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Everything posted by Hanoj

  1. Viking cancelled our May 3, 2020 cruise on March 30 and we immediately requested a refund through our TA. All our cruise payments had been by e-check and the refunds posted to our bank accounts (two different ones were used) on April 26 and 27. Our TA was pleased since she expected it to take longer. A small credit card charge for an optional shore excursion was refunded today.
  2. Viking cancelled our May 3, 2020 cruise on March 30 and we immediately requested a refund through our TA. All our cruise payments had been by e-check and the refunds posted to our bank accounts (two different ones were used) on April 26 and 27. Our TA was pleased since she expected it to take longer. A small credit card charge for an optional shore excursion was refunded today. We have a deposit on an Alaska cruise at the end of May 2021 with the final payment due November 30, 2020. We booked this on a special incentive that postponed final payment to 6 months out. With all the various proposals regarding future air and international travel restrictions being presented, I won't make a decision about final payment until closer to the payment date.
  3. It is not a Ponzi scheme. Viking is seeking to gain market share in a capital intensive industry. Each VO ship costs about $400,000,000 USD to build. It is not practical to finance growth solely from earnings (excess of revenue over expenses) since it would take too long due to lead times to build the ships, etc. Viking has aggressively borrowed to finance its expansion. With its advance full payment policies, it has indirectly borrowed from guests without paying interest. This strategy works well when there is growth and profitable operations. The risk of this approach is exacerbated when there is a contraction like we are witnessing presently. Obviously Viking is seeking to come out of this crisis well positioned for the future. I commend them for the lead they have taken during this pandemic to prioritize customer service and employee care. It will be interesting to see what happens with advance full payment policies in the future. They have been able to do it due to demand for their cruises exceeding supply. That is, many of their cruises had sold out well in advance of sailing prior to this pandemic. I expect many things will be different once the pandemic ceases. The cruise industry, and Viking in particular, had been growing fast. As long as the present impediments to travel are lifted (i.e., no permanent restrictions like passengers over 70 requiring doctor approval), things have a greater chance of returning to normal. But, this is doubtful since many areas/ports were considering measures to reduce tourist volumes. For example, I have read accounts that the waters in Venice have cleared considerably and fish and dolphins have returned. Thus, I expect there will be less travel in the future. Hopefully, a better balance can be achieved in managing human activity and the planet's resources and other forms of life.
  4. We got a very good deal on our May 3 cruise that was just cancelled. Price to book the same cabin category on a May 2021 is more than the 125% FCC would cover. Plus, the 2021 is scheduled for the Venus. Will this ship be ready? We are taking the cash refund. If we receive it before April 30, we will consider booking a new cruise under the cancellation waiver policy in effect for bookings through April 30, 2020. But, more likely we will wait until we can get a similar good deal.
  5. All VO cruises through June 30 now cancelled. We got the email this morning and the notice on on the Viking Ocean website under My Trips Updates on Current Sailings.
  6. Viking is not in the banking business, at least not in the sense of leveraging deposits into new lending. Viking is leveraging customer deposits to expand their fleet as a source of interest free financing. Things got lopsided a few years ago and Viking’s insurers (there are specific terms used for this in maritime operations that presently escapes me) demanded the company strengthen its balance sheet, which it did by granting equity to a Canadian pension fund, among others, for capital infusions. This was reported in the media and I think a recent Forbes article recounted some of this. Prior to the outside equity investment, Viking’s financial position was weak and considered too risky for the insurers. How is this possible? It has to do with international accounting standards. When Viking collects the full fare 12 months in advance of embarkation, the “credit” is recorded on the financial statements as a liability (i.e., a debt - either deferred or unearned revenue). The credit doesn’t become revenue until earned, which generally is when there is no risk of forfeiture from Viking’s perspective (i.e, satisfy the terms of the cruise contract). Although the company may have been flush with cash, there was a high debt to equity ratio (debt/equity) which can be an indicator of financial weakness or distress, enough so that the insurers wanted to share losses with other parties if the company is unable to deliver on its contractual obligations. Ironically, the company’s debt/equity ratio (assuming the company is not borrowing at interest to pay customer refunds) is improving, but it’s viability is being threatened. Some have suggested the company will be fine because of Chairman Hagen’s net worth. Back in 2019 his net worth (value of assets over liabilities) was reportedly around $3 billion USD. Undoubtedly most of this was the value of his interest in Viking which is based on a hypothetical sale of the company in an arm’s length transaction (neither party in distress). It represents the “blue sky“ or goodwill of the company. When Viking needed the equity infusion a few years ago I doubt Hagen had sufficient liquid assets available to make the infusion himself, or if he did he wasn’t willing to risk it. I suspect his net worth has declined precipitously during this pandemic. I suspect the company will need outside financing to weather this crisis, especially if the company is not able to resume operations soon.
  7. Is this still Cruise Critic? Or should it be Cruise Fanatic? Perhaps the latter domain wasn’t available when this site was launched. Critic (noun) - a person who expresses an unfavorable opinion of something. As long as the commenting is cruising related, such content seems appropriate. Perceptions and opinions will differ, but this is what makes such a forum useful. My primary criticism (also a complaint) is we can’t cruise now and for the foreseeable future ☹️.
