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

  • Hi Guest, welcome to the help forum. You can get fast answers to your customer service questions here. We have a dedicated team of advocates who are ready to help. Just go to the section that matches your question and ask us!
  • If you've posted a question or issue for our advocates to assist with, please be sure to check back frequently for responses and requests for clarification.
  • Did you know you can get email notifications when something new posts to your favorite forum? It's easy. Just click the "watch" link right next to the "post new thread" button at the top of your favorite forum. The rest is easy. Now you'll never miss another conversation.
  • Want to become an expert user? Drop by the How to use this forum section and all will be revealed. We'll show you how to make the most of your experience.

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
3,453
4,219
113
the United States
There is some financial analysis that plays a factor. As we age, the premiums increase which is sometimes substantial. And that has to be weighed against the less-expensive "basic" plans. One that is not arguable (safely) in my opinion is Medical coverage, both before (trip cancellation) and during travel. Insufficient coverage can cost tens-of-thousands and/or negate cancellation altogether. There are many rules to consider.

This is a classic risk/reward scenario . . .
 
  • Like
Reactions: LeeAnneC and Patina

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,086
23,040
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
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.
Well said. A rule to go by- if you can’t afford to lose everything you’ve paid for a trip if you have to cancel, or if you can’t afford to put up a few thousand dollars upfront if you break a leg on vacation and end up in the hospital in a foreign country- you need to buy travel insurance.

Otherwise you gamble nothing will happen and shouldn’t look for money back from the company that sells travel insurance for such purposes.

This will tell you much of what you need to know about travel insurance:

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/the-right-travel-insurance.1283/
 
Feb 21, 2018
223
527
93
58
Let me add another piece of the puzzle, and that is the pre-existing condition clause. Most every policy that offers a waiver for pre-existing conditions requires purchase of the policy within 14-30 days of the INITIAL deposit for the trip. In some cases, that initial deposit can be made months or even more than a year in advance of the trip. There are many who feel buying the insurance then, when deposits may still be refundable, are a waste of money as they 'have no pre-existing conditions'.

Unfortunately, though, a circumstance can arise between the time of your initial deposit and your final payment date that BECOMES what would be defined as a pre-existing condition. The moment some medical situation arises (with either you or a close family member, say a parent or child who becomes seriously ill) you may have what can be defined by the insurance company as a pre-existing condition and there may only be one or two policies that will offer that waiver only if purchased within 24 hours of final payment...and usually at a higher cost than if it had been purchased at time of deposit.

It's a bit like trying to buy flood insurance while the water is rising outside your window. It's too late - the risk is already known.

Trip insurance isn't for everyone...but it should be seriously considered for anyone who cannot afford to lose the non-refundable dollars they are investing in a vacation. I buy it for every single cruise I take, because I'd rather spend $160 to protect $4-6k than risk losing that kind of money. I've purchased it over 18 months in advance, considering the cost just a part of the fare.
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
3,453
4,219
113
the United States
Just to put some numbers to this discussion, I searched Insure My Trip for the following:

Trip from USA to France in September and paying for it now, it shows Worldwide Trip Protector Plus (a plan we have purchased before)
for $5,000 in non-refundables = $412 (two travelers at age 65)
for $10,000 in non-refundables = $1,064 (two travelers at age 65)
for $10,000 in non-refundables = $758 (two travelers at age 40)

So the cost is about 8-11% of the trip cost, and provides great coverage: Cancel for Any Reason (75% of trip cost), Trip Cancellation, Pre-Existing Conditions Waiver, Medical Evacuation. Hospital of Choice, Financial Default, and more.

Other considerations come into play like what state you live in. I believe Neil has said that NY does not permit the sale of Cancel for Any Reason.

Agents at these sites are generally very helpful . . .
 
Mar 15, 2018
112
189
43
60
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.
I hear ya. The only reason I included the age comment is that, statistically speaking, people over 70 are FAR more likely to suffer health-related issues that will interrupt or prevent them from taking a planned vacation. I certainly didn't mean to express any sort of ageism...just pragmatism. Just being realistic. As we get older (and hey, I'm 59 myself) we need to factor things like that into our decisions.

Up until recently I rarely bought trip insurance. I am very aware of the risks of not doing so, but I was willing to take the gamble that if something DID happen, I might lose every penny I'd spent on the trip. And if I had, I would have accepted it and not asked for an exception or special treatment. I chose to take the gamble, so I should accept any losses without grousing.

