Is Viking Ocean Cruises trying to "fleece" their customers?

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Nov 17, 2017
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#1
On June 30, 2017 I booked a 14 day ocean cruise with Viking. I booked directly with Viking thinking that would be almost as good as using a travel agent and better than using one of the many internet travel websites...silly me...which is something I won't ever do again. They were offering a "2 for 1" sale which took the price from $5,198 per person to $2,599 per person. They required final payment by August, 2017 which is already paid. Recently I went to their website to see if I could tell how booked the cruise was and noticed that the current cost of the cabin category I'm in was now $1,999. That's a $600 p/p difference which is a lot of money to me. I immediately called Viking and asked to be refunded the difference. They told me they couldn't do that. I then asked if we could get a cabin upgrade since there were still upgraded cabins available according to their website. Again I was told they couldn't. I complained a little more strongly. I was put on hold and eventually the agent came back on line and told me they would give us a single $300 per cabin shipboard credit, but it would have to be used for shore excursions. Since Viking allows one complimentary shore excursion per person in each port, that wasn't much of a bargain. Even with the credit, technically I'm still out $900. I was under the impression that the passengers who booked their cruises early supposedly got the better deal than people who waited to book closer to the sailing. I didn't pick my cabin, they assigned it to me so it's not like I got something special by booking early. I'd like to have some additional perks more than just a $300 shipboard credit that has to be used for something I may not need. This was to be a birthday cruise to celebrate a special birthday. Because of all this I feel the cruise has been "tinged" and I'm having trepidation about going. Also, we are flying from St. Louis to Charlotte and from Charlotte to San Juan, PR to board. We have exactly one hour between when we land in Charlotte and the flight for San Juan leaves. I'm concerned we won't make our flight or if we do, our luggage won't make it. I don't think there are many flights in a day between Charlotte and San Juan so what happens if we don't make it? I certainly don't want to be without clothes the whole time.

Can someone please make a suggestion as to what I might be able to do to get some satisfaction for this problem? Is there any type of association I can talk to? I don't think Viking is a member of CLIA so I don't know if that would help. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#2
@Linda C. If the cabin price had gone up, would you be ok if they charged you more? Of course not. Price changes after final payments are due reflect how full the ship is. Sounds like yours isn't very full. I have a friend who lives in FL who regularly plays chicken with the cruise lines betting that they'll get the best deal booking 30 - 60 days out.

As far as your air ticket, who booked it?
 
Dec 27, 2014
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#3
I'm sorry to hear about your experience. It is not unusual for cruise lines to offer discounts shortly before sailing if there are still unsold rooms. An empty room is lost profits.

You can try escalating your concern through the Viking contacts listed on this site. http://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/viking-cruises/ Start with the first executive listed and work your way up. Allow at least a week for each to reply before forwarding your request. This allows them time to read your letter, research your case, and reply.

Send them a polite, brief explanation of your situation. Include reservation number, dates and costs when you signed up for the cruise and what you found for the same room today. Include receipts and screenshots if possible. Make sure you are specific in how they can make the situation whole.

Good luck and keep us updated on your progress.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#4
Please tell us that you are not arriving in PR the same day the cruise is scheduled to depart?!? If so, your best bet is change your flights so you can arrive one day before the ship casts off. This leaves you some wiggle room in case a flight is delayed or cancelled. Once the cruise departs, meeting up with the ship can be complicated, costly and may even be unattainable.

With regards to any time you are flying, you should always pack a change of clothes in your carry-on so that you have an extra set in case of lost luggage. In your case, you may want to pack some of your clothing in your friend's checked luggage and she/he in yours so that if one bag gets lost/delayed at least you each have something to wear other than what you wore traveling and what you packed in your carry-on.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
#5
When you book those early booking sales, Viking usually makes you pay in full for the cruise and the deposit is non refundable. They are among the worst cruise lines as far as customer service too. Usually you do get the best pricing booking early but this one may be having problems selling out because it is leaving from PR which has been devastated by the hurricanes and that might be why it isn't selling well.

