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Pushka

Vancouver embarkation - Not impressed Viking.

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6 hours ago, Heidi13 said:

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.

 

Yes, but being Canadian you have a separate queue to non Canadians and USA people. I’m obviously on Travel sites for Aussies and US border control comes up as very much discussed and interesting area. And in Canada Place the process for us “Aliens” is very much protracted and lines move much slower and only have one or two people manning them. Just yesterday someone on the other group mentioned they’d waited 3 hours just trying to get onboard last year. Now we will have already arrived into the US the week prior into SF, so hoping that improves the process. And that the ship is full of Canadians and Americans so our queue is tiny. 

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19 hours ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

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

Ok, it's my fault I got it slightly wrong - but then I've not got my head in cruise mode just now.  All I care about (I know that sounds wrong) is that my grade of accommodation should get into the privacy of that accommodation earlier than those in lower priced accommodation.  Cruising for us as always been that way, but I will say that P&O, Cunard and Celebrity have always in our experience had the more expensive accommodation passengers embark first.  However, naturally when you have a fly-cruise people of all grades are arriving at different times, which sort of blows this potential 'perk' out of the water.

 

Referring back to my previous post however, tedious though waiting, queueing and being generally delayed may be, firstly there are always lovely interesting people to meet whilst you are waiting, and also it gives an opportunity to discover and possibly photograph interesting or unusual design features in the 'waiting place' and the surrounding environs.

 

Come on - let's have a glass half full!

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4 hours ago, Parsley Cruises said:

Come on - let's have a glass half full!

 

Best advice yet. Just wanted to make sure that it got seen.

 

 

Edited by Peregrina651

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Thank you, everyone, for sharing your comments regarding Viking Orion’s call in Vancouver in the coming weeks. Although we remain confident that your overall Viking experience will have been just as enchanting as you had envisioned by journey’s end, we want to take this opportunity to apologize for any inconvenience this adjustment has caused. We assure you that your concerns have not gone unheard.

 

Additionally, while we regularly monitor these boards for all ranges of guest feedback, we always invite you to reach out to us directly at TellUs@vikingcruises.com should you like to discuss any lingering trepidation or inquiries about your individual booking.

 

We are grateful for this chance to chat with you all, and look forward to enjoyable explorations ahead.

 

Kind regards,
Viking Cruises
 

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I’d also like to add that we should all remember that anything you read on FB, plus about $3.00, will get you a latte at Starbucks! 

 

Yes, the Vancouver issue is difficult and I do feel bad that your trip is starting out on that note.  We’ve had our own lesser, but similar issue -  how did they not know about an international cycling event in our embarkation city that would fill all the hotel rooms for those on the pre-extension?

 

When things like this happen, we always look at each other and say “Well, travel is an adventure!”

 

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1 hour ago, Geosez said:

I’d also like to add that we should all remember that anything you read on FB, plus about $3.00, will get you a latte at Starbucks! 

 

Yes, the Vancouver issue is difficult and I do feel bad that your trip is starting out on that note.  We’ve had our own lesser, but similar issue -  how did they not know about an international cycling event in our embarkation city that would fill all the hotel rooms for those on the pre-extension?

 

When things like this happen, we always look at each other and say “Well, travel is an adventure!”

 

 I just have two comments to this post ... When and where did you get a latte at Starbucks for a mere $3.00?!?!?  Perhaps it was one of those itty bitty "tall" ones?!?  The other comment is "Well said"!  Travel is most certainly an adventure and it can challenge you!  Best is to adopt a "glass half full" attitude and enjoy yourself.  Anger can ruin a trip but only if you let it!  

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Holy cow and I thought our embarkation process was bad--over 2 hours in line in the terminal with hundreds of people boarding, including some people in our line that should have been in another one for Holland America.  People were being shifted into a "disability" line when they clearly did not have a disability.  There were only a couple of other cruise ships in port aside from our ship Regent Mariner.  I was told that Princess has the largest presence in Alaska since it was the first to travel there (at least that is what was told to me).  

 

Waiting in line was ridiculously long and this on top of being told that the Four Seasons in Vancouver could not give us a room because they were "overbooked," even though the reservation was made 7 months in advance.  They did put us in a very nice, smaller hotel across the street and honored all the benefits that came with the pre-cruise day--breakfast, transport to the dock, etc. but I complained that I felt that we were treated poorly considering that no one else that I spoke with on the cruise was told that they did not have accommodations at the Four Seasons.  After contacting the corporate headquarters of the hotel, I did receive a voucher to be used at any Four Seasons which basically just covered brunch but not enough to stay a night at any Four Seasons property.  I was told that we would be given a free night in the future in Vancouver, but what are the chances that we would visit, again.  

