Emergency surgery caused us to have to cancel our river cruise with Viking - no help given

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Mar 15, 2019
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#1
My husband and I booked and paid for a Viking River Cruise in December of last year. We were booked for March 28, 2019 to leave from Nashville to Paris. This would have been our second river cruise with Viking. We thought we were all set, then my husband had an emergency quadruple bypass surgery last week. Our trip is not going to happen now due to this surgery. He cannot travel for several months now. This trip was going to be a celebration of our 51st wedding anniversary, my 70th birthday, and the anniversary of D-Day, as my husband is a retired military veteran. Of course we called Viking right away to tell them we could not make the trip due to these extenuating circumstances. We asked to book another cruise at a later time, or even next year. If that was not possible we would like a partial (at least) refund. This was met with, there is nothing we can do for you. You must forfeit your money spent, no refunds allowed since it was less than 30 days before sailing. Also, we cannot rebook you on another cruise. I have called several times to try to speak with management. I have sent emails that come back, "sorry, we cannot help you." The only response from one of the representatives was, "may we cancel your cruise so that we can re-sell your tickets." This is just wrong. There must be something they are willing to do for us to help with this situation, we feel bad enough as it is with this major surgery and a long hard recovery. We would love some help with our situation, as we are not getting anywhere on our own. Thank you!
 
Jan 6, 2015
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#4
Neil and Christina are correct on both accounts. Although your case is unfortunate, Viking is not obligated to assist you. However, an executive might (my opinion here) be willing to help if you cancel and they are able to resell the cruise. It's certainly worth a try . . .

So, you can reach out to Viking using the Company Contacts link at the top of this page. You could also post your proposed email here if you would like us to review and comment.
 
Likes: Patina

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#5
Diana, we don't mean to be cold, but we receive heart-rending letters like this much too often. I am so very sorry to hear of your husband's health crisis and hope that he is progressing steadily.

If you booked this trip yourself, it was vital that you read all the fine print, all the terms and conditions, all the cancellation penalties. If you booked it through a travel agent, they should have explained it to you and pretty much insisted that you purchase insurance. All cruise lines are very clear on their policies, nothing is hidden. Any money that is prepaid needs to be insured, always; the days of leniency for terrible medical issues like yours are long gone. There may be one ray of sunshine. Does the credit card that you paid with have any travel insurance as a built-in perk? That has saved some unlucky travellers in your situation. Please let us know.
 
Jul 13, 2016
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#6
Diana, we don't mean to be cold, but we receive heart-rending letters like this much too often. I am so very sorry to hear of your husband's health crisis and hope that he is progressing steadily.

If you booked this trip yourself, it was vital that you read all the fine print, all the terms and conditions, all the cancellation penalties. If you booked it through a travel agent, they should have explained it to you and pretty much insisted that you purchase insurance. All cruise lines are very clear on their policies, nothing is hidden. Any money that is prepaid needs to be insured, always; the days of leniency for terrible medical issues like yours are long gone. There may be one ray of sunshine. Does the credit card that you paid with have any travel insurance as a built-in perk? That has saved some unlucky travellers in your situation. Please let us know.
Insurance is so important, but unless the travel agent/advisor is also a licensed insurance broker, they are legally forbidden from insisting on insurance, urging a client to buy insurance, to even recommend the client buy insurance. The most they can legally do is to let the client know that travel insurance exists. What I say to my clients is " Please consider trip insurance." I am allowed to quote the price, but I am also forbidden from talking about specific coverages or scenarios.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#7
As the trip is in less than 2 weeks the argument that
the cruise line can easily resell the space is diminished.

Asking for a refund even partial is unreasonable.
You are asking for the benefit of insurance without actually paying for it.

One has to ask — how would people feel if someone caused them a financial loss and were the person that caused did not have insurance and expects to not be financially responsible?

Better asking or begging for a partial credit but one should not be surprised if there is a no.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#8
Insurance is so important, but unless the travel agent/advisor is also a licensed insurance broker, they are legally forbidden from insisting on insurance, urging a client to buy insurance, to even recommend the client buy insurance. The most they can legally do is to let the client know that travel insurance exists. What I say to my clients is " Please consider trip insurance." I am allowed to quote the price, but I am also forbidden from talking about specific coverages or scenarios.
Incorrect. We HAVE to offer a client travel insurance and if they dont opt to buy it, get paperwork signed saying the client declines it. We can offer the policies we sell but we cannot offer any advice on what it does and does not cover. We have to give the client the phone number to call the insurance company themselves with questions.