Many cruise lines only have those special prices for new bookings and won't convert old ones to the new price. It won't hurt you to use our company contacts to write but I would be quite shocked if Viking did anything for you. Do a search for Viking and see how many complaints we have about them here.

You should pay to change your flights. That connection is NOT long enough in CLT. You should never connect with less than 2 hours in between and you should always fly in at least a day before your cruise starts.

I hope you were wise enough to buy travel insurance so you have some help if you miss your connecting flights as far as expenses. It sound like you really could have used a good travel agent at least for booking the flights.
 
Nov 17, 2017
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#6
@Linda C. If the cabin price had gone up, would you be ok if they charged you more? Of course not. Price changes after final payments are due reflect how full the ship is. Sounds like yours isn't very full. I have a friend who lives in FL who regularly plays chicken with the cruise lines betting that they'll get the best deal booking 30 - 60 days out.

As far as your air ticket, who booked it?
Of course I wouldn't expect to pay more, but I also wouldn't expect them to raise prices just because they didn't have a full ship. I feel I'm being penalized for booking early, which is what the cruise lines want isn't it, people to book early so they know how the sailing would be! I feel it is bad business to charge different prices for the same item. What about the adage "the early bird gets the worm". I don't feel I'm getting anything. And to make me use the shipboard credit for what they want me to isn't proper either. Our air is booked through Viking so it's their own people who allowed those times. This is my first time with Viking, and I thought them to be a top notch line, but I guess you don't really know about a company. It probably will be my last time with them and I won't speak well of them to people when I talk about my trip!
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#7
My colleagues have covered it all, Linda. There's a slight chance that a request for a shipboard credit in the amount that the cabin has been reduced might get some action. Your job is to convince the executive reading your letter to want to help you, so be polite, persistent and patient. Please don't allow this price reduction to 'ruin' your trip. Prices go up and they go down, no sense worrying about it.

Your flights, however are a much different issue. You need to fly into PR at LEAST one day ahead of time. I hope that's what you've booked. Missing the sailing is not acceptable, and paying the change fee is well worth it in your case. It's surely up to you to take a chance on a one-hour layover; I wouldn't do it but some travellers gamble on this subject all the time, and win. I'm sure you've realized by now that booking a cruise through a (real) travel agent who is a cruise expert is always a good idea. Good luck, and please let us know what happens.
 
Nov 17, 2017
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#8
Please tell us that you are not arriving in PR the same day the cruise is scheduled to depart?!? If so, your best bet is change your flights so you can arrive one day before the ship casts off. This leaves you some wiggle room in case a flight is delayed or cancelled. Once the cruise departs, meeting up with the ship can be complicated, costly and may even be unattainable.

With regards to any time you are flying, you should always pack a change of clothes in your carry-on so that you have an extra set in case of lost luggage. In your case, you may want to pack some of your clothing in your friend's checked luggage and she/he in yours so that if one bag gets lost/delayed at least you each have something to wear other than what you wore traveling and what you packed in your carry-on.
The cruise line itself booked us on those flights because we did our air through them. What you are saying about packing clothes makes sense, but since we are limited in our carry-on luggage, that's not going to allow us to take much.
 
Nov 17, 2017
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#9
When you book those early booking sales, Viking usually makes you pay in full for the cruise and the deposit is non refundable. They are among the worst cruise lines as far as customer service too. Usually you do get the best pricing booking early but this one may be having problems selling out because it is leaving from PR which has been devastated by the hurricanes and that might be why it isn't selling well.

Many cruise lines only have those special prices for new bookings and won't convert old ones to the new price. It won't hurt you to use our company contacts to write but I would be quite shocked if Viking did anything for you. Do a search for Viking and see how many complaints we have about them here.

