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"Abandoning Ship"

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Hi All,

Thought today would be the last post but it got a bit long so cut it off and will post the last part tomorrow, you can find the Title to that post at the end of this post. Everyone hang in there, so far I am and feeling a bit better today than yesterday, only a cough & no fever

 

 

It is now the morning of Aug 3rd and I decide to take the itinerary we received last night and go down to the Explorer Lounge to talk to one of the Customer Service agents. I will say the itinerary was pretty good, but does start early, but that is not unusual for flights from Europe to the USA. Estonia to Amsterdam to Minneapolis to our home airport and also had us on our preferred airline, Delta. As I get off the elevator and turn the corner I go “Uh Oh”, long line and much loud grousing and complaining. I can see this is a very unhappy bunch of people. As I stand in line and watch and listen to others, I begin to focus on how each of the three agents is handling their customers. One is very attentive and taking notes, one is a bit argumentative and pushing back, the third one is calmly discussing things in a soft voice and the passenger does not seem agitated. I hope I get to talk to the first or third agent. My turn finally comes and I go to the first agent, the note taker. Before I even sit down the agent sees I am carrying my itinerary and says, “I am sorry there is nothing I can do for you, those flights are locked in and cannot be changed” Unfortunately, later I will find out this was not the case. I sit down anyway and start going down a list of questions and statements I had prepared. The agent listens and takes notes, making comments only when I ask a question. The first thing I say is that we understand this is a difficult situation and events such as this just happen and no one is at fault. However, Viking must be made to understand how they react and handle their customers is a very big deal and will either provide them with wonderful public relations or a tarnished reputation. I ask what priority was put on those with post cruise extensions booked with Viking and the answer is “I do not know, that decision was made at corporate level and there are only 150 rooms available in Bergen, so not everyone can be accommodated”. This agent was either totally out of the loop or misinformed, as those of you here can see in a post by Viking Cruises Viking Guest Relations on August 3, 2015 @ 05:44 PM on page 1 of the Thread Titled ‘Abandoning Ship’ started by OBX Cruises in a reply to OBX Cruises, AggiePilot (Me) Viking Guests & Cruise Critic members the first sentence of paragraph 3 states, “Currently we have over 500 guests scheduled on charter and commercial flights from Tallinn to Bergen.” That pointed out, let’s go back to the story. I am thinking, here we go, either the buck is being passed or upper levels have given orders and expect these agents to follow them. I then proceed to what later seems a waste of my time and the agent’s time, asking if there was any thought of getting post cruise Iceland folks to Trondheim, as the scheduled flight from Bergen to Keflavik, Iceland makes a stop in Trondheim, to catch their flight to Iceland or even directly to Iceland. The agents answer again was I do not know. I then requested that suggestion be passed on and was told it would be. My point here was that they failed to fully work a plan to preserve as many flight reservations as possible. I then told the agent I was not happy with the way things have gone and that besides losing most of the cruise I was also going to lose money on Coach Plus Seats I had purchased for our flights home from Iceland to New York and our home airport in the amount of $142.50, and this will not be the last money we lose on Coach Plus Seats as you will see as things continue to unfold. No comment from the agent, guess it is so sad to bad, my loss. I then broach the subject of refunds and amends, and right away the agent says “I am not authorized to handle that issue”, I say I understand but I am requesting my position be passed on to those who are authorized. I proceed to say that since Viking decided to cancel the cruise and send some folks home, like me, but others to Bergen to enjoy 3-4 days in a hotel with included meals and free excursions, the offer in the letter everyone received on Sunday is not fair for those who are not going to Bergen. Those of us going home only visited 4 of 11 ports, thus missing about 65% of the ports. We also only got to day 6 of the cruise itinerary out of 15 days, thus missing 60% of the itinerary. Furthermore, we are being forced onto alternate flights. There needs to be different levels of compensation and amends. We did not cancel this cruise, Viking did! For those reading this if you have a map of the cruise routing, look at it and see if you think Stockholm-Helsinki-Saint Petersburg-Tallinn is even close to 50%. Yes they are also offering the other 50% of the cruise portion as a voucher for another cruise to help keep us as customers. We and 3 others from our group already have a river cruise booked for next year, but whether we keep that reservation is contingent on how we feel about being fairly compensated for this unfortunate cruise.. I end my one sided discussion with this agent by saying once again that Viking had no control over the unfortunate failure of the Star, but does on how they handle the situation with their customers. I also said in our case we are former, current and future customers and expect to be treated fairly. The agent’s last comment to me is that everything I have said will be passed on to the supervisor and to expect a call from the supervisor. Well I never received that call and no message was left on our cabin phone.

 

After this I met my wife for breakfast and we decide to go into Tallinn for one more walk around before we start packing in preparation for departure from the ship at 04:30 AM tomorrow morning Aug 4th. Had a nice time in Tallinn, it was a Sunday and only one other cruise ship in port so not very busy and weather was great. We are still trying our best to keep a positive attitude and make the best of what we have been dealt. On return to our cabin I got on my smart phone with a Delta App to see if I could get us Coach Plus Seats. I was able to find the flights pick the seats but the app would not let me pay and finish the process. I then just decided to call Delta and got a very helpful agent. He was unable to get the seats we wanted from Amsterdam to Minneapolis but could get them from there to our home airport. He said the first leg was locked out and no longer accessible, but we were confirmed on both of these Delta Flights. I paid for the Coach Plus seats for the last leg home, $58. This evening all 8 in our group sit down for our last meal together in The Restaurant at our usual table. We thank our two waiters for their wonderful service and hand them tips directly. We did the same for our cabin attendant as we were not sure if any tips were put on our bill as we had not a final statement yet and no details for this were showing up on our account via the TV screen in our cabin. We never did get any type of statement before leaving the ship, maybe we left to fast as you will read about it in the next post. After dinner we went to the pool area where again, The Cruise Director and performers put on a great show. They really tried hard to keep up everyone’s spirits, I cannot say enough and give enough thanks and kudos to The Cruise Director and his whole staff. BRAVO!!

 

 

 

Will be trying to contact Viking on Monday and next post will be Monday or Tuesday and titled “The Bitter End”

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FYI, unless some special treatment is offered, the credits we were given due to maiden voyage changes had to be applied to a booking within a year and could not include any new ships/itineraries (paraphrasing the language). So basically you have until a year from now to book a cruise sailing no more than a year from now.

 

We've not tried to apply ours yet so not sure if one year to apply for use is from sail date this year, date credit issued, or date cruise ended.

Edited by algaes

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Maybe....we were told book within a year from the offer and you can book out to the next year at that time based on what has been published at that time.....so it could provide up to 2 years max but realistically guessing 18 months out from offer date.

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