A travel agent can be sued for NOT offering travel insurance,?
 
Jul 13, 2016
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#9
Incorrect. We HAVE to offer a client travel insurance and if they dont opt to buy it, get paperwork signed saying the client declines it. We can offer the policies we sell but we cannot offer any advice on what it does and does not cover. We have to give the client the phone number to call the insurance company themselves with questions.

A travel agent can be sued for NOT offering travel insurance,?
Neil, I just had training from Travel guard and that is exactly what they told us. I'd be happy if I am wrong, but they were extremely clear on this point.
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 30, 2018
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#11
I am sympathetic to the poster's situation and I, too, hope her husband recovers quickly. My husband and I are in the same age category and are about to make final payment on "our trip of a lifetime". The full insurance premium (we have paid for insurance on what we are out of pocket so far) will be over $3000. Do I HATE to pay that? You bet, but it is a necessity in case of emergency both pre-departure and during the trip. I rather feel like people who do not buy insurance and implore the providers to make an exception just for them, (unintentionally) make fools of those of us who do pay for it.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#12
I am sympathetic to the poster's situation and I, too, hope her husband recovers quickly. My husband and I are in the same age category and are about to make final payment on "our trip of a lifetime". The full insurance premium (we have paid for insurance on what we are out of pocket so far) will be over $3000. Do I HATE to pay that? You bet, but it is a necessity in case of emergency both pre-departure and during the trip. I rather feel like people who do not buy insurance and implore the providers to make an exception just for them, (unintentionally) make fools of those of us who do pay for it.
My best experience with insurance is a client who booked an almost $14,000 river cruise a couple of years ago. She didn’t want to spend $657 fir insurance- she told us her credit card covered her.

She happened to be sailing somewhere that required medical insurance. She sent us a copy of the full policy and asked my wife to look at it to make sure it met the requirement.

When my wife read the policy she pointed out to the client that the maximum amount she would be paid for a claim was $3500. The women had no idea and decided to but the policy we originally offered.

Good thing she did because two weeks before the cruise her husband was diagnosed with pneumonia and they had to cancel the trip. If they hadn’t bought the policy they would have lost over $10,000 when they had to cancel.
 
Mar 15, 2019
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#13
Diana, we don't mean to be cold, but we receive heart-rending letters like this much too often. I am so very sorry to hear of your husband's health crisis and hope that he is progressing steadily.

If you booked this trip yourself, it was vital that you read all the fine print, all the terms and conditions, all the cancellation penalties. If you booked it through a travel agent, they should have explained it to you and pretty much insisted that you purchase insurance. All cruise lines are very clear on their policies, nothing is hidden. Any money that is prepaid needs to be insured, always; the days of leniency for terrible medical issues like yours are long gone. There may be one ray of sunshine. Does the credit card that you paid with have any travel insurance as a built-in perk? That has saved some unlucky travellers in your situation. Please let us know.
We are aware of all the fine print, especially now. When we attempted to buy insurance through Viking, we were too close in to by insurance through Viking. We did not use a credit card, paid cash for the trip to get our discount, so no hope of getting help there. I have written to two executives, and only got a return email "non-deliverable" back. I guess we will have to settle on "shame on us."
 
Apr 6, 2017
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#14
there are a bunch of different levels of travel insurance--but even the "cheap" policies will cover the big stuff--you get more coverage on travel delay the more you spend...having just had to cancel a trip literally 3 days before departure due to medical reasons--travel insurance is something you gotta buy....without saying the link--there are comparison websites out there--
 
Likes: krisseye
Mar 15, 2019
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#15
Well, shame on us for not being diligent and getting insurance when we should have. I guess it's hopeless to even think we may get some relief of funds spent. Thanks to all for your interest in our situation and your kind good wishes for my husband. We will always suggest people get insurance before a trip from now on, and for ourselves, God willing we are able to make more overseas travel plans. We did make beautiful memories on our first Viking Cruise.
 
Likes: Mel65
Jan 6, 2015
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#16
Since I am the one who suggested contacting Viking, I feel it necessary to clarify my position . . .

