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Readytogokjs

Viking Ocean Roller Coaster...need help.

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Having some ups and downs with Viking Ocean and we haven’t even stepped on the ship yet.  All and any advice is appreciated.  I’m feeling very disappointed at this point.

Currently having an issue with excursions.  I get it, we booked 2 of the least expensive rooms and higher paying cruisers have first options.  What I DIDN’T understand…is that excursions would sell out and I wouldn’t be able to take part.  Not one of the excursions I wanted was available within 15 minutes of the time Viking set for me to book on-line.  I was on at 3:01 as instructed.  Even the included excursions only have late afternoon still open.  (Was hoping to at least have a few morning excursions).  Being a first time cruiser, I thought perhaps I was not understanding, maybe another tour would be added.  So I called customer service.  NOPE.  She told me no seats would become available unless someone else cancelled.  She recommended I keep checking the site for inventory to open up and that they do not have a waiting list.  She then suggested I book my excursions through an outside company.  I have a problem with this.  First and foremost, an outside company doesn’t really care if I make it back to the ship on-time.  Chances are things would be fine.  BUT WHAT IF?  If I was ABLE to book through Viking, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be left behind.  This is part of the reason I wanted to try this type of cruise.  I didn’t want to have to worry about finding reputable companies to book with.  I thought I was getting Viking.

I was also reminded that “next time I cruise with Viking, I should book a step up in the room department for better options”.  This does not sit well with me.  I certainly PAID for what I thought was a cruise with excursions and options and I wonder what other things will not be part of my trip because of my room selection.    

Any suggestions?  ANYONE?

This was not my first bump in the road.  When we received our air information, we had a really long layover.  This was eventually corrected but it was not easy.  I began with the “chat” and was told “nothing we can do”.  I asked if there was anyone else I could talk to and explain the situation…”no”.  I relayed this information to the folks I’m traveling with who had been on a Viking River Cruise before and still had an email of someone who helped them in the past with an error.  GREAT…I emailed her and suddenly, my flight was changed.  I did not receive any return email…but the problem was solved.   My frown turned up-side-down.    A big thank you for that! 

I am not someone who expects everything to be perfect, my group of 4 is very disappointed however.  Any advice is appreciated.  

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So sorry to hear of your experiences.  You don't say which specific voyage you are on and when.  But perhaps I can give some thoughts here, as we have been on 3 Viking Ocean Cruises and have more booked.

It has been our experience that excursions book up quickly at first, but that also depends on the specific itinerary and dates you are on.  Don't get discouraged -  we had a similar experience and were persistent - kept checking on-line and people in the higher room categories often cancelled their excursions and suddenly one would "open up".    Then when we got on board, we immediately went to the excursion desk on level 1 and asked if we could be put on some wait lists for ones we wanted (paid ones).  Often, Viking will try to add additional buses if that is feasible and enough demand warrants it.  Don't give up!  As for the included tours, we also had several with only afternoon tours available - but wound up getting switched to morning tours while we were on the ship - again, as people decided they didn't want the tours.

We found that the excursions, as well as the specialty meal reservations, even if booked by higher rooms initially, were quite often available as the cruise went on - particularly in the 2nd half, as all those people either had just booked "placeholders", weren't really serious, or just got tired and bailed out.

Best advice - keep trying ahead of time and on-board ship, and don't give up!

 

As for Viking Air - have done it once but never again - such horrible experiences.  We do our own air travel now - too much hassle via Viking.  Like you, it eventually worked out, but not worth the time and effort.

 

Please stay positive and hope you enjoy your cruise - curious as to what it might be.

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Thanks for your encouragement CCWineLover.  I think I'm even more frustrated because I'll be looking for 4 openings as we want to experience things together.  

 

Sorry, wasn't trying to hide my cruise...August 22 -  Iconic western mediterranean.

 

I didn't even THINK of the meal reservations..ugh!  I did notice the massage unavailability though.   Yes, I'm trying to stay positive and will keep after it.  

 

Thanks for your reply.

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DW was scheduled for some afternoon included tours though she prefers morning.  No spots officially opened up but shore excursion mgr told her she could try just showing up for the earliest AM tour as some folks have trouble getting out of bed in the morning.  She did that several times and always found a seat.  Also, VO doesn't always know the capacity of provided tour buses so there can be more seats than expected.  Unlike call center personnel we find the onboard staff work hard to keep you happy. 

