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Pushka

Vancouver embarkation - Not impressed Viking.

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Posted (edited)

Posted from our Roll call and I haven’t received this info but another cruiser has. This was known about 12 months ago because of no berth on 26 May and the use of tender. So much for a wonderful first day of exploring the ship and settling in. Now it will be a mad dash for 900 people boarding at once and spending the day in Vancouver waiting in a hall. Having spent the last four days in Vancouver we do want want to spend another day exploring. Not a first great taste for us Viking and not impressed. No nice lunch onboard. No luggage until well after dinner and which everyone will want at once. 

 

 
  • May 1, 2018
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  • 6 posts
  • Madison (Huntsville), AL

Just got this email re: Boarding in Vancouver:

 

06MAY2019

Dear Viking Guest,

 

This message is to advise you of a change to the embarkation procedures for your Alaska & Inside Passage cruise embarking in Vancouver. 

 

In order for the Port of Vancouver to accommodate all ships visiting on May 26, 2019 and to comply with United States Customs and Border Protection regulations, we must delay embarkation until 5:30 PM.

 

To ensure your embarkation experience is as smooth as possible, we have organized a temporary hospitality room at the Canada Place Cruise Terminal in Hall B, where you will be able to enjoy complimentary beverages and snacks, and relax while waiting for embarkation. Embarkation procedures are expected to begin between 4:30 PM and 5:00 PM. 

 

Canada Place Cruise Terminal – Hall B
100 The Pointe, 999 Canada Place
Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6C 3T4
Ph: 1- 604-665-9000

 

Click here to see a map of the location. 

 

If you have arranged flights through Viking, please collect your luggage upon your arrival at Vancouver International Airport, exit customs, and locate the Viking representative in the arrivals area. Please be sure to wear your Viking sticker, which is enclosed with your pre-trip materials, so that you will be easily recognized by transfer staff. You will be transferred to Canada Place Cruise Terminal for check-in and to drop off your luggage in a secure location. If your flight arrives after 10:00 AM, your luggage will be transferred to Viking Orion after your retrieval.

 

If you are traveling independently, please make your way to Canada Place Cruise Terminal for check-in and luggage storage.

 

Following your arrival at Canada Place, you may remain at Hall B until embarkation procedures begin, or go sightseeing on your own, returning to the cruise terminal for embarkation no later than 5:00 PM. Should you decide to explore the city, you may drop off your carry-on luggage at the secure holding area and re-claim it at embarkation. Please see the Viking representative at Hall B for additional details. 

 

We apologize for this notice so close to your departure and for any inconvenience this change may cause. Despite the delayed embarkation, all other port times scheduled for your itinerary will remain the same. 

 

Should you have any questions prior to your cruise, please contact Customer Relations at 1-877-523-0579, Monday through Friday, 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM, and Saturday to Sunday, 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM, PT.

 

Should you need to contact Viking Orion upon arrival, please call the ship at +1 323 870 4810.

 
Edited by Pushka

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Thanks for the update.  I'm on the Orion now. Our daily on Sunday, May 5, 2019 lists all the ports and if we are docked or anchored.  For Vancouver it says "docked." on May 26.  My hopes were renewed that all would be well.  Finally it has us anchored in Sitka and our Russian ports  so I thought all was well.  I guess I have no choice but to cancel my booked all day excursion and hotel drop off in Vancouver.

 

Cynthia

 

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2 hours ago, LunaSeaRetreat said:

Thanks for the update.  I'm on the Orion now. Our daily on Sunday, May 5, 2019 lists all the ports and if we are docked or anchored.  For Vancouver it says "docked." on May 26.  My hopes were renewed that all would be well.  Finally it has us anchored in Sitka and our Russian ports  so I thought all was well.  I guess I have no choice but to cancel my booked all day excursion and hotel drop off in Vancouver.

 

Cynthia

 

 

Have you received nothing about this from Viking? I’d assumed that you will be tendered off. I’d likewise assumed that we would be tendered on and then a return to port to collect the luggage. But it seems we are stuck on the ground until 5pm. But I’ve not received any notification at all. 

