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Gail Boertzel

Booking Viking Excursions

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Today at 3:01 pm the magic hour had finally arrived. But for a helpful Viking representative who booked our excursions via a phone call, I don't know if I would still be online trying to book them. At one point we were receiving messages saying there was a conflict, even though we had nothing else booked for that particular day and the excursion was not "sold out."
Numerous times a message appeared saying the system was undergoing maintenance. Other times, the "loading" message would go round and round and then take you back to the original screen so it was as if nothing had happened and you had to try and add a reservation all over again. The website was verrrry slow. The Viking rep mentioned that these problems may have been due to the opportunity to book excursions opening up for so many people today. But that is to be expected. There is no point in being able to do it online if it doesn't work. Just wanted to add another factual account to those previously posted for other cruises on other dates. 

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8 hours ago, Gail Boertzel said:

Today at 3:01 pm the magic hour had finally arrived. But for a helpful Viking representative who booked our excursions via a phone call, I don't know if I would still be online trying to book them. At one point we were receiving messages saying there was a conflict, even though we had nothing else booked for that particular day and the excursion was not "sold out."
Numerous times a message appeared saying the system was undergoing maintenance. Other times, the "loading" message would go round and round and then take you back to the original screen so it was as if nothing had happened and you had to try and add a reservation all over again. The website was verrrry slow. The Viking rep mentioned that these problems may have been due to the opportunity to book excursions opening up for so many people today. But that is to be expected. There is no point in being able to do it online if it doesn't work. Just wanted to add another factual account to those previously posted for other cruises on other dates. 

You mention that the Viking rep 'mentioned that the excursions had opened up for so many people today'.  This leads me to conclude that you have booked a lower grade of accommodation - and that's one of the perils of so doing.  (Apologies if I'm wrong).

 

If you are booking a lower grade of accommodation, then you need to be aware that there will be more people trying to book excursions - and the same thing will happen with making dining reservations.  Sorry, but that's the way it works - all you need to do is to look at the deck plans and it's easy to work out that the better grade suites get an earlier opportunity to make excursion and dining reservations.  On the other hand, if you are in a lower grade of accommodation, it's simply a matter of being flexible with choices of excursions and dining.

 

Simples!

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Not sure how excursion bookings work.  Someone suggested staggering bookings.  Could Viking stagger for each ship?  Or do they do that anyway?  If all ships are trying to book at once on the same portal then perhaps they need to have one portal for each ship.  

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Seems to be happening more frequently lately. Ours opened up July 11 and we were in Bermuda on a land vacation.  I thought I would have problems, which I did, but they were minor compared to what others have described. 

 

For information purposes, we are in a PV, so that could be the difference. I had issues trying to pay on a laptop that has VPN (which works sporadically when we are out of the US).  I switched to my tablet and everything went through fine, but the last batch got billed 3 times. This has been resolved and I got my credits. 

 

Another FYI, I put the ones we really want in the cart , check out to secure them, then I go back and do the others.

 

 I think they didn’t think through the switch from Midnight pacific time to noon pacific time. There are more ships in the mix and more itineraries. They clearly need more servers or more powerful ones.

 

When I had to get up at 3am for our last cruise (in a DV cabin) in 2018, it was a piece of cake. I was done in 15 minutes and heading back to sleep. 

 

After dealing with the Royal Caribbean computer system on our Azamara cruise and our upcoming Celebrity cruise, I’ll take the Viking system - it’s infinitely more user friendly (and this is from a web developer).  What they need is a service that handles overflow in peak times or an investment in more robust servers. 

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I think Cyber Kat summarized booking excursions on Viking very well. The strategy I use is that since all VO cabins are acceptable, we go for the lowest category available when we book and take our chances we will get the excursions we want. Worst case for us was not getting our preferred times for included excursions. One paid excursion had only one opening which we took, and then we checked regularly for another opening to become available. One did - and we were offered a several step upgrade for a very low cost 10 days before embarkation. So when the smoke cleared, we got every excursion we wanted and saved a lot of money (to put towards an addition cruise).

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6 hours ago, Parsley Cruises said:

You mention that the Viking rep 'mentioned that the excursions had opened up for so many people today'.  This leads me to conclude that you have booked a lower grade of accommodation - and that's one of the perils of so doing.  (Apologies if I'm wrong).

