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  #1  
Old April 3rd, 2013, 12:15 PM
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Default Interesting Article

For all you Viking fans and those considering booking a cruise on Viking, you may want to read this article.

http://www.travelweekly.com/River-Cr...on-the-rivers/


Cheers
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Old April 3rd, 2013, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbrein View Post
For all you Viking fans and those considering booking a cruise on Viking, you may want to read this article.

http://www.travelweekly.com/River-Cr...on-the-rivers/


Cheers
Terri
Really interesting article, thanks for taking the time to post it!
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Old April 3rd, 2013, 02:59 PM
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Mr. Hagen seems to be a real character. I never heard of him until I saw this article this morning. Just thought others might be interested.
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Old April 3rd, 2013, 04:07 PM
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Thanks for the heads up. What a character. With the enormous growth the key for them will be providing consistency from ship to ship. If they can do that they'll continue to be a force to be reckoned with.
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  #5  
Old April 3rd, 2013, 05:29 PM
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Yes, quite a character. Interesting read. Thanks!
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Old April 3rd, 2013, 10:40 PM
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Having cruised with Uniworld it will be interesting to see how Viking compares when we have our first Viking cruise

in October. We hope it's true that as the article's author says, "One gets the sense that Viking's management

understands that its product doesn't need to be best, as long as it's good enough." Good enough might be

good enough. We'll see.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 09:56 AM
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Good article. I can attest to the fact that they advertise. We were gone from home for 7 weeks and half of our "junk" mail was from Viking. I wish they would send a few less things. I don't need several fancy catalogs every month or two.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 11:19 AM
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I'm surprised by these responses to this article ...

For more than a year, I have been a passive (non-member) of the Cruise Critic message board community. I have enjoyed reading posts to get insight from avid river cruisers, but never felt the need to join to reply to posts or start my own inquiries. I signed up today because I felt it was important to provide a different opinion to this article.

While I agree that, based on this article, Viking's CEO Tor Hagen is a "character" - I don't look at that description as a positive. As a woman and someone who embraces diversity when I travel, I can tell you I was both disgusted and appalled by Hagen's comments in this article.

I have traveled with Viking in the past, but after reading his views (and his seeming lack of interest in anyone who isn't like him, not to mention his admitting that he cuts corners on amenities and more), I will not travel with this company again.

I'm so glad this article was posted here ... Thank you.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tbrein View Post
For all you Viking fans and those considering booking a cruise on Viking, you may want to read this article.

http://www.travelweekly.com/River-Cr...on-the-rivers/


Cheers
Terri
Got to love those Minnesota Vikings.
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  #10  
Old April 4th, 2013, 03:37 PM
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I am looking to go on my first river cruise. After reading this article, I would not consider Viking. Their policy seems to be, (One size fits all. Mass cookie cutter travel).
I am also concerned about his boast of how many ships (100?) he hopes to have on the rivers. I hope the countries concerned will have policies to stop over crowding and ruining what sounds like a great way to travel. WHO WANTS THE STOPS TO TURN INTO CRUISE SHIP MASS EXODUS. Traveling from New Zealand is expensive, so I research thoroughly. Viking doesn't mention New Zealand in its target audience. Maybe we are unsuitable Did not like his comment about people from Hong Kong sometimes slipping through his net. Uniworld or Avalon are my choices. I like the modern Avalon new suite ships, but I also like the whole Uniworld package. Will try both companies. Both seem to offer a more individual and personal approach.
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  #11  
Old April 4th, 2013, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcaron44 View Post
I'm surprised by these responses to this article ...

For more than a year, I have been a passive (non-member) of the Cruise Critic message board community. I have enjoyed reading posts to get insight from avid river cruisers, but never felt the need to join to reply to posts or start my own inquiries. I signed up today because I felt it was important to provide a different opinion to this article.

While I agree that, based on this article, Viking's CEO Tor Hagen is a "character" - I don't look at that description as a positive. As a woman and someone who embraces diversity when I travel, I can tell you I was both disgusted and appalled by Hagen's comments in this article.

I have traveled with Viking in the past, but after reading his views (and his seeming lack of interest in anyone who isn't like him, not to mention his admitting that he cuts corners on amenities and more), I will not travel with this company again.

I'm so glad this article was posted here ... Thank you.
Dear jcaron44,

First, let us say we really are happy that you have decided to join the Cruise Critic community. We do wish it was under different circumstances and motivations, but we know—as community members ourselves—that you are going to find it a rewarding experience to participate in these discussions.

Now, to the heart of the matter… We are saddened to hear that this article caused you concern and we’d like to offer some clarification on a few things mentioned.