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Pushka,

 

Based on my recent discussions with the Harbourmaster and the letter from Viking that you included, I would say that it is US Customs & Immigration that are preventing Viking from tendering you onboard the ship at anchor. When clearing US Immigration within Canada, you board the aircraft or ship straight from Immigration and then head directly to the U.S.

 

To reach the tender jetty provided by the Harbourmaster, after clearing US Immigration, you must enter Canada again, might only be 400 - 500 yds, but it is still Canada. Best guess is Viking and Harbourmaster tried to get permission, but US Immigration stuck to the regulations that permits US Border patrol operating on Canadian soil.

 

Could also be Canadian Immigration, but Viking didn't mention them in the letter. 

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, Heidi13 said:

Pushka,

 

Based on my recent discussions with the Harbourmaster and the letter from Viking that you included, I would say that it is US Customs & Immigration that are preventing Viking from tendering you onboard the ship at anchor. When clearing US Immigration within Canada, you board the aircraft or ship straight from Immigration and then head directly to the U.S.

 

To reach the tender jetty provided by the Harbourmaster, after clearing US Immigration, you must enter Canada again, might only be 400 - 500 yds, but it is still Canada. Best guess is Viking and Harbourmaster tried to get permission, but US Immigration stuck to the regulations that permits US Border patrol operating on Canadian soil.

 

Could also be Canadian Immigration, but Viking didn't mention them in the letter. 

 

You kind of highlighted this as a potential issue a few weeks ago. So I was somewhat prepared and hoping that it didn’t come to pass. 

 

So what do you think will happen with those passengers disembarking? I guess they are entering Canada so possibly different? 

 

Its disappointing. I’d always planned embarkation day to be Viking day as we had already spent four days in Vancouver being the tourist. And the thought of snacks doesn’t really compensate for what we miss onboard. Then 900 people wanting to get onboard and through customs, get luggage, have muster, dinner. All at once. At the earliest of 5pm. Which is when we were supposed to depart. And it’s a short cruise anyway so a day lost means a lot. 

Edited by Pushka

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Disembarkation shouldn't be an issues, as I was advised that Canadian Immigration will board the vessel prior to departing the berth for anchor. After clearing Immigration, they can tender ashore and then be picked up by a bus and taken to a hotel.

 

BTW - the hospitality suite Viking has arranged is part of the convention centre.

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Heidi13 said:

Disembarkation shouldn't be an issues, as I was advised that Canadian Immigration will board the vessel prior to departing the berth for anchor. After clearing Immigration, they can tender ashore and then be picked up by a bus and taken to a hotel.

 

BTW - the hospitality suite Viking has arranged is part of the convention centre.

 

Lucky for them then. Although I understand that those people on this cruise and who boarded in Japan Sunday have just received their itinerary and which states that Orion is docked on this day.

 

As we are both still working, spending an afternoon in a convention center seems like a usual day at work. So not exactly an experience we are looking for. 

 

Why oh oh why didn’t Viking start this cruise on the next day when there are no other ships in port? I don’t actually hold US immigration and Vancouver port responsible for this but lack of planning by Viking. 

Edited by Pushka

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Posted (edited)

 

 

It would be interesting to know what the other ships were which had preference over Viking, and also interesting to ascertain how frequently during a given year the cruise lines which operate those ships were in the port of Vancouver.

 

Out of interest, we always go to both the port of departure and work out what's going on before we book a cruise, and also monitor things like 'whatsinport.com' to view port situations so that we know what we're in for at an early stage.

 

However, being British - and we do 'like' to queue - this wouldn't have been a problem to us.  I do think though, that it might not (if VO have got their heads facing in the correct direction) be a situation of 900 people all trying to embark at the same time, as surely those in the more costly accommodation should board first?  I know for a fact that other cruise lines (P&O, Cunard, Celebrity) follow that practice, and afterall VO do say in their description of different accommodation levels that those who pay more board first.

 

Anyway, one can meet the loveliest of people whilst queueing.