You should pay to change your flights. That connection is NOT long enough in CLT. You should never connect with less than 2 hours in between and you should always fly in at least a day before your cruise starts.

I hope you were wise enough to buy travel insurance so you have some help if you miss your connecting flights as far as expenses. It sound like you really could have used a good travel agent at least for booking the flights.
Neil, your info while being helpful is disappointing. We do have travel insurance again purchased through Viking, but I'm not sure what they could do to help if we missed the connection. From all the helpful replies to my original post, I'm not very happy about making this reservation, but I do appreciate all the help and suggestions.
 

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#10
@Linda C. If they booked your air, you might be stuck. You might think about a luggage shipping company like LuggageForward or LuggageFree to send a suitcase ahead.

Good luck
 
Likes: jsn55

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#11
Don't give up! Both @Neil and @jsn55 have offered some really good advice. Contact the cruise line to see if they will work with you on helping you feel like you have gained something for your early commitment.

I am not sure how experienced a traveler you are so apologies if I am telling you something you already know.......compression bags are a great way to pack a fair amount of items in a very small bag. That is what I would do with a change of clothes in my carry-on. Cotton items tend to shake out the wrinkles quickest and layering is a very good way of "mixing" up your outfits necessitating less items to pack.
 
Likes: jsn55

Carol Phillips

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 28, 2014
1,232
1,686
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Coastal South Carolina
#12
@Linda C. - I may have missed it, but when is your sailing date?

I'd suggest checking the airline website to make sure of the scheduled times for your flights (times DO change periodically). If it's still a one-hour connection in CLT, consider contacting Viking's Air Dept and ask if they can comp the cost of changing to a flight with a longer connection ... or better yet, to the previous day if you can. (You'd then need to get a hotel for the one night pre-cruise).

If they cannot/will not offer the change at no charge, ask the cost of using their Air Plus program to customize your air and obtain a better flight schedule. NOTE: Viking Air Plus is NOT available 65 days or less before sailing.

And to answer your question, if your bags do not make the ship, Viking will work with the airlines to find them and get them to you at your first port of call.

Please let us know what transpires.
 
Nov 17, 2017
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#13
@Linda C. - I may have missed it, but when is your sailing date?

I'd suggest checking the airline website to make sure of the scheduled times for your flights (times DO change periodically). If it's still a one-hour connection in CLT, consider contacting Viking's Air Dept and ask if they can comp the cost of changing to a flight with a longer connection ... or better yet, to the previous day if you can. (You'd then need to get a hotel for the one night pre-cruise).

If they cannot/will not offer the change at no charge, ask the cost of using their Air Plus program to customize your air and obtain a better flight schedule. NOTE: Viking Air Plus is NOT available 65 days or less before sailing.

And to answer your question, if your bags do not make the ship, Viking will work with the airlines to find them and get them to you at your first port of call.

Please let us know what transpires.
To all who have been trying to help me...thank you!! I have just spent over an hour with someone in the air department at Viking who was extremely nice and was able to find me another flight time for the day prior. Because we changed our flight, it deleted the transfers from the airport to the ship. I also will have to pay for a hotel to stay for one night in San Juan and to be transferred from whatever hotel we stay at to the ship. I'm obviously not happy about that and feel Viking should take some responsibility and pick up those charges since it was their air department who booked the close connection time, but what I was told is that flying to San Juan from the states is not considered international and a one hour connection time is acceptable. I will be sending emails to some of the contacts at Viking in hopes that I can get some satisfaction but I'm not holding much hope for that. In the end, word of mouth will give me some satisfaction and I can have a big mouth when I want to. I will keep updating the forum on my plight and the outcome.
 