 

I think as more ships add Alaska to their itineraries, the situation will either be negatively compounded or, hopefully, there will be a concerted effort to rectify the situation.

 

I'm sure that once everyone boards their ships, they will have a great time.  

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What a wonderful opportunity the OP has been given at the start of her cruise.

 

By being given such advance notice of the delay, there is now the opportunity to possibly do something that was not considered in the current plans.

 

Perhaps a trip to nearby Victoria (easily reached by ferry from Vancouver) and a trip to Butchart Gardens can take up two of those days being spent pre cruise.

 

Or instead of expecting the worst possible experience on the delayed boarding,  perhaps one could wait to actually see how the embarkation is handled before going into drama queen theatrics?

 

As some have pointed out, when one travels, one can expect that sometimes things will not always go according to plan, and sometimes the unexpected can lead to something good. It all depends on one's approach.

 

https://www.butchartgardens.com/

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1 hour ago, Homosassa said:

What a wonderful opportunity the OP has been given at the start of her cruise.

 

By being given such advance notice of the delay, there is now the opportunity to possibly do something that was not considered in the current plans.

 

Perhaps a trip to nearby Victoria (easily reached by ferry from Vancouver) and a trip to Butchart Gardens can take up two of those days being spent pre cruise.

 

Or instead of expecting the worst possible experience on the delayed boarding,  perhaps one could wait to actually see how the embarkation is handled before going into drama queen theatrics?

 

As some have pointed out, when one travels, one can expect that sometimes things will not always go according to plan, and sometimes the unexpected can lead to something good. It all depends on one's approach.

 

https://www.butchartgardens.com/

 

Thanks for that. Our four days pre cruise have already been planned and tours booked to do all the sightseeing we needed. Including visiting Butchart Gardens.  

 

 

5 hours ago, Viking Cruises said:

Thank you, everyone, for sharing your comments regarding Viking Orion’s call in Vancouver in the coming weeks. Although we remain confident that your overall Viking experience will have been just as enchanting as you had envisioned by journey’s end, we want to take this opportunity to apologize for any inconvenience this adjustment has caused. We assure you that your concerns have not gone unheard.

 

Additionally, while we regularly monitor these boards for all ranges of guest feedback, we always invite you to reach out to us directly at TellUs@vikingcruises.com should you like to discuss any lingering trepidation or inquiries about your individual booking.

 

We are grateful for this chance to chat with you all, and look forward to enjoyable explorations ahead.

 

Kind regards,
Viking Cruises
 

Thankyou for acknowledging the issues here. That is much appreciated. 

 

When we read here of people reporting that you can embark at 11am and check to see if you can drop the hand luggage and go off explore the beautiful Viking ships on the first day of a much anticipated cruise, then have a wonderful lunch and kick back until Departure, well, it’s disappointing that we won’t experience any of this this on our very first cruise. 

Edited by Pushka

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I cancelled  my independent tour and transfer to my airport hotel and will now stay on the ship until the latest departure time

"10 +"  I suspect very few on board know that they will be taking a bus from the tender pier to a hotel and then pick up their luggage.  Viking has not informed them of the procedure yet.  I hope they don't miss their connections. I also feel badly for the people who must lug all their luggage off the ship at five in the morning.

 

As far as TellUs goes, I wrote to them mid April and the response was that they would get back to me when they knew anything.  I guess they still don't know.

 

We're off to hopefully see some cherry blossoms.

Cynthia

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On 5/7/2019 at 4:12 AM, Paulchili said:

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.

We usually sail with Crystal or Oceania. Will we be disappointed?  I know we can’t compare them but I do hope we enjoy ourselves. 

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1 hour ago, Pushka said:

 

When we read here of people reporting that you can embark at 11am and check to see if you can drop the hand luggage and go off explore the beautiful Viking ships on the first day of a much anticipated cruise, then have a wonderful lunch and kick back until Departure, well, it’s disappointing that we won’t experience any of this this on our very first cruise. 

 

I am just curious. Haven't you ever had something not go as planned on any of your other trips?

 

Is this the first time you have experienced a delayed boarding for a cruise?

 

I have been in a similar situation with a delayed boarding on another cruise line where we were suppose to sail at 4 PM.  Boarding didn't start until 8 PM and we sailed at 1:30 AM (only to have the fire alarm wake us at 3 AM with the captain announcing that we should gather our stuff and wait in the cabin for further instructions, but that is another story).

 

Th cruise line knew in advance of the problem and arrangements also involved a convention center, buses, boxed lunches, entertainment, and snacks (a full dinner).

 

From what I have read of Viking's efforts in other situations, I don't think you will be lined up in metal folding chairs on a concrete floor and will be served potato chips, pretzels and dip for food. 