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3 minutes ago, Baron Barracuda said:

DW was scheduled for some afternoon included tours though she prefers morning.  No spots officially opened up but shore excursion mgr told her she could try just showing up for the earliest AM tour as some folks have trouble getting out of bed in the morning.  She did that several times and always found a seat.  Also, VO doesn't always know the capacity of provided tour buses so there can be more seats than expected.  Unlike call center personnel we find the onboard staff work hard to keep you happy. 

 

Good points!  Same happened to us (morning openings at last minute).

In addition, they even added some more tour groups to some included tours when the demand soared.  It must be a balancing act to figure out what demand will be and then have the right amount of spaces.

 

In some ports though, Viking doesn't control the number (i.e.  The Alhambra in Granada/Sapin).  Often the city or facility controls how many people are going to be allowed to visit (outsiders, DIYers, cruise passengers, locals) in a given day.

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I did this trip twice and almost every included tour you can show up early and get a seat. We had a group of six but did not all attend each tour by choice. We all had DV cabins but didn't have any problem getting tours we wanted even right before the booking window closed. If you want to eat at a special restaurant, you can do this right after you board the boat. You need each person's room number to make the reservation and tell them it's for something special (anniversary). This trip has been done for years and they know it for the most part. I found the onboard tour people useless. I was with my parents who cannot walk well and I had to figure out several easier ways to get around. I would suspect that you had difficulty because you were trying to book tours for four people that were on different reservations. Have fun  and enjoy the beautiful cities. 

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Posted (edited)

KJS....I know what you're feeling. I experienced this same sort of thing when I found out that excursion booking date was linked to room category and was doubtful since I also was not in one of the upper category rooms. Luckily, I got all the excursions I wanted (for the 2 of us). Same sort of trepidation over booking specialty restaurants - which didn't go as well - so I kind of ranted a bit here about the whole process but then, as was foretold to me, once I got on board it was not a complicated process to find specialty restaurant dates that suited us better. As has been said, times and dates have a way of opening up as people make alternate plans, etc. I can't speak to the same thing happening with shore excursions since I had mine booked pre-cruise, but in talking to other people it seems that additional excursion times/groups are sometimes added as needed. On the Northern Lights trip, I seem to recall Viking added an extra evening excursion beyond the listed options. So, while I know exactly what you're going through, I would suggest relaxing about the whole thing a bit and see how it plays out once onboard. I have little experience with booking any air through Viking other than trying to get our return flights changed at the end of the March 23 sailing. Granted that, with the way that cruise ended, it was a nightmare for Viking to re-book everyone, but I was not real happy with several of the agents that I talked to onboard the Sky with regards to our rebooking. They just seemed to have a hard time understanding what i wanted and presented options that didn't suit me - saying they were all that was available and so forth...finally wound up doing it all myself on our iPhone. Best of luck! 

Edited by gretschwhtfalcon

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We have used Viking Air on all but one of our trips with Viking and so far, I have had no complaints. I learned on my first trip to pay the extra $50pp so that I can choose my flights and so that I can choose them well in advance of them being assigned to those who have opted to not pay the fee and not have a say in the process. Even then, if you are traveling on some air fare deal, you are limited to the flights that are available at that price and not just any flight plan; understanding in advance that the air deals come with strings helps make things easier. It took me a couple of trips to learn the ins and outs of dealing with Viking Air and for now, unless I can get much, much cheaper air fare on my own, I'm happy to keep working with them.

 

As for getting seats on optional tours, what CCWineLover and the others say is true. Keep trying up until booking closes to get the tours you want. In the meantime, I have been know to e-mail Viking to tell them how disappointed I am that a certain tour has sold out and how much I am hoping that they will add additional seats to the tour.  The old honey vs vinegar thing.

 

However, not being able to book seats on an included tour is another thing since part of what you are entitled to is a seat on the included tour in each port. Then I get very hard nosed about it.  If you get push back from the folks who answer the phones, step it up a notch and contact the folks at TellUs@vikingcruises.com. Include your booking number and phone number in the e-mail.

