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Transferring a Booking - any experience in the current climate


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HI Folks

UK based - my wife and I are booked on the Viking Orion for an Alaska cruise departing 14th August. Viking's operations are currently suspended to the end of June so our cruise does not yet come under the "Cancelled " category.

 

We are due to pay the balance (~£6500) to our TA on the 19th May and I'm wrestling with what decision route to take. This is compounded by the fact that our TA has virtually shut down due to the CV distancing rules and is only operating a skeleton staff. Responses from them and action by them could take days if not weeks.

 

My reading of the situation from our perspective is that, even if the cruise industry does manage to restart operations before August, we as "vulnerable" over-70's may still be banned from cruising with the likely absence of an effective vaccine by that date. It is also questionable whether the travel insurance industry would be willing to cover us until more clarity on risks is available.

 

I certainly don't want to cancel from my end as this would mean the loss of our deposit (£2700). I am also wary of paying the balance and leaving close to £9200 sitting in Viking's coffers for 2 years.

 

My get-out strategy is to explore transferring my current booking to another cruise - probably in 2022, as things are more likely to be back to normal by then and there may well be a vaccine available. If I want to do this and it is possible then I need to act quickly as Viking will only accept transfer requests in writing and that, I presume, will have to come from my TA who are significantly hampered due to lock-down and social distancing constraints.

 

Has anyone used this transfer option in the current CV situation and was it successful? Were Viking amenable and receptive to doing the transfer

Edited by arlowood
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Here's my story but I'm in the US and things are different here.

 

The night before Viking cancelled May and June, I had decided to move our June 3 cruise to one of the August sailings. By the time I woke up the next morning, the landscape had changed; May and June sail dates had been removed from the Viking website. Still, I got on the phone with my TA and she was able to get through to her Viking contact and move my booking. Not long after we finished the transaction -- and it took just a few minutes --  Viking made it official.

 

Here are my thoughts for you:

 

Forget your TA and work directly with Viking UK. If Viking balks because you have a TA, tell them that these are extraordinary circumstances and that your TA is not responding in a timely manner because they are working with just a skeleton crew. (If that fails, I would normally suggest writing the folks at tellus@vikingcruises.com BUT I don't know how swamped they are at this time and I don't know if they handle all markets or just US.) Keep calling until you get an agent who will talk to you or ask to speak to a supervisor.

 

In the US, cancellation fees and penalties have been waived; is it the same in UK? If so, you don't have to worry about cancellation fees; you will be getting your entire fare back as a voucher. Moreover, if you book before April 30, the same penalty free booking policy applies, so you could re-book for next summer and then revisit the decision again in 2021 with the ability to postpone again in 2021 if the need be. Again, this is only if Viking UK is offering the same penalty free cancellation policy as it is in the US. (Answering my own question, see  https://www.vikingcruises.co.uk/risk-free-guarantee.html.  So, it seems to me that maybe you want to decide and act before April 30th.)

 

It also seems to me that when you talk with Viking you need to ask flat out if you can cancel your cruise and get your deposit back in cash. If it is going to be a voucher, then, imho, I would move the booking to next summer, which would move your pay in full date into 2021 and you would still have the option to move that reservation penalty-free one more time into 2022 if need be.

 

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45 minutes ago, arlowood said:

HI Folks

UK based - my wife and I are booked on the Viking Orion for an Alaska cruise departing 14th August. Viking's operations are currently suspended to the end of June so our cruise does not yet come under the "Cancelled " category.

 

We are due to pay the balance (~£6500) to our TA on the 19th May and I'm wrestling with what decision route to take. This is compounded by the fact that our TA has virtually shut down due to the CV distancing rules and is only operating a skeleton staff. Responses from them and action by them could take days if not weeks.

 

My reading of the situation from our perspective is that, even if the cruise industry does manage to restart operations before August, we as "vulnerable" over-70's may still be banned from cruising with the likely absence of an effective vaccine by that date. It is also questionable whether the travel insurance industry would be willing to cover us until more clarity on risks is available.

