Viking Ocean Cruise nightmare

May 16th, 2016, 07:01 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 2
Viking Ocean Cruise nightmare

We took a Viking River Cruise on the Danube in 2013 and have been telling everyone how great Viking is. We were VERY impressed and certainly planned to be lifetime customers.

For our next Viking cruise, we booked the Viking Ocean Cruise entitled Passage Through Western Europe. We booked the trip 9 months before going. We were on vacation at the time and so we booked it over the phone. We told the Viking agent that we really liked the itinerary of the Passage Through Western Europe trip but the dates didn’t work for us. She said they had just added another date Apr 17, 2016 which worked perfectly for us so we booked it. The agent never mentioned the itinerary was nothing like the trip advertised (although it was still named “Passage Through Western Europe”) and we had no reason to question her since we thought Viking was a reputable company (we now know better). However, the agent lying to us is irrelevant as we talked to people who booked only 3 months prior to the trip and they were sold the exact same bogus itinerary as we were.

The brochure said "15 day cruise visiting 5 countries and 11 ports". We actually visited only 4 ports on the original itinerary; this includes embarkation and debarkation ports so we really visited only 2 ports on the original itinerary. Did you get that? On a 15 day cruise that we took to specifically visit the ports advertised, we visited 2 out of 11 ports! We were only supposed to have 3 days at sea instead we spent over ½ the trip at sea.

All Viking had to do was at some point contact us (and the other 900 passengers they blindsided) and make sure we knew they had falsely advertised the ports for the Apr 17 voyage and ask if we wanted to cancel. Or imagine this, Viking just had to add a separate page in their catalog showing the actual ports they intended for this cruise instead of the large entire page we have showing the bogus ports. I think the reason they didn’t do this is everyone would have cancelled as who would want to go on a cruise to spend ½ the time at sea? If it was just a few people who were blindsided by Viking’s bait and switch, I would think maybe we were wrong, however, EVERYONE we spoke with on this cruise was blindsided and VERY upset. When EVERYONE is blindsided, this is Viking’s fault not ours. One woman caught the bait and switch just prior to leaving. She called and Viking showed her where the “new” ports were buried in the fine print. She naturally wanted to cancel the trip but Viking would only refund 25% of the cruise, so they took the cruise but they were the only ones we spoke to that knew of the bait and switch beforehand (and again, Viking never admitted it, she just caught them in their lie). This is further proof of Viking’s dishonesty.

The reason we chose the Viking cruise entitled Passage Through Western Europe because it had 3 ports in Spain and 3 ports in Portugal (the trip actually went to ONE of these ports). We (and all the other passengers we talked to) just assumed Viking was going to provide what we paid for (or at least something close). We completely understand ports can be changed but the extent to which the itinerary was changed was above and beyond ridiculous and it was a complete bait and switch operation. Instead of notifying us, Viking simply listed the new ports on the final invoice (which everyone uses to confirm the amounts are correct, not the ports). In other words, Viking never notified us that the itinerary had completely changed. It wasn't until 3 days into the cruise that passengers started wondering aloud what happened to various ports. Then we all started pulling out our intended itinerary and comparing it with other passengers and to our collective horror we learned about the bait and switch we were now literally trapped in for 2 horrendous weeks. If we were paying attention we may have noticed when we were booking our port excursions that these excursions weren’t in addition to but rather, IN LIEU of the ports we paid for. But, of course, at this point you are too busy planning your trip and it certainly never occurs to you that Viking straight up lied about basically the entire trip (and more importantly Viking would not provide a refund even if we did catch them at this point).

The crew was never even told about the itinerary we purchased. The crew only knew about the new abbreviated itinerary. This could only happen if Viking never even remotely intended to deliver the itinerary we purchased. This is absolutely inexcusable. We will never use Viking Ocean cruises again. I used to be Viking's biggest fan, now I tell as many people as I can how Viking quite literally robbed us of $14K and 2 weeks of our precious vacation days from work and never said a word.

And it gets better. We had a norovirus breakout. So while we were trapped at sea, Viking took away all pools, hot tubs, saunas, board games, basically everything. Though I don’t blame Viking for closing all entertainment, I do wonder if we actually went to the ports we purchased and we were off the ship most of the time, if the virus would have broken out.