Given all the decades that I've been traveling and NOT bought trip insurance, I'm ahead of the game. If you add up all the money I would have spend on insurance for the many trips I've taken, losing a few thousand now still leaves me ahead. I took these gambles because my age, health and level of fitness meant that I was at low risk for losing the gamble.

And it worked out - I've never had anything happen that caused a loss that trip insurance would have paid for. But I realize that I've been lucky, plus I was in a position to not be devastated if I had lost. Most people probably should NOT take that gamble.

But now that I'm creeping up there, I have started buying trip insurance for expensive vacations. I know that it's more likely now than it was in the past that I will need it. Plus my vacations are getting more expensive, and as I approach retirement I don't want to gamble on losing that much money. So it makes sense for me to insure going forward.

This couple's trip should have been insured. We're definitely in agreement on that. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Neil Maley
Oct 13, 2015
139
427
63
51
Diana, I know you probably can't see it yet but you may have dodged a bullet. Can you imagine if the heart problems had come up during the cruise? Most US medical policies don't cover you abroad. If you have such a policy and no travel insurance, you would have missed at least part of the cruise, been on the hook for medical expenses, been on the hook living expenses waiting for clearance to fly, and cost for new travel arrangements.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,912
3,507
113
I hear ya. The only reason I included the age comment is that, statistically speaking, people over 70 are FAR more likely to suffer health-related issues that will interrupt or prevent them from taking a planned vacation. I certainly didn't mean to express any sort of ageism...just pragmatism. Just being realistic. As we get older (and hey, I'm 59 myself) we need to factor things like that into our decisions.

Up until recently I rarely bought trip insurance. I am very aware of the risks of not doing so, but I was willing to take the gamble that if something DID happen, I might lose every penny I'd spent on the trip. And if I had, I would have accepted it and not asked for an exception or special treatment. I chose to take the gamble, so I should accept any losses without grousing.

Given all the decades that I've been traveling and NOT bought trip insurance, I'm ahead of the game. If you add up all the money I would have spend on insurance for the many trips I've taken, losing a few thousand now still leaves me ahead. I took these gambles because my age, health and level of fitness meant that I was at low risk for losing the gamble.

And it worked out - I've never had anything happen that caused a loss that trip insurance would have paid for. But I realize that I've been lucky, plus I was in a position to not be devastated if I had lost. Most people probably should NOT take that gamble.

But now that I'm creeping up there, I have started buying trip insurance for expensive vacations. I know that it's more likely now than it was in the past that I will need it. Plus my vacations are getting more expensive, and as I approach retirement I don't want to gamble on losing that much money. So it makes sense for me to insure going forward.

This couple's trip should have been insured. We're definitely in agreement on that. :)
Oh, sorry, I definitely didn't mean to imply you were expressing ageism. From two past experiences, both before my 49th birthday (passing of my father-in-law and an unexpected stay in a Paris hospital despite my strong health) I just wanted to make sure that others that read this thread are aware that unfortunate things can happen at any age. I was like you, never bought trip insurance but, the first time, I had an eerie instinct that we may need to change our plans and, sure enough, we did. The next claim was because of an expensive trip that needed non-refundable payments over six months in advance which made me very nervous. My major motivation was for CFAR but who knew I would need the medical aspect of the insurance!
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
9,762
10,563
113
San Francisco
I think there's a difference in semantics. A travel agent's job is to educate the client on why she should buy trip insurance. An insurance broker's job is to sell the client the right coverage at the right price. The client's job is to determine her own risk level vs the insurance cost. But I think everyone would agree that the TA's job is the most important ... to be sure the client understands the penalties for travelling uninsured. "Please consider trip insurance" is not an adequate warning; Neil's anecdote is a perfect illustration of my point. Thank goodness their client trusted them enough to ask them to review the insurance she had purchased.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
9,762
10,563
113
San Francisco
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 . . .
I absolutely agree with VoR, Diana. If you don't ask, you won't get any consideration. We see the oddest things here, and it's possible that Viking would help you. I urge you to try his idea of a "very narrow request". You have nothing to lose by following our advice.
 
  • Like
Reactions: ADM and VoR61

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,086
23,040
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Diana, I know you probably can't see it yet but you may have dodged a bullet. Can you imagine if the heart problems had come up during the cruise? Most US medical policies don't cover you abroad. If you have such a policy and no travel insurance, you would have missed at least part of the cruise, been on the hook for medical expenses, been on the hook living expenses waiting for clearance to fly, and cost for new travel arrangements.
You have that right. I’ve told this story before but we had a client who had a heart attack on a ship and ended up with $100,000 in medical bills that were paid because he had travel insurance.
 
