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Best to book through Viking or an agency?


badger1829
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First, we have never ever been on a river cruise but are anxious to go. Is it best to book through Viking or will a travel agent get the same deals? Is it better to book Viking air? Are there advantages or disadvantages? Any thoughts or help is appreciated. Thanks in advance

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When we booked through a TA we got a $500 discount that I don't think we would have gotten from Viking if we had booked direct. This offer was advertised on the TA's website and that was what drew me to them initially.

 

We booked through Viking Air for our November trip. I could not come close to their $847 roundtrip air fare on my own from Ft Lauderdale. But then maybe others know places to look for fares that I don't.

 

Also when I balked about the cost of travel insurance the TA was able to offer us travel insurance that was less expensive than Viking's.

 

We did book the pre and post extensions with Viking and I know I am paying more than what I should be than if I did things on my own, but their seems to be a big convenience factor for me - no muss, no fuss, no worries - I give them my luggage when I land in Prague and they give me back my luggage when I leave from Budapest, and they provide all of the transfers. More carefree, but also more expensive.

Edited by Cary Cruiser
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We have booked our Viking cruises with a cruise specialist. As others have mentioned, she is able to offer some discounts that Viking extends to the T.A.'s. On our first Viking cruise, she also worked with me and Viking Air to book my airfare and flights, staying on the phone with me to ensure I was comfortable in my dealings with the process. For our next cruise in '14, we have decided to book our own airfare and extensions, as we have found that Viking cannot match the price. But, we are traveling with another couple, so that increases our comfort level in doing so, where we might not do that on our own.

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As you see we always sail with Viking and the TA we use has a standard $500 off (prob the same TA Cary Cruiser uses :D) the Viking cruise price which is on top of all other discounts you can get from Viking. There is also a $200 per cruise discount if you use a referral which is combinable with the TA discount.

However booking with any TA requires more time and interaction from your side: e.g. you can't make any changes or check something just calling to Viking. Need to call TA first, ask them to call and check it out for you and wait for their call back...

Viking Air could be very inexpensive. For this Christmas they are even offering it for free from certain cities: NYC, PHL, BOS, EWR...

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I can think of another consideration.

 

My wife & I did an early June cruise with Viking. We are inexperienced travelers and we purchased everything through Viking, including Travel Insurance. No Muss, No Fuss.

 

Once we arrived in Budapest and took our first walking tour, we learned all about the Flood heading our way. There was no way the cruise was going to work out as planned.

 

Some travelers managed to cancel and take advantage of their insurance with the help of their Travel Agents. Viking was my Agent and they were impossible to talk to during the whole flood thing. No surprise as they had plenty of other problems, but they weren't available to help me.

 

The Boat wasn't ever full, so I imaging that many folks cancelled because they knew what was going to happen. I would guess a good agent would know about things like that and help the traveler. This is not something I would expect from Viking.

 

Had we been given any warning about the situation, we would have cancelled before leaving the country, making good use of the Insurance.

 

By the way, I was with Viking, but I'd bet all the cruise lines would work about the same way.

 

Next time, I'll give an Agent a try.

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I can think of another consideration.

 

My wife & I did an early June cruise with Viking. We are inexperienced travelers and we purchased everything through Viking, including Travel Insurance. No Muss, No Fuss.

 

Once we arrived in Budapest and took our first walking tour, we learned all about the Flood heading our way. There was no way the cruise was going to work out as planned.

 

Some travelers managed to cancel and take advantage of their insurance with the help of their Travel Agents. Viking was my Agent and they were impossible to talk to during the whole flood thing. No surprise as they had plenty of other problems, but they weren't available to help me.

 

The Boat wasn't ever full, so I imaging that many folks cancelled because they knew what was going to happen. I would guess a good agent would know about things like that and help the traveler. This is not something I would expect from Viking.

 

Had we been given any warning about the situation, we would have cancelled before leaving the country, making good use of the Insurance.

 

By the way, I was with Viking, but I'd bet all the cruise lines would work about the same way.

 

Next time, I'll give an Agent a try.

Thanks for the info. So sorry about your trip

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We have booked three times directly with Viking as we have found, in the past, that some travel agents did not work as hard as we had to in order to find the travel accommodations that we wanted. There are pros and cons to booking directly. Pros--not having to worry about booking hotels, travel arrangements to and from ship/hotels, Viking has to worry about getting you there. Cons: While we have received discounts dealing directly with Viking, not sure how much more if we had used an Agent, Travel Insurance is always cheaper with a private insurance provider (Allianz Is good). I have friends that books their own private tours on pre and post trips and some they loved and some they didn't because they felt rushed. All in all, I think it's a crap shoot. If you have a good agent and have been happy with them and what they do for you, why not stick with them. Have a great time.

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  • 2 months later...