But first let me state my unwavering support for trip insurance. I recommend it to others I meet outside this forum and generally do not question the consequences when others travel without it. But this case has a twist that, to me, makes it worthy of an appeal.

Usually in this forum we hear a company say that they cannot refund a non-refundable purchase. Here Viking said "sorry, we cannot help you". Fair enough - I get it.

But they then took it a step further by asking "May we cancel your cruise so that we can re-sell your tickets?" This is a clear indicator of their intent, not only to attempt a resale, but to accomplish it ("can resell"). Words matter, and the combination of the two statements is essentially this: "Sorry we can't help you, but would you mind helping us to double our profits?".

Again, Viking is within their rights to decline a refund and to resell the cabin. For me, the compelling factor is the brazen request to the travelers to cancel. Normally a resale happens behind the scenes without pressure to cancel so it can happen.

Given that, I recommended (and still do) an appeal to Viking with a very narrow request: "If we cancel and the cabin is resold, would you consider a refund?" This is what I call "right, reasonable, and appropriate", given that the resale idea came from Viking and not these travelers.

Factoring in the "quadruple bypass" which, in and of itself would not be enough to justify a refund, and this narrow request passes the logic test in my opinion.

All that said, I respect that others here will disagree and take a hard stand on insurance . . .
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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#18
actually, it would be decent if the cruise companies refunded at least the amount they got (might be lower...) if they resold the cabin. Seems only fair....
No cruise line does this.

Diana you could have bought third party insurance that would have covered you, it’s not necessary to buy the cruise lines. With Vikings you have to buy at time of deposit. A travel agent could have been a great asset to you and explained everything.

I still think you should write one by one to the Executives at Viking using our thread on how to write. A well written letter can turn a no into a yes - no guarantee but you have nothing to lose.
 
Mar 15, 2018
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#19
Sooo...let me just add that I am in agreement with the majority of the responses here. To summarize:

1. You should have had insurance for such an expensive trip for a couple in your age range.
2. You CAN buy insurance when you book your trip, even up to one day before departure.
3. It's actually better to buy insurance NOT from the provider (in this case Viking), but from a travel insurance company.
4. It's unfair to all the people who do buy travel insurance, for someone who didn't to get the same benefit, but for free.

Nobody is expecting you to just know these things intuitively. But booking your own travel is fraught with peril if you are not educated and experienced in all of the complexities and risks involved...and it sounds as if you are not. This was an expensive lesson for sure. This is why Travel Agents exist.

And yes, you will be helping others if you pass this painful lesson to them. Maybe you will keep someone else from making the same mistake.

All that being said, it is not unheard of for a company to take pity on someone in your situation and do something they are not required to do. However, given the number of times you've already reached out to them, I find that to be unlikely. But as others have said, it doesn't hurt to try one more time. Let us know if they do relent and offer you something.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery for your husband.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#20
Sooo...let me just add that I am in agreement with the majority of the responses here. To summarize:

1. You should have had insurance for such an expensive trip for a couple in your age range.
2. You CAN buy insurance when you book your trip, even up to one day before departure.
3. It's actually better to buy insurance NOT from the provider (in this case Viking), but from a travel insurance company.
4. It's unfair to all the people who do buy travel insurance, for someone who didn't to get the same benefit, but for free.

Nobody is expecting you to just know these things intuitively. But booking your own travel is fraught with peril if you are not educated and experienced in all of the complexities and risks involved...and it sounds as if you are not. This was an expensive lesson for sure. This is why Travel Agents exist.

And yes, you will be helping others if you pass this painful lesson to them. Maybe you will keep someone else from making the same mistake.

All that being said, it is not unheard of for a company to take pity on someone in your situation and do something they are not required to do. However, given the number of times you've already reached out to them, I find that to be unlikely. But as others have said, it doesn't hurt to try one more time. Let us know if they do relent and offer you something.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery for your husband.
I would like to edit your first suggestion to:

1. You should have had insurance for such an expensive trip. Period.

Accidents/illnesses happen to any age group so the decision to buy insurance should have more to do with the price of the trip (how much someone is willing to risk) rather than the age of the travelers. Not to mention, that trip insurance usually covers if an immediate family member not traveling is seriously ill or injured. Just my opinion.
 
Likes: mmb and VoR61