Diversity in Travel: We too embrace diversity in travel. We travel to more destinations than any other river cruise line and in those destinations we seek out authentic experiences and interactions for our guests. As someone who has traveled with us before, we hope you found this to be true of your own Viking experience. The official language on our river ships is English; both for our staff and for our guests. This guiding principle allows everyone on board to have conversations with each other—an important aspect of enjoying time spent on such an intimate vessel.

Cutting Corners: We do not believe that we cut corners. We do believe that we have been the most creative in efficiently using the space restrictions of a river vessel. In fact, we’ve been awarded patents on certain aspects of our Longships design. (The efficiencies in ship design, along with other efficiencies, such as owning and operating our vessels, allow us to offer our product at a great value.) We also believe that the best spa experience on the river won’t be found on a ship with such size restrictions; the best spa experience will be found in a spa ashore. When it comes to a pool, no pool on a river ship will compare to a swim in Budapest’s Gellért Baths. These are just a few examples… And in terms of amenities, we have premium L’Occitane toiletries, a complimentary bottle of water in the room, bathrobe and slippers upon request, hair dryers, free wireless internet…the list goes on, but the point is we don’t believe we skimp on amenities, but rather the opposite.

Viking is the most-awarded river cruise line, including recent awards from the editors of Cruise Critic and the readers of Travel + Leisure. We take that honor seriously, whole-heartedly believing that we offer an exceptional product, at a great value, on a fleet of ships that display understated elegance.

We don’t mean to sound defensive or cause any additional offense; we simply wanted to respond with our point of view on some of your concerns. If you would like to discuss this any further, please feel free to contact us directly at TellUs@vikingrivercruises.com. We’d be happy to hear from you.

We wish you many happy posts on Cruise Critic and wonderful travels in the future.

Kind regards,
Viking River Cruises
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Old April 4th, 2013, 03:51 PM
jcaron44 jcaron44 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harbourside View Post
I am looking to go on my first river cruise. After reading this article, I would not consider Viking. Their policy seems to be, (One size fits all. Mass cookie cutter travel).
I am also concerned about his boast of how many ships (100?) he hopes to have on the rivers. I hope the countries concerned will have policies to stop over crowding and ruining what sounds like a great way to travel. WHO WANTS THE STOPS TO TURN INTO CRUISE SHIP MASS EXODUS. Traveling from New Zealand is expensive, so I research thoroughly. Viking doesn't mention New Zealand in its target audience. Maybe we are unsuitable Did not like his comment about people from Hong Kong sometimes slipping through his net. Uniworld or Avalon are my choices. I like the modern Avalon new suite ships, but I also like the whole Uniworld package. Will try both companies. Both seem to offer a more individual and personal approach.
I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who took great offense to Hagen/Viking comments. And I agree that their whole "take over the world" mentality is WAY off and simply showcases a need to feed his already too-big ego. (I think the author of the article agrees too.)

I'm looking at Avalon for my next cruise.
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  #13  
Old April 4th, 2013, 04:03 PM
jcaron44 jcaron44 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Viking River Cruises View Post
Dear jcaron44,

First, let us say we really are happy that you have decided to join the Cruise Critic community. We do wish it was under different circumstances and motivations, but we know—as community members ourselves—that you are going to find it a rewarding experience to participate in these discussions.

Now, to the heart of the matter… We are saddened to hear that this article caused you concern and we’d like to offer some clarification on a few things mentioned.

Diversity in Travel: We too embrace diversity in travel. We travel to more destinations than any other river cruise line and in those destinations we seek out authentic experiences and interactions for our guests. As someone who has traveled with us before, we hope you found this to be true of your own Viking experience. The official language on our river ships is English; both for our staff and for our guests. This guiding principle allows everyone on board to have conversations with each other—an important aspect of enjoying time spent on such an intimate vessel.

Cutting Corners: We do not believe that we cut corners. We do believe that we have been the most creative in efficiently using the space restrictions of a river vessel. In fact, we’ve been awarded patents on certain aspects of our Longships design. (The efficiencies in ship design, along with other efficiencies, such as owning and operating our vessels, allow us to offer our product at a great value.) We also believe that the best spa experience on the river won’t be found on a ship with such size restrictions; the best spa experience will be found in a spa ashore. When it comes to a pool, no pool on a river ship will compare to a swim in Budapest’s Gellért Baths. These are just a few examples… And in terms of amenities, we have premium L’Occitane toiletries, a complimentary bottle of water in the room, bathrobe and slippers upon request, hair dryers, free wireless internet…the list goes on, but the point is we don’t believe we skimp on amenities, but rather the opposite.