Why? You are paying the same whether you do it yourself. (often times more)

 

Use an agent that specializes in river cruises. You may see negative comments here and there about travel agents but many times...those agents just aren't experienced or as knowledgeable about the river cruise product. River cruising is a niche that is relatively new...so to speak. Some general agents are still learning this fast-growing cruise niche.

 

A trusted agent on your side adds value. You get free assistance from start to finish and they handle all the work and remind/educate you along the way. No need to stress over figuring everything out, hoping you don't miss something.

 

A good agent will find you all the discounts you qualify for and probably save you much more money with the experienced advice and industry connections...not to mention finding you the best value on air and insurance and hotels and...

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The river cruise companies that allow you to book through a travel agent/broker expect that this agent/broker will bring them business. Although each TA goes about doing it somewhat differently, the reality is that a substantial piece of your payment comes back to the TA and with the best ones (for us) this means many hundreds of dollars (or better) back into your pocket.

 

On the other hand, I don't think you can count on anyone (better read it here) in terms of which company, which itinerary, what season, which cabin etc. through folks who have experienced it!

 

I'm one of those folks who fell for the 100% early payment and hope that the itinerary, the season, the boat, and the cabin work out and am eager to continue reading about river cruise experiences.

DJ:)

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  • 3 years later...

Cary, Thx for this info about your experience going through a TA vs. booking direct with Viking. After reading similar comments from others, I'm thinking I need to find a river cruise TA. Did you use one of the ones linked through Cruise Critic or find one locally. First-time cruiser, and, other than going direct, I don't know where to look for a river cruise TA.

Thanks for any advise or recommended TA's.

 

 

When we booked through a TA we got a $500 discount that I don't think we would have gotten from Viking if we had booked direct. This offer was advertised on the TA's website and that was what drew me to them initially.

 

We booked through Viking Air for our November trip. I could not come close to their $847 roundtrip air fare on my own from Ft Lauderdale. But then maybe others know places to look for fares that I don't.

 

Also when I balked about the cost of travel insurance the TA was able to offer us travel insurance that was less expensive than Viking's.

 

We did book the pre and post extensions with Viking and I know I am paying more than what I should be than if I did things on my own, but their seems to be a big convenience factor for me - no muss, no fuss, no worries - I give them my luggage when I land in Prague and they give me back my luggage when I leave from Budapest, and they provide all of the transfers. More carefree, but also more expensive.

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Cary, Thx for this info about your experience going through a TA vs. booking direct with Viking. After reading similar comments from others, I'm thinking I need to find a river cruise TA. Did you use one of the ones linked through Cruise Critic or find one locally. First-time cruiser, and, other than going direct, I don't know where to look for a river cruise TA.

Thanks for any advise or recommended TA's.

 

THE most strictly enforced rule on Cruise Critic is against naming or requesting names of TAs. This makes it very difficult to find a good TA at the time you need him/her most (before taking your first river cruise) -- once on board you can chat up your fellow passengers and get some good recommendations. Sorry about that -- but my job is to enforce the rules...

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Cary, Thx for this info about your experience going through a TA vs. booking direct with Viking. After reading similar comments from others, I'm thinking I need to find a river cruise TA. Did you use one of the ones linked through Cruise Critic or find one locally. First-time cruiser, and, other than going direct, I don't know where to look for a river cruise TA.

Thanks for any advise or recommended TA's.

 

The way I found out TA was through the cruise company site. They had suggestions for companies they deal with, and I talked to a couple in our area. Once I found someone I was comfortable with who had been on a couple of different companies cruises, we settled with her.

 

As for doing your own research vs using a TA, there is nothing stopping you from still doing your research to see what you want and letting your TA know. That's what I have done, given her the name of the hotel where we wish to stay pre-cruise, the train route we wish to take to return to our originating airport, and our preferred flight plan. The nice thing for me, she has the experience in getting the bookings done, so I don't have to worry about that....and if anything goes wrong, she will be the one to sort things out for us!

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Pick a TA that will give you something beyond just booking the trip for you, if there is no extra discount or OBC then find a different TA or do it yourself.

 

Don't get too excited about OBC offers though as there isn't a lot to spend the money on as it cannot usually be used for tips for example, look for a TA offering a rebate or discount on the price paid instead.

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We are on a 23 day Viking cruise starting April 6th Amsterdam to Bucharest we booked a suite, the TA price was $2000 cheaper then booking direct with Viking! We are using Viking Air its $1995 per person for business class round trip the airline price is $8500 per person without transfers which Viking includes if your using Viking Air our Air price was cheaper because we booked a Suite, we will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary on this trip!

 

 

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It sort of determines how much of a discount is significant for you and whether you can and like to make arrangements versus having them made for you? I am ex-military (just a regular service once I completed university) and my insurance company has a travel agency and I have used this agent for several years. Obviously I compare prices and nobody is upset when I go with the best price. Viking uses travel agents as its price includes agent commission. It depends on the agent in terms of how much is shared with the customer.