 

If you are booking a lower grade of accommodation, then you need to be aware that there will be more people trying to book excursions - and the same thing will happen with making dining reservations.  Sorry, but that's the way it works - all you need to do is to look at the deck plans and it's easy to work out that the better grade suites get an earlier opportunity to make excursion and dining reservations.  On the other hand, if you are in a lower grade of accommodation, it's simply a matter of being flexible with choices of excursions and dining.

 

Simples!

Not necessarily so. We had this problem with both excursions as well as dining when they opened. We are booked in PV. I think the suggestions that the switching of booking times by Viking my have some credence, and Viking’s system cannot handle the volume of bookings. Viking needs to do something about this situation. I called customer service on both dates and they stated that they could not book for us, although they were sincere in their attempts to assist. It was a frustrating experience that should not have been so. 

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9 minutes ago, Vineyard View said:

Not necessarily so. We had this problem with both excursions as well as dining when they opened. We are booked in PV. I think the suggestions that the switching of booking times by Viking my have some credence, and Viking’s system cannot handle the volume of bookings. Viking needs to do something about this situation. I called customer service on both dates and they stated that they could not book for us, although they were sincere in their attempts to assist. It was a frustrating experience that should not have been so. 

To explain again: your problem probably stems from booking a grade of cabin which attracts a higher proportion of the ship’s passengers.  If you book a larger and more costly accommodation, you will get to make your selections (a) earlier, and (b) there are less of these accommodations on the ship there will be less passengers trying to make their selections. 

 

It’s a numbers game.  Simples!  Works for us 😎

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Parsley Cruises,

I think you are missing my point. I fully understand the number of cabins on the ship and how that plays out for the timing of  booking excursions. The reservation system for excursions was set up by Viking. Viking knows on any given day how many cabins are permitted to start booking excursions. The system should be designed to handle this recurring situation. The excursions I was trying to book were not sold out in which case, booking a higher grade cabin to have an earlier selection date would be a legitimate solution. The 15 day cruise we are taking only has three sea days and we will be spending our time in ports, out of the cabin. Thus, we choose not to take a bigger cabin. And, the "solution" to the Viking problem should not be to force one to take a more expensive cabin.  I was not looking for an earlier opportunity to book excursions, just the opportunity to do so based on the system and timetable set up by Viking.

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35 minutes ago, Gail Boertzel said:

Parsley Cruises,

I think you are missing my point. I fully understand the number of cabins on the ship and how that plays out for the timing of  booking excursions. The reservation system for excursions was set up by Viking. Viking knows on any given day how many cabins are permitted to start booking excursions. The system should be designed to handle this recurring situation. The excursions I was trying to book were not sold out in which case, booking a higher grade cabin to have an earlier selection date would be a legitimate solution. The 15 day cruise we are taking only has three sea days and we will be spending our time in ports, out of the cabin. Thus, we choose not to take a bigger cabin. And, the "solution" to the Viking problem should not be to force one to take a more expensive cabin.  I was not looking for an earlier opportunity to book excursions, just the opportunity to do so based on the system and timetable set up by Viking.

 

On a different thread someone asked, “Does Viking Ocean want UK cruisers?” 

 

From reading all the troubles since they changed their times one might ask, does Viking Ocean want guests to book Viking excursions?

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11 minutes ago, Hanoj said:

 

On a different thread someone asked, “Does Viking Ocean want UK cruisers?” 

 

From reading all the troubles since they changed their times one might ask, does Viking Ocean want guests to book Viking excursions?

We sail Seabourn and never have any difficulty booking excursions.  No one gets to register before others---even if they have a higher grade of suite/cabin.  In other words, Seabourn is a one class cruise line--which is one reason we sail with them. 

 

I have been intrigued by Viking which is why I read these threads.  I like that there are no passengers under 18 and no casinos.  BUT---there seem to be all kinds of other hassles.  Am I totally wrong?  

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Posted (edited)

I hear many people complaining about having to pay the balances on cruises so far in advance.  I also hear many people complaining about the way they do excursions.  

 

Perhaps...

Viking should put passengers in the queue according to the time your final balance is paid? 

 

That would make me feel a whole lot better about booking and paying early! 

