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Our Voucher Redemption Experience!

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I hope our experience with vouchers – at least those issued recently for cruises canceled due to Covid-19 – help people understand what to expect so that you can plan voucher use based on what the voucher program is really like.

First of all, vouchers are issued to individual cruisers, and per Viking policy, can be used for expenses on a single cruise for one passenger. It is transferable in total, not in part. Specifically, the value cannot be applied to your expenses and part of your traveling partner's expenses.

Next, unused voucher value does not – repeat DOES NOT – become shipboard credit at the beginning of your trip. On "My Viking Journey" under "My Account", the "My Profile" page will describe permitted voucher usage (but only after your voucher is applied to the booking). This page says it "will be automatically applied to your purchases for this journey, including cruise fare, air, hotel extensions, excursions, beverage package, and prepaid gratuities, and must be used before your journey begins."

It almost seems pointless to add, but your voucher cannot be used to pay for Viking's TripMate travel insurance.

The above information was often contradicted by Viking reservation and Customer Relations agents I spoke with since early April 2020, so I feel that others might benefit from knowing what the actual limits are. I am not making any recommendation about what anyone should do, or how anyone should use their vouchers, just trying to make your booking experience easier and more pleasant.

Happy Cruising – see you on the Viking Venus in Jan-Feb 2021, Iberian Explorer B2B with Northern Lights!

P.S. You don NOT want me to tell you the "Sturm und Drang" I went through to learn the above. Take it from me: those are THE RULES.

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Might be the rules now but there was a great deal of nonsense going on when I first re-booked and applied my vouchers. For instance, at first the message in MJV read "You Have Shipboard Credit" and we were told by at least four agents that the vouchers could be used for "anything." We are currently insisting on the refund due to our position that we were lied to and deceived to gain a booking.

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1 minute ago, duquephart said:

Might be the rules now but there was a great deal of nonsense going on when I first re-booked and applied my vouchers. For instance, at first the message in MJV read "You Have Shipboard Credit" and we were told by at least four agents that the vouchers could be used for "anything." We are currently insisting on the refund due to our position that we were lied to and deceived to gain a booking.

 

Yes, we received contradictory information, too. It "only" took four weeks to untangle our mess. I hope your situation resolves satisfactorily - you don't need this kind of stress!

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7 minutes ago, What was that? said:

 

Yes, we received contradictory information, too. It "only" took four weeks to untangle our mess. I hope your situation resolves satisfactorily - you don't need this kind of stress!

 

We are giving Viking an opportunity to demonstrate that they are honest, ethical, and willing to stand behind what their agents have promised. We shall see.

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Wondering what would happen if you booked excursions to "use up" the remainder of a voucher, and then once onboard, if you cancel the excursion, would the value be refunded to your onboard account, effectively turning it into OBC?
It might not be refunded to you in cash at the end of the trip, but you might be able to use it for gratuities, spa or shop purchases.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

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1 minute ago, duquephart said:

 

We are giving Viking an opportunity to demonstrate that they are honest, ethical, and willing to stand behind what their agents have promised. We shall see.

 

Duke, I am confident you will be disappointed. Been there, done that. After our two Viking cruises, we will go back to HAL full-time.

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1 minute ago, just_dont said:

Wondering what would happen if you booked excursions to "use up" the remainder of a voucher, and then once onboard, if you cancel the excursion, would the value be refunded to your onboard account, effectively turning it into OBC?
It might not be refunded to you in cash at the end of the trip, but you might be able to use it for gratuities, spa or shop purchases.

 

Devious, but I would only believe it could be done after hearing from a cruiser that has accomplished it. Whatever a Viking agent might say is questionable.

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15 minutes ago, What was that? said:

 

Duke, I am confident you will be disappointed. Been there, done that. After our two Viking cruises, we will go back to HAL full-time.

 

Probably. I'm now hoping Viking management spends the rest of their lives living under a bridge.

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1 minute ago, duquephart said:

 

Probably. I'm now hoping Viking management spends the rest of their lives living under a bridge.

 

In my more charitable moments I acknowledge that the Viking organization - and it's people - are under tremendous stress. But it is clear that training had suffered significantly prior to this situation; otherwise agents would not be giving all manner of advice, about half of which (in our case) was flat rong. The other thing I found difficult to handle was agents who promised to call back and never did...

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, What was that? said:

 

In my more charitable moments I acknowledge that the Viking organization - and it's people - are under tremendous stress. But it is clear that training had suffered significantly prior to this situation; otherwise agents would not be giving all manner of advice, about half of which (in our case) was flat rong. The other thing I found difficult to handle was agents who promised to call back and never did...