Likes: Patina

Carol Phillips

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 28, 2014
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1,686
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Coastal South Carolina
#14
To all who have been trying to help me...thank you!! I have just spent over an hour with someone in the air department at Viking who was extremely nice and was able to find me another flight time for the day prior. Because we changed our flight, it deleted the transfers from the airport to the ship. I also will have to pay for a hotel to stay for one night in San Juan and to be transferred from whatever hotel we stay at to the ship. I'm obviously not happy about that and feel Viking should take some responsibility and pick up those charges since it was their air department who booked the close connection time, but what I was told is that flying to San Juan from the states is not considered international and a one hour connection time is acceptable. I will be sending emails to some of the contacts at Viking in hopes that I can get some satisfaction but I'm not holding much hope for that. In the end, word of mouth will give me some satisfaction and I can have a big mouth when I want to. I will keep updating the forum on my plight and the outcome.

I'm very happy that you now have an air schedule that allows for delays or other issues. You should be able to have a relaxed trip to San Juan without the worries of "what if". Yes, one hour on the ground in CLT may be "legal" in airline terms, but it's worrisome for those of us who always fear that the connecting gate will be as far as possible from the arrival gate:).

If they changed your flight to the day prior at no charge to you, that's excellent.

Is Viking going to assist with finding a hotel for you in San Juan? Or are you on your own for that? Often the cruise lines have hotel space blocked for people who buy a 1, 2, or longer "pre cruise" stay from them. And IF you are in one of those hotels where they have blocked rooms you may be able to have them offer no charge transfers from the hotel to the ship. Please ask Viking what hotel(s) they offer and what the cost would be for you to have one of those. Then ask about the transfers hotel to ship. You'll probably be on your own for airport-ship transfers when you arrive. Taxis aren't terribly expensive and it's nice (I think) to take a cab and KNOW that all your luggage is indeed with you.

One final thought: once all the air/hotel arrangements are finalized, you can certainly escalate your requests with Viking Customer Service for some consideration. I'd say, though, to go with an open mind. Viking may surprise you with the cruise experience and you may have a lot of positive things to say. I hope that's the case.

Bon Voyage...
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,670
12,686
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#15
Neil, your info while being helpful is disappointing. We do have travel insurance again purchased through Viking, but I'm not sure what they could do to help if we missed the connection. From all the helpful replies to my original post, I'm not very happy about making this reservation, but I do appreciate all the help and suggestions.
If Viking booked your air then I would sit tight. They are supposed to help you if anything goes wrong. I am not a Viking fan because of their policies. Most other cruise lines would offer you on OBC for that price difference. Many others would also honor the price difference as long as final payment hasn't been made too.

I understand why you are upset and that has always been one of my pet peeves about cruises. That's also why others will either allow you to upgrade or get an OBC.

Don't kid yourself about not being able to use the OBCs in shore excursions because some of the free offerings stink. Viking offers plenty you can pay for.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,626
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San Francisco
#16
I'm very happy that you now have an air schedule that allows for delays or other issues. You should be able to have a relaxed trip to San Juan without the worries of "what if". Yes, one hour on the ground in CLT may be "legal" in airline terms, but it's worrisome for those of us who always fear that the connecting gate will be as far as possible from the arrival gate:).

If they changed your flight to the day prior at no charge to you, that's excellent.

Is Viking going to assist with finding a hotel for you in San Juan? Or are you on your own for that? Often the cruise lines have hotel space blocked for people who buy a 1, 2, or longer "pre cruise" stay from them. And IF you are in one of those hotels where they have blocked rooms you may be able to have them offer no charge transfers from the hotel to the ship. Please ask Viking what hotel(s) they offer and what the cost would be for you to have one of those. Then ask about the transfers hotel to ship. You'll probably be on your own for airport-ship transfers when you arrive. Taxis aren't terribly expensive and it's nice (I think) to take a cab and KNOW that all your luggage is indeed with you.

One final thought: once all the air/hotel arrangements are finalized, you can certainly escalate your requests with Viking Customer Service for some consideration. I'd say, though, to go with an open mind. Viking may surprise you with the cruise experience and you may have a lot of positive things to say. I hope that's the case.

