Last week I got an email at around 3 pm from a gentleman called Daniel. It was just a short email to inquire if we had room for 12 snorkelers on a trip the next day. He was on a cruise ship and Tropical Storm Chantal has caused his excursion that day in St Thomas to be canceled. They were six adults and six kids, and the kids were really disappointed. They really wanted to see turtles. They only had internet for a few hours while the ship was in St Thomas, so they needed an answer fast.
Unfortunately, (although we weren’t fully booked) I didn’t have room for a group of 12.
So, I emailed him back to tell him sorry. I was sorry, I do hate turning people away. Normally this is the end of it. After all, I don’t run an activity desk. I don’t really want to send clients to my competitors. Plus with running after lil’ boy, emails, phone calls, accounting, paperwork, laundry, home made baby food, meeting and greeting the divers, making sure I enjoy living where I do by swimming, sun bathing and diving ( 🙂 ), I’ve got a full plate. Then I thought of the six kids… I thought about how they had really wanted to see turtles. I thought about how this trip had probably been planned for months. I thought about how hard Chris and I work to save enough money so that we can go on vacation ourselves and how disappointing it can be when something you’ve really been looking forward to is canceled.
So, I told him that I would contact some island tours and see what I could do. It was quite late in the afternoon, and I knew that there were a few ships in the following day, so it wasn’t going to be easy. After a few phone calls, some Facebook messages and an email, I finally got confirmation that a friend who just started running tours on a beautiful power catamaran was going to take them out. Success!!!
It was pretty late in the evening now. Perhaps 7:30 PM. Little Boy was finally asleep after dinner, bath, book, and cuddles. Chris has made salmon and risotto (did you know that besides being brilliant at diving, engineering and being a dad my husband is an excellent cook? Sometimes it’s annoying how great he is, I mean… is there anything he can’t do? 🙂 ) and it was time to eat. I couldn’t give up on Daniel now though, could I?
I started frantically sending off emails to Daniel, at this point I didn’t even know if he would still be there.
Me: Hi Daniel, I hope it isn’t too late. I can arrange a snorkel tour on a catamaran for $60 a person, I can also arrange a taxi to pick you up at the port. Please let me know asap. Here is the website: http://www.notwritingthename.com. I hope it isn’t too late. Shall I go ahead and arrange it?
Daniel: Yes. Please get us a taxi. How long is taxi and will we know who to look for? It can be under our name? Thanks and let me know. I’m afraid our service is running low (Sent from my iPhone)
Me: The driver will be expecting Daniel. Just calling captain to confirm now.
Daniel: Ok. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate it. The kids are very excited and were so disappointed today. I’m hoping we hear he has confirmed before we lose reception on the cruise, as we have sailed off now (Sent from my iPhone)
I called captain to finalize everything.
Me: You are all set. It is all confirmed. Did you see his website?
Daniel: Yes – trying to pull it up. It is in French 🙂 (Sent from my iPhone)
Me: click on the english flag
Daniel: Ok, one last question. Do we need towels, snorkel gear and drinks? I’m hoping he provides snorkel gear for us? Does he know we have six kids and six adults? (Sent from my iPhone)
I am picturing them sailing off into the sunset at this point, desperately trying to get it all sorted before they lose reception.
Me: he has said he has everything. If not we are a diving center just next door and can supply. I would take towels. He has drinks. He knows your dynamic. Sally
Daniel: Thank you so much – you have been a huge help. We really appreciate (Sent from my iPhone)
Then I called Juliette (for those of you that have dived with us before, or snorkeled, and were ever in need of a taxi, you will know Juliette and her husband Philippe).
Ring, ring. Someone picks up.
“Hello, good morning!!!” A very cheerful Juliette answers. It is clearly NOT morning. We both start laughing… “I mean evening!!!” She quickly adds. Juliette always does this, it is kind of a running joke that we have, but I so appreciate that there is someone else in the world that can be as super efficient as she is, and still have absolutely no idea what time of day it is! I feel like this a lot. What day of the week is it today?