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Yes. We had a late departure for a noro deep clean. An emergency type of situation as can happen with any kind of travel, along with weather events, mechanical breakdown etc. Our flight departing for Europe last year was cancelled during the actual boarding process for mechanical issues and we were delayed 24 hours. Again, a last minute emergency kind of situation. 

 

The fact that Orion didn’t have a berth and would need to be located offshore has been known for over a year and we heard nothing from Viking until 18 days out. 

 

I hope as you mention that the seating won’t be hard backed but comfortable cushioned chairs and that more than snacks (something I avoid as they can be salty) but actual food is provided. I can’t sit in hard seats for more than an hour or it causes me back problems and I’ll start limping and have back pain (had a spinal disc rupture a few years ago). 

 

Hopefully I can post wonderful pictures of a welcoming waiting area.  First impressions and all that. 

 

Ive found FlyOverCanada experience online just now which is close by and will book tickets for the afternoon session to break up the wait. Hopefully there is a very safe place we can leave our laptop. 

Edited by Pushka

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35 minutes ago, agnesd said:

We usually sail with Crystal or Oceania. Will we be disappointed?  

Not necessarily. If you chose this cruise for the itinerary and agreeable price, you will enjoy the cruise. There are several things we enjoy about this cruise but overall it doesn’t measure up to Oceania FOR US.

What that means is that if there is a future cruise on Viking for a unique itinerary and good price we will gladly take the cruise; otherwise we will stay with Oceania for comparable itineraries.

That said, there is nothing disagreeable about our experience on this cruise - it’s just that Oceania suits US better.

Edited by Paulchili

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I totally empathize with the situation that the departing pax.  To provide a brighter note, with regard to your concern with US immigration, possibly the immigration process will begin before your 5pm boarding time with a staging/waiting area available dockside awaiting ship availability.  I would imagine that this would happen since most cruise ports have waiting areas for pax waiting to board. Since Viking has a max of 930 pax I don't think it would be a massive wait in any case and unless you have been placed on "no fly lists" etc. you shouldn't experience significant delays.  Just trying to help put a "glass half full" spin on it.  You will love Alaska!!  Be positive.  Welcome to the USA.  Additionally, I would also assume that the shipboard staff will have had additional opportunity to prepare the ship for your arrival and it will be immaculate and possibly some additional welcoming perks!

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Wow, Ropomo!  That’s not only “half-full” but overflowing and with bubbles!  Well done!

 

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Pushka, we did the Flyover Canada several years ago - I was going to suggest it as something fun to do on your long waiting day! Also, the lobby of the Pan Pacific Hotel has a beautiful fountain/pool with outlines of the countries of the Pacific Rim - worth a walk by.  And, if it's a lovely day, walking past the Convention Center so you can watch float planes take off and land at the seaport is interesting.  I'm a pretty cheap date!  I hope embarkation is full of wonderful surprises for all of you!

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Although all of the 'glass half full' and positive thinking is good, its not going to change the facts which i think are very important in this case:

  • Viking knew of the berth space issues long in advance, as did the intrepid reporting here on CC but decided to do nothing by way of informing guests until 2 1/2 weeks out.  We can speculate as to their reasons but i'm sure its partly arrogance in thinking their clientele is so dedicated they won't mind, and partly due to their apparent and seemingly regularly displayed ineptitude when it comes to ocean cruising
  • It sounds like its going to be a 4 ship day in Vancouver which means from early morning until early evening its going to be a gong show both in and around the terminal building.  Yes Vancouver is a beautiful city with a lovely waterfront (hopefully it doesn't pour rain) but with that many people milling about with luggage its going to be a zoo and not somewhere I would think many people would want to hang about waiting an extended period of time for their embarkation
  • The likelihood of having anything but either folding metal or plastic lawn chairs is slim at best given this does not appear to be a convention centre, but instead an empty hall.  Furthermore, i don't see them catering the event either which means lukewarm coffee/tea and bottled water
  • This screw up is solely of Viking's making and no matter how much they'd like to divert attention and cast blame on Customs of either Canada or the US, its just a smokescreen to shield themselves from their inadequate planning/execution

I'm sure more will come out as the date gets closer but as i say, Viking have really dropped the ball on this one and no amount of positive thinking is going to change that.  Sure some people will take it all in stride as part of the experience, but others like to be organized and expect the cruise line to do the same....after all, it IS a one-sided game here given that the ship can depart late or when it chooses to, but if a passenger shows up 'late' they're likely watching the ship sail into the distance without them 🙄

 

One more thing, lets not forget this is called Cruise CRITIC after all and not Cruise Fan Club so i think its fair to say that criticism is definitely needed in situations such as these

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33 minutes ago, Captain_Morgan said:

Viking knew of the berth space issues long in advance, as did the intrepid reporting here on CC but decided to do nothing by way of informing guests until 2 1/2 weeks out

Likewise, we were scheduled to dock in Sitka and were just informed that we will be tendering there. Did they not know that they did not have docking space until just now?

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i think this is going to be a recurring theme in Alaska as they're literally flying blind, not to mention they're clearly late to the party where the likes of HAL and Princess, etc. have the berths locked up years in advance.  I wouldn't be surprised if you find yourself at anchor more than on a berth...

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29 minutes ago, Captain_Morgan said:

i think this is going to be a recurring theme in Alaska as they're literally flying blind, not to mention they're clearly late to the party where the likes of HAL and Princess, etc. have the berths locked up years in advance.  I wouldn't be surprised if you find yourself at anchor more than on a berth...

 

Vancouver, Ketchikan, Juneau and Icy Strait Point are all tenders on our cruise. There are no “anchors” that indicate tender on our confirmation itinerary.  I cannot sit on a hard seat for long or I will have real trouble. My usual method of dealing with this is a heat pack on my back and ibuprofen and bed rest. I am fine with prolonged sitting as long as it’s on some kind of cushion. 

 

We have been told it will will be catered for. However I trust it won’t be just snack food but proper food as it will be some hours after 5pm until we get the chance to eat a meal. 

 

This site gives all the berth and tender information for every port. 

http://claalaska.com/?page_id=1250

 

The only tender I can see for those ports for the previous cruise is, as you say, Sitka but there may be ports I don’t know you are going to. 

Edited by Pushka

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14 hours ago, Pushka said:

 

Ive found FlyOverCanada experience online just now which is close by and will book tickets for the afternoon session to break up the wait. Hopefully there is a very safe place we can leave our laptop. 

This sounds very similar to the feature of the Canadian Pavilion in Epcot at Disney World. I enjoyed that presentation each time I have seen it. At Epcot, however, you stood up and were surrounded by the 360 degree screen. Luckily, there were rails to lean against as at times the motion could be disorientating.

 

I see the FlyOver Experience has you in chairlift chairs which will help.

 

My favorite part of the Epcot show was when we were surrounded by a troop of Mounties and their horses. The Mounties were in their red dress uniforms.   Gorgeous horses (and the men weren't bad either).

 

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2 hours ago, Pushka said:

 

Vancouver, Ketchikan, Juneau and Icy Strait Point are all tenders on our cruise. There are no “anchors” that indicate tender on our confirmation itinerary.  I cannot sit on a hard seat for long or I will have real trouble. My usual method of dealing with this is a heat pack on my back and ibuprofen and bed rest. I am fine with prolonged sitting as long as it’s on some kind of cushion. 

 

We have been told it will will be catered for. However I trust it won’t be just snack food but proper food as it will be some hours after 5pm until we get the chance to eat a meal. 

 

This site gives all the berth and tender information for every port. 

http://claalaska.com/?page_id=1250

 

The only tender I can see for those ports for the previous cruise is, as you say, Sitka but there may be ports I don’t know you are going to. 

 

Looking at the Alaskan port information site, it shows all but 2 calls in Juneau throughout the entire season are anchor; 5 of 10 calls to Icy Straight are anchored; 6 of 10 calls to Ketchikan are anchored; no anchor calls to Skagway; no anchor calls in Valdez; 1 of 10 calls to Sitka are anchored.  Considering Juneau and Ketchikan are by far the busiest of ports, its going to be interesting...

Now the question remains, when are Viking going to update their guests with this information or are they just going to play dumb and hope nobody reads these forums or knows how to use a google search?!?

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4 hours ago, Captain_Morgan said:

i think this is going to be a recurring theme in Alaska as they're literally flying blind, not to mention they're clearly late to the party where the likes of HAL and Princess, etc. have the berths locked up years in advance.  I wouldn't be surprised if you find yourself at anchor more than on a berth...

I have really enjoyed my 2 Viking Ocean cruises.  However we booked Silversea for our Alaska cruise this August just because we felt that Viking being totally new to the area would have serious growing pains on their first tours vs a line experienced in the area.  That said, Viking home office management was doubly deficient in not informing guests about known in advance to Viking embarkation issues.

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As i say, the hard product itself is very nice but its the behind the scenes (i.e. corporate) aspect where they fail miserably.  From what I've been told they've got their sales office in LA, flights/travel office in Boston and operations in Basel, where they also run the river ops from.  Sounds to me like a bit of a mish mash operation given the complete lack of apparent industry know-how in comparison to the likes of Regent, Silversea, etc...

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