Edited by Parsley Cruises
addition

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Posted (edited)

The other ships at Berth on the same day are Celebrity Eclipse, Mariner Seven Seas and HAL Noordam. We have to wait for Mariner to depart at 5pm before Orion will come into that berth. And still somehow depart at 5pm as if by Magic. And if your theory is correct then we will be lucky to be onboard by 8pm! DV. Then somehow get to Muster, get our luggage and somehow get a dinner. Not happy. 

 

I have received the email mail and it is exactly as above. 

Edited by Pushka

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Pushka said:

Why oh oh why didn’t Viking start this cruise on the next day when there are no other ships in port? I don’t actually hold US immigration and Vancouver port responsible for this but lack of planning by Viking. 

I am currently on Orion from Tokyo to Vancouver and I fully empathize with you - it’s a rotten situation, especially for the embarking passengers.

You may remember that I gave my theory elsewhere why I think this happened and I too blame Viking for poor planning.

If it’s any consolation, I think you will be pleased with your onboard experience - we are so far. Not quite ready to jump from Oceania yet but pleased well enough.

Hope things will go smoothly for you after your embarkation 🙂

PS If you feel adventurous you might think about renting a car during one of those 4 pre-cruise days and drive along the beautiful coast to Squamish or even Whistler - an easy and scenic drive.

Edited by Paulchili

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I went down to guest services this afternoon to inquire about disembarkation.  First I was told that it was very early in the cruise to discuss it.  I insisted that it was important to me because my independent excursion was picking me up at the pier.  I was then told there was talk of having to tender but Viking was still trying to find docking space.  I explained about being taken to a hotel to pick up our luggage and she knew nothing about that.  She check her computer and took my cabin#.  I just received a call from her saying a letter is being delivered tonight to all guests. She also confirmed that my scenario was correct.  However, the name of the hotel is not included in the information. She said she would call again when she found out.  If I don't find out by the time we reach Alaska, I'll cancel the tour and just go to our airport hotel.

 

We too are having a very nice cruise and booked another while on board.

Cynthia

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Gosh, that’s not great communication between ship and shore. There will be a lot of surprises tonight when people get their letter....

Ours is such a short cruise that basically missing a day means a lot. And then at 6pm at night we still have to get through US immigration which I’ve read for non US people can take up to 3 hours. The crew have a lot of making up to do for us. 

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Received above mentioned disembarkation info (preliminary version).

Ship will be docked from 3 AM till 5:30 AM and then go to anchorage.

Earliest tendering will be 5-5:30 AM for flights before 11 AM; other choices are

7 - 8 AM

8-9 AM

9-10 AM

10 AM and later

No hotel/luggage info at this time.

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I guess given that we can’t board until at least 6pm there’s no rush on people leaving unless they choose to do so. I just hope that we don’t experience a 3 hour delay going through US customs as non US citizens that I’ve just read about on FB. It will be a minimum of 9pm until we get onboard if that’s the case. Trust we can still get food but then there’s the safety drill to take into account as well. 

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Just went two rounds with guest services.  Letter issued to passengers tonight is vague and confusing.  I told guest services this is Bravo Sierra.  We cruise critic readers knew all about the Vancouver problem but we were told “all is well” by the cruise line.  I slammed GS about this...have a meeting with manager tomorrow at 1000.  Letter today says passengers with Vancouver departures  prior to 1100 must depart dock side at 0500-0530 and must drag your own bags off the ship.  Later disembarked passengers will use tenders. GS rep then said al bags would be sent to local hotel and could be picked up there.  Then she said they would put bags dock side. Total confusion right now.

 

ALCON - be aware that Viking has failed to properly plan arrival in. Vancouver.  The port schedule was clearly known and yet they waited until 20 days prior to drop the bomb on passengers.

 

Spent $45k for this unique trip 12 months in advance and what we are getting is a Windjammer -on-the fly product.    