Viking is the most-awarded river cruise line, including recent awards from the editors of Cruise Critic and the readers of Travel + Leisure. We take that honor seriously, whole-heartedly believing that we offer an exceptional product, at a great value, on a fleet of ships that display understated elegance.

We don’t mean to sound defensive or cause any additional offense; we simply wanted to respond with our point of view on some of your concerns. If you would like to discuss this any further, please feel free to contact us directly at TellUs@vikingrivercruises.com. We’d be happy to hear from you.

We wish you many happy posts on Cruise Critic and wonderful travels in the future.

Kind regards,
Viking River Cruises
I understand that this is likely a PR nightmare for you, but your response goes directly against your CEO's (the leader of your company) quotes and this article.

Here are some article highlights ...
“We market to North Americans, Brits, Australians. Nothing else. No Turks, no Brazilians. They may sneak on a person from Hong Kong or whatever, but it’s these types of people that we strive for.”

“We have no need whatsoever to say we want some younger people onboard. If you have teenagers, then you should go somewhere else. We don’t encourage [inter] generational travel.”

“I’m a minimalist. Because there are a lot of women around, we have to have some décor, some style.”

"One gets the sense that Viking’s management understands that its product doesn’t need to be best, as long as it’s good enough."

"[Hagen is] proud that he can carry more passengers on the same size ship [by eliminating amenities] as competitors."

"His minimalist décor might make spaces look less cramped, but it also saves money on fixtures."

"Asked to explain the differences among the three generations of Longships, he was hard-pressed to come up with any. The ships are 'all the same, apart from their lipstick.'"

"Hagan is first and foremost a financial guy ... He squared off the bow so that he could get seven additional cabins in “for free.” [Amenities] take up space that could become additional cabins."


My guess is that you've won the most awards, because you've been around the longest.

Last edited by jcaron44; April 4th, 2013 at 04:22 PM. Reason: Added another quote
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  #14  
Old April 4th, 2013, 04:22 PM
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After reading some of the responses to the article I decided to read it again. Hagen's targeted customer

base can be boiled down to:

1. No teenager and younger people,

2. English Speaking people only, and

3. People with a ambience similiar to his.

While this may not be very PC, it may a winning business model.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 04:35 PM
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I for one feel that Viking scores high on the polls because they have the most ships, therefore the most people sailing with them. Therefore, the most voters. If one does not sail on any other line, then that is what one knows and what one votes for. I fall in that category for the cruise ship category. I only sail on HAL and if taking a poll will vote for HAL as the best. Are they, I think so. Others who sail on another line think differently. Certainly a line with fewer ships and therefore a smaller passenger base would never get as many votes as those with many ships and a larger passenger base.

I have no stake in this. I just happened to come across this article and knowing that this board has many people who sail on Viking I thought it was worth posting. I have no intention of bashing Viking because I have never sailed on them and cannot evaluate the experience. However, Mr. Hagen's remarks do not make me want to run and book a river cruise on Viking.

I, myself, want a more upscale experience and will be sailing on Tauck MS Treasures for our river cruise this summer. In comparing prices, I really don't see that much of a difference when one starts adding up all the "options" you have to pay for on Viking and the other lines. I really like the all-inclusive and the "no options sold" features among others.

Terri
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Old April 4th, 2013, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harbourside View Post
I am looking to go on my first river cruise. After reading this article, I would not consider Viking. Their policy seems to be, (One size fits all. Mass cookie cutter travel).
I am also concerned about his boast of how many ships (100?) he hopes to have on the rivers. I hope the countries concerned will have policies to stop over crowding and ruining what sounds like a great way to travel. WHO WANTS THE STOPS TO TURN INTO CRUISE SHIP MASS EXODUS. Traveling from New Zealand is expensive, so I research thoroughly. Viking doesn't mention New Zealand in its target audience. Maybe we are unsuitable Did not like his comment about people from Hong Kong sometimes slipping through his net. Uniworld or Avalon are my choices. I like the modern Avalon new suite ships, but I also like the whole Uniworld package. Will try both companies. Both seem to offer a more individual and personal approach.
We have never cruised with Viking. However, I always compare their tour with Vantage and AMA. So far, we have booked with Vantage or AMA.
Vantage's tour of China was cheaper and included more than Viking's.

Also, I dislike their 2 for 1 pricing policy. Once can still deciper the per person cost, but it requires an additional effort.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 06:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cruz-OR View Post
After reading some of the responses to the article I decided to read it again. Hagen's targeted customer

base can be boiled down to:

1. No teenager and younger people,

2. English Speaking people only, and

3. People with a ambience similiar to his.

While this may not be very PC, it may a winning business model.
Cruz-OR:
Yes, one really great side-effect of a company CEO speaking his/her mind is that you instantly become aware of what that company stands for. Then, you can choose to stand with them or stand with another company with philosophies and values more inline with your own.

