Viking River Cruise - Payment Policy

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#1
Manito, IL
89 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
We took our first river cruise with Viking in April 2012 - The Rhine Getaway. We were so totally impressed with Viking's efficiency, the tours, the ship, the complete package, that upon our return we immediately booked 2 more trips for 2013. And we are now looking at booking for 2014 The Imperial Jewels of China.

However, there is one aspect of Viking that we strongly do not agree with. And I know that Viking monitors these sites, as I've seen them respond -- so this is really an open letter to Viking Management, and maybe if enough of us agree with my issue -- they will respond with a change in policy.

Viking's booking policy is to place an initial deposit, plus insurance, which is reasonable. What is not resonable is that full payment is expected months / year in advance. (Right now for 2014 Jewels of China Full Payment is due by mid-February 2013.)
If I do book with another company, it will be because of their booking policy vs Vikings’. Yes, I know we can get (some) money back, etc..but that is a hassle. Bottom line -- we are giving Viking thousands of dollars, months to well over a year in advance of a trip -- basically deposited on faith that we will go, and that Viking will even still be in business.
I’ve been looking at other lines (Avalon for one). They offer very similar trips / prices. The biggest difference ---- final payment is due 90 days out. That seems so much more fair and reasonable to me.
#2
3,885 Posts
Joined May 2009
I too hope Viking is listening..... And that Viking should know they lost me as a cruiser.... I booked a Suite on Avalon for Sept 2013 Paris to Prague! I paid a deposit and also purchased Trip Insurance and do NOT pay the balance until June 2013 - 90 days prior to cruise departing.

So all I can say is that Viking lost a high-end income stream from this cruise passenger.... Not to mention cruises in the future. My plan is to book AMA for Amsterdam to Budapest next. AMA is also not requiring pmt in full months or a year in advance.

Sorry Viking, I love your common sense posts on CC but I will not be joining you on any of your trips due to your "Payment Policies"
#3
Knoxville, TN
170 Posts
Joined Jun 2011
I agree!! We just returned from the Viking Sun and had to pay for that trip in full by 5/31/2011 for a sailing on 11/25/2012. It was our first trip with Viking and we enjoyed it tremendously; so much so, we booked a Passage to Eastern Europe sailing for March 2014. That final payment is due by 5/31/2013. They say it's to "lock in" price. I wish they would change their policy; other lines let you pay 70-90 days out, why can't they? I guess they need the money to finance their aggressive longship building program.
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#4
Milton On Canada
938 Posts
Joined Sep 2008
That's the only reason I don't book with Viking, wanting full payment so far in advance.
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Judy

Carnival Pride-Western Caribbean Feb 2015
Scenic Emerald-Paris to Barcelona Sept 2013
Freedom OTS-E. Caribbean March 2013
Scenic Emerald Amsterdam to Budapest Sept 2012
Emerald Princess-S. Caribbean Jan 2012
AMA Amalegro Prague to Paris Sept 2011
Oceania Insignia Venice -Barcelona -September 2010
Coral Princess Panama Canal FLL to LA Dec 2009
Emerald Princess Baltic Aug 2009
Caribbean Princess S. Caribbean B2B Nov 2008
#5
Ohio
770 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Viking seems to be the only company that requires payment in full so early. They may claim it is to lock in the price, but other lines will allow you to lock in the price, once a deposit is made. The final price does not go up once booked. I actually put my $250 deposit down in Feb 2011 for a May 2012 trip with Avalon and I was able to lock in the 2011 price while doing so. I don't know why Viking has the policies that they do, but they have more ships than any other company, and obviously don't seem to have much trouble filling these. It would seem that as long as they can fill their ships, they can continue their business practices as they do. They don't mind losing customers to other companies because there seem to be plenty willing to accept Viking's terms. As many have said on many different lines, this is one of the reasons that I will never cruise with Viking.
#6
3,885 Posts
Joined May 2009
Well this is apparently a "Business Model" that works for them and they have plenty of Happy Cruisers! I just like to invest in more than one trip and that pmt upfront does NOT work with my "Business Model"
#7
Ontario, Canada
2,747 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Actually, Uniworld has a somewhat similar process... if you want their "best" price.

You can get a discount for early booking and paying a deposit. But - the best price is if you will pay in full when booking. We did just that when we booked our cruise in Russia with Uniworld - as the price reduction was significantly more than what we would have made leaving our money in the bank and paying the balance 90 days out.

While I do agree that paying in full up front is not my first choice, I did exactly that for our Viking cruise next April. They had the itinerary, and the price that I wanted - so paying for the entire cruise at time of booking wasn't a big deal - when we ended up with the trip we wanted.

Fran
#8
Vancouver, BC
17,520 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Completely agree with you and they lost our booking because of it. We were on the fence between just booking a couple of cities by land or booking a river cruise...not only was the land trip under 1/2 the cost, the full payment deal was a complete deal breaker.
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#9
372 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
We are trying not to book so far in advance. Acceptable term is not earlier than 3-4 months before the cruise. Thus we'll never have such problems.
#10
Ontario, Canada
2,747 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by Aragon
We are trying not to book so far in advance. Acceptable term is not earlier than 3-4 months before the cruise. Thus we'll never have such problems.
I do wish you luck with that... There is not always a lot of options that close to sailing time - but if you are really flexible with dates, cruise line and cabin category - then you might be able to find a good deal. You might have to look at booking air with the cruise line to get a good price (unless you have points...). We have found our best prices for air are often 7-10 months out.

