Hi all. Before you book with Mandoo of Grenada, please read on. A year ago today, our family group of 10 were happily enjoying our cruise on the Caribbean Princess. Four days into our cruise, seven members of our family (including my son, aged 20 and my daughter, 23 as well as my aunt, cousin and her 13 year old daughter) went on a guided hike in the rain forest booked through Mandoo Tours.
The hike was supposed to be 4 hours in length. My sister, my cousin and I remained on the ship and spent a pleasant day at the beach, but the 7 never made it back to the ship that night. Instead, Mandoo's guide got lost in the rainforest and they spent five harrowing hours hiking in the dark through dense brush with only a light from a cell phone and a bic lighter. In two separate incidents, my aunt and my cousing almost fell off of cliffs, but fortunately, my brother and son pulled them both to safety. Mandoo's guide did not carry any of the usual emergency equipment that other guides carry such as a first aid kit, a flashlight, etc.
Althought the excursion was not booked through Princess, the crew could not have been kinder, more compassionate or helpful. The pursuer's staff were incredible. One of the pursuer's staff, James from Virginia, stood with me for the two hours on the dock. The ship waited two hours for them because Mandoo advised the port agent that the driver was caught in traffic - we later learned that he was trying to stall so that the ship wouldn't leave. The Princess staff were great in all respects even though the excursion was not booked through the ship.
You cannot imagine the anguish of leaving Grenada on the ship without my two children - it was easily one of the worst nights of my life. I was so distraught, they brought me to the infirmary. We didn't know if they were dead or alive. The ship left port at 8:15. Finally, at 9:30, I was able to reach Mando who said, "They are lost in the rainforest, that's all I know," before the connection went dead. I nearly lost my mind. My sister, however, had the presence of mind to call her husband in the US and tell him to call the Grenadian Police and the US State Department. At approximately 11:30, my brother-in-law called saying that they were safe in custody of the Port Agent, Gary. A word about Gary - he was unbelievable- he went above and beyond to assure that they were safe. He was absolutely wonderful. I vividly remember standing on the dock just before the ship left - Gary hugged and said that "he would bring my children back to me." I have tears just thinking about his compassion. He even offered to take them to his own home and put them up. Mandoo arranged for them to stay at a hotel (at their, not his expense). At 11:30, I was able to talk to my two kids - the ship patched a call through from Grenada. The relief was, to say the least, overwhelming for all of us. Can you imagine - a cruise is supposed to be fun, not traumatic. On the phone, they recounted their horrific adventure - falling off cliffs, getting cut up on all exposed skin from razor grass (the pictures look like someone took a knife and slashed them), fording a stream six times in the dark, sliding down a mountain in the dark and in single file. How they were led out of the rainforest by a barefoot fisherman with a flashlight.
The next day, while we figured out how to get them off Grenada, Mandoo's guide visited them at the hotel to tell them how "it was not his fault." He insisted that it was Mandoo's fault and that he had told Mandoo that the trail wasn't in good shape several days prior. To this day, Mandoo nor his guide have accepted any responsibility for what happened to our family on Grenada. Only two were able to meet the ship in St. Thomas on the last night of the cruise. It cost $5,000 to get them home. Mandoo has not reimbursed us for anything. He made a point of telling them that he wasn't going to charge them for driving them to the airport on the morning of their departure.
Please beware. Book your excursion through the ship! We were all traumatized by this experience