 

Finally, if it helps any, most people who have had issues dealing with the corporate prior to sailing have found that the on board experience has been entirely the opposite. In any case, Iconic Western Med is a fabulous itinerary (been there, done that) and I hope that once all the booking dust settles that you have a fabulous time.

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5 hours ago, Readytogokjs said:

She then suggested I book my excursions through an outside company.  I have a problem with this.  First and foremost, an outside company doesn’t really care if I make it back to the ship on-time.  Chances are things would be fine.  BUT WHAT IF?  If I was ABLE to book through Viking, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be left behind. 

Previous replies have covered the availability of ship's tours, so I will address your concerns with private tours.

 

Firstly, I should dispel the myth that if taking a ship's tour, the ship is guaranteed to wait, if late returning. While in most cases the ship will delay sailing, the final decision rests with the Captain, who considers tides, weather, pilot availability, line-handler availability, speed to next port, etc. Although rare, ships have sailed and left pax on ship's tours behind. The big difference is the cruise line is responsible for all costs and making the arrangements to get you to the next port.

 

Reputable private tour operators, do care about getting you back to the ship, as their future business is based on maintaining an exemplary reputation. I also note that we have contracted with private operators that guarantee getting you back to the ship before sailing, or they pay for transport to the next port.

 

Private tours are generally much smaller groups and are frequently customisable.

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Andy, I can illustrate what you are saying with an example from the Inaugural WC.  There was a ship's tour overland for several days to Angkor Wat.  As happens with flying these days flights were cancelled.  Part of the group were left behind.  The ship maintained schedule and a few days later our happy band of brothers arrived back on board none the worse for wear, other than wearing clothes that had seen more than one dance.  Most praised Viking's handling of everything and their accommodations.  The main complaints were lack of communication but then when things go awry in the Third World,  information can be hard to come by.  My point is that if on a ship's tour, they will eventually get you back to the ship at their expense.  We take lots of private tours and are fully aware that problems that might occur would be ours to solve and at our expense.  

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Wow, thank you everyone for the encouragement, suggestions and stories.  It really means a lot to have someone understand AND provide information.  I'm blowing a kiss to each of you right now.

 

I will continue to watch for openings and try everything suggested.  Along with any suggestions yet to come, I'm open to hearing it all folks.

 

I wonder if I should book some outside tours in case I'm not as lucky as some of you...with the "free cancellation" option.  What are your thoughts?

  

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1 hour ago, Jim Avery said:

Andy, I can illustrate what you are saying with an example from the Inaugural WC.  There was a ship's tour overland for several days to Angkor Wat.  As happens with flying these days flights were cancelled.  Part of the group were left behind.  The ship maintained schedule and a few days later our happy band of brothers arrived back on board none the worse for wear, other than wearing clothes that had seen more than one dance.  Most praised Viking's handling of everything and their accommodations.  The main complaints were lack of communication but then when things go awry in the Third World,  information can be hard to come by.  My point is that if on a ship's tour, they will eventually get you back to the ship at their expense.  We take lots of private tours and are fully aware that problems that might occur would be ours to solve and at our expense.  

Thanks Jim - I recall reading about that one on the 2018 WC thread. Like you, we also use private tours, when the risk is reasonable, but fully accept the many additional risks of private tours, in return for the rewards of a potentially better tour.

 

During our 2017 Baltic cruise, we planned to use Alla in every port, but only got sufficient interest in SPB & Tallinn. We held on to the last minute hoping for more sign-ups, but alas we got stuck with ship tours in all other ports. We were already in UK playing tourist, so didn't have the time to research alternative providers.

 

In Nynashamn, with <24 hrs notice we tendered, rather than going alongside. Had we got sufficient interest in the Alla Tour, we would most likely have missed the tour, since we would get only have got a tender after the ship's tours & their loyalty passengers  were ashore. We would either have missed the tour, or received a curtailed tour, as it was almost 40 miles to Stockholm.

 

Just another potential risk of private tours. However, even a curtailed Alla Tour would have been better than the ship's tour we received.

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7 minutes ago, Readytogokjs said:

I wonder if I should book some outside tours in case I'm not as lucky as some of you...with the "free cancellation" option.  What are your thoughts?