After some more giggling I say “I’ve got 12 people coming in tomorrow at the port, can Phillipe pick them up? They aren’t coming out with us, but I arranged a catamaran snorkeling tour for them. It’s a 9 AM pick up, at the statue, like normal, then he needs to take them to Grand Case.”
“Sure, honey. Whats the name?” Juliette always calls me honey. She also brought me flowers on my first mothers day. It is almost worth getting a taxi ride just to meet her, even if you are renting a car!
Phew, all set! Chris and I enjoy a wonderful dinner.
Little K does not have a very good nights sleep that night, he has a little “toofy” coming in, poor Little Boy. At 6:45 the next morning I get a text message. Now, when I get a text message at this time of day it is never good. It is the captain of the catamaran charter.
“I can’t do the charter. My hostess let me down. Can you contact your people and tell them?”
OH NO! This is exactly why I don’t like to organize trips for people! If it is my hands then I can make sure that things run smoothly, but when I recommend someone, set it up and then BOOM! canceled, there is nothing I can do. I couldn’t believe it. A text message! OH NO! THE KIDS! THE TURTLES! AND NOW KEIRAN HAS WOKEN UP BECAUSE OF THE BEEPING!!! Not a great way to start the day!
“Can I contact my people to tell them it is canceled?” NO! They are on a cruise ship! Of course I can’t! I am fuming at this point. Do I cancel the taxi? I mean, it isn’t fair to just send Phillipe to deliver a message. He is running a business too! What do I do?
The next hour is spent trying to find someone to work on the catamaran. I even offer up one of our interns to work on the boat. The captain says no.
I call Phillipe. I explain the situation. Not great for Phillipe because he is the one that has to see these people face to face. We brainstorm some ideas of what they can do for the day. Snorkeling at Pinel, water sports at Orient Bay. Lunch at Friars Bay. I just ask Phillipe to call me when he gets them and I will speak to Daniel.
9 o’clock comes and I am dreading the conversation. Will he be mean to me and yell on the phone? I mean… I am doubly disappointing him.
The phone rings. It is Phillipe. Deep breath. Don’t think, Sally, just answer and speak. It isn’t your fault!
“Hi, this is Daniel.”
Yikes, here it goes.
“Hi Daniel. This is Sally. I have some bad news….”
He takes it pretty well. He is sad, I can tell. After all, he is the one that has to tell the turtle-loving-children there will be no turtles.
The day continues… I actually go out and have two awesome dives at Tintamarre with Chris, which takes my mind of Daniel and his 11 family members. This is actually a whole separate blog I need to write for another day! It includes pain and triumph, so it will be a good one!!!
Charley is looking after little K and when I get back she says that she had a call from Phillipe. Uh oh. Phillipe. I hope it isn’t to tell me that they stormed off, or he forget to pick them up, or something like that!
Deep breath, call Phillipe Sally, don’t think about it, just call.
“Hi Sally. Somebody wants to talk to you.”
“ok,” I say with trepidation. There is a rustling on the other end.
“Hi It’s Daniel, I just wanted to say Thank you.” (Did he just say Thank you?) “We had an amazing day. Phillipe is wonderful. We even stopped by the dive shop to meet you, but you weren’t there so we got some tee-shirts!” (Did he just say he went to the dive shop to buy tee-shirts?) “Not many people would’ve done what you did for us, and I really appreciate it.”
Well, this is going pretty well. I mean, I even made money out of this whole fiasco!
“Thanks so much for calling, Daniel. I am so sorry about this morning but super happy you had a great day!”
I don’t know, should I arrange trips for people in the future? I don’t think the stress is worth is. Luckily Daniel came through for me and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy.
The most important thing was that Daniel and his family had a great day. I never met them. I will probably never meet them, but I hope that they leave St Martin wanting to return, and that they tell all their friends about it. I hope the turtle-loving-children find their turtles next year!
I saw Phillipe the other morning and thanked him. I said “Basically, Phillipe, they were just grateful to me because I sent you to them.” We wished each other good evening and agreed!
(Sally wrote this blog 🙂 )