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Is it just me, or does this sound more like an amateur oversight from a line new to the business as opposed to a well planned and communicated decision from a supposed 'world's best' company? 🙄

As has been mentioned, the fact they've had more than 12 months to plan and disseminate information to people, only to seemingly fumble along hoping that the majority won't mind spending a day sat in a large, mostly empty hall with cookies and bottled water?  I guess they've had success with this model from the Sun naming ceremony in Shanghai?!? 🤣

 

Jokes aside,  this is a failure on the part of Viking on a number of levels and if i were a paying guest on this cruise i'd be annoyed, insulted, and extremely frustrated at the contempt being shown to think their lack of planning somehow overshadows my first full day of an already short cruise and the planning most people put in to their travel arrangements.  I would be waiting now for the laundry list of excuses coming in as it relates to blaming US Customs or Canadian Customs, because the public of course has no recourse there when the reality seems to be the one person planning the itineraries appears to be on an extended coffee break and is hoping nobody will notice their absence...

 

If this were the very first time that a change in itinerary or berth location occurred, than so be it but it seems to me that Viking like to make a habit of flying by the seat of their pants when it comes to these things, all the while betting that the die-hard customers will take it all in stride, just because...

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The implied understanding is that if passengers were required to have their stuff together 12 months ahead of time the line should do the same.  If I would have done this in the Army as a leader and manager I would have been relieved.  Piss Poor Planning Equals Piss Poor Results.

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Posted (edited)
58 minutes ago, Captain_Morgan said:

Is it just me, or does this sound more like an amateur oversight from a line new to the business as opposed to a well planned and communicated decision from a supposed 'world's best' company? 🙄

As has been mentioned, the fact they've had more than 12 months to plan and disseminate information to people, only to seemingly fumble along hoping that the majority won't mind spending a day sat in a large, mostly empty hall with cookies and bottled water?  I guess they've had success with this model from the Sun naming ceremony in Shanghai?!? 🤣

 

Jokes aside,  this is a failure on the part of Viking on a number of levels and if i were a paying guest on this cruise i'd be annoyed, insulted, and extremely frustrated at the contempt being shown to think their lack of planning somehow overshadows my first full day of an already short cruise and the planning most people put in to their travel arrangements.  I would be waiting now for the laundry list of excuses coming in as it relates to blaming US Customs or Canadian Customs, because the public of course has no recourse there when the reality seems to be the one person planning the itineraries appears to be on an extended coffee break and is hoping nobody will notice their absence...

 

If this were the very first time that a change in itinerary or berth location occurred, than so be it but it seems to me that Viking like to make a habit of flying by the seat of their pants when it comes to these things, all the while betting that the die-hard customers will take it all in stride, just because...

 

Oh yes. Viking have blamed US customs alright. And say it is out of their control. Neglecting the fact that US customs have said No because as outlined above, the use of tenders to board us means that we will need to cross back into Canadian territory. That is not the cause but rather the consequence of Viking booking us into a port where they didn’t have a berth. 

 

This is our ‘hospitality suite’ for the afternoon. What an awful place. This is on the link sent to us in their email today. 

 

7F13B9F9-39DC-4BB9-BDF6-4212489FDC17.thumb.png.3d743b5bd479872a6388bae5d0092617.png

As opposed to the meal we would be receiving onboard and refined atmosphere. And I’ve read that it can take up to 3 hours just in US immigration alone for non US citizens. As in us! If they stagger boarding from 5pm then we may not get onboard until 9pm. Dinner anyone? 

 

 

 

Edited by Pushka

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5 hours ago, Parsley Cruises said:

and afterall VO do say in their description of different accommodation levels that those who pay more board first.

 

Actually that is not what it says. It says that the higher priced cabins will be ready for occupancy earlier. See below.

 

The usual plan (and it seems that this Vancouver trip will be different) is that once all of the disembarking pax have left the ship, Viking will start checking in and boarding those present in the terminal. Once boarding begins, no one is forced to wait in the terminal until their cabin category is called. Nor have I seen special lines for the suite guests and maybe that is because most of the times that I have checked in for a VO cruise there hasn't been anyone in front of me in the line. as arrivals are spread out over the course of the day.

 

From the Viking website:

 

Veranda Stateroom (V)

  • Size including private veranda: 270 sq ft
  • 11:00 AM embarkation
  • 3:00 PM stateroom access

 

Explorer Suite (ES)

  • Size including private veranda: 757–1,163 sq ft *Room size and layouts vary based on ship location.
  • 11:00 AM embarkation
  • 11:00 AM priority stateroom access

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Well, Vancouver will be very different as no one is even allowed to start the boarding process until 5pm and then there is US immigration to deal with. 