 

As I said earlier, I've done this cruise. You don't necessarily need to hire a guide if you are willing to venture out on your own. Here is my take:

 

Livorno to Florence: We took the train to Florence for the day. We took the shuttle into town (somewhere in the last year I posted a map of where that shuttle drops you; I just don't remember which thread but it is near the Tourist Information) and then took a cab to the station. Cabs were waiting when we got off the shuttle. As we were driving to the train station, the cabbie offered us a flat fee for 8 hours or so to drive us to Florence for the day; the fee was reasonable. We already had our tickets for the Uffizzi and did not take him up on the offer but the folks we were sharing the cab with did. At the train station, I had already written down what we wanted and just handed it to the ticket agent; it made the transaction very easy and no worries about not speaking Italian. You can find out all you need to know on the TrenItalia website. The most important thing is try to take a direct train so that you won't have the hassle/worry of changing trains. You don't really need a guide in Florence, just a good map  and the willingness to do a lot of walking. (BTW, a mobile phone in airplane mode can still get you from place to place. Download the map to your phone for off-line use. Turn on the GPS and you are in business.) If you make reservations now, you can stay overnight in Florence but August is peak vacation time so this might be easier said than done. We did not stay overnight and on our second day in Livorno, did the OYO tour to Lucca (having been to Pisa on another trip).

 

Monte Carlo: We had little interest in the principality itself and instead took the 100 Menton-Nice bus into Nice (goggle for more info). It is a beautiful ride along the coast. Once in Nice you can take a cab to one of the museums or just wander (which is what we did since it was New Year's Day and all of the museums were closed). Or you can stop in one of the small towns along the way. The bus stop was walking distance from the ship.

 

Marseille: Again, not interested in the city but took the Viking tour to Aix-en-Provence, which we enjoyed very much. But then again, I like getting out of the cities and seeing the country-side and the smaller provincials towns and villages.

 

Barcelona:  Can be done easily on your own. Get tickets for Sagrada Familia either for first thing in the morning or last thing in the afternoon. At the shuttle drop off point you will find the HOHO buses and you can use one of these to get around the city (or use taxis or you can walk but it will be HOT in August). Read up about them before you leave home. I've never used one so I don't have a particular recommendation. Don't over schedule. We like to pick two or three things for a day. I suggest Sagrada Familia, the Palau de Musica (including the guided tour; buy tickets for mid-day) and the Cathedral . It is an easy walk between the Palau and the Cathedral. The Rambla will be jam-packed with people, pick-pockets and cafes and while it is a very pretty street, it is not on my must-see/do list. Instead, look for the places that are off the beaten path or wander through the Barrie Gotico (the Old City). If the HOHO doesn't get you from the SF to the Cathedral, take a cab.

 

OR, if you like art museums, check out the Miro Foundation and the National Art Museum of Catalunya, both of which are on Montjuic. Take a cab either from the ship or from the shuttle drop off to one of the museums and then cab between them. The entrance to the National Art Museum over looks Plaza Espana and its renown fountain (which may or may not be flowing; read up on its schedule).

 

 

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38 minutes ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

As I said earlier, I've done this cruise. You don't necessarily need to hire a guide if you are willing to venture out on your own. Here is my take:

 

Livorno to Florence: We took the train to Florence for the day. We took the shuttle into town (somewhere in the last year I posted a map of where that shuttle drops you; I just don't remember which thread but it is near the Tourist Information) and then took a cab to the station. Cabs were waiting when we got off the shuttle. As we were driving to the train station, the cabbie offered us a flat fee for 8 hours or so to drive us to Florence for the day; the fee was reasonable. We already had our tickets for the Uffizzi and did not take him up on the offer but the folks we were sharing the cab with did. At the train station, I had already written down what we wanted and just handed it to the ticket agent; it made the transaction very easy and no worries about not speaking Italian. You can find out all you need to know on the TrenItalia website. The most important thing is try to take a direct train so that you won't have the hassle/worry of changing trains. You don't really need a guide in Florence, just a good map  and the willingness to do a lot of walking. (BTW, a mobile phone in airplane mode can still get you from place to place. Download the map to your phone for off-line use. Turn on the GPS and you are in business.) If you make reservations now, you can stay overnight in Florence but August is peak vacation time so this might be easier said than done. We did not stay overnight and on our second day in Livorno, did the OYO tour to Lucca (having been to Pisa on another trip).