 

If they are going to have our money gaining intrest in their bank account it would be nice to reward early bookers and payees somehow! 

 

The time could coincide with the actually booking time on the calendar and clock which would spread out the peak registration times as well. (Since they seem to be causeing a problem.)

 

First person to book a cabin and pay in full is the first person to choose their dining and excursion options. Last person is the last person.

 

I'm sure they could set aside some spots for the concierge to placate people with more expensive cabins....

 

Edited by Liz Masterson

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3 hours ago, SLSD said:

We sail Seabourn and never have any difficulty booking excursions.  No one gets to register before others---even if they have a higher grade of suite/cabin.  In other words, Seabourn is a one class cruise line--which is one reason we sail with them. 

 

I have been intrigued by Viking which is why I read these threads.  I like that there are no passengers under 18 and no casinos.  BUT---there seem to be all kinds of other hassles.  Am I totally wrong?  

 

Yes, you might be wrong but you will never know if you listen only to the negative kinds of issues that feed forums like Cruise Critic.  When things go awry, people flock to to the social media to air their dissatisfaction. When everything is hunk dory, they have nothing to say.  The only way to know for sure is to book a cruise with Viking and decide for yourself what is right.

 

S*** happens and it happens to every business.

 

Personally, I'll take the "hassles." They are short lived and not worth getting this upset over. I don't spend 2 weeks trying book excursions; I do spend 2 weeks on the ship and I like the Viking experience. I like the atmosphere. I like the people who have chosen to sail Viking. I like the no kids, no casinos, casual vibe. The luxury cruise lines don't do it for me; the whole butler/white gloves/dress up for dinner thing is just not what I am looking for. I'm glad I found Viking.

 

I'm also glad that there are many, many alternatives for cruising and that we can all choose what works best for us-- whether it is cruise line or choice of cabin or dining venue.

 

 

 

 

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24 minutes ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

Yes, you might be wrong but you will never know if you listen only to the negative kinds of issues that feed forums like Cruise Critic.  When things go awry, people flock to to the social media to air their dissatisfaction. When everything is hunk dory, they have nothing to say.  The only way to know for sure is to book a cruise with Viking and decide for yourself what is right.

 

S*** happens and it happens to every business.

 

Personally, I'll take the "hassles." They are short lived and not worth getting this upset over. I don't spend 2 weeks trying book excursions; I do spend 2 weeks on the ship and I like the Viking experience. I like the atmosphere. I like the people who have chosen to sail Viking. I like the no kids, no casinos, casual vibe. The luxury cruise lines don't do it for me; the whole butler/white gloves/dress up for dinner thing is just not what I am looking for. I'm glad I found Viking.

 

I'm also glad that there are many, many alternatives for cruising and that we can all choose what works best for us-- whether it is cruise line or choice of cabin or dining venue.

 

 

 

 

I totally agree and am also glad I found Viking. Yes, I had two situations on two Viking cruises where s*** happened (1 river, 1 ocean), and in both cases Viking went above and beyond to correct and/or compensate. My wife is a better testimonial than me as she has had extensive cruising experience with various cruise lines. My experience was with Viking river first, then Princess with a group of friends. Everything since then has been Viking. These friends wont even try Viking because they love Princess and are afraid of smaller ships.

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5 hours ago, SLSD said:

We sail Seabourn and never have any difficulty booking excursions.  No one gets to register before others---even if they have a higher grade of suite/cabin.  In other words, Seabourn is a one class cruise line--which is one reason we sail with them. 

 

I have been intrigued by Viking which is why I read these threads.  I like that there are no passengers under 18 and no casinos.  BUT---there seem to be all kinds of other hassles.  Am I totally wrong?  

 

I have only sailed with Viking (one river, two ocean) but have been  reading threads for Regent, Seabourn, and, to a lesser extent, Oceania. We have enjoyed our Viking cruises and I’m happy to report all our “hassles” have been on land and not on the ships. We’ve noticed a decline in the quality of customer service (sales and Viking Air primarily) since our first dealings with Viking ar the end of 2016. The company is obviously growing fast, but these more recent issues with booking excursions and other often mentioned customer service faux pas need to be addressed by Viking, especially in light of their recent incidents with their ships. I prefer the quality of my entire experience with a cruise line to be consistently high. 