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1 hour ago, Zouave said:

The implied understanding is that if passengers were required to have their stuff together 12 months ahead of time the line should do the same.  If I would have done this in the Army as a leader and manager I would have been relieved.  Piss Poor Planning Equals Piss Poor Results.

This is not to mention their late change of port of embarkation from Yokohama to Tokyo. Personally, I was never notified of this by VO - only found out about it here on CC. I already had a reservation for IC Yokohama and was fortunate to be able to change it for IC Tokyo Bay. Not everyone was so lucky as some that found out later could not change their hotels due to the Golden Week.

Again - these berth reservations are made long before the cruise and not last minute.

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4 minutes ago, Pushka said:

Well, Vancouver will be very different as no one is even allowed to start the boarding process until 5pm and then there is US immigration to deal with. 

 

Yes it will be. Keep in mind that this is not how Viking envisions embarkation day either.  This is not how they want their passengers to start a cruise. 

 

So get your gripes out here and now and then start working on not letting the embarkation experience color the rest of the cruise.

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3 minutes ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

Yes it will be. Keep in mind that this is not how Viking envisions embarkation day either.  This is not how they want their passengers to start a cruise. 

 

So get your gripes out here and now and then start working on not letting the embarkation experience color the rest of the cruise.

 

Yes. Thats true. I’m dreading US customs to be honest as we will need to go through this after a long disappointing day of waiting and I can’t afford to show any frustration not being a US citizen or .....

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5 minutes ago, Pushka said:

 

Yes. Thats true. I’m dreading US customs to be honest as we will need to go through this after a long disappointing day of waiting and I can’t afford to show any frustration not being a US citizen or .....

We visit US Customs/Border Patrol frequently at the border, airport and cruise terminal and haven't experienced issues for many years. Yes, after 9/11 their people skills were somewhat lacking, but for the past many years we find most of the agents very pleasant and efficient.

 

Only difference for non US & Canadian citizens is they take your photo & finger prints. Only takes a few minutes extra.

 

For the past few years we found the US agents better than some of the Canadian agents at the border.

 

At Canada Place, we routinely board the ship within an hour of being dropped off at departures - having completed Security, check-in and Immigration.

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1 hour ago, Pushka said:

 

Oh yes. Viking have blamed US customs alright. And say it is out of their control. Neglecting the fact that US customs have said No because as outlined above, the use of tenders to board us means that we will need to cross back into Canadian territory. That is not the cause but rather the consequence of Viking booking us into a port where they didn’t have a berth. 

 

This is our ‘hospitality suite’ for the afternoon. What an awful place. This is on the link sent to us in their email today. 

 

7F13B9F9-39DC-4BB9-BDF6-4212489FDC17.thumb.png.3d743b5bd479872a6388bae5d0092617.png

As opposed to the meal we would be receiving onboard and refined atmosphere. And I’ve read that it can take up to 3 hours just in US immigration alone for non US citizens. As in us! If they stagger boarding from 5pm then we may not get onboard until 9pm. Dinner anyone? 

 

 

 

 

talk about an absolute farce on behalf of Viking to drop the ball in such a major way, and then to shift blame and responsibility when they are wholly responsible IMO for the major screw up here.  we all know that itineraries are planned well in advance by ALL lines so if they were doing their due diligence they would have or should have known there was limited or no berth availability on the day, so why not adjust the itinerary??

 

irrespective of whether clearing customs takes 3 hours or 3 minutes, the fact of the matter remains that Viking are playing their well paying passengers as fools and are no doubt running out of chances to fix their continuous mistakes.  i will be very interested to see/hear how the first full trip to/from Vancouver goes given Viking have never been to the ports in question and if history is any indicator they're in for a litany of surprises as it relates to shore excursions, arrival/departure times and of course trying to source adequate transportation options in towns already inundated by the major players in the area.

 

wonder who they'll blame then?? 😏

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