 

Monte Carlo: We had little interest in the principality itself and instead took the 100 Menton-Nice bus into Nice (goggle for more info). It is a beautiful ride along the coast. Once in Nice you can take a cab to one of the museums or just wander (which is what we did since it was New Year's Day and all of the museums were closed). Or you can stop in one of the small towns along the way. The bus stop was walking distance from the ship.

 

Marseille: Again, not interested in the city but took the Viking tour to Aix-en-Provence, which we enjoyed very much. But then again, I like getting out of the cities and seeing the country-side and the smaller provincials towns and villages.

 

Barcelona:  Can be done easily on your own. Get tickets for Sagrada Familia either for first thing in the morning or last thing in the afternoon. At the shuttle drop off point you will find the HOHO buses and you can use one of these to get around the city (or use taxis or you can walk but it will be HOT in August). Read up about them before you leave home. I've never used one so I don't have a particular recommendation. Don't over schedule. We like to pick two or three things for a day. I suggest Sagrada Familia, the Palau de Musica (including the guided tour; buy tickets for mid-day) and the Cathedral . It is an easy walk between the Palau and the Cathedral. The Rambla will be jam-packed with people, pick-pockets and cafes and while it is a very pretty street, it is not on my must-see/do list. Instead, look for the places that are off the beaten path or wander through the Barrie Gotico (the Old City). If the HOHO doesn't get you from the SF to the Cathedral, take a cab.

 

OR, if you like art museums, check out the Miro Foundation and the National Art Museum of Catalunya, both of which are on Montjuic. Take a cab either from the ship or from the shuttle drop off to one of the museums and then cab between them. The entrance to the National Art Museum over looks Plaza Espana and its renown fountain (which may or may not be flowing; read up on its schedule).

 

 

Thank you for the great info, Peregrina - we will be on this cruise in fall 2020.

We just finished Barcelona to Copenhagen on the Jupiter and I will concur with your comments on Barcelona.   Montjuic is fabulous and is the view from the steps of the Art Museum of Catalunya.   Highly recommend getting tickets for Sagrada Familia on-line ahead of time - directly from their web site.   We took the Free Walking Tour of the Gothic Quarter and had a fabulous guide - we have had quite a success (after researching carefully) varous Free Walking Tours in big cities in Europe and Australia.  We used the Metro to get around - quite efficient, clean, and inexpensive.  Also did a private tour to Montserrat (wonderful!) with Barcelona Day Tours (highly recommend them!)

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17 minutes ago, CCWineLover said:

Also did a private tour to Montserrat (wonderful!) with Barcelona Day Tours (highly recommend them!)

 

We did it on our own via train from Barcelona and loved our outing. It was January 5, 2004 and when we returned to the city, we realized that something was going on, people, families were lining up along Calle Leietana. When I asked what was going, people said "La Cabalgata" the arrival of the Three Kings, the Spanish version of the Macy's parade. So we joined the waiting throng and it was really one of the highlights of our visit.

 

However, OP  has only one day and if this is your first visit to Barcelona, I suggest staying in Barcelona proper. You will see more in the short amount of time that you have.

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I am loving all the information folks...keep it coming.  Will be looking for some self guided walking tours as well.    

 

Just an update - I did email Tellus@viking.com, will let you know if they respond.  

 

I appreciate all of your comments!

 

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We have done three Viking ocean cruises, all in Veranda cabins, so the last to book excursions. I cannot stress enough what others have said about continuing to check My Viking Journey regularly for changes to the availability. We have used a mix of included excursions and optional ones, and there were at least a half dozen times that optional excursions were originally all booked when we selected ours, and later became available. 

 

In addition, in many ports Viking runs free shuttles to a designated location. We have extended our time in port by remaining after a tour to explore on our own and then taking a shuttle back to the ship. Once we even completed a tour, went back to the ship for lunch, and then returned by shuttle for additional time on our own. If your excursions are late in the day, you may be able to do that in the morning. My other piece of advice is to consider being flexible. One time, our second choice of an excursion was really delightful, so even if you don't get your first choice, you can still have a wonderful time.

