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Disappointed in Viking


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We never made it on the cruise which we had looked so forward to, so I can't rate Viking accommodations. I am writing this review based on the terrible experience we went through after booking the cruise and paying the deposit to Viking. We have cruised over 2/3 of the world (the Americas and Europe) but never had an experience anything like what we had with Viking. What we learned about Viking may help others approach Viking with more realistic expectations of what they might experience. We thought that Viking would be a cruise line which went out of its way to help their customers. What we found out is that Viking is a money-making machine, and extremely rigid, and they will not budge an inch to help customers (unless it involves paying Viking more fees and charges--Viking has alot of additional fees and charges in their "all inclusive" fees! It pays to read their contract carefully! They don't "nickel and dime" you, they hundred- and thousand-dollar you!). We had booked a land tour with another company for just before our cruise, and expected to go right from our land tour to our cruise. So far, so good. We bought air arrangements from Viking (not realizing at the time that Viking will give you only one choice of flight unless you begin to pay the extra fees for other choices. Beware--the extra fees, we were told by an independent travel agent, will usually add up to about $300/person extra if you can't use the one flight they will give you.). When we realized that we would receive only one choice of flight, it focused attention on how important that selection would be, so we called our "Viking Travel Agent" twice and left messages asking him to get back to us to discuss the air arrangements. Over several weeks he never returned either call. We can only assume that once they have your booking and your deposit, they are done with working with the customer. Then we got our third shock. The air arrangements specify that Viking will offer transport services from the airport to the port for any one who buys air. But Viking informed us that they would not transport us from the airport to the port because we were also taking another tour beforehand. I thought he must surely be mistaken, but after checking with Viking Customer service I received the same answer. Despite paying for the transport, they would not transport us, due to the other tour being involved. We offered to be at the airport anywhere, at any time they specified, but they refused. We were told that even if we stood in the line at the Viking bus at the airport to go to the port we would be turned away. Viking, of course, blamed it on the policy of "the independent contractor" who does the transport. Adding all this to the difficulties of traveling internationally in the pandemic, we finally decided that we simply couldn't risk putting our tour and our lives in the hands of Viking Cruises. We got our full refunds back from both of the other places which we had placed deposits down a few days before...but Viking policy was that they would gouge the customer $100/person to cancel, even in the midst of the pandemic. They were the only company of the three to do so. And to add insult to injury, while Viking is more than glad to take your booking and money by email or phone, Viking makes you write a handwritten letter and send it snail mail to cancel. Just our experience shared so you know what to expect.

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Minnesota -

Sorry you had such a negative experience. Mine has (and continues to be) quite the opposite - as I'm sure others on this board will attest. I wouldn't know where to start describing our positive experiences over the past 5 years - especially involving payments and refunds. BTW, I have never heard of hand-written letters - I always did refunds over the phone. And the $100pp that was retained can be applied to a future cruise - but it doesn't sound like you'll be taking advantage of that.

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You're experience is most unfortunate, but I suggest this is the classic example of buyer beware before entering into a contract. Of all the concerns you raise, we were aware of them before booking our first Viking cruise.

 

Prior to our first cruise, I did read the contract and had thoroughly researched Viking's terms and conditions, so was aware of the requirements for air and transportation. Without Air Plus you will receive Viking's flights, but with a small premium of $50 pp you have the ability to select preferred airlines, routing, etc. In our experience, we did not incur additional costs for our preferred flights, but some pax have. Since some prices vary, I don't find it unreasonable, if we select a more expensive routing.

 

Viking transportation is provided if you fly in day of cruise. If arriving earlier or staying later, they do charge a deviation fee. which is common knowledge, or any competent TA could have advised. However, for our Jan 2020 cruise we negotiated that Viking waive this fee, since if we missed the flight, Viking would have to fly us to the South Pacific. They waived the deviation fee, but we fully understood that we were responsible for our transportation. I note this was reflected in the updated booking confirmation.

 

When the last 30+ days of the cruise was cancelled, Viking offered the 125% FCV or 100% cash refund, which were processed in a reasonable time.

 

We may not like the PIF terms, but the are well promulgated and by paying the deposit we are accepting of them.

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My experience with Viking has been great.  My wife died before our scheduled In search of Northern Lights lights trip.  I was able to take her name off the reservation and add my son in law.  Viking did charge me another $200 because my SIL was not a past Viking guest.

 

When Northern Lights trip was canceled they refunded all the money within a week.  I will admit in the past we have always done the Viking Air and the Viking excursions.  Is that a more expensive way to go?  I'm sure, but if some thing happens they will be responsible.

 

JMHO

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I'm also sorry you had a bad experience.  I'm a big fan of the Viking on board experience whether it's river or ocean.  

But I will admit that many of my initial experiences when booking with Viking has been less than satisfactory.  I find an intelligent agent, and chances are they are gone next year.  Ask three reservations agents the same question and..... you guessed correctly.

Always been happy with customer service people.

If no one returned my call, I would have called Viking and spoken to someone else.

Finally, Viking does Nickel and dime" you, however they are more refined at it.  Paying for a deviation fee and losing a transfer is a prime example.  But none of this is hidden from you if you look and ask.

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Sorry for your experiences.  You really must have felt the need to vent.  Long long paragraph.

No doubt there will be unfortunate experiences that some people have, mostly due to not having the right expectations.  This happens in almost everything in life we do or experience.  I m not sure I know of any company that offers a service or a product (like a car, or appliance, or food or whatever) that has 100 % absolutely happy people.  There will always be a small number who for whatever reasons are not happy - I think that is human nature, and possible a condition of our more entitled cultures these days.

Viking is so popular and liked and 99.x % have such good experiences, that their ships are always quite well booked.  So at least when people do say they hate Viking, that just means some open space in the future for those of us who do like them.

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On all the cruise lines I've been on, Viking is hands down the best once I get on board.  Their shore-based staff can sometimes frustrate those who expect to have their hand held.  But that only shows that they focus their expertise on the ship experience.  

 

I highly recommend you give Viking another chance.  

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In 2007 we booked a pre-stay in Hong Kong and then the long China River Cruise with Viking.

It was explained that we would have to pay the $50per person deviation fee and additional cost for having Viking book us on different fights than offerred with Viking.  It was explained that we may have to pay $300-500 per person for getting the flights that I specified.  Viking air was ATL to Chicago to Hong Kong. because of the usual weather problems during Thanksgiving travel, I wanted ATL to San Fran to Hong Kong air.  Viking like other cruselines will "block" seats on certain flights at reduced rates. Because you are wanting non-'blocked seats there is usually an extra charge.  We did get the flights I requested. We arrived on the same day as the Viking Flights and were met at the Hong Kong airport by Viking.  We also ended up with a $150 per person refund because the flights I chose were cheaper than the Viking "Blocked" seats.

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The Viking policy of buying / blocking airline seats months and years ahead makes a lot of sense, but it can create a "one size for all" situation. Especially if the traveler wants an alternate routing, etc.  My wife and I selected the Viking Air from Miami to Vienna to Oslo precisely because it avoided the mess at Frankfurt. Two weeks before departure, Viking switched carriers and we went to Frankfurt.

 

I'm impressed that Viking chose to refund the $150. Not all providers would have done that.

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