 

Indeed. They really should be at least a notch above your typical car dealership. Viking does refer to their agents as "experts."

Edited by duquephart

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14 minutes ago, duquephart said:

 

Indeed. They really should be at least a notch above your typical cae dealership. Viking does refer to their agents as "experts."

 

I think that is more of a title than descriptive of their mastery of the trade.

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would you know/guess- if my wife and i each have a voucher from a cancelled trip and 2 future trips booked can we use her voucher to pay for both of us on one of the trips and my voucher to pay for us on the other trip? thanks

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1 minute ago, umbrellaman said:

would you know/guess- if my wife and i each have a voucher from a cancelled trip and 2 future trips booked can we use her voucher to pay for both of us on one of the trips and my voucher to pay for us on the other trip? thanks

 

Yes, I know. The fact is that Viking WILL NOT permit this, regardless of how many Viking agents or TAs say that you can. I tried it and my friend tried it after being told by Viking agents that that is how it would work and the fact is that YOUR voucher will only apply to YOUR expenses (cruise fare, airfare, excursions, etc.) and your WIFE's voucher will be applied to HER expenses only.

 

You can of course ask Viking to apply one voucher to one cruise and the other voucher to another cruise. They will do that. But the voucher value will only be applied to expenses for the passenger to whom the voucher was issued. That may be attractive to you (for cash flow reasons, for instance) but do not imagine that the excess voucher value will benefit the other traveler - that won't happen.

 

Here is an experiment I wish I had tried. Call Viking (or your TA) and ask them to apply ONE voucher to one of your cruises. Then sit back and see What the Viking Guest Statement and My Viking Journey says. That will let you learn for yourself what Viking's voucher policy is.

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1 hour ago, umbrellaman said:

would you know/guess- if my wife and i each have a voucher from a cancelled trip and 2 future trips booked can we use her voucher to pay for both of us on one of the trips and my voucher to pay for us on the other trip? thanks

 

Don't know if you'll get an accurate answer here but you damn sure won't get one talking to anyone at Viking.

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Posted on a different thread as well, but perhaps one of you have a thought?

 

Our June Midnight Sun cruise was of course cancelled, and based on the description provided in the cancellation letter from the Chairman, we chose to take the 125% FCV (about $25K). The wording from the cancellation letter was:

 

"As a guest whose cruise falls within this window of suspended operations, we are offering a Future Cruise Voucher valued at 125% of all monies paid to Viking. By adding 25% to the value of what you originally paid, you now have the opportunity to enhance your trip – such as choosing a longer itinerary; adding a Pre/Post cruise extension; upgrading your stateroom category; or even upgrading to business class air. You will have 24 months to use your Future Cruise Voucher to make a new reservation on any river, ocean or expedition cruise. For additional flexibility, if you are unable to use your voucher, we will automatically send you a refund equal to the original amount paid to Viking after the voucher expires. The 125% Future Cruise Voucher will also be fully transferable." 

 

That looked like a reasonable bet to us - 25% uplift, full refund in 2 years if not used (risk of solvency, of course).

 

Today, we attempted to use the FCV to pay the deposit for a lengthy 2022 trip, but my TA has been told by multiple Viking staff that we can't do that - we have to pay the deposit in cash (yet another $25K), then the FCV can be applied to the rest of the fare.

 

Here is what was written on our FCV document - it's clear that you can't use it for trip protection, but indicates no other restrictions - certainly not excluding its use for a deposit on a new cruise.

 

"*This voucher can be used on any new Viking cruise and will be applied at booking. This voucher cannot be used as payment for a Travel Protection Plan, and the voucher must be redeemed by the expiration date prior to final payment. Once redeemed, it cannot be re-issued or used toward another cruise, and any unused balance of the voucher is lost. The voucher is commissionable, transferable, and if it expires will trigger a refund of monies paid on the booking."

 

I'm extremely surprised by this position taken by Viking. Does anyone have any similar experience with this, or insight? 

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, CurlerRob said:

I'm extremely surprised by this position taken by Viking. Does anyone have any similar experience with this, or insight? 

 

I have not experienced this gambit by Viking, but after what happened to me, I am not surprised in the least. I would escalate, escalate, escalate, starting with TellUs@vikingcruises.com and keeping at it. I would counsel you to be polite - but absolutely firm and crystal clear what you want Viking to do.

 

If no progress, the only other option I would consider is requesting the 100% cash refund and going elsewhere.

 

I had one voucher applied to a cruise (booking # 6006572 if anyone wants to check) which I had already reserved informally - no money down, TA asked her Viking rep to hold it - and I save the Viking Guest Statement that shows exactly NO DEPOSIT WAS PAID. I did of course pay for the insurance. This puts the lie to what you are being told.