In this case, I would like to cruise with a company that:
1) Embraces younger travelers (high school or college graduates, perhaps, traveling internationally with parents or grandparents as well as 20-, 30- and 40-somethings), in addition to older, more experienced travelers

2) Encourages travel among people of all cultures who are interested in cruising on a ship with English-speaking crew and passengers (my guess is most of the cultures he mentions in the article readily embrace English as either a primary or secondary language ... Plus, a majority of US citizens' ancestors hail from other countries around the world, including many of the places he mentions)

3) Takes inspiration from the latest boutique, modern and luxury hotels (as well as guests) in terms of comfort and ambiance (v. doing as little as possible or "just enough")

I appreciate the fact that I now know who the CEO of Viking is and what he believes in. It gives me the opportunity to look elsewhere for my next river cruise.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 09:24 PM
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"We market to North Americans, Brits, Australians. Nothing else. No Turks, no Brazilians. They may sneak on a person from Hong Kong or whatever, but it’s these types of people that we strive for.”

There were many reasons I discounted Viking as a contender for our Danube cruise, but this only validates my gut feeling that Viking wasn't a good fit for our group.
Not only will I never consider booking with them myself, but will be sure to make their underlying business goals clear to future clients so they can make informed decisions.
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Old April 4th, 2013, 10:19 PM
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Hagen was more than anything speaking to the choir (employees, investors, etc). Fortunately for Viking the number of potential cruisers hearing or reading his words is only slightly more than none. Their cruises are largely sold out months and months in advance so the negative impact of his statements will not be much. Also the new ships will sell themselves creating a signicant amount of demand. If he suceeds in his business model he will be proven, if not right, at least able to read his market. If he is not successful many can say they know why.
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Old April 5th, 2013, 01:48 AM
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Seems Viking isn't the only Cruiseline to discouraged some passengers, like kids and young parents. The following CC Poster (Post #1) found out kids fares have gone up significantly and another CC Poster (Post #2) tells why. Good reading.

Post #1
"This year when looking to book next years cruise I noticed prices for the same type of cruise we took last year appeared to be up about $1-300 per person in most categories. I thought I could stomach that, so I continued my search to the next screen of the booking process, but when I got to the page with the total, I almost fell off my chair. It came to almost twice as much as last year?!?!?
Looking more closely I noticed that the 3rd/ 4th passenger rates for children (under 12 mind you) were 75-90% of the adult fare! Talk about hidden increases... So to make my statement to the cruise industry, since calling or emailing is probably a waste of time, I will just abstain from cruising and look into nicer options like a long stay or two at Embassy Suites hotels in a nice city or 2 or 3. I will come out spending less, having a larger room, see more, and have more choices. I better at least pick one oceanfront so I can take in the sea, maybe take a dinner cruise. The hotel will have 5 mile shuttle to facilitate travel and the rewards points and loyalty amenities are even better.
Maybe I will be able to afford to cruise again when my kids are grown. It was a nice 30 year run including about 15 cruises. The product was better in the 1980's anyway... "

Post #2
"You have just become the latest victim of our attempts to discourage passengers who do not fully support our onboard revenue programs.
In recent years - for reasons I cannot understand nor support - the cruise industry has adopted the American Wal-Mart approach to making money. We no longer sell cruises at a profit. In fact, we often sell them at a loss. Instead, we now make money only by selling things to passengers after they come onboard.
In my opinion, this was not a good move and has not worked out as well as the "suits" had planned. In any case, it is the way it is.

Families do not fit very well into that revenue model.
Children cannot gamble nor drink alcohol. They rarely go to the spa and almost never purchase photos. Disney Cruise Line learned this the hard way and had to dramatically increase fares to cover the profit losses from too many children onboard.

But the revenue issues go even further. Many young parents can barely afford to take a cruise and bring the kiddies along. Once they get onboard, they have precious little extra cash to spend. As that is our only way to make money, parents with children (as a general group) have become something less than desirable clients for us - unless we charge them more money upfront (like Disney does).

That is not to say that you, personally, are not our ideal client. You may be loaded, and spend loads of that cash when you take your family on a cruise. You may indeed be the ideal passenger we are always looking for. But today's Mass Market Cruise Lines do not look at individuals. We look at demographic numbers. You, unfortunately, are in the wrong category.

In any case, you have discovered a Win-Win situation. You get a great inexpensive hotel holiday with the family, and the cruise line sells that cabin either to a family for more money, or a couple who spends more money onboard. You get the holiday you wanted for a lower price, and the cruise line makes more profit."
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