Bon Voyage...
Spending that one night at a hotel where other Viking guests are staying might work out just fine. We never book any transfers and usually take a taxi. But we always stay in the same hotel that the group uses. Last time, the guy driving people over to the ship just took us along in his van ... that was a nice perk. You can probably arrange this in person.

I am REALLY relieved that you got the air changed. You can begin your trip serenely and be ready to really enjoy the cruise. Please don't start out with a chip on your shoulder with Viking ... that will color your whole experience negatively. Be proud of yourself for being smart enough to come to us and get advice ... and act on it. If you look at the trip with enthusiasm, you'll have a much better time.

Have you been perusing Cruise Critic? It's fascinating to read all about the ship you're going to take and other cruisers' experiences. I always learn a lot this way before embarkation.
 
May 17, 2016
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#17
Neil, your info while being helpful is disappointing. We do have travel insurance again purchased through Viking, but I'm not sure what they could do to help if we missed the connection. From all the helpful replies to my original post, I'm not very happy about making this rese rvation, but I do appreciate all the help and suggestions.
The advantage of booking through the cruise line is that the responsibility is theirs if a late flight causes you to miss the sailing. However, when making the air reservations you can (and should) point out connection times that are cut too close. In my experience, they will adjust the reservations accordingly. One would hope the air reservations department were a little more savvy, but you need to advocate for yourself. I hope all goes well, and enjoy the cruise!
 
Nov 27, 2017
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#18
On June 30, 2017 I booked a 14 day ocean cruise with Viking. I booked directly with Viking thinking that would be almost as good as using a travel agent and better than using one of the many internet travel websites...silly me...which is something I won't ever do again. They were offering a "2 for 1" sale which took the price from $5,198 per person to $2,599 per person. They required final payment by August, 2017 which is already paid. Recently I went to their website to see if I could tell how booked the cruise was and noticed that the current cost of the cabin category I'm in was now $1,999. That's a $600 p/p difference which is a lot of money to me. I immediately called Viking and asked to be refunded the difference. They told me they couldn't do that. I then asked if we could get a cabin upgrade since there were still upgraded cabins available according to their website. Again I was told they couldn't. I complained a little more strongly. I was put on hold and eventually the agent came back on line and told me they would give us a single $300 per cabin shipboard credit, but it would have to be used for shore excursions. Since Viking allows one complimentary shore excursion per person in each port, that wasn't much of a bargain. Even with the credit, technically I'm still out $900. I was under the impression that the passengers who booked their cruises early supposedly got the better deal than people who waited to book closer to the sailing. I didn't pick my cabin, they assigned it to me so it's not like I got something special by booking early. I'd like to have some additional perks more than just a $300 shipboard credit that has to be used for something I may not need. This was to be a birthday cruise to celebrate a special birthday. Because of all this I feel the cruise has been "tinged" and I'm having trepidation about going. Also, we are flying from St. Louis to Charlotte and from Charlotte to San Juan, PR to board. We have exactly one hour between when we land in Charlotte and the flight for San Juan leaves. I'm concerned we won't make our flight or if we do, our luggage won't make it. I don't think there are many flights in a day between Charlotte and San Juan so what happens if we don't make it? I certainly don't want to be without clothes the whole time.

Can someone please make a suggestion as to what I might be able to do to get some satisfaction for this problem? Is there any type of association I can talk to? I don't think Viking is a member of CLIA so I don't know if that would help. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
 
Nov 17, 2017
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#19
Again, to everyone who tried to help me I appreciate your help. I again contacted Viking by email and they have agreed to upgrade our cabin category, but took away the OBC. I agreed to that because the upgrade was worth more and made more sense. They won't do anything about paying for the one night hotel stay prior to the cruise, but did explain why we lost our transfers even though I booked my airline reservations through them. I won't say I'm pleased, but I am appeased and feel better about taking the cruise now.

For any future vacation plans, I will definitely use a travel agent, but also will keep my eye on this forum. It was very helpful.