 

I would also suggest that the same effort is necessary with air travel. So far I've never found a provided fare is both less expensive and of equal time to the one I come up with myself. Indeed, I met a retired pilot on my Viking cruise (Basel/Amsterdam) who lived in Jacksonville Florida -- you would think that they would fly out of the country at Atlanta? But they first flew into Minneapolis (as Viking obviously uses the least expensive seats they can find).

 

Our first Viking cruise represented the first week of our 2014 summer vacation that was followed by a train visit into Belgium and then an extensive Norway cruise RT Amsterdam (absolutely wonderful). My logic was that I selected a short river cruise and balanced it out with visits to Ghent and Brugges and then a wonderful cruise (hope to repeat fairly soon).

 

I could also note that we are retired and have plenty of time to select/design vacations, including internet, Cruise Critic, and Trip Advisor. I also found that doing pre-vacation research on river cruise ports did NOT improve this experience as incorporating that "additional art museum (etc.)" was often a problem and Viking made no effort to accommodate such activities (i.e. you miss lunch time, there isn't even a plate of sandwiches provided for your arrival). If you have never researched your own vacation, you may not want to start with a river cruise (I'd suggest spending a week in an exciting city using a rental apartment). (I have always wondered about folks who reach our age without making hotel and air arrangements: Some vacation-planning is a challenge, but many people are motivated to be helpful!

 

My best,

DJ:)

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FWIW, we booked our Viking cruise through a big box member based retailer's online travel agency. We got about $300 off of Viking's price, a $200 abc (which frankly was difficult to use and not really needed) and a $500 cash card for the warehouse store...which since we shop there regularly and buy our gas there, was as good as cash in our pocket.

 

When Viking redeployed our boat and therefore canceled our cruise, I was very concerned that we wouldn't get much service out of the TA....boy was I wrong. They went to bat for us and got us not just the one category upgrade on the revised cruise (we lost one land day pre-cruise but gained one on the other end)but a two category since I didn't want a french balcony.

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  • 2 weeks later...
You will pay TOP dollar if you book direct with Viking!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

 

 

True our TA was $1000 less per person than the Viking price, but Viking Air is a bargain compared to booking on your own or Thur a TA.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using ForumsWe are flying business round trip for $1995 p/p booking direct with the airline was almost $9000 p/p

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Most ocean cruises are at their cheapest when first released. Is this also true of River Cruises? Also, once booked, if the price drops will Viking honor that price drop?

 

 

Viking will NOT honor a price drop. If you don't care where your cabin is located or aren't interested in sailing peak season you can get some good deals by waiting to book. The problem with waiting is that often what you save on the cruise you more than lose because you can't find a good deal on airfare.

 

 

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Viking will NOT honor a price drop. If you don't care where your cabin is located or aren't interested in sailing peak season you can get some good deals by waiting to book. The problem with waiting is that often what you save on the cruise you more than lose because you can't find a good deal on airfare.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Thank you. That is what I wanted t know.:cool:

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  • 6 months later...

Have travelled with Viking Ocean and able to get a good discount with my TA but she now states as of May 11, 2017 Viking will not allow discounts with travel agents. TA's may be able to give ship board credit but unless you have the desire to take Viking's optional tours don't need too much OBC.

Maybe they will change that policy as they get more ships operational as there is lots of competition. Like Vikings product and will use again if the itenary is to my liking but lots of other ships in the ocean.

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:evilsmile:

Have travelled with Viking Ocean and able to get a good discount with my TA but she now states as of May 11, 2017 Viking will not allow discounts with travel agents. TA's may be able to give ship board credit but unless you have the desire to take Viking's optional tours don't need too much OBC.

Maybe they will change that policy as they get more ships operational as there is lots of competition. Like Vikings product and will use again if the itenary is to my liking but lots of other ships in the ocean.

Your agent is misleading (a polite way to express it) you! The agents who provide 10% or more of the cruise only price do not discount the cost of the cruise. But rather share their commission with their customer. This usually works out in a couple ways, 1) way "can be" the client bringing in less for final payment OR a check to the client either just before sailing OR upon arriving home. It all depends on how & when the Agent receives their Commissions from Viking.

 

This is not DISCOUNT and is not banned my any cruiseline. So don't let you TA pull that old "Cruiseline A,B, or C" just banned the practice.

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Go to Vikings web site or goggle new Viking policy. It states that only OBC can be given as a discount. The agency I use is HUGE and quite a presence in the industry and after reading the new Viking policy don't think they are " pulling the wool over my eyes" . I was getting a minimum of 10% off Vikings rate taken off my invoice plus Viking's paltry $200.00 past passenger credit prior to the the New Policy.

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