 

Please keep us posted.

Edited by What was that?
Additional potentially useful information...

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Posted (edited)

For CurlerRob: see attached Viking Guest Statement! --- And for anyone who believes that the voucher excess will apply to your travel partner. Total voucher values was $16,415 - do the math!

2020-04-08 Guest_PRELLER6006572.pdf

Edited by What was that?
Additional points, then corrected grammar

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, What was that? said:

For CurlerRob: see attached Viking Guest Statement


 

Thanks for this - I do notice that the statement shows a deposit of $500, but that may have been part of the overall transaction. My attempted booking was for the 2022 Grand Pacific, which requires a 20% deposit, hence the serious $.

 

In any event, my TA's discussion with Viking is ongoing, and I'll be happy to advise how this all shakes out. Your trip looks great, hope it will happen! (and in USD it looks even better to a Canadian).

Edited by CurlerRob

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1 minute ago, CurlerRob said:

I do notice that the statement shows a deposit of $500, but that may have been part of the overall transaction.

Rob, that deposit amount was not paid. Page 2 shows what was paid, and it is "only" $319 + $1,019 for the insurance. What the statement shows is that the booking was confirmed by using the voucher and no additional deposit amount was paid.

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21 minutes ago, What was that? said:

Rob, that deposit amount was not paid. Page 2 shows what was paid, and it is "only" $319 + $1,019 for the insurance. What the statement shows is that the booking was confirmed by using the voucher and no additional deposit amount was paid.

 

No biggie - I just noticed there was $500 against the deposit amount line, top left, right above the final payment date. Obviously, they allocated something to it, or it's a placeholder for the system.

 

Appreciate  you sharing the statement, it clearly shows the effect of applying the single FCV. R.

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8 hours ago, What was that? said:

 

In my more charitable moments I acknowledge that the Viking organization - and it's people - are under tremendous stress. But it is clear that training had suffered significantly prior to this situation; otherwise agents would not be giving all manner of advice, about half of which (in our case) was flat rong. The other thing I found difficult to handle was agents who promised to call back and never did...

 

I am not going to comment on the main focus of this article because as a travel professional, I have not found dealing with Viking to be a problem. What bothers me about your post here is saying that anyone could have been trained for this situation before it started. I doubt there is a single person in the entire cruising industry who ever thought this could happen. That a global pandemic would drive cruise lines close to bankruptcy. 

 

As far as the agents not calling you back I am going to ask why you don't use a travel agent you know and trust? Any TA that books with Viking will get a call back but then you don't have to deal with all this—they will. And it doesn't cost you an extra cent. 

 

JIm

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30 minutes ago, DrKoob said:

JIm

 

I appreciate your comment. My point about training was more about the inconsistency and variation in what I was told by a number of Viking agents, leading me to suspect that agent training in standard procedures and policies is not what it should have been PRIOR TO the suspension of cruises. Training is a continuous process that must be implemented and monitored to prevent such situations as I have encountered, and by some accounts, others have also. At least, that was what I was told when I was in the computer industry.

 

Regarding TAs, I DO use one and part of the problem is tied to what this TA was told by Viking.

 

Overall, my message is a cautionary tale for people holding Viking vouchers: make sure you understand what Viking will permit you to do with a voucher before committing. Failure to do that may - I repeat, MAY - result in you having problems like I did. Ask for a confirming email, as I did - and was always refused - and proceed with caution.

 

And I am into my fifth week of trying to get this straightened out with the assistance of my TA. I am confident all will be well, but it is stressful to me, and will continue to be until Viking corrects my problem.

 

Thanks, Jim, for providing insider insight.

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7 minutes ago, What was that? said:

I appreciate your comment. My point about training was more about the inconsistency and variation in what I was told by a number of Viking agents, leading me to suspect that agent training in standard procedures and policies is not what it should have been PRIOR TO the suspension of cruises. Training is a continuous process that must be implemented and monitored to prevent such situations as I have encountered, and by some accounts, others have also. At least, that was what I was told when I was in the computer industry.

 

Best reply I have ever had sir. Thank you. Well thought out and well said.

Just a note about the continuing training. I know my contact at Viking has been working about 12 hours straight, for reduced pay since this all started and there has not been a single minute of training because it is all they can do to answer the phones. 

 

I also think (with about 90% assurance) that things the reps are hearing are changing minute by minute as we go forward as they are throughout the entire industry. Not apologizing for management just saying they have to deal with how to handle the customers as well as how to manage the business and keep it going. 

 

Jim

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I agree. It’s a difficult situation and the company and its people are under enormous stress. I hope my post can help sensitize cruisers to risks in the use of vouchers as a result of that stress. 

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