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Apr 14, 2020
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Hello Mr. Elliott, We read your column every Sunday in the Dallas Morning News. Your articles are insightful and informative. We would like a third party opinion on a policy enacted by Viking Cruise Line as a result of the COVID-19 virus. I sent the letter below in an email to 6 individuals in management positions in the Viking organization including Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen. ([email protected]) I finally got a call from someone at the call center in Los Angeles. Their offer was a 100% voucher for a future cruise. A 100% voucher will not cover the same cruise in the future. To book the same cruise in the future would cost thousands more. I canceled 2 weeks before they canceled all cruises thru July 31,2020. Do you think I’m being unreasonable to expect either a straight trade for the same cruise in 2021 or a voucher for 125%? They offered the 125% voucher to customers who waited on Viking to cancel. We don’t want to pay more for the same trip in the future. I would appreciate your opinion.

We enthusiastically booked the Mediterranean & Adriatic Sojourn Cruise back in the middle of September in 2018. Our booking number was xxxxxx. . Our boarding date was May 6, 2020. We have wanted to sail with Viking for years. We have heard so many good things about your company and exceptional cruises. We saved for many years to Cruise the Mediterranean. It was one of our top bucket list trips.

Since we booked our cruise, I have spent many months and hours researching this trip and its docking locations. We researched and deliberated many hours over the excursions for this trip. I made the final payment for the cruise and excursions as per your guidelines. We made all of our restaurant reservations and we were thrilled with our selections. Everything was paid for and we were looking forward to our dream vacation.

In January 2020 it was apparent by watching news coverage that Covid-19 was rampant in China. It quickly made its way to the US and our metropolitan area in Dallas, Texas. In Mid March our suburb and local counties ordered a “Shelter in Place” where only essential businesses were allowed to remain open. Schools were closed. Only essential travel was allowed in and out of the country. Advice from medical experts informed the public to not fly and do not board a cruise ship. I called Viking many times and asked if my cruise was canceled. It was not, but I knew we couldn’t travel during a world pandemic. Italy and Spain were already in lock down with COVID – 19 spreading at a dangerous rate. We decided it was obvious that our dream cruise would be a threat to our health. We felt it was obvious that Viking would have to cancel our Cruise for 5/6/2020. We waited for Viking to act responsibly and cancel. We also started to research a future Viking Mediterranean cruise so we could secure another date. We called and asked for a simple transfer from this date in 2020 to the same sailing date in 2021. I was told I could have a shipboard credit for around $3,000, but no straight trade. The 2021 Mediterranean Cruise in May was $6,000 more than what we had already paid because of limited availability of cabins. We were very discouraged and disappointed.

There was a second choice cruise in Europe that we were considering: Trade Routes of the Middle Ages. It was also filling up fast. We started to panic. Our thinking was that we needed to cancel our cruise and book the Trade Routes Cruise for 09/28/2021 before it was too late. It was affordable and hopefully by September 2021 a vaccine would be available for COVID-19.

I called Viking and canceled our Mediterranean Cruise on March 18 and immediately booked Trade Routes of the Middle Ages: Booking # xxxxx. Shortly after we cancelled and rebooked, Viking finally made the wise and responsible decision to cancel our cruise on March 30. Unfortunately for us your cancellation policy does not work in our favor. We are not eligible for the 125% voucher because we cancelled and immediately rebooked a couple of weeks before you cancelled our cruise. We were following our local guidelines for mediating the spread of a devastating illness COVID-19 and protecting our personal health. We cancelled and rebooked on the same day to secure a spot with your Cruise Line because you fill up so rapidly. We think Viking should have cancelled our cruise earlier in March because of the serious situation of a very contagious disease in both Spain and Italy. Your cruise line would not have been allowed to dock in those countries according to our news reports. Please reconsider your policy and be a little more flexible. We are requesting a 125% voucher refund based on the sequence of events and the occurrence of a world pandemic. Or consider giving us a straight trade for the same Mediterranean Cruise in September 2021. Please don’t punish us for making a responsible decision.

Please do what is right for your Customers.

Edited by moderator to remove booking numbers.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,037
23,001
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
Unfortunately, many people jumped the gun and canceled airline tickets and other travel arrangements instead of waiting to see what the airlines and cruise lines would do. We were able to talk ever client into waiting and except for one- it worked in their favor. One client who insisted on canceling a June trip to Costa Rica in February- even though we asked him to wait and see if the airline canceled flights- knew he would be charged a $200 pp cancellation fee and refused to wait- and three weeks later, AA canceled his flight and refused to refund the cancellation fee.

That’s the predicament you are in. You can use our company contacts and ask Viking for an exception. The worst they can say is no and they best is you give a sympathetic executive who might make an exception.

Here are our contacts:


Here is how to write:


Please come back and tell us how you make out.
 
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Carrie Livingston

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Jan 6, 2015
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St Louis
@Neil Maley unfortunately they've already written to the contacts. They cancelled and want to just transfer the cruise to another period but that period is higher. Executives I'm guessing have said no.
 
Apr 14, 2020
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That's what I want is a transfer or trade for the same cruise for the same month in 2021.
I feel cheated out of my ideal cruise since I had already paid in full for the cruise, excursions and had made 6 specialty restaurant reservations.
This was all done before I canceled. I canceled because it was apparent that they couldn't travel during my dates and we were restricted from travel also.
I looked at the same cruise in May 2021 and it was totally sold out except for 1 stateroom. It was thousands more than what I had already paid for my cruise.
Anyhow they wouldn't allow a straight trade when I canceled 3/18 so I found another cruise that would take me to locations I've never seen. So I canceled and rebooked a different cruise the same day (3/18)
So my question is: Is it unrealistic to expect or want a straight trade for the 2021 cruise?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,037
23,001
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
You probably won’t get to trade for the same price. Prices for next year are already established. We had a group cruise in Greece May 16 that was canceled by the cruise line. We can rebook for next year but the price is higher than what we paid for our cruise. Prices have gone up since we originally booked, the cruise line will not allow us to rebook at prices from 18 months ago.

I don’t think any of the cruise lines are offering rebooking at the same rate as the original cruise.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
9,746
10,538
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San Francisco
I had trouble following the details of your post, it seems to be a mix of narrative and letters to Viking. When it comes to not being on a river cruise right now, I do know exactly how you feel, as I put your level of planning and research into every trip we take. Missing out on Normandy this month was very painful. But none of this is the fault of Viking or Avalon. Have you read the terms and conditions you agreed to when you bought the cruise? This pandemic is not anyone's fault, but many travel providers are being generous with cancellations. Unless your agreement specifically states that you would receive a full refund in cash, you need to understand exactly what you agreed to.
 
Apr 14, 2020
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Ok, I guess I should just be happy that they allowed me a 75% voucher and 25% cash back on my original cruise.
Thanks for all of the comments.