 

I certainly don't want to cancel from my end as this would mean the loss of our deposit (£2700). I am also wary of paying the balance and leaving close to £9200 sitting in Viking's coffers for 2 years.

 

My get-out strategy is to explore transferring my current booking to another cruise - probably in 2022, as things are more likely to be back to normal by then and there may well be a vaccine available. If I want to do this and it is possible then I need to act quickly as Viking will only accept transfer requests in writing and that, I presume, will have to come from my TA who are significantly hampered due to lock-down and social distancing constraints.

 

Has anyone used this transfer option in the current CV situation and was it successful? Were Viking amenable and receptive to doing the transfer

We are in a similar position to yourselves, although our cruise isn't until early September. Again the over 70 factor comes into play as my other half is there. 

However, my reading of the first cruise cancellation and amendment notification, is that you can cancel up to 24hrs before departure and get a FCV for the monies already paid. So, if you cancel your Alaska cruise before paying the balance, you will get a voucher for £2700. Yes you don't get the money back, but neither do you actually lose it. I believe you have until the end of 2021 to use the voucher. This is an option we are considering. Somewhere I know I have read another Brit has taken this route on an Alaska cruise and got a FCV.

 

This may not help your thought process at all, and I know it doesn't exactly answer the question you posed,but I thought it might help.

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3 minutes ago, old biddy said:

We are in a similar position to yourselves, although our cruise isn't until early September. Again the over 70 factor comes into play as my other half is there. 

However, my reading of the first cruise cancellation and amendment notification, is that you can cancel up to 24hrs before departure and get a FCV for the monies already paid. So, if you cancel your Alaska cruise before paying the balance, you will get a voucher for £2700. Yes you don't get the money back, but neither do you actually lose it. I believe you have until the end of 2021 to use the voucher. This is an option we are considering. Somewhere I know I have read another Brit has taken this route on an Alaska cruise and got a FCV.

 

This may not help your thought process at all, and I know it doesn't exactly answer the question you posed,but I thought it might help.

Hi there

 

Thanks for your input. I don't have a copy or link to Vikings first cancellation and amendment notification but I do recall reading it at the time. My understanding was that it only applied to those who had already paid their balances. I had not interpreted it to cover situations where the full balance was still outstanding.

 

If your interpretation is correct then that option is certainly worth exploring. It would mean having some "breathing space" rather than plunging in with selecting another cruise at this stage.

 

In any event if we do decide to and can transfer it is more likely that we would be looking at 2022 for our next Viking cruise as we already have 2 other cruises (P&O) booked in 2021

 

Reading the "Risk Free Guarantee" link provided by Peregrina651 it does seem that we would qualify to change our cruise date up to 24 months ahead which would allow us to opt for sailings in 2022. We would receive a FCV for the deposit that we have paid and it would avoid the pitfall of the looming balance due date. However that guarantee expires on 30th April so we need to move quickly

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Again, this is from the US so UK issues may differ, but my situation was the same as yours. We had a cruise booked for October this year and the final balance was due April 28. Since we have already  had a river cruise canceled by Viking during the virus outbreak, we decided to transfer our October deposit to a different cruise in April 2021. (fingers crossed that will be enough time)

 

The phone call was quick and simple. They didn't cancel the original booking number, just updated the whole thing to the new itinerary and date and added the extension I requested. All money transferred over. The only additional charge was a slight increase in the travel insurance because the new trip was more expensive since we added the extension. A new invoice was in my inbox by the time we finished the call. 

 

Hope this helps you.

 

Edited by lackcreativity
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3 minutes ago, lackcreativity said:

Again, this is from the US so UK issues may differ, but my situation was the same as yours. We had a cruise booked for October this year and the final balance was due April 28. Since we have already  had a river cruise canceled by Viking during the virus outbreak, we decided to transfer our October deposit to a different cruise in April 2021. (fingers crossed that will be enough time)

 

The phone call was quick and simple. They didn't cancel the original booking number, just updated the whole thing to the new itinerary and date and added the extension I requested. All money transferred over. The only additional charge was a slight increase in the travel insurance because the new trip was more expensive since we added the extension. I new invoice was in my inbox by the time we finished the call. 

