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m2inor

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  1. If you book extra days with Viking before or after a cruise tour, you will pay a large fee PER PERSON. This is for hotel room and your airport transfer to/from hotel. Most will find that arranging independent transfer (taxi/Uber/Metro) and hotel will be less expensive. Just need to be sure to know the hotel that is included with your cruise tour, or be willing to stay at a different hotel. We recently returned from the Portugal River of Gold cruise tour. We booked economy travel with Viking Airplus, and paid extra fee to select our own flights. United changed the schedule several times, but I had entered the PNR with my United Mileage Plus account, so was well informed by United. Viking Airplus was out of sync with the most current info, ranging from seat assignments (which I changed), to flight times. With one of the changes by United, I was successful in changing the original flight routes. One of the original flights was PDX-IAD-LIS. Due to United change, flight was changed to PDX-DEN-IAD-LIS. That original outbound was upgraded to me using $$ and points to business class for the IAD-LIS leg. I was able to call United and using the original upgrade, change to PDX-EWR-LIS, and still get biz class upgrade on the EWR-LIS leg. Lie flat seats! As I mentioned in a different post, I was disappointed that I did not get dollar-spend (PQD) credit for the airfare paid, since this was a bulk fare. I did get United FF Mileage Plus mileage and segment credit. The included hotel in Lisbon was the Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Lisboa. Quite expensive. For our extra days beforehand, we booked the Hotel Fontecruz Lisboa just a block away Considerably less expensive, in the same area, and another 5-star hotel. Also affiliated with Marriott so got points. Both hotels were excellent, but both were expensive. Very convenient to walking to all the popular areas of Lisbon, and we did a lot of walking. We also purchased the 3-day transit pass: took Metro from Airport to Hotel, and the Metro was across the street from both the Fontecruz as well as the Tivoli. The pass got us on all the street cars, the Metro, the suburban trains to Sintra and Cascais; needed a separate bus pass for the day for Sintra and for travel from Sintra to Cascais, which included a short stop at westernmost city of Continental Europe, Cabo da Roca.
  2. We did something similar when we did Bucharest to Budapest in 2017. We booked our Bucharest hotel to arrive 2 days before cruise tour began, and coordinated with hotel to keep same room that Viking would have given us. We did not coordinate with Viking.
  3. I just canceled my Viking Air Plus on a March 2020 Germany cruise after inquiring about business class upgrades and fares. I was able to book biz class tickets for wife and I that got us to embarkation city a few days earlier, and returning from a different airport so we could stay a few days longer and visit a few other nearby cities. Overall, cost was considerably less than what Viking Air Plus was going to charge for business class. Note well: the economy class price from Viking Air Plus was less than what I could have booked in Economy, but the business class I was was able to book directly with the airline was only slightly more than Economy. This was with United, and I paid the $35 for Fare-lock, that gave me 7 days to purchase the fare; I used that time to check other options before locking things in. I was lucky to grab that low biz class fare, as it went up almost $2000 each for the next 6 days. So...best advice, is to learn how to use the air fare search engines, and book directly with the airline if you find a good fare.
  4. Back in 2017, we had booked a China cruise/tour with Viking, Beijing to Shanghai. We were flying in from Japan after staying a week there. Unfortunately, a typhoon was threatening Japan, so we arranged to fly to Beijing a day earlier. We had made our own travel arrangements, so Viking had nothing to do with the changed flights. We did contact Viking about our earlier arrival, and they arranged for an extra night at the same hotel they had assigned us, and also arranged for an earlier transfer from the airport to the hotel. All was done via email using Viking's 24-hour emergency assistance contact.
