The complaint has been investigated and
resolved to the customer's satisfaction
Resolved
Viking River Cruisestravel protection plan

On March 27, 2013, my partner and I booked a cruise to China, Booking #1644443, with Viking River Cruises. The trip was scheduled for September 2014. At the time of booking I were told several times by Mr. Igor Soludukha, that all charges, less $100 per passenger, were fully refundable as long as the trip was cancelled prior to 121 days before the cruise. Mr. Soludukha also told me in that phone conversation that Viking provided Travel Protection insurance for $599 per person or a total of $1198. We purchased the insurance from Viking River Cruises at that time. I also paid an extra $100 ($50 per person) for the special travel access. On April 20, 2013, due to a personal turn of events involving my family, we were forced to cancel this trip, less than one month after booking, and 17 months before the scheduled trip. I was informed at that time that, as promised, all of our money except $100 per person would be refunded to us.

On April 22, 2013, I was informed that the Travel Protection insurance I had purchased while buying our tickets, was non-refundable. Since I had never been told this information previously, I was extremely shocked and upset. I was then informed that if I were not happy with this information, I would have to contact the Travel Protection department separately because, although the Travel Protection was governed by the Viking policy, the travel insurance was separate from Viking River Cruises.

I called Travel Protection and was informed that the $1198 insurance we had taken through Viking River Cruises was non-refundable and, in fact, was told that even if I had canceled one minute after I took the insurance, it was nonrefundable. I told Travel Protection that I had never been informed that the travel insurance was non-refundable. The individual I was speaking with said this information was in the travel insurance contract. Since I had paid the $1198 over the phone during the same conversation in which I booked the trip, the contract was not in my possession, and I was never informed that the money paid for this insurance was non-refundable.

I again called Viking and asked to speak with a manager. I was put in contact with someone named Carlo, who said he was a manager, and said he would look into this issue. Approximately two days later he called my home phone, left a brief message that said he had researched it and denied the refund. He also informed me that the fact that the insurance was non-refundable was on my invoice (which turned out to be the last line in a 6 page document), which I also did not have in my possession when I purchased the insurance.

Summary of Facts:

1. When I booked this trip and purchased the insurance, I was told several times that as long as we cancelled the trip more than 121 days before the trip, all of our money with the exception of $100 per person would be refunded.

2. I was never informed that the travel insurance, $1198, was non-refundable. The fact that this information may have been in the contract or on the invoice does not apply since I did not have either the contract or the invoice in our possession at the time I paid.

3. If this travel protection plan was so above-board, why did Viking River Cruises fail to make it clear that the insurance was non-refundable? Viking was very clear about what monies would and would not be refunded if we cancelled the trip, but said nothing about the travel insurance. This insurance is supposed to be trip protection, not trip rip-off.

4. I cancelled this trip less than one month after booking it, 17 months before the trip was to take place (well outside the 121 day time frame).

5. Viking River Cruises is going to penalize us $1, 498 ($1, 198 travel protection + $200 cancellation fee +$100 for special travel access), even though canceling our trip did not even involve using our insurance. Had we not taken the insurance, the only costs to us would have been the $100.00 per person since we were well outside of the 121-day window.

6. I wrote letters to both the CEO and the Complaint Department of Viking River Cruises on April 30, 2013, and have had absolutely no response from either.

We dealt fairly with Viking River Cruises and we expect that same fairness in return. We would have understood if Travel Protection, like Viking River Cruises, wanted to withhold $100 for each person as a penalty for cancellation, but wanting to keep the entire $1198 for insurance that we had for less than a month is unreasonable and unacceptable.

We will genuinely appreciate anything you can do to help us with this issue.

RESOLVED

The complaint has been investigated and resolved to the customer's satisfaction.

  • Viking River Cruises's response · Jun 10, 2013

    Dear Barbara,

    We’re sorry to hear of your frustration and disappointment. We have passed your comments along to the appropriate team and they will contact you again this week to discuss your concerns. In the meantime if you would like to contact us directly, please know you can email us at [email protected]

    Sincerely,
    Viking Cruises

  • Viking River Cruises's response · Jun 11, 2013

    Dear Barbara,

    We’re sorry to hear of your frustration and disappointment. We have passed your comments along to the appropriate team and they will contact you again this week to discuss your concerns. In the meantime if you would like to contact us directly, please know you can email us at [email protected]

    Sincerely,
    Viking Cruises

Responses

  • Na
    Nancy Powers Mar 18, 2015
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    I am having the same issue with Viking. When purchasing the river cruise I was told the insurance would be $838.00 and I thought that was excessive and said I would look around on my own. I found a better price with Squaremouth. When I made a deposit I did not realize that the trip insurance was included. Because the deposit was $1838.00 it was assumed I was purchasing and I was told I needed to let them know I wasn't purchasing so now I am stuck with the $838.00 plus the Squaremouth premium. Viking would not help and I find it hard to believe with most of their customers purchasing through this company that Viking wouldn't be able to negotiate something on our behalf. This trip is not until Sept. and I purchased in January. I am already stressed out and not feeling good about Viking. I booked previously with Gate 1 and they made everything very clear and above board. Hard lesson learned.

    0 Votes
  • Ma
    mab79 Sep 04, 2014

    To screwed cruiser, when you buy insurance you are paying for just that, "insurance- ie. peace of mind" that if something should go wrong you will be reimbursed depending on what you purchased. The money you pay for a policy covers claims that the insurance company pays out for all its customers. If you pay for a policy after you have a claim the companies would go out of business. You don't pay for car or homeowners insurance only when you have a claim. Why would you think it should be different for travel insurance.


    To D.Clayton, I have looked into several river cruise companies and it appears that your deposit or full payment fall into three catagories.1. totally non-refundable, 2. refundable deposit or credit up to a date deadline, or 3. refund or credit if covered by insurance.
    however, I have taken many ocean cruises and deposits and insurance purchased through the cruise line are 100% refunded if you cancel the cruise before the final payment deadline. Those monies are returned by the cruise line and not the insurance company.
    If you purchase insurance from an outside company you will get your deposit back, but not the money you paid for the insurance.


    The bottom line, whenever you are shelling out that kind of money you need to read the fine print, have the time to ask questions, and think it through before you book. Unless you know for sure that you have an out, don't just book because its a good deal. Some deals are too good to be true and if you wait and lose it, then it wasn't meant to be.

    0 Votes
  • Ba
    Barbara Thalacker Aug 31, 2014

    D. Clayton.
    At the time of booking we were told several times that all charges less $100 per passenger were fully refundable as long as the trip was cancelled prior to 121 days before the cruise. Since we purchased the insurance at the same time we purchased the trip, this was all part of the charges. The travel insurance contract was not in our possession and we were never informed that the money paid for this insurance was non-refundable. Again, we were told by Viking that all of our money except for the $100 per passenger would be refunded if the trip was cancelled prior to 121 days before the cruise. We cancelled this trip 17 months ahead of time (within two weeks of purchase and well within the 121 days). That was when we found out that we were going to be penalized $1, 198 for the insurance. Had we not taken the insurance, the only cost to us would have been the $100.00 per person, since we were well within the 121 day window. I feel this is a scam because Viking took great pains to explain everything else to us, but not the travel insurance. They made it sound like the travel insurance was part of travel package. We didn't need insurance until it was time for the trip to actually occur, since Viking refunds all of the trip money except the $100 per person prior to the 121 days, but Viking told us that we had to buy it within a certain amount of time or we couldn't get it at all. And the moment you bought it, it was nonrefundable.

    0 Votes
  • Sc
    screwed cruiser Apr 17, 2014

    D. Clayton.
    The non-refundability of a useless policy is the issue. Why would you take out a policy if it cost $600 but there's no benefit? And other than the $100 deposit, there's no risk to passenger, except for the useless insurance policy. They shouldn't charge you for the policy until it covers something.

    0 Votes
  • Dc
    D Clayton Feb 10, 2014

    I have read all of these complaints and I guess I just don't understand how misinformed people can be! Listen up very carefully,
    The travel insurance you purchase from ANYBODY is never refundable. That cost enables you to recapture the cost of the trip in full in the event that you have to cancel your plans. This is a no-brainier people, the cruise company cannot make all of these future plans and reservations and make staffing and food and etc cost for the trip according to how many guest are on board for any trip. When a customer has to cancel their trip, the cruiseline will, according to the rules of reimbursement, refund the amount that you paid at booking, you will get back your cruise fare and misc. costs. These costs are returned by the INSURANCE COMPANY, not the cruise line. The cruise line has to proceed with the cruise with or without said guests that they planned on providing for. Obviously, these people do not understand how insurance works. The refund you pay for is through the insurance company not the Cruise line. In the event of cancellation, which no one ever wants to do, you are spared the loss of the entire trip; BUT you must pay for the insurance to get that money back!
    I myself have gone on two River cruises with Viking and I have to say they are the absolute best at the game! We have cruised on large ocean ships and there is no comparison. The personal and VIP treatment that you get while taking one of these trips is outstanding and they have no competition! No I am not try to get freebies from Viking, I am just telling the truth. Most of these complaints are just whining because of circumstances beyond control of anyone on the cruise made their trip an unplanned adventure. Life is not certain on any given plate so we as adults must learn to go with it and enjoy the adventure as it unfolds. The cruise line does do what it can in these crazy circumstances to appease their customers and make sure that the entire trip is not a bust, but there is