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  #1  
Old December 14th, 2013, 11:07 AM
njjeter njjeter is offline
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Thumbs down NEVER book with Viking Cruises

Our advice is that you NEVER book with Viking River Cruise under any circumstances. This was supposed to be a 38th anniversary trip setup and paid to be hassle free with all transfers included. Had we wanted to backpack through Europe, we would have done it 30 years earlier. After a weekend of sitting in airports waiting for flights that were ultimately canceled, we were given NO HELP whatsoever from Viking reps, who finally told us that we could pay for our own flight home or to change our flight to the next port that had an Air Canada terminal (which would mean missing half of the prepaid cruise). We were rerouted to Budapest two days late, but the ship would be gone by then, so we'd have to find our own way to the next port or the one after that. The idea of chasing the riverboat around Europe, trying to catch up with it, through countries where English is not the first language just about made me and my wife physically ill. Instead of celebrating our anniversary, we found ourselves unable to sleep, stressed out with chest pains (me) and migraines (her). Viking blamed Air Canada, and Air Canada said that Viking should refund our cruise payment in full, but that Air Canada couldn't since we paid Viking.

This review is for the Viking River Cruise company. My wife and I contracted with Viking River Cruises to get us from our home airport to the boat and back to our home airport. Viking made all of the travel arrangements. For the quick version, we spent an absolutely horrendous weekend in airports, and not-so-nice hotels (one of which we had to pay for ourselves) on the phone with Viking and Air Canada reps, none of whom were REMOTELY HELPFUL.

Our first problem occurred on the evening we were scheduled to leave our home airport, Nashville, TN. Viking had scheduled us to fly from Nashville to Toronto then on to Frankfurt and finally into Budapest where we were to embark. These flights were scheduled with Air Canada. The one and only Air Canada flight from Nashville to Toronto was canceled and even though I had signed up for text notification, there was no notification. When we arrived at the airport, not only had the flight been canceled but the Air Canada counter was closed with only a phone number to call (Air Canada has only a small desk in the Nashville airport). We finally got a Viking representative on the phone and after being on hold for almost two hours were rescheduled for a flight at 7 am the next day to send us to Toronto via NYC and then connect to Munich and then Budapest.

We had to make our own hotel accommodations for the night in Nashville since we don't live in Nashville. We had already left our car at a hotel for the entire length of the cruise, so we decided to stay there. No explanation of why the Air Canada flight was canceled (Nashville weather was fine though rainy, and the only storms or other cancellations were in flights coming from or to Texas, not the case with our flight). It appears there were not enough people who wanted to go to Toronto that evening for the flight to be profitable since only one other man appeared to check in to find his flight canceled. The new flight itinerary meant that we would miss not only the purchased transfer to our ship and our first night on the ship, but the scheduled city tour of Budapest.

So. now we spend a second travel day to get to Toronto (leaving Nashville at 7:00am) to await our flight to Munich, of which there is only one. After spending the day in the Toronto airport (from around noon to around 6 pm) we are informed the flight to Munich will be delayed. At this point my wife approached the desk for flights from Toronto to Frankfurt, to see if perhaps we should be placed stand-by on the Frankfurt flight in case the Munich flight is delayed too much to make our connection, or canceled altogether (as it ultimately was). She was told not to worry, that Air Canada would get us to Munich in time for the connection to Budapest or a later connection to Budapest before our ship left port.

We have already been informed by Viking that we will probably have to make taxi arrangements from the Budapest airport to our ship instead of the purchased transfer. When the only flight to Munich is canceled near midnight due to mechanical problems, it was rescheduled for the following afternoon around 4 pm (nearly 24 hours after the original flight). At this point, we cannot possibly get to Budapest before our ship departs. The next stop was to be Bratislava, Slovakia. After standing in multiple lines for several hours around midnight, Air Canada informs us they do not fly into Bratislava but it should be fairly easy to get trains in Europe!