  5. Here's my Viking Air story, after reading the entire thread. TL;DR Tips for securing airfare at better prices, and warning for those wanting to achieve United frequent flyer status (or Delta or American). I've used Viking Air Plus for a Bucharest to Budapest river cruise back in 2017, my first experience with Viking. I paid the extra for a stopover in Paris and to select specific flights. I'm a 1MM (Million Miler) and Lifetime Gold United flyer, and have been booking/selecting my own international and domestic flights for decades. Internet searches have been a huge asset instead of those old OAG directories. My flights were OK, and at the time, less expensive than what I could have booked on my own that first time, so never paid much attention until this year after noticing I was not getting dollar spend credit with United. A few family members and friends are on an upcoming Portugal cruise, and I had booked the Viking Air Plus again, because at the time of booking, the Viking fares were still less expensive than what I could book online myself in Economy. United, Delta, and American now all have dollar spend requirements to qualify for different frequent flyer status levels. After my East European river cruise, I learned that the bulk fares that Viking provides do not count as dollar spend for achieve elite status; one only gets mileage and segment status. That came to bite me this year, as I'm going to meet the miles flown and segment status for United 1K status this year, but my dollar spend won't be met since my Viking air dollars ($1800) won't count; I have other international flights already completed this year that got me the miles and segments needed. What's the big deal with 1K status? 6 free global upgrade certificates to business class. Another issue with Viking Air and Air Plus is that though one is paying Viking directly, if there is any deviation from official dates for start or end, you are on you own for airport transfers for the deviated dates. I always try to arrive a few days early for a cruise tour, so the transfer isn't included on the arrival unless you book the extra nights at a Viking hotel offering. It's not always a good value, other than convenience. I've also sometimes extended my stay to visit other interesting places that may be in that part of the world. Since I have a lot of miles and status with United, I looked to using points/dollars to upgrade to business class; I already had free access to Economy Plus. This is possible with UA, but you must call an agent at United, since the Viking fare bucket does not let you do this online. United's app and website let you do all this online if you purchased the ticket directly with United. I was able to upgrade to business class on my upcoming flight to Portugal using miles and dollars by calling United. I have two other Viking cruises booked for 2020, and for my spring cruise, I originally had also booked Air Plus, Based on my learning (and searching for potential flights), I had that canceled when final payment was made in June. (Note: weird that Viking was now requiring full payment more that 6 months ahead of time). While the Viking Air Economy air fare was less expensive than the published Economy fares, I found that purchasing discounted business class fares from United were considerably less expensive than what Viking Air was going to charge. Likely also going to do the same for a July Viking cruise that is planned. I also learned that sometimes the free airfare offered, is only available using certain gateway cities, and there is a surcharge for other cities. The "free" airfare may also lead to higher cruise/tour prices at times. I've gotten spoiled with business class and have learned the tricks to get good fares that are half of the typical normal fare, or have the flexibility to arrange flight dates for economy fares that can be upgraded for points or dollars. Booking directly with the airline usually leads to the best prices, as long as you pay attention to the terms and conditions. So even after using the search engines to look at flight options, be sure to book the ticket directly with the airline, rather than thru a third party. Book online with the airline to avoid fees, and pay attention to the terms and conditions. Also, stay away from "Basic Economy". If you have one of the airline credit cards, it may also have benefit of earlier boarding, as well as free checked luggage. I realize that these tips may not work for the casual/leisure flyer, but anyone who flies a lot and is trying to achieve elite frequent flyer status, this info may be useful. With status, one can get preferred seating in economy at no additional cost, access to special pricing for air fares, free travel if you have enough miles/points banked, preferential treatment when flights are delayed or canceled, and sometimes even free upgrades.
  6. Re: laundry Your challenge will be cost, and making sure your have two nights at the same hotel. If so, the morning after your first night, submit your laundry and you should be able to get it back by 8pm. Determine the hotel you are staying at, and contact them directly about laundry service. We travel a lot, with only carry on. We pack 1 weeks worth of clothing each into our rollaboards, and one days worth into our personal item bag - a backpack, with our meds, electronics, camera, travel docs, and batteries. In our rollaboard we have an REI camping clothesline, and laundry detergent sheets from Amazon. When we are traveling longer than a week, those two items take care of our laundry needs. Our travel clothes are quick-dry synthetics that are no-iron and comfortable. We did a 2 month RTW adventure where this China cruise tour was in the first month. We've traveled like this for years. Our previous RTW trip in 2010 was 7 weeks, and included an ocean cruise midway thru. Traveled the same way, never using hotel laundry. This week we are near the end of a two week trip to India. Fortunately, our room rate included free laundry for 2 pieces each day. It's hot here, so we made use of that service each day, and still did in room washing of socks and under things for my wife. I hope this helps. PS for formal nights on cruises, I bring a sports jacket, or rent a tux on the ocean cruises. I wear the sports jacket on flights, trains, and buses, or roll it up into my backpack.
  7. The steps on the Great Wall are not only steep, but some are a big step up from step to step. While there may be railings in some places, just not always. At several of the ports on the Yangtze , it takes some extra effort to get on and off the boat after leaving the gangway. For the land portion we had in Beijing and Xian, there was a lot of walking, but you could hire someone to wheel you around a little, but unless you were mobile, you would miss a lot. China is not ADA friendly, and I suspect Tibet is even less accommodating. It really depends on your mobility and agility. We talked to the cruise people about passenger mobility issues. They’ve denied boarding to some who showed up with wheelchairs or scooters. They really aren’t equipped to assist people. We also did Manchu Picchu and Bolivia with Tauck, which is high altitude. We used prescribed Diamox and glad we did. One of the travelers on our group had problems due to altitude and breathing. Local wise, again, you must be able to get around on your own. No facilities or accommodation for people that need assistance. For the person asking, it’s not really about slowing others down, but rather would you be ok not traveling with the others. You are the one who knows how well you can get around, and whether you need help.
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