 

Hope this helps you.

 

Sounds encouraging. I'll try calling my TA on Monday to see if I can get them to do the transfer over the phone. We've already spotted a river cruise (Passage to Eastern Europe) that takes our fancy for a 2022 sailing.

If I don't get any joy with the TA, I will try calling Viking UK direct

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5 minutes ago, arlowood said:

Sounds encouraging. I'll try calling my TA on Monday to see if I can get them to do the transfer over the phone. We've already spotted a river cruise (Passage to Eastern Europe) that takes our fancy for a 2022 sailing.

If I don't get any joy with the TA, I will try calling Viking UK direct

We book directly with Viking, so we didn't have the added issue regarding who is authorized to contact Viking regarding the booking. I believe I have read elsewhere that under these circumstances, they have made exceptions when travel agents are unavailable.

Good luck. I think we all are looking forward to sailing again one day.

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1 hour ago, arlowood said:

(Passage to Eastern Europe)

 

Excellent choice!  Did it in 2015 with Prague pre-cruise; sorry we could not also do the Bucharest post-cruise. Loved it.

 

1 hour ago, lackcreativity said:

They didn't cancel the original booking number, just updated the whole thing to the new itinerary and date and added the extension I requested. All money transferred over.

 

Interesting. I guess it depends on the agent you are dealing with. We ended up with a new booking number. But, as long as the numbers add up, I don't think it matters.

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9 minutes ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

Excellent choice!  Did it in 2015 with Prague pre-cruise; sorry we could not also do the Bucharest post-cruise. Loved it.

 

 

Interesting. I guess it depends on the agent you are dealing with. We ended up with a new booking number. But, as long as the numbers add up, I don't think it matters.

Yes we've done the Danube as far as Budapest. Also done the Rhine, Rhone and Duoro (fantastic - highly recommended). Missed out on the Elbe due to low water levels last year so I am wary of risking that itinerary again. Currently the Viking Ocean sailings only go up to March 2022 and we did not fancy any of the offerings available.

 

An alternative might be just to take the deposit as an FCV and see what ocean cruises pop up when the  summer 2022 sailings are released.

Anyway I am feeling a bit more relaxed as long as I can get through to either our TA or Viking UK before the 31st April so tat we do not miss out on the Risk Free Guarantee

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We too are in a similar position, with the balance due on 29th April for a July 2020 ocean cruise.  We don't really want a voucher, as we have three further Viking ocean cruises already booked (a 5 week B2B in December this year, and a 3 week one in May 2021), and we are both over 70 and wondering whether this will limit our travel possibilities in the future. 

We booked direct with Viking, so at some point in the next week I'll ring them to discuss our options.  I've heard that some people have been allowed to use the fcv as part payment for cruises already booked, which might be helpful.  

 

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20 hours ago, Peregrina651 said:

 

 

. Again, this is only if Viking UK is offering the same penalty free cancellation policy as it is in the US. (Answering my own question, see  https://www.vikingcruises.co.uk/risk-free-guarantee.html.  So, it seems to me that maybe you want to decide and act before April 30th.)

 

 

 

Hi Peregrina651

Your suggestion raised a bit of panic surrounding the deadline date of 30th April to qualify for the risk free guarantee.

However, having read the details it is evident that the 30th April is the deadline by when you have to make a booking to qualify for the guarantee to apply to that booking.

I think we are in pretty safe waters (excuse the pun) since our Alaskan booking was made in 2018 while aboard the Orion on a Mediterranean cruise. We were drawn in by the very generous discounts and extras offered when you book on board for a future cruise. (£750pp discount plus free drinks package)

Unfortunately we are unlikely to benefit from that on any new booking but at least we have preserved our options in the sincere hope that Viking are there for us next year or the year after

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12 hours ago, Jammy Bun said:

We too are in a similar position, with the balance due on 29th April for a July 2020 ocean cruise.  We don't really want a voucher, as we have three further Viking ocean cruises already booked (a 5 week B2B in December this year, and a 3 week one in May 2021), and we are both over 70 and wondering whether this will limit our travel possibilities in the future. 