 

We we just booked our next ocean cruise with Viking to Alaska in 2020. Both Regent and Oceania had intriguing itineraries but each had some perceived limitations that caused me to overlook them in favor of what I am familiar with and like about Viking. But, I won’t know unless I give them a try. 

 

In the meantime, we really like Viking’s no kids, no casino policies and it’s relaxed, but elegant ambiance. 

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And we are a bit the reverse situation. We have been consistent Oceania customers and this will be our first Viking trip. Viking's marketing of excursions was part of the appeal of Viking. I agree that S*** happens on any line, but I consider that to be unusual occurrences. What I am reading on this website strikes me as an ongoing, repetitive problem that leaves a bad taste before the cruise even begins.In this day and age of technology, I don't think it is too much to expect that the reservation system will function properly. 

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It is a new problem, as far as I can tell. The first conversations I remember seeing about major issues with booking shorex and dinner reservations was just a few weeks ago. If this had been an ongoing topic of conversation over the past half year or more, I might feel differently but for now, I'm willing to give them a chance to figure out exactly what is going wrong and fix it.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Parsley Cruises said:

To explain again: your problem probably stems from booking a grade of cabin which attracts a higher proportion of the ship’s passengers.  If you book a larger and more costly accommodation, you will get to make your selections (a) earlier, and (b) there are less of these accommodations on the ship there will be less passengers trying to make their selections. 

 

It’s a numbers game.  Simples!  Works for us 😎

I am sorry Parsley that you felt you needed to take the time to re-explain yourself. I completely got your point the first time around. 😎

 

We love Sailing on Viking and I have been right there extolling their many virtues since we first sailed on them five years ago.  We thoroughly enjoyed Rivers as well as Oceans and are looking forward to our next adventure. It is true that these frustrations are mostly short lived compared to our actual time and experiences on board, however this booking problem is an issue that Viking needs to address. Without our letting Viking know the situation they may not be aware of it. So I am a firm believer in voicing the positives along with the areas for improvement. As Perigrina said, This has not been a topic of concern for an extended period of time, so hopefully Viking will get their arms around it soon. After working with a couple of customer service reps for excursions and dining website problems,  they thanked me for keeping my cool with them as they are hearing a lot of frustration on these issues. 

It shouldn’t matter what cabin category you are booked in. This  seems to be a systems/software issue and I do honestly believe that Viking is not intending for their customers to have these problems, no matter what cabin they booked. 

Edited by Vineyard View

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45 minutes ago, Vineyard View said:

Without our letting Viking know the situation they may not be aware of it.

 

I agree but it is much more expeditious to e-mail them explaining what you are experiencing. TellUs@vikingcruises.com

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I did call them directly on both occasions. Are you recommending that I also email them?  Happy to do so but hadn’t thought of that and you may have a good point Peregrina. 

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To explain again: your problem probably stems from booking a grade of cabin which attracts a higher proportion of the ship’s passengers.  If you book a larger and more costly accommodation, you will get to make your selections (a) earlier, and (b) there are less of these accommodations on the ship there will be less passengers trying to make their selections. 
 
It’s a numbers game.  Simples!  Works for us


It's not nearly as simple as you seem to think.
Yes, booking a PS cabin would ensure that when your booking window opens, you would be one of a smaller number of pax trying to book excursions - on YOUR cruise. But Viking has six ships. It's theoretically possible that the other five ships could all have their DV booking windows open on the exact same day as your cruise's PS booking window. All at exactly the same instant. And before long, Viking will start booking excursions for cruises on their seventh ship.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

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11 hours ago, SLSD said:

We sail Seabourn and never have any difficulty booking excursions.  No one gets to register before others---even if they have a higher grade of suite/cabin.  In other words, Seabourn is a one class cruise line--which is one reason we sail with them. 

 

I have been intrigued by Viking which is why I read these threads.  I like that there are no passengers under 18 and no casinos.  BUT---there seem to be all kinds of other hassles.  Am I totally wrong?  

We also consider Viking a single class cruise line, as the entire ship is available to all pax, regardless of cabin category. Viking also has no loyalty program, other than a discount on all cruises after your first.

