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Pistol52

Viking Cruise Line: Uninformed Agents/Untrustworthy Management

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When anyone plans a cruise vacation, you listen to every word, detail and requirement the agent provides you. A Viking Cruise agent told my wife and me (we were on speaker together) more than once that because the China cruise we were asking about did not have 'inland China" travel, NO visas were required. We asked about a pre-cruise add-on to the Terracotta Warrior city and were told that THEN we would need visas. "Because your cruise is along the coast, you do not need visas." The agent gave us wrong guidance and we were denied entry to China and the cruise. Vikings review of the recorded telephone calls was incomplete and they chose to hear only statements that fit their predetermined outcome--no refund. We will never consider Viking Cruises Line again. We suggest that if you do contemplate a cruise with Viking, triple check every detail with a third party-type independent voice because their agents are not well informed and their management is self-servingly ruthless.

 

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I can't vouch for anything that happened between you and the Viking rep, but Viking is very clear on their websites that a visa is needed for some travel, including China. This appears on every page that displays available river and ocean cruises under My Trip - Travel Information. Here's an example:  https://www.vikingcruises.com/oceans/my-trip/travel-information/index.html.

 

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Pistol52 said:

When anyone plans a cruise vacation, you listen to every word, detail and requirement the agent provides you. A Viking Cruise agent told my wife and me (we were on speaker together) more than once that because the China cruise we were asking about did not have 'inland China" travel, NO visas were required. We asked about a pre-cruise add-on to the Terracotta Warrior city and were told that THEN we would need visas. "Because your cruise is along the coast, you do not need visas." The agent gave us wrong guidance and we were denied entry to China and the cruise. Vikings review of the recorded telephone calls was incomplete and they chose to hear only statements that fit their predetermined outcome--no refund. We will never consider Viking Cruises Line again. We suggest that if you do contemplate a cruise with Viking, triple check every detail with a third party-type independent voice because their agents are not well informed and their management is self-servingly ruthless.

 

 

Pistol52 - First of all - I have to say that I am indeed sorry that this unfortunate incident happened to you.  It is a hard lesson to learn, and one which most of us seasoned travelers and especially cruise people, already know - the only thing that counts is what is in writing in a contract or on the web sites.   Not to be cynical, and it shouldn't be that way, no doubt, but we've all learned that what someone tells you on the phone does not count for anything - and partly because even if they were telling you at the moment of conversation what they believed to be true, 2 things could happen - 1. Rules & regulations could easily change after your conversation and 2. Sorry to say this, but often times as human beings, and as we get older, we don't always hear things correctly.

That being said - Viking is VERY clear in all documentation that it is the responsibility of the passenger to do all the checking, verification, etc - this includes checking your documents, your flight arrangements, any shots needed to enter a country. and especially taking accountability for your VISA's required.   The onus is ALWAYS on the passenger.  Maybe it shouldn't be that way but in today's litigious culture, what is in writing is what counts.

 

The previous poster replied with the website that shows the specifics on the Viking Policy regards to VISA's.

Also, if you look in the cruise booklet that is mailed to you 2 months ahead of your cruise, it spells out in pretty good English what the terms are.  In fact, it even highlights the VISA responsibility in RED.  I took a picture of our booklet that we recently received, so you can take a look at it.

 

Again - a tough way to learn this lesson and hopefully you find a way to get over this and on with your lives.  I do feel for your disappointment.   Don't give up on traveling!   Since you won't likely re-visit any Viking posts and this was your very first Cruise Critic post, we'll say goodbye.

778672888_VikingDisclaimersonVISAs.thumb.jpg.be3e94a484d441308c975b1324e1fb00.jpg

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Viking Cruises was vigorous in "reminding" us prior to the Cuba cruise that Cuba requires a visa of every traveler.

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Sorry to hear about this very unfortunate incident. I'm also considering a China trip at some point, and here on CC there is a pretty extensive thread (probably more than one) on China. There is significant discussion regarding obtaining the visas. I know cause I had some correspondence going with several posters who referred to having to mail your passport in along with the proper documentation. I recall posting several questions about all this. Not sure why the agent would not have been aware of all that needs to be done. I must say that, like anything else, there is a difference between the various agents I've chatted with. Luckily, at least for my travel purposes, I've found one that is absolutely amazing who goes above and beyond to send me as much info as I could possibly ask for regarding trips we're interested in. So now I no longer even use the chat feature. I simply email him directly. 

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I would like to add that this responsibility is with the passenger regardless of the cruise line you book. This is not just Viking, but true with any line. When you travel to another country, it is up to you to determine visas as well as any medical precautions you are not only required to take, but may also be in your best interest to decide. I am sorry this happened to you, and understand that you experienced a big disappointment. 

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I'll say this much...

 

When traveling, even if you don't think you'll need or use the visa, get it anyway, just to be safe.

 

I travel 350k+ airline miles a year and would never just take the word of a random phone rep.  I make sure to cover my @ss at all times so that I don't end up in your situation.

 

I'm sorry it worked out this way:  Don't let this deter you from seeing the world.

Edited by benjaminnicholas

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This was unfortunate.  It is a strong reminder to everyone that cruise line sales agents may not be knowledgeable about visas, etc.  Even with a competent and trusted travel agent, it is prudent to double check all arrangements and requirements.  

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5 hours ago, Lotusgirl22 said:

This was unfortunate.  It is a strong reminder to everyone that cruise line sales agents may not be knowledgeable about visas, etc.  Even with a competent and trusted travel agent, it is prudent to double check all arrangements and requirements.  

 

Well put!

 

For those traveling on a US passport, your first stop in checking our travel requirements world-wide is the Department of State website, followed by the local embassy or consul of the destination country(ies).  https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages.html

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As stated so many times already, it is certainly something each traveler must check for themselves. Cruise line customer service representatives are selling cruises for destinations all over the world. To expect them to know the requirement for passengers with a variety of passport situations  to go to a variety of other countries is not reasonable. If the agent under discussion offered information that was not correct, that is unfortunate, but we are all responsible for our own travel documents. That being said, I can only imagine how upsetting that would have been for the original poster.

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While the original poster’s outcome was unfortunate and comments about each traveler bearing primary responsibility for visas and other travel documentation are useful, my experiences with Viking’s land based personnel (sales, guest services, and Viking Air) have been of widely varying utility and quality. This seems to be training/policy issue for which Viking ought to prioritize addressing. Thankfully, we’ve not had such issues onboard. But we have gleaned from expressions and other cues that ship staff are aware of such issues guests have with land based personnel. We’ve also found the ship staff to be very gracious and accommodating when addressing expectations. 

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