We booked direct with Viking, so at some point in the next week I'll ring them to discuss our options.  I've heard that some people have been allowed to use the fcv as part payment for cruises already booked, which might be helpful.  

 

Hi Jammy Bun

Under their Risk Free Guarantee, you do have 24 months to decide when you want to apply the voucher. So effectively you could wait until April 2022 to pick the cruise you want to use it on. That could mean 2023 or 2024 potentially.

However if you can use the voucher against an existing booking that would work out better. I'm not sure what Viking are saying but I do know that P&O are only allowing FCV's to be applied to new bookings.

 

With regard to us over-70's travel prospects, I read with dismay this morning that one potential exit stratedgy from the lock-down will require the over-70's to remain in isolation for at least  a further 12 months or until a vaccine has been developed.

 

We have 2 P&O cruises booked next year so I sincerely hope those speculations are wrong.

Edited by arlowood
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4 minutes ago, arlowood said:

 

With regard to us over-70's travel prospects, I read with dismay this morning that one potential exit stratedgy from the lock-down will require the over-70's to remain in isolation for at least  a further 12 months or until a vaccine has been developed.

 

Yes, my OH has been speculating that might be the case.  Did you hear Andrew Marr's interview this morning with the Oxford professor who is working on developing a vaccine?  She answered every question without fudging the issue - it will be available on Radio 4 iplayer if you missed it.  The detail was not all that we wanted to hear, but compared to the politicians who pretend they know everything, she was a joy to listen to.

We last cruised with P&O in 2015, and do not want to go back to them as, in Viking, we have found our perfect match.  But I can see that the attraction of sailing from the UK is attractive if you live in the Southern half of the country!  

 

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40 minutes ago, Jammy Bun said:

Did you hear Andrew Marr's interview this morning with the Oxford professor who is working on developing a vaccine?  She answered every question without fudging the issue - it will be available on Radio 4 iplayer if you missed it.

I think that should be BBC1 iplayer - The Andrew Marr Show.

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2 hours ago, Strangford said:

I think that should be BBC1 iplayer - The Andrew Marr Show.

Of course it should... silly me!  My excuse - having not left the house for almost 5 weeks I have no idea what day of the week it is, and only on Sundays do we choose TV in preference to Radio 4!  Thanks for the correction.

 

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4 hours ago, Jammy Bun said:

Yes, my OH has been speculating that might be the case.  Did you hear Andrew Marr's interview this morning with the Oxford professor who is working on developing a vaccine?  She answered every question without fudging the issue - it will be available on Radio 4 iplayer if you missed it.  The detail was not all that we wanted to hear, but compared to the politicians who pretend they know everything, she was a joy to listen to.

We last cruised with P&O in 2015, and do not want to go back to them as, in Viking, we have found our perfect match.  But I can see that the attraction of sailing from the UK is attractive if you live in the Southern half of the country!  

 

Just watched the iPlayer segment with the Oxford Professor. Very impressive but nut hugely encouraging in terms of the likely timescales. One key issue seems to be assessing the efficacy of the vaccine in a time when the level of infection in the wider population is on a downward trajectory. I only hope that the parallel phase of research to find a suitable treatment that mitigates the worst effects of the infection has some success earlier than the vaccine route. There are some mildly encouraging rumblings about Remdesivir - an antiviral developed for use against Ebola. Researchers in Leicester are also working on a protein that has been modified to "hoover up" the Coronavirus before it has a chance to infect cells in the respiratory tract.

 

On the question of P&O - we have been cruising with them for a number of years but we are beginning to look at other options. Tried Fred Olsen 4 years ago but were not hugely impressed. Did a Viking Ocean cruise on Orion in 2018 and loved it - hence re-booking  for the Alaska cruise this August. The only real issue is the fly cruise element. My wife is not a great flyer at the best of times and the whole airport/flight/transfer business in both directions can affect the overall enjoyment of the cruise. With P&O we just have to drive to Southampton (or take a coach) and that's it.