We do not have an international cell phone, but someone is kind enough to loan us one. After a long wait on hold, we finally get in touch with the after-hours Viking Air Travel representative, who tells us they can do nothing for us and that when we finally get to Budapest, we can contact the local transfer company (this individual believes the transfer company can somehow transport us to another country to catch our ship since we had included transfers). We spend the next morning, Sunday, in a hotel in Toronto trying to get someone at Viking to give us some help. They say it is up to the airline to deal with everything, though we have not contracted with the airline but with Viking. Viking tells us there is no supervisor to talk to as it is Sunday. My wife suggests that perhaps we might be rerouted to another (ANY EUROPEAN CITY) where there's a Viking boat in port. She is told that all Viking boats are COMPLETELY FULL. By now, even if we could get to our ship, almost half of the tour would be missed, not to mention how exhausted and sick we are already. If we choose to go to the next city that Air Canada flies into, we'll have missed another day, PLUS we'll have to find a hotel on our own to await the boat coming from Slovakia. "I would just go home if I were you," the Viking rep tells my wife, but he makes no offer to help reschedule our flight home. Air Canada tells us that since Viking booked our initial flight, it is up to them to reschedule it.

Viking says everything is the fault of Air Canada and Air Canada says we have to deal with Viking. After hours on the phone, we finally get Air Canada to return us to Nashville. Viking tells they will not refund any of our monies or compensate us in anyway even though we paid them months in advance and entirely in good faith to be transported from our home airport to the ship and back to our home airport. On Monday, we call Viking customer service. We are informed by Rachel that since we did not get to our ship, Viking is not responsible for anything and will not reimburse or compensate us and that she has no supervisor with whom we can speak but we can write a letter to the president of the company. We intend to do this, of course.
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  #2  
Old December 14th, 2013, 12:05 PM
bobpatj bobpatj is offline
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One should ALWAYS buy trip insurance! Your experience is a good reason why. So sorry this happened to you.
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  #3  
Old December 14th, 2013, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by bobpatj View Post
One should ALWAYS buy trip insurance! Your experience is a good reason why. So sorry this happened to you.
Oh my, "Travel Insurance" would have made the OP whole. Travel insurance purchased from a third party vendor that covered the entire trip (from your front door and back again). And with travel insurance when things go very wrong as they did with the OP, the Trip/Travel Insurance people make all the arrangements for you....
I really hope the OP actually has coverage and he just has not gotten to that part if his story yet. I can not imagine spending $$$ on an extremely expensive trip to Europe and not having protected my investment!

Just my two cents....
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Old December 14th, 2013, 01:54 PM
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Let's not beat this poor guy while he is down.

This is horrible and Viking completely abandoned you. While this cluster is the fault of Canada Air, Viking was ultimately responsible for your travel.

I will never book anything with them and spread the word.
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  #5  
Old December 14th, 2013, 01:54 PM
cruiseryyc cruiseryyc is offline
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And never book air through a cruise line; if you do it yourself you are in control of when and how you fly to the port of departure.
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  #6  
Old December 14th, 2013, 02:49 PM
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nana541 nana541 is online now
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Originally Posted by BlueHerons View Post
Let's not beat this poor guy while he is down.

This is horrible and Viking completely abandoned you. While this cluster is the fault of Canada Air, Viking was ultimately responsible for your travel.

I will never book anything with them and spread the word.
Don't think anyone is beating this guy up.... Horrible what happened and plenty of blame to go around ! Just hoping they actually protected themselves with Travel Insurance.... Very small price to pay for the actual cost of savings on a trip gone wrong! Do remember that weather all over the country would have further impacted this whole sorry tale!

We will wait for the OP to return. This was the OP's first post and he has not been back since posting ...
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Last edited by nana541; December 14th, 2013 at 02:50 PM.
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  #7  
Old December 14th, 2013, 03:23 PM
huntersyaya huntersyaya is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueHerons View Post
Let's not beat this poor guy while he is down.

