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Final payment due 18 months in advance?


kimlovesfl
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My husband and I have started thinking about a Christmas market cruise on the Rhine in December 2023. I called Viking yesterday to get some info, and was told final payment would be due in June 2022 for a cruise in December 2023. Is this common? When I questioned it, she said the cruises were selling out, but they will work with someone. 

 

Also, their cancellation insurance was over $400 pp. I've only done ocean cruising, and I found that cost very high. I'm sure I could purchase insurance through my TA for far less. 

 

We would love to do this, but there is no way I will pay for a trip 18 months in advance.

Edited by kimlovesfl
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First: welcome to the wonderful world of river cruising! Much to explore and much to discover. Second: as a tip, have a look at the stickies, the threads marked with a pin at the top of the front page, for some great info.

Third: to your question. To put it bluntly, no, 18 months in advance is not typical. You say "no way will I..." It is easy to not do this and still go on a river cruise - just choose a different company. There are many options. Again, have a look around the stickies, where you will find alternatives and much more.

 

And I am sure other, more experienced than me, river cruisers, will answer you soon. Especially as regards the insurance question.

 

Have fun planning.

 

notamermaid

 

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Thank you. I'm going to talk to my TA about this, I just didn't want to bother her for something we may not decide to do. I'm more than happy to make a deposit now; I wouldn't expect final payment due until about 90 days out. And I'm sure I can find less expensive insurance elsewhere.

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With Viking it varies----we were going to have our travel agent ask if the final payment could be made closer to the sailing date, and Viking offered us "pay 5 months before sailing date" without us even asking!!  We do work with a travel agent whose company is a preferred Viking booking agent, or words to that effect.

 

Some ask and are granted a closer date, while the line is held with others. Maybe if you make it a deal breaker, Viking will reconsider?

 

CAVEAT---we booked in summer 2018 and sailed in October 2019, made final payment in  July 2019.

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Final payments seem to be do further out for river cruises than ocean cruises. Over a year in advance is, as far as I’m concerned, is excessive unless the cruise line offers a substantial discount. 
 

As others noted, look at the stickies above. There are other options that offer good products. You or your TA should be able to negotiate a more reasonable final payment date.
 

I’d be surprised if you can’t find a less expensive insurance option that is as good or better than what you can get from Viking. Two reputable brokers are tripinsurancestore and InsureMyTrip; there are also others. We always beat the cruise line using these brokers.

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Our 8/29/2023 Avalon Rhine cruise final payment is due in May 2023.

As others have suggested, do research other river cruise companies- AMA, Uniworld and, of course, our line of choice- Avalon! Itineraries are similar across all lines, but cabin sizes are not so that is an additional factor to consider when choosing a river cruise!

Edited by TMLAalum
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On 1/20/2022 at 9:35 AM, kimlovesfl said:

My husband and I have started thinking about a Christmas market cruise on the Rhine in December 2023. I called Viking yesterday to get some info, and was told final payment would be due in June 2022 for a cruise in December 2023. Is this common? When I questioned it, she said the cruises were selling out, but they will work with someone. 

 

Also, their cancellation insurance was over $400 pp. I've only done ocean cruising, and I found that cost very high. I'm sure I could purchase insurance through my TA for far less. 

 

We would love to do this, but there is no way I will pay for a trip 18 months in advance.

 

From my experience with Viking--which is limited to one river cruise and one ocean cruise booked--this is very common.  We had to pay for our Christmas market cruise upcoming in December 2022 at the end of December 2020--almost TWO years in advance.  And this is with a travel agency that does lots of business with Viking.  When we subsequently booked an ocean cruise with them (Baltic in May 2023) the TA was able to push back on the initially requested payment at the end of December 2021 to August 2022 (nine months prior to the cruise). 

 

A search of the River Cruising board will pull up other frustration with Viking's desire for final payment long before the cruise and much out of line with other companies.  Our first (and only) river cruise was in October 2021 and Crystal required final payment just three months prior to sailing.  (Of course, Crystal has now had to suspend all its sailings due to financial issue while Viking just keeps bringing more ships online so perhaps there is something to the difference in payment policies.)

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On 1/20/2022 at 1:53 PM, kimlovesfl said:

Thank you. I'm going to talk to my TA about this, I just didn't want to bother her for something we may not decide to do. I'm more than happy to make a deposit now; I wouldn't expect final payment due until about 90 days out. And I'm sure I can find less expensive insurance elsewhere.