Mar 15, 2019
13
31
13
71
Diana, I know you probably can't see it yet but you may have dodged a bullet. Can you imagine if the heart problems had come up during the cruise? Most US medical policies don't cover you abroad. If you have such a policy and no travel insurance, you would have missed at least part of the cruise, been on the hook for medical expenses, been on the hook living expenses waiting for clearance to fly, and cost for new travel arrangements.
I
I do see it. We feel very foolish for not purchasing the insurance in the beginning. When we tried to get it at a later date after discussion about how we should probably have it put into place, it was too late, according to Viking. We missed the window. Not making excuses here, I know we were wrong and foolish. I am so grateful that my precious husband is recovering and we have more opportunities in the future to have many more adventures. I am having problems with the attitude of Viking, wanting to "double their profit". Their representatives need a course on courtousy and compassion. I'm not asking them to give us something for nothing on our part.
 
Mar 15, 2019
13
31
13
71
I absolutely agree with VoR, Diana. If you don't ask, you won't get any consideration. We see the oddest things here, and it's possible that Viking would help you. I urge you to try his idea of a "very narrow request". You have nothing to lose by following our advice.
T
Thank you for the wisdom. I have contacted Viking one last time, to upper management. We will see. If nothing happens, we will settle in, concentrate on healing, and move forward. I remain grateful and thankful for our beautiful marriage of 51 years and we are hopeful, we will make many more adventures together. Of course we will purchase insurance!
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
3,453
4,219
113
the United States
Hoping for success with upper management. While you are pursuing that, you should consider whether or not you will cancel if they won't help . . .
 
Dec 19, 2014
636
1,769
93
48
Hold on a second. I feel that this thread has moved away from the original question and situation posted by the OP

To the OP:
1) How is your husband doing right now? I hope that he has had a quick and uneventful recovery
2) He is fortunate that his diagnosis was made before he left home. Had he had a cardiac event at 36000 feet over the North Atlantic, this story would have a much different outcome.
3) If you used a credit card to pay for your trip, there MAY be trip insurance built into your credit card.
4) As other's have said, Viking is not obligated to do anything for you. Viking will default to its written policy, which is what you agreed to when you booked the trip. However, a letter to Viking executives may offer you some options. Any options they would offer you would be an offer of good will and would be an exception to their policy and not an expectation.

Good luck.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,086
23,040
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
I agree with Chris- call the credit card you used to pay on the off chance they have insurance that might help.

I have to commend you on your post. You have counted your blessings and have a happy 51 year marriage which is more than many can say.

Consider using a travel agent going forward. There are many other river cruise lines that aren’t as stringent as Viking with requiring full payment when they offer specials and have better experiences, especially when river levels are low and some ships aren’t designed specifically for low levels.

I hope your husband fully recovers.
 
Mar 15, 2019
13
31
13
71
Th
I agree with Chris- call the credit card you used to pay on the off chance they have insurance that might help.

I have to commend you on your post. You have counted your blessings and have a happy 51 year marriage which is more than many can say.

Consider using a travel agent going forward. There are many other river cruise lines that aren’t as stringent as Viking with requiring full payment when they offer specials and have better experiences, especially when river levels are low and some ships aren’t designed specifically for low levels.

I hope your husband fully recovers.
Thank you for your kindness. My husband is recovering nicely. When we book another river cruise, we will for sure have insurance in place. We have had a wonderful life together making amazing memories in many places, and we look forward to making more memories. This has been a humbling experience. I remain grateful for things not being worse than they are. We are blessed and hope others will learn from our experience.
 
Sep 20, 2018
36
15
8
62
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.
I just a got Chase Sapphire for this very reason, it also is a first insurance(?) on car rentals... it has trip protection... not FAR but for situations like this... anyone this age or hell any age, ya buy the insurance!
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
2,856
3,671
113
Maui Hawaii
Th


Thank you for your kindness. My husband is recovering nicely. When we book another river cruise, we will for sure have insurance in place. We have had a wonderful life together making amazing memories in many places, and we look forward to making more memories. This has been a humbling experience. I remain grateful for things not being worse than they are. We are blessed and hope others will learn from our experience.
Your perspective is admirable. You can deal with the $$$ if everything else works out for you and your husband. Look forward to restored health and many more years of adventure.

Looking on the bright side, if his cardiac issues had presented while traveling the outcome could have been very different, and not in a good way. You both dodged a bullet, and the cost is immaterial as long as he is doing well. We take the ready availability of excellent cardiac care for granted in the US. Elsewhere, even in Europe, the situation is very different. Sometimes even medical evacuation will not solve the problem.