I won't spoil it for you but breakfast was an amazing variety of local foods all cooking right there. One of the vans had the "mobile bar" in the trunk. Water, beer, rum punch, soda, juices. As many as you wanted. I won't detail too much more because you should be surprised and delighted as we were. The water taxi to the beach between the Pitons was quick and the beach is wonderful. Be sure to swim on the hotel side for softer sand. You just cannot use any hotel chairs. We had a full hour there - lovely.

 

Back on the water taxi and on to the volcano. We only had 3 of our van who wanted to go into the mud baths so YellowBird set them up where they needed to go. Then he drove the rest of us up the hill to hear a guide speak about the volcano and sulfur springs. That was not part of it, but he gave us a great tour so we didnt just sit around waiting for the mud pit folks. And he paid all the entrance fees. Then we picked up the mud folks and headed to the waterfall. So beautiful. After working up an appetite we stopped for hot baked bread and cheese. Loving the homemade food on this trip plus of course more  drinks from the mobile bar. 

 

We started to head back to Castries. On the way a car came roaring up beside us honking their horn. Yellow bird got out to meet a woman. He came back into the van with baggies of homemade cookies for the ride back! This tour was absolutely the best bang for your buck and I feel like I got to see the whole island. Oh, and did I mention that it rained for most of the day? Anyone on that tour would agree with me. We were having so much fun that the rain didnt even matter. If you're on the fence, just go for it. You won't forgive yourself if you miss out. Only warning I have, take a dramamine before getting in the van. The hairpin turns are numerous. Ask your driver to show you the one stretch of straight road on the island... it's pretty funny. Have fun!

Thank you so much!! This really helped answer any doubts I had about the tour. I am very excited! Do you recommend Dramamine for folks who don’t usually get carsick/motion sick? 

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YES! My husband who has been sailing offshore for 30 years really regretted not taking it. We were in the last seat in the back of the van and I, who get carsick in my own driveway, did fine. Him, not so much :classic_biggrin:

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2 minutes ago, juneholaday said:

YES! My husband who has been sailing offshore for 30 years really regretted not taking it. We were in the last seat in the back of the van and I, who get carsick in my own driveway, did fine. Him, not so much :classic_biggrin:

Oh wow, ok. Thank you for the definite warning! We will make sure we take it that morning. 

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On ‎3‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 8:18 PM, soonernstlouis said:

FirstAnthem, You should find out how many ships are in port the day you are in St Lucia.

 We’ll be there in late September & will be on the only ship so I doubt we’ll have the crowd-factor to deal with for our Cosol Tour.  We only chose Cosol over Spenser Ambrose due to all fees paid at conclusion of tour while SA requires a $10 PayPal deposit.  Not a huge deal but I like the flexibility in case we change our minds when we get there.

Hi!  If you don't mind my asking...what sailing are you on in September and when?  We will be there in September, as well! 🙂

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25 minutes ago, JES11583 said:

Hi!  If you don't mind my asking...what sailing are you on in September and when?  We will be there in September, as well! 🙂

I don’t mind at all! Our cruise is 9/29–10/6. The day we are in St Lucia is 10/3. 

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On 3/8/2019 at 3:13 PM, juneholaday said:

YES! My husband who has been sailing offshore for 30 years really regretted not taking it. We were in the last seat in the back of the van and I, who get carsick in my own driveway, did fine. Him, not so much :classic_biggrin:

 

We took the Cosol tour last year and our experience was the same a juneholaday's. We had a great time.

If you do take take Dramamine, my advice is to make sure it is the Non-Drowsy option. Otherwise you will have a 6 hour nap in the van.

 

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We were in St. Lucia a few weeks ago and did the Cosol tour. I absolutely 100% recommend it!!!!

It is a lot of time spent in the van ... BUT ... there's no other way to get around the island! We were amazed at how much we got to see and do, and without feeling rushed. The roads are hilly and winding -- not my favorite type of drive -- but there are ample stops and you spend plenty of time out doors at various sight-seeing stops, on the boat ride to Sugar Beach, at the beach, at the mud bath, at the water falls, etc. Also, I was happy that they do not cram the vans to max capacity (or at least they did not on our day. It was roomy and comfortable. The stops are well worth the drive!!! St. Lucia is an incredibly gorgeous island - jaw dropping sights at every turn. 

Our guide was also Yellow Bird (Cosol's brother), but we also interacted with the other guides at the stops, and they were all friendly and gracious and hospitable. 

Also ... the food ... WOW! You will not go hungry! There is food and drink at every turn, and the food is really delicious. It is a feast. That bread and cheese towards the end of the tour ... Why is something so simple so utterly delicious? 

I will advise to consider the drive as you imbibe -- the rum punch and the very cold Piton beer is offered at every stop. I don't know, it might make the drive worse or maybe better! You'll have to decide for yourself! 😀

I HIGHLY recommend this tour. It was a fantastic experience and we were so glad we got to see so much of St. Lucia on our visit to the island. First, but definitely not last - it is now at the top of our list for a return trip.

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3 hours ago, ppfqp said:

We were in St. Lucia a few weeks ago and did the Cosol tour. I absolutely 100% recommend it!!!!

It is a lot of time spent in the van ... BUT ... there's no other way to get around the island! We were amazed at how much we got to see and do, and without feeling rushed. The roads are hilly and winding -- not my favorite type of drive -- but there are ample stops and you spend plenty of time out doors at various sight-seeing stops, on the boat ride to Sugar Beach, at the beach, at the mud bath, at the water falls, etc. Also, I was happy that they do not cram the vans to max capacity (or at least they did not on our day. It was roomy and comfortable. The stops are well worth the drive!!! St. Lucia is an incredibly gorgeous island - jaw dropping sights at every turn. 

Our guide was also Yellow Bird (Cosol's brother), but we also interacted with the other guides at the stops, and they were all friendly and gracious and hospitable. 

Also ... the food ... WOW! You will not go hungry! There is food and drink at every turn, and the food is really delicious. It is a feast. That bread and cheese towards the end of the tour ... Why is something so simple so utterly delicious? 

I will advise to consider the drive as you imbibe -- the rum punch and the very cold Piton beer is offered at every stop. I don't know, it might make the drive worse or maybe better! You'll have to decide for yourself! 😀

I HIGHLY recommend this tour. It was a fantastic experience and we were so glad we got to see so much of St. Lucia on our visit to the island. First, but definitely not last - it is now at the top of our list for a return trip.

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Wow, I’m thrilled to keep getting such great reviews of this excursion! I can’t wait to experience this! Thanks for the photos too—they are beautiful! 

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I will be taking this tour on March 29.  There are 2 ships in port that day so hopefully it won’t be too busy. I will be doing on report on TA afterwards as I always do.

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