 

I'm not going to tell you not to sail with Viking, sometimes TA's can change payment dates, but if you have never done a River Cruise, sit down with them and ask them about various lines available.  Your TA or maybe someone they work with could very likely give you a lot of valuable information.  I'm sure with the way things are now, they will be more than happy to discuss a number of things about River Cruising, and could possibly help you decide where you want to go, and with what line.  Each one does basically the same routes (there are only so many rivers you can sail on), but what they offer can make or break the cruise.

 

Good luck, and don't be afraid to pop in and ask questions.  This board is more than happy to help out, and the experience here can be invaluable. 

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Take a look at the 'Stickies' at the top of the forum for lots of information about rivers, cruise lines, etc.  There are many more cruise lines than Viking, some are cheaper, others are more expensive but offer more luxury – and none except Viking demand payment that far ahead.

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On 1/22/2022 at 3:06 PM, Host Jazzbeau said:

Take a look at the 'Stickies' at the top of the forum for lots of information about rivers, cruise lines, etc.  There are many more cruise lines than Viking, some are cheaper, others are more expensive but offer more luxury – and none except Viking demand payment that far ahead.

Good info from all. My friend who cruised with them in December said they had to pay a year in advance, and only because their TA got the date pushed back. 

 

I like the fact that Viking is all adults. I do know their are plenty of other cruise lines who do this, so I guess I need to call my TA and ask for her advice. My biggest thing is, the room needs to have decent sized windows. A juliet balcony or verandah; none of this tiny window below water level deal. It's a claustrophobia thing with both of us. We have cruised Celebrity and Princess as far as ocean cruises go, so looking for something similar quality wise. 

 

How does Viking get away with asking for payment so far out? I thought this was a post pandemic thing, but it looks like it is pretty standard for them. Guess they lost potential clients because of that. 

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1 hour ago, kimlovesfl said:

Good info from all. My friend who cruised with them in December said they had to pay a year in advance, and only because their TA got the date pushed back. 

 

I like the fact that Viking is all adults. I do know their are plenty of other cruise lines who do this, so I guess I need to call my TA and ask for her advice. My biggest thing is, the room needs to have decent sized windows. A juliet balcony or verandah; none of this tiny window below water level deal. It's a claustrophobia thing with both of us. We have cruised Celebrity and Princess as far as ocean cruises go, so looking for something similar quality wise. 

 

How does Viking get away with asking for payment so far out? I thought this was a post pandemic thing, but it looks like it is pretty standard for them. Guess they lost potential clients because of that. 

 

 

When having your TA book the cruise, make sure you select either a mid floor or top floor cabin.  Most are either balcony or french balcony.  Just one thing with Viking, they have their centre corridor offset, so the french balcony rooms are actually quite a bit smaller.  When booking, if you decide to go with a different line, consider the french balcony, as you will not be using the balcony in the winter, and the balcony is included in the size of the cabins.  This is because the ships are pretty much all the same size due to having to fit through the locks.

 

I

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2 hours ago, CPT Trips said:

As much as I don’t like Viking’s payment policy, it doesn’t seem to be hurting them. 

Many of my fellow coworkers think it is the only river cruise company out there.

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I am booked with Avalon "The Danube from the Black Sea to Germany" for Oct 14, 2023 and my final payment is July 16, 2023.

 

My husband and I sailed with Avalon in 2018 and final payment was also 90 for sailing.

 

I booked my 2023 cruise when I saw that Avalon was waiving the single supplement (my husband died Nov 2021).  This was the next river cruise that we had planned to do so it was meant to be.  I will sail for both of us.

 

Disclaimer, I have only done one river cruise, it was with Avalon.  I must have enjoyed it because I'm going back again.

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8 hours ago, kimlovesfl said:

I like the fact that Viking is all adults. I do know their are plenty of other cruise lines who do this, so I guess I need to call my TA and ask for her advice. My biggest thing is, the room needs to have decent sized windows. A juliet balcony or verandah; none of this tiny window below water level deal. It's a claustrophobia thing with both of us. We have cruised Celebrity and Princess as far as ocean cruises go, so looking for something similar quality wise.

Welcome to the River Cruising forum!

 

First: all river cruises are basically all adults.  There may be a few families with children, but there are no children's programs so it's not a big attraction – no roller coasters, no kiddie day care.  River cruising is by nature an adult activity.