This is horrible and Viking completely abandoned you. While this cluster is the fault of Canada Air, Viking was ultimately responsible for your travel.

I will never book anything with them and spread the word.
I would think you need to make sure of all the facts before you "spread the word"...there are many happy Viking customers out there and if you have never personally dealt with them, you really have only here say to spread. Just my thoughts.
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  #8  
Old December 14th, 2013, 03:55 PM
grand isle joe grand isle joe is offline
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So sorry to hear of your horrible experience. We always try to fly a couple days before. This is when insurance does come in handy.
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  #9  
Old December 14th, 2013, 04:09 PM
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This must have been a terrible experience and not the way anyone would or should have to spend their 38th Anniversay holiday. Now we can await the Viking defenders to show how the OP was wrong and Viking itself to post the inevitable apology and please call us and we'll sort it out piece that it has become famous for.
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  #10  
Old December 14th, 2013, 05:06 PM
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Stratheden Stratheden is online now
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Njjeter
I am so sorry that you have had this horrible experience. I hope this doesn't deter you from future travel. Hopefully you have travel insurance and will not be out of pocket.

We have found that it is always best to arrive at least two days early for a couple of reasons.

1. Get over the jetlag at your own pace - not whilst trying to take in a busy schedule of sightseeing.

2. Gives you time to sort out any travel hiccups that unfortunately do occur.
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  #11  
Old December 14th, 2013, 08:02 PM
pully8 pully8 is offline
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what a nightmare. if an airline cancels a flight it would still be their responsibility to transport you on the next available flight, if you hold a valid ticket.

very difficult position to find yourself in and very frustrating. definitely get some advice. a big lesson for others too. a good travel agent might have been able to assist with this but its too late now.

we always get air independently to other travel arrangements and aim to arrive well before other plans. plus travel insurance.

sorry for your experience.
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Old December 14th, 2013, 09:30 PM
franski franski is offline
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I agree... a total nightmare.

This scenario certainly illustrates the rationale for buying travel insurance. It also paints a good picture for using a TA. AND for making flight arrangements independently.

It is really too bad that the people at Viking were so non-responsive to this scenario. I would not travel with them again either if this was my experience.

I would be surprised if the OP ever wanted to do a river cruise... (I would say "again" - but he hasn't made his first one yet!! ) This certainly leaves a sour taste....

Fran

Last edited by franski; December 14th, 2013 at 09:31 PM.
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  #13  
Old December 15th, 2013, 12:15 AM
Donray Donray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cruiseryyc View Post
And never book air through a cruise line; if you do it yourself you are in control of when and how you fly to the port of departure.
Ridicules statement like don't ever book with Southwest because they will not put you on another airline.


If they would have made there own reservations with Air Canada the same thing would have happen. Even first class would have no alternative since they canceled the flight.

Two lessons to learn, if you cannot afford the lose the money then buy insurance and second, fly in at least a day ahead of time if it is important.

In this case the OP self insured and did not go early when flying from a smaller airport.
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  #14  
Old December 15th, 2013, 01:21 AM
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remydiva remydiva is offline
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Default Not the first time...

Air canada has been known to cancel flights on what appears to be a whim..i never book with them.

Having said that, viking then left them hanging out to dry...shame on you Viking.

I hope a viking rep shows up on this thread to offer some assistance and hopefully the OP has been in contact with Viking "customer service".. Hahahaha...sorry, that just slipped out
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Old December 15th, 2013, 05:58 AM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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It is so unfortunate that your trip turned into a nightmare instead. I hope you are able to get Viking to assume the responsibility they are working so hard to ignore.

I have to say that based on so many complaints about their customer service (their onboard experience seems to satisfy most) we have never even considered Viking and would not in the future.