I’m sure there are many horror stories but the ones I know of are: 1. There was a couple with ballet tickets for London but, of course, we skipped London and, therefore, skipped their dream (not to mention the cost of the tickets) of seeing the London ballet (we berthed in Tilbury 1.5 hours outside of London so there was no time to go to London). 2. (prepare yourself as this one is exceptionally heartbreaking) There was a veteran who scheduled to meet a long lost WWII army buddy in Southampton but, of course, we simply quietly skipped Southampton. This was obviously an older person who will not be able to ever recover this opportunity. Viking is truly a lying cheating company who cares nothing for their customers. It would take so little for Viking to be honest. In this case all they needed to do was call or send a letter saying, "Did you realize we will not be going to the ports advertised". But instead they choose to lie, cheat and steal from their customers.

The ports in the brochure for the trip we bought were:
• Barcelona - Viking had to go to this port as it was our embarkation port
• Granda, Spain - SKIPPED
• Seville, Spain - SKIPPED (Gibraltar which isn't even in Spain was substituted)
• Lisbon, Portugal - we actually went here
• Porto, Portugal - SKIPPED
• A Coruna, Spain - SKIPPED
• Cherbourg, France - SKIPPED (substituted Bordeaux, France)
• Le Havre, France - we actually went here
• Southampton, London sailing up the Thames - SKIPPED (substituted Tilbury 1 ½ hours from London and never sailed up the Thames).
• Haugesund, Norway - SKIPPED
• Bergen, Norway - Viking had to go to this port as it was our debarkation port.

When we filed 4 separate written complaints on the ship and received a letter that said we would be contacted upon our return home. We thought this meant “we would be contacted upon our return home”. Over 3 weeks have passed and we have heard nothing (Gee what a surprise!) with the exception of a seriously comical coupon for $250 off our next cruise.

If you do have the misfortune of cruising with Viking Ocean, make sure to check your online bill (on your TV) daily as constant unwarranted charges are added. We had to have 4 bogus charges removed.

Viking did everything else so well. The rooms, service, food, ship were all terrific but who really cares when the itinerary you purchased (the whole entire reason for your trip) didn't exist. We're young enough that we MIGHT get to see the intended locations but for many people on this ship, it was a last chance.

Viking is extremely lucky that the vast majority of their client base is older people who typically don’t complain about being lied to (since they were raised during a more honest period in history). It appears that Viking has no idea that the next generation of customers will not be so forgiving and has direct access to social media.

I also found out that Viking is telling my referral customers that they have never received any complaints about this cruise. It truly is amazing how low Viking will sink to cover their failures instead of being honest. Oh but I remember now, honesty was Viking’s problem from the beginning.

In summary, Viking quite literally stole $14K and 2 weeks of our precious vacation from work and they kidnapped us and left us out at sea. No explanation. It was (and still is) an absolute unbelievable nightmare.
Travellover34 is offline  
May 18th, 2016, 07:30 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,673
Well you actually bought a cruise without checking the itinerary? You assumed it was the same for the date you could not on so really that's on you. We have taken 15 cruises in our life but never fails to check the routes first.

I am glad you got the mistaken charges off your bill.

It is not unusual to substitute ports stops like in your case Gibraltar for Seville.

I disagree with your assumption that older people don't complain. I find that baseless. You should meet my mom.

Your assumption that noro might not have broken out if more ports were added is also baseless. That just plain makes no sense.

Good luck with your follow up and next time check the itinerary before your book.
jacketwatch is offline  
May 18th, 2016, 09:12 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,566
I am sorry this mixup happened to you.
I looked carefully at their website. There are two issues.
First there are two completely different itineraries with the same name. That is really a stupid as well as misleading thing for the company to do, BUT they list one date in red and say to refer to another listing for the itinerary on that day since it is different than the others with the same name. So, the company does state clearly that the itinerary is different and they delineate the itinerary, stating exactly what it will be.