 

Second:  most river ships have three decks of cabins; the lowest deck is called 'aquarium class' because it is below the water line except for high windows that are right at the water level [also called 'swan class' because you get to see them swimming next to your window].  So any cabin on the 2nd level will have big windows and a French balcony, a real balcony, or even a split design with a little of each.  But don't stress over the balcony because unlike ocean cruising you won't be spending any time on the balcony – if there is scenic cruising, you will want to be on the top deck with a 360 degree view and narration by the cruise director.

 

Third:  Viking Ocean cruises are a step above Princess [and IMHO also above Celebrity], but Viking River cruises are a definite step below that level.  I would suggest that you look at the other cruise lines described in the sticky River CRUISE LINE articles on Cruise Critic.  If you usually get a beverage package on ocean cruises, look at the all-inclusive river cruise lines like Scenic, Tauck and Uniworld.  But there is so little time onboard a river cruise [because of the intensive – and included – excursions], you might also consider AmaWaterways which has the best food and a particularly wide choice of excursions.

 

Fourth:  my suggestion is not to book a 14-day river cruise as your first, because although most people love river cruising there are a few who realize by day 2 that it isn't for them and it would be terrible to have to face 12 more days!  Also most river cruises start and end in interesting cities but don't show you much of them – so a 7-day cruise can be combined with 2-3 days at each end to explore on your own.  Amsterdam to Basel [or Paris/Luxembourg to Basel] are ideal first itineraries – Amsterdam and Paris are great starting points, and Basel-Lucerne-Zurich is a terrific ending.

 

Ah:  I see that you are looking at a Christmas Market cruise.  Also that you are from Florida.  Be ready for cold weather!  [Although I just drove by Orlando today and it wasn't the usual weather we New Yorkers think of for Florida!]

 

Also pay attention to dates:  the Christmas Markets are only fully open at the First Sunday of Advent and they are mostly shut down by Christmas Eve.

 

Finally:  use the search function at the top of the CC page to search for 'Christmas' 'in this forum' 'in titles only' and you will find lots of focused information.

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We cruised Avalon for 13 days Basel to Amsterdam with the Moselle River in late September 2021.  Final payment was 90 days, but due to COVID it was shortened.  We had a panorama suite  and loved it, especially the bathroom...very well designed.  All the river cruise companies go to the same ports and offer similar excursions.  We have taken 32 ocean cruises and knew the river cruise stateroom would be more compact.  We were very pleased with the Avalon product!

 

We choose between several insurance companies.  Unfortunately the older you get, the more expensive the insurance.

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Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a River Cruise Line is the number of passengers on the boat. Boat size is determined by the size of the locks on each river, therefore all ships on an itinerary are pretty much the same size. 
However the number of cabins and therefore number of passengers can really vary. I haven’t personally traveled on Viking River Cruise but I do hear that they carry many more guests than most other lines. 

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Viking final payment dates vary by nationality and consumer regulations. 

US has 100 dollar refundable deposits, a culture of cancel and rebook and a final payment date a long time before travel

UK and Australia have 25% non refundable deposits and a final payment around 3 months before travel. 

 

I can't help thinking that the year in advance final payments are Viking trying to stop people messing them about by booking allmost on a whim, then changing their minds, meaning a risk of empty cabins and lost revenue

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8 hours ago, KBs mum said:

Viking final payment dates vary by nationality and consumer regulations. 

US has 100 dollar refundable deposits, a culture of cancel and rebook and a final payment date a long time before travel

UK and Australia have 25% non refundable deposits and a final payment around 3 months before travel. 

 

I can't help thinking that the year in advance final payments are Viking trying to stop people messing them about by booking allmost on a whim, then changing their minds, meaning a risk of empty cabins and lost revenue

Viking has also financed its robust shipbuilding schedule with the $$$ from early payments.

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2 hours ago, sharkster77 said:

Viking has also financed its robust shipbuilding schedule with the $$$ from early payments.

Possibly, but not something that affects me in any way. If they've got a business model that works, good for them 

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8 hours ago, KBs mum said:

Possibly, but not something that affects me in any way. If they've got a business model that works, good for them 

I did not post this comment with a negative implication----we LOVED our experience with Viking and would book with them again, once the world sorts itself out.  I was only offering a rationale for their unique payment policy.

 

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