 

Anyway we do now have the 2 new Saga ships to consider as they seem to have been designed very much as a clone of the VIking ships (all balcony cabins etc). Unfortuneatly though the early signs are slightly discouraging as at least one of them has been plagued with Norovirus outbreaks. 

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21 hours ago, arlowood said:

Just watched the iPlayer segment with the Oxford Professor. Very impressive but nut hugely encouraging in terms of the likely timescales. One key issue seems to be assessing the efficacy of the vaccine in a time when the level of infection in the wider population is on a downward trajectory. I only hope that the parallel phase of research to find a suitable treatment that mitigates the worst effects of the infection has some success earlier than the vaccine route. There are some mildly encouraging rumblings about Remdesivir - an antiviral developed for use against Ebola. Researchers in Leicester are also working on a protein that has been modified to "hoover up" the Coronavirus before it has a chance to infect cells in the respiratory tract.

 

On the question of P&O - we have been cruising with them for a number of years but we are beginning to look at other options. Tried Fred Olsen 4 years ago but were not hugely impressed. Did a Viking Ocean cruise on Orion in 2018 and loved it - hence re-booking  for the Alaska cruise this August. The only real issue is the fly cruise element. My wife is not a great flyer at the best of times and the whole airport/flight/transfer business in both directions can affect the overall enjoyment of the cruise. With P&O we just have to drive to Southampton (or take a coach) and that's it.

 

Anyway we do now have the 2 new Saga ships to consider as they seem to have been designed very much as a clone of the VIking ships (all balcony cabins etc). Unfortuneatly though the early signs are slightly discouraging as at least one of them has been plagued with Norovirus outbreaks. 

Yes, we've sailed P&O many times, and Fred too (though to get the type of cabin/balcony that we like, we had to go into expensive suites on Fred, which was barmy considering how old and basic the ships are!). We don't the strict dining times, nor the pretentious formal evenings on most of the British cruise lines, and whilst Saga ships did initially tempt me, on doing some research I decided I just don't think we can 'go back' now that we've discovered Viking.  They treat you like adults!  (Do P&O still lock the library books away?!!!)  

We need to make decisions about our upcoming cruise fast.  The December one can wait for now.

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Just a brief update to round off this topic.

I emailed our TA and their skeleton staff got back to me within a couple of days. After that everything was handled smoothly and quickly.

I have just had confirmation today that the Viking cruise has been cancelled and the FCV will be forwarded to me as soon as it is received by them.

They also cancelled the hotel bookings we had made to cover a follow-on trip to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia at the end of our Viking cruise.

All-in-all I am impressed with their response in the current situation. We have used them for all our cruise holidays since 2007 and have always received a first class service so we have not been let down

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3 hours ago, arlowood said:

Just a brief update to round off this topic.

I emailed our TA and their skeleton staff got back to me within a couple of days. After that everything was handled smoothly and quickly.

I have just had confirmation today that the Viking cruise has been cancelled and the FCV will be forwarded to me as soon as it is received by them.

They also cancelled the hotel bookings we had made to cover a follow-on trip to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia at the end of our Viking cruise.

All-in-all I am impressed with their response in the current situation. We have used them for all our cruise holidays since 2007 and have always received a first class service so we have not been let down

Hi again Arlowood,

Do you mean your August cruise has been cancelled by Viking, or that you have cancelled and therefore accepted a future cruise voucher?  

Thanks

JB

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15 hours ago, Jammy Bun said:

Hi again Arlowood,

Do you mean your August cruise has been cancelled by Viking, or that you have cancelled and therefore accepted a future cruise voucher?  

Thanks

JB

No I chose to cancel from our end. I don't think Viking have issued any cancellations beyond June 30th at the moment.

Our balance payment date was looming and I did not want to commit any more funds into a voucher.

I think their Risk Free Cancellation policy offers the best compromise. I realise that it is not truly risk free as if Viking go belly up then our voucher will effectively be worthless. However I am keeping my fingers crossed that, of all the cruise lines, Viking may survive better than some

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