  8. I'm a practicing CPA. I have sufficient credible evidence to certify your competency.
  9. Have you asked about permanent residency aboard the ship? Could be worse outcomes. This is an interesting possibility. Might Viking offer timeshare type arrangements where folk could live on a ship as a second residence for part of the year? Perhaps this is already what a WC or longer segment is like. But, I'm thinking about a situation where "residents" wouldn't be compensated for disruptions to itineraries. It would be like staying at certain resorts where some have ownership or timeshare interests and others are public guests. I applaud your attitude of gratitude. It's an example to us all. Be well.
  10. If they actually go to the staff, then I'm okay with this, especially when it's not my money 😎. Question about whether these gratuities actually go to the staff arose on the Ultimate WC thread. I realize it aroused considerable opinions, but I never read any definitive answer about the question. I don't prepay the gratuities, in part for the reason Clay an other experienced with their interrupted cruise.
  11. Contemplating Viking swag, is there anywhere besides the Helly Hansen website (for Viking clothing) to buy products? This is obviously not Viking's chief source of revenue, but I suspect there may be many who would be willing to shell out a few bob to buy some Viking momentos. I am going to send an email to tellus.
  12. Did you answer the CC poll about expected cruise frequency after things settle down? I answered somewhat less. With the market decline I will likely be working longer and tightening spending to improve our financial position for retirement years before modifying our asset allocations towards less risk.
  13. Perfect. We can have our drink (no need for virtual ones) and social distancing too.
  14. It is not likely to relevant to Viking since the company isn't a member of the Cruise Lines International Association that introduced the age based policy during the current pandemic. Here is the link to CLIA's cruise lines: https://cruising.org/cruise-vacationer/cruise-lines
  15. Age 70 proposal: https://www.foxnews.com/travel/cruises-restrict-travelers-certain-age-white-house
  16. It was reported this initiative was undertaken by the CLIA including submitting this proposal to VP Pence.
  17. We have a May 3 from Bergen that has yet to be cancelled. When Viking announced their suspension of their cancellation policy on March 2 we considered cancelling our British Isle for an Alaska on May 16. Glad we didn't. Now waiting for Viking to cancel our May 3 cruise.
  18. Fairness, like beauty, is a perception in the eyes of each beholder.
  19. Indeed it would. Everything, both positive and negative, that exists was first imagined. Thoughts and beliefs create our realities, which obviously differ among us. Whether you (me too) believe a thing to be true or not, you are right. That is, it is true for you (me). Once, long before cruising, the world was flat. We know that it was never true, but thankfully there were those who believed differently and took the risks to realize a different world. I recently read from A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle: "Acute crises and dysfunction always precede or coincide with any evolutionary advancement or gain in consciousness." While I believe this is true, it does not necessarily mean humanity will collectively gain in consciousness from the present crisis, but I hope we do. Freedom is living without fear. Precautions are prudent. But, as President Roosevelt famously said, fear is crippling, "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." Let's advance to freedom for all. Can Viking remain viable? Yes. Will Viking remain viable? If enough people believe, hope and dream Viking will remain viable, then it will be so.
  20. As an accountant, I doubt Viking is holding significant cash reserves. I expect they have been using the advance payments to finance expansion thereby reducing the need for external financing. So if they have a rash of cancellations, like a bank run, they may have financial distress at a time when external financing will likely be unavailable. This is conjecture, but the risks are real.
  21. Wow. That’s very generous. Ship happens better on Viking. The revised itinerary is a logistical marvel on such short notice for circumstances beyond Viking’s control. In net, only one more day at sea compared to the original itinerary. Well done Viking!
  22. Conjures up the square wheels metaphor. Thanks for the notice. I printed my wishlist to PDF in case I’m switched to the new website ahead of being able to book excursions February 26.
  23. Few circumstances reveal true character like adversity does. Thankfully, the Viking crews have genuine character in spades!
  24. In normal circumstances we favor booking our transcontinental flights through Viking Air (using Air Plus) if only for the convenience of Viking staff to greet us for the included transfers between airports and the ship, but this and other similar scenarios confirms my preference for Viking Air. For our 2021 Alaska cruise we will likely book our own flights between PDX, ANC, and YVR because we are frequent Alaska Air flyers. Barring a deviation to Siberia or the Orient, we should be fine arranging our own flights for this itinerary. But, to fly to the east coast for any cruise that is scheduled to visit foreign ports (like for a Miami to Miami itinerary), I am more inclined to book flights through Viking Air. About the last thing I want to have to deal with during a significantly disrupted cruise itinerary is to have to re-arrange my flights home while on the ship. Convenience comes with a price, but its rewards can be priceless.
  25. Generally, my preference is deck 5, but we we sailed in 6070 and heard no noise from above. Higher up provides a better view. The further aft you are on deck 6, the more prominent is the overhang from deck 7 above the balcony.
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