 

Similar to Seabourn, higher priced cabins have certain perks, which on Viking this includes earlier access to booking shore-ex and dining reservations. However, for us this is not an issue, since we consider this a marketing ploy to encourage demand.

 

For shore-ex, which have a substantial mark-up, if we are interested in a tour that isn't available and the ship doesn't provide more space, we will find a superior alternative. Is that a hassle - most definitely not. Might be more work finding a quality vendor, but we will receive a superior tour. Providing earlier shore-ex reservations to higher priced cabins, in our opinion, does not make it a multi-class ship.

 

With respect to dinner reservation, never in my wildest dreams would I book a restaurant 2 months in advance, never mind 6 months. When at home, on the rare occasion we make reservations, they are usually made the same day, for a special occasion maybe a day in advance. Again, giving suites more reservations and earlier booking window, does not make me feel that the ship has multiple classes.

 

Every cruise line has a niche market and while I believe no Line will tick every box, for us, Viking ticks most of them, especially the critical ones - no casino, no kids, no formal nights. Spent too many years working cruise ships, when every night was formal and it wasn't a suggestion. When researching Luxury/Premium Lines, I noted that Seabourn still has "Formal Nights". On a cruise, we are on holiday and enjoy relaxing with like minded pax in a relaxed atmosphere. For us, formal nights would be a hassle.

 

Are you wrong with respect to perceived hassles - only you can determine that based on what is important. For us, we have no issue with most of Viking's policies & procedures. Hope you do book a Viking cruise and enjoy the experience.

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8 hours ago, just_dont said:


It's not nearly as simple as you seem to think.
Yes, booking a PS cabin would ensure that when your booking window opens, you would be one of a smaller number of pax trying to book excursions - on YOUR cruise. But Viking has six ships. It's theoretically possible that the other five ships could all have their DV booking windows open on the exact same day as your cruise's PS booking window. All at exactly the same instant. And before long, Viking will start booking excursions for cruises on their seventh ship.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
 

 

It’s more than 6 - the same system is used for booking excursions on Viking river cruises.

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27 minutes ago, Squawkman said:

It’s more than 6 - the same system is used for booking excursions on Viking river cruises.

 

Except the River Cruises don’t dump a whole huge segment of people onto the system in one day at one time.  Those excursions can be booked at your leisure one at a time over many months. If I were booking excursions for a river cruise and I encountered computer system problems, I could just wait without fear that the excursion would be booked by the time I got back. 

 

The very nature of river cruises is that you are very close to the things people want to see and do, so the included walking tours work out well. 

 

With the ocean going ships, the dock is most frequently quite far from the actual places people want to visit. The included tours are mostly “panoramic bus rides, and do not interest as many people.  This puts more burden on the system as people try to book the more interesting optional tours.  

 

I don’t think the river cruises are adding that much to the system load. 

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Somewhere on this board I referenced having to book an excursion for one as there was only one slot left. I did get the second slot about 2 weeks later. This was a river cruise.

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21 hours ago, Parsley Cruises said:

To explain again: your problem probably stems from booking a grade of cabin which attracts a higher proportion of the ship’s passengers.  If you book a larger and more costly accommodation, you will get to make your selections (a) earlier, and (b) there are less of these accommodations on the ship there will be less passengers trying to make their selections. 

 

It’s a numbers game.  Simples!  Works for us 😎

 

How delightful that it works for you!  I’m sure the rest of us would relish having the expendable funds to do the same, but perhaps you didn’t consider that fact when you responded from your lofty perch.  So easy to say. - simply book more costly accommodations - as though others have just made a silly mistake. 

 

Vineyard Vines did mention that they were booked in a PV cabin - which is still in a smaller group of cabins. Someone posted a list of how many of each category there are, awhile ago, and I was surprised at how few PVs there were. 

 

The PV cabins are wonderful, quite spacious and come with a nice set of perks. We try to book one whenever our budget allows, but if it didn’t and I really wanted to cruise with Viking Ocean, I would book DV or V without hesitation, since they all have balconies.  

 

We have a PV for our upcoming cruise, and even if Viking called with a free upgrade, I wouldn’t move, as I’ve stated before - unless maybe they were offering one of those aft corner Explorer Suites. 😍. I can’t resist an aft corner!

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