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Viking consumer beware

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AWARDS! Does anyone consider consider/evaluate customer satisfaction related to honesty, fairness, justice, goodwill, loyalty, basic customer service?

In September 2016, we booked Viking’s Central American Shores & Cuba cruise to sail in November 2017.

On August 1, 2017, Viking notifies us that it has just “recently completed the permit process with the Cuban Government” and “we (Viking) have to make alternative plans.” Really? Viking advertised and took bookings for a cruise docking 2 days in Havana and now “will not be permitted to dock in Havana.” ??? But, “we’ll still have included options for visiting Havana.” - Ha!, Just a 4-4 1/2 hr ride away.
AND IT CONTINUES…. we’re NOT GOING TO COZUMEL AND BELIZE for unknown reasons……so…..we’ll just dock an extra day in Cienfuegos and stay at sea for another day! It was a nice “gesture of goodwill” the Shipboard Credit of $250/person. Isn’t this what you offer on any Cruise?

On 8/2/17, Viking notifies us “we anticipate final approval of our new shore excursion program by our local partners my mid-August 2017.”

On 9/16/17, “The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of travel to Cuba while Hurricane Irma recovery efforts are underway…… some parts of the country may be without power and running water. North central Cuba suffered severe damage and should be avoided until further notice.

On 9/29/17, “The Department of State warns U.S. citizens not to travel to Cuba. Over the past several months, numerous U.S. Embassy Havana employees have been targeted in specific attacks. These employees have suffered significant injuries as a consequence of these attacks. Affected individuals have exhibited a range of physical symptoms including ear complaints and hearing losses, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping.” “Due to drawdown in staff, the U.S. Embassy in Havana has limited ability to assist U.S. citizens.”
On 10/3/17, Viking writes, “Key West…. Prepared to accept visitors during your voyage……pleased to advise that there are no changes to your itinerary.” At this point, our trip doesn’t even resemble what we booked. But wait, Viking continues…..”we are continuing to assess whether it will be necessary to modify or cancel shore excursions in the affected areas. So we are still not sure if we will be visiting our original intent: Havana. Viking also tells us about the September 29th travel warning as mentioned above but “at this time our plans for visiting Cuba on your itinerary remain unchanged. Rest assured all shore excursions are escorted by a local guide and there have been no reported incidents involving travelers.” Well, “rest assured,” that does not make us feel safe by any stretch of the imagination.

We contacted your service team at 1-855-300-3962 as suggested to “discuss alternative options,” but were told we needed to follow up with our travel agent.

On 10/6/17, we met with our travel agent and Viking tells us we can have a ‘voucher for this trip to be used within a year with a $250.00 per person shipboard credit.’ Well, when we look at our options of places we haven’t been to or can’t do anymore due to long flights we found Viking’s Eastern Seaboard Explorer. However, this lovely itinerary is 13 days verses 7 days and therefore, $7100.00 MORE than what we budgeted for Cuba. The offer also of $250.00pp on board credit is the same we have been offered in the past. And of course, there would also be the additional cost for our insurance.

When we met with our travel agent on 10/6/17, we were told to respond by October 20, 2017. Being so close to departure with so many undesirable variables and lacking our original choices, we are feeling rushed within such a short window of time to make such a big decision. Due to these end results of a cruise hardly recognizable from what we booked, hurricane destruction of past and current ports, and Department of State warnings not to travel to Cuba, we are requesting a refund of our monies. When we booked the Cuba cruise, we did extensive research on the ports, and Viking. We are extremely surprised after reading reviews in Cruise Critic, Travel & Leisure, USA Today, Fodor’s, and Luxury Travel Advisor that Viking would risk the safety of its passengers or the negative public relations. We hope this can be resolved amicably due to the overwhelming changes and situations and we will be cruising again with Viking.

Well, we received an email response from Viking: (not even a call)

At this time we must advise you to contact your personal travel agent for all details surrounding your tour which remain pending and or of any concern. In the event that you have chosen to cancel they can advise you of your penalties, at this time all such details are filtered through your agent.

Bottom line:
-had to book another cruise by 4:00 PM, Oct 20th
-additional cruise cost from original Cuba cruise
-additional insurance cost
- not a cruise we would have chosen if not for the fact of losing our monies Viking already has held for a year for the Cuba cruise!

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