Fran
#11
372 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by franski
We have found our best prices for air are often 7-10 months out.
Fran
Yes, I know. Thanks for good advice.
#12
New Albany, Ohio
556 Posts
Joined Aug 2008
I believe Vantage also has a sliding discount scale concerning payments. 10% if paid twelve months in advance decreasing as you approach the sailing date.
#13
Orangeville Ontario
1,720 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Originally posted by franski
I do wish you luck with that... There is not always a lot of options that close to sailing time - but if you are really flexible with dates, cruise line and cabin category - then you might be able to find a good deal. You might have to look at booking air with the cruise line to get a good price (unless you have points...). We have found our best prices for air are often 7-10 months out.

Fran
Interesting comment that best air prices are often 7-10 months out . We have kind of assumed that 3-5 was best, and indeed we had to wait for that time period for our upcoming cruise. The price dropped $300. pp.

Perhaps this recent example was an anomaly and we should adjust our thinking.

There is some suggestion that airlines are going to reduce the number of flights to Europe this year and that may exert pressure on prices and make timing even more important.
#14
Ontario, Canada
2,747 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by nordski
Interesting comment that best air prices are often 7-10 months out . We have kind of assumed that 3-5 was best, and indeed we had to wait for that time period for our upcoming cruise. The price dropped $300. pp.

Perhaps this recent example was an anomaly and we should adjust our thinking.

There is some suggestion that airlines are going to reduce the number of flights to Europe this year and that may exert pressure on prices and make timing even more important.
We usually book our trips 9-12 months out (or more...) We booked our "Passage to Eastern Europe" cruise for April 2013 in mid-July - and then started watching for flights. Of course, open jaw is more expensive - and figured anything under $1000/pp into Bucharest and out of Budapest would be a great price. We booked for just under $800/pp - and were thrilled. The current price (just over 4 months out...) is over $900/pp - still not bad, however...

Same with our trip to Russia... We booked our air 9 months out - and managed to get into St. Petersburg and out of Moscow for under $1000/pp.

I have seen some great sales on cruises - but when I looked into air, the cost of travel eroded any cost savings associated with the cruise itself.

It can be time consuming to keep a close eye on the cost of flights - but it has usually worked out well for us.

Fran
#15
Australia
5 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
We are booked on a cruise this June - we booked it July last year and paid our deposit - our balance is not due for another couple of weeks , which is 4 months out. I had to pay our airfares then and there on the spot - so don't have a problem with paying Viking 4 months out. Seems reasonable as if we withdraw (oh so unlikely) then they have time to find a new passanger
#16
Vancouver, BC
17,520 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
Originally posted by NT_Aussie
We are booked on a cruise this June - we booked it July last year and paid our deposit - our balance is not due for another couple of weeks , which is 4 months out. I had to pay our airfares then and there on the spot - so don't have a problem with paying Viking 4 months out. Seems reasonable as if we withdraw (oh so unlikely) then they have time to find a new passanger
I wouldn't have had an issue with 4 months in advance. When we were looking the price went up quite a bit if the cruise wasn't paid in full within a few weeks of booking.
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#17
Mississauga, Canada
474 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
We booked Viking's Douro River cruise almost a year out and paid in full. When booking, there were certain categories already sold out and only a short time later the ship was completely sold out for our dates and many dates offered before and after our dates.

Supply and demand seems to play a big factor. Viking had the dates and length of cruise we wanted, so we paid and are now looking forward to our cruise.

Would the payment in full deter me from booking Viking in the future? Probably not if they were offering what I was looking for.
#18
Elmwood Park, NJ, USA
358 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
You might want to use their custom air. It's $50 pp. We used them and were able to get non-stops to and from. Of course, we are fortunate to live close to a major airport. Research what flights you would want . . see if you can come up with something better and call their custom air. It may be worth the extra $50 pp.
#19
Massachusetts
440 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
This is a little off the subject but what does everyone think of the Viking Advertisements indicating 2 for the price of 1?

We cruised with Viking several years ago and it was fantastic. I mean it was the perfect vacation. The crew was wonderful, the food, the scenery, everything.

However, I am annoyed with advertisements that say "Two for the price of one" and show a figure of say $4,000, but that is "Per Person" So the cost for two is really $8,000.

I must get a card or brochure weekly from Viking with these so called special fares. It was so disappointing to call and find that the price shown was more like a bait and switch.
#20
Delray Beach, Florida
150 Posts
Joined May 2010
I've posted on this subject before. We're doing Viking for the first and last time in June, Berlin-Prague. The final payment date is negotiable, but you really have to "deal" with your travel agent and Viking. We booked the trip for May '13 in May '12, and they wanted full payment the end of that month. After negotiations, we didn't have to make final payment 'til Dec.

Uniworld and Avalon, at least, offer a deep discount if you pay in full up front, up to $2,000/couple!

Plus, with Viking, you might be charged foreign transaction fee depending on your credit card as the charge goes thru as Basel, CH (Switzerland). You'll be reimbursed the fee by your travel agent or Viking, but the fact that I hadn't been told about this in the first place is what annoyed the heck out of me.