We traveled on a river cruise with Avalon with a group during the snow storm in 2010 that dumped 22 inches of snow on Germany in about 24 hours and wreaked havoc. Some had booked flights with Avalon and the rest of us had booked our own and arrived several days earlier, as we always do, just in case.

As we waited for them to arrive, I went to the CD to find out what the status of their flights were as I assumed Avalon would monitor this, having made all of the arrangements. I was told that even though flights had been booked with Avalon, they did not track the flights for cancellations or delays and that it was the responsibility of the passengers to get to the boat and to communicate with Avalon as to the status. There was no one in the Avalon home office to assist either as we learned later. They were not able to provide me with any information about the flights or when the rest of our group might arrive.

Everyone eventually arrived (some a day late) and it was the airline (in this case Lufthansa) that helped to get them there. Avalon did delay departure for several hours to wait for late arrivals as there were so many affected.

I always book my own air and also purchase independent travel insurance. These trips are too costly to take any chances and the overall lack of customer service these days in general makes dealing with these types of travel issues very stressful. We were booked to take a holiday cruise in two weeks and an illness in our family necessitated us to cancel our trip. We would have lost thousands had we not had insurance.
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Last edited by caviargal; December 15th, 2013 at 05:59 AM.
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Old December 15th, 2013, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donray View Post
Ridicules statement like don't ever book with Southwest because they will not put you on another airline. If they would have made there own reservations with Air Canada the same thing would have happen. Even first class would have no alternative since they canceled the flight.
OP is from Nashville, TN. If they had booked directly, it is unlikely they would have chosen Air Canada. This is the downside of booking through a cruise line: they pick the carrier and the route (often a long route with several connections, because they can get cheaper tickets that way).
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  #17  
Old December 15th, 2013, 11:31 AM
id est id est is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by remydiva View Post
Air canada has been known to cancel flights on what appears to be a whim..i never book with them...
It is very subjective. In 2010 American Airlines canceled one of our flights and the other was 5 hours delayed due to mechanical failure. Pretty much the same happened with us this summer and it was United this time.

Last edited by id est; December 15th, 2013 at 11:31 AM.
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Old December 15th, 2013, 03:17 PM
grand isle joe grand isle joe is offline
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It is very subjective. In 2010 American Airlines canceled one of our flights and the other was 5 hours delayed due to mechanical failure. Pretty much the same happened with us this summer and it was United this time.
A few years ago we were stranded in Hawaii (I know I know BUT we HAD to get back to work ) with United. They had everything but 1 pilot. So they said we could fly out on Thursday and this was Saturday. We flew ourselves home in 30 hours with not much help from United. Horror..... We love Lufthansa for they were always very happy and professional on all our European flights. We HATE flying Noth American airlines.
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Old December 15th, 2013, 03:20 PM
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As everyone has stated "Buy insurance" When one of our friends got confined to his cabin for 3 days because of Noro Virus, his trip insurance paid him for 3 days worth of his cruise because he could not be out of his cabin. That's how great trip insurance is.

We buy it no matter what. It is just part of the entire trip If you can afford to spend $10,000+ on a trip then you can afford to pay another $1,000 or less for trip insurance.

Also, this was this person's first post. Why did he not research his trip and find out that most people prefer their own flight reservations. At the very least fly in at least 1-2 days early to avoid this type of thing. Surely OP has flown before and know how flights get cancelled, etc. Always, always have backup plans when traveling.

Hopefully his trip insurance (if he has it) will reimburse him for the majority of the costs.

I have never been on Viking, but am planning a trip in 2015. I have heard nothing but good comments about them. I am already planning.
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Old December 15th, 2013, 03:41 PM
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nana541 nana541 is online now
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Red face First post and never been back

I am thinking we won't hear back from the OP to complete "the rest of the story" if there is one. He made his 1st and only post at 8:08am yesterday and has not been back....
Time to put this thread to bed!
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Last edited by nana541; December 15th, 2013 at 03:41 PM.
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