The second issue is with the agent who booked it. Could she/he have had only the dates and name of the tour and logically assumed all cruises with the same name were the same itinerary? Honestly, that would make sense to most of us. However, it would surprise me that she would not have the same info that is on the website about the itinerary being different. So, she either didn't have it or didn't notice that it was different from the others. If she didn't notice and point it out to you, that was her fault. If she simply did not have the difference noted somewhere, then I don't know where you could place the blame because the company did have it noted in their brochure and website. At any rate, I think the fault is with the agent one way or the other.

It certainly would have been better for the company to have used two different names, but companies may say med cruise or Baltic cruise and have many different itineraries, depending on the dates. That is common. Not so common to have a specific name with different itinerary, but they did point it out.

Personally, Viking seems way overpriced and there have been plenty of complaints about them. They are just getting into Ocean cruises. Their advertising on TV seems somewhat misleading to me, based on what I know about rivers in Europe.

However, in your case, there absolutely was no bait and switch. You got exactly the cruise that was published in their brochure and on their website for that date.
Sassafrass is offline  
May 18th, 2016, 09:49 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 9,566
Oh, I did notice that the cruise you actually booked was supposed to go to London and you did miss that. No idea why. That was, however, the only one they skipped on the cruise for that date. Anyway, I am sure it was a big disappointment, and Viking should fix things so it doesn't happen again.
Sassafrass is offline  
May 19th, 2016, 12:57 AM
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 2,739
Sass, I read elsewhere that it missed London because of the norovirus. The ship was held up in Bordeaux and by missing London (sailing up the Thames) and went to Tilbury instead, it made up for lost time.
Eschew is offline  
May 19th, 2016, 07:15 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,673
Actually I too checked their website and found the cruises advertised. Its utterly clear that the April 17th sailing has a different itinerary and it includes Gibraltar and not Seville. It is abundantly clear that the OP mistaken thought the April 17TH sailing had the same route as the other ones but its on the website and must have been in the cruise docs too. Sorry OP but you this one is on you. Next time don't assume. Anyway I hope you tried to make the best of it at its sounds very nice on its own merit.
jacketwatch is offline  
May 19th, 2016, 01:46 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,673
Sass actually their ocean review on cc are super.
jacketwatch is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2016, 03:45 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 2
It appears that some people replying to my post may be employed by Viking as they are defending Viking and discrediting me with entirely too much gusto for a disinterested party. I expected this as I've seen the same type of replies on other posts. I won't get into a back and forth taking issue with their comments as I already covered those issues in my original post. Suffice it to say everyone I talked to on the cruise was completely blindsided by Viking's bait and switch and in 2 of my conversations with Vikings they admitted their itinerary was incorrect or at best extremely misleading. I truly hope this never happens to you. We truly were robbed. Viking's star rating on Yelp pretty much says it all. There are 2 Yelp sites for Viking, one has an average of 1.5 stars and the other an average of 2 stars.
Travellover34 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2016, 06:27 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,673
What others on this cruise said as well as what Viking told you are your word only and one side of the story and it's not verifiable.

Too bad you can't admit you're own fault in this. And no I don't work for Viking.

For posters like you I just shake my head.

Regards, Larry.
jacketwatch is offline  
Jun 4th, 2016, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,673
Yelp has few reviews for Viking Ocean cruises whereas cruise critic has scores of them so to be fair look at what this other source of information has.

Viking Sea has 21 reviews with a 95% approval rating.
Viking Star had 568 reviews with a 90% approval rating.

I think this says tons more than Yelp.

Just trying to keep things balanced and in perspective.

Again, regards, Larry.
jacketwatch is offline  
Aug 4th, 2016, 10:13 PM
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 1
Interesting. We also booked the Pass. thru West. Europe during the spring last year. My TA alerted me to the fact that the itinerary varied n-s v. s-n. Even so, like you, we didn't get the final itinerary until shortly before we left. In our case, the printed material stated 2 days in Paris and 2 days in London. Imagine my shock when I saw that on day 2 of both these ports, we were to leave at 9 AM. Long story short, Viking saw my post on CC and asked me to contact them. I did, and they offered me a very nice discount on a future cruise...I don't recall if they offered a refund...At any rate, I was totally happy with their product altho I fully understand your disappoint about the port changes. We are taking a river boat cruise using the discount, this year booked a Viking Sea and Sky cruise next spring and summer.
laskern is offline  
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