 

Your thread title made me remember a line from the old Steve Martin movie Parenthood. It was something about in life you can either ride the roller coaster, with all the excitement of it's ups and downs, or the merry-go-round which is safe but rather boring. Enjoy your trip!

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12 hours ago, lackcreativity said:

Your thread title made me remember a line from the old Steve Martin movie Parenthood. It was something about in life you can either ride the roller coaster, with all the excitement of it's ups and downs, or the merry-go-round which is safe but rather boring. Enjoy your trip!

Steve is an old favorite of mine.  

Grandma:
I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.

 

Thanks for the advice.

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Just keeping you all updated...I did receive a call last night from a viking representative.  Wanted to let me know they understood my concerns and are working maybe adding a tour or seats.  She was very nice and stated someone would be in contact again within 48 hours to let me know if things are working out.  

 

I appreciated the call big time.  I'm learning to relax a little.  I love hearing all your tips and ideas.  Much appreciated.

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Nothing new from Viking yet.  Still looking and waiting.  In the meantime, CCWINELOVER I'm taking your advice on getting tickets to Segrada Familia.  Although I can't figure out this "skip the line or fast track" thing".  If I purchase tickets through   https://sagradafamilia.org/en/tickets-individuals I don't really see a fast track option.  Not wanting to spend 3 hours in a line.  Any advice on that?  

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,mj Tickets at Sagrada Familia are timed entry and line up is by entry time. I was there during the Christmas holidays and they wouldn't even let's us starting lining up before our ticket time. 

 

BTW, don't do the tower unless you have good knees and can walk down the steps from the top of the building to street level. It is strictly elevator up and walk down. If you can do it, I recommend it, especially on a clear day. 

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Just returned from Viking Homelands - I had the same concern -  as we did not get many of the excursions times we hoped for ( and were shut out on several).  However once on board, we were able to get everything we wanted.   Same thing with dinner reservations, we were able to eat at both Manfredis and Chefs table twice during the cruise.  

 

The only exception was that 2 of the 3 Kayaking excursions that we had signed up for were cancelled due to low participation.

 

The staff on board will go out of their way to accommodate  you as much as possible. 

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Posted (edited)

I've been (initially) unable to book 3 excursions when the booking period opened up.  For the first (a very popular excursion in Cuba - for which no slots were available by the time I tried to book online) I just kept looking at the website every day or two.  One day there was a vacancy, so I grabbed it.  With the second excursion, there were no vacant spots at booking time.  When I boarded the ship I asked if there was any chance that the two of us could get on the excursion.  I was later able to get on the excursion.  There are often changes when cruise time rolls around. For the third, we had planned to take a public bus somewhere,  but the ship got in late and I didn't think we could make it to the bus stop in time to go.  Viking was offering a similar excursion by coach, so I thought I'd see what I could do.  I went ashore when the excursion coaches were being loaded up and asked the Viking rep if there were any no-shows.  The rep checked with the guides on the coaches and the answer came back that they had room for us.  Viking quickly charged us for the excursions and off we went.  

 

I would say that if you really, really will be heartbroken if you don't get on a particular excursion, it's best to arrange a private or shared excursion.  But if not, check the website for changes, and then once onboard, make sure Viking knows you're interested in the excursion, and keep checking.  You just never know what might happen.

Edited by roothy123

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Really appreciate the OP's post as this is good information for us --new to Viking--not new to cruising.

 

Can someone here clarify that there is At Least One (if not More) INCLUDED tours PER port stop to choose from, as well as time slots?

 

We are comparing Viking to RSSC and honestly from the Viking boards are wondering if Viking is perhaps not providing enough tour options/seats for everyone to have Included tours. 

 

Are the Included tours great quality --or just big buses etc?  

 

We haven't sailed RSSC for awhile and are looking at going back or perhaps sailing Viking on a particular itinerary. The ports are specific and guide excellence will make a difference. While we have done private tours etc... IF I am paying for an "inclusive" experience.. I want it to be an "all -in" inclusive experience.

 

Thoughts re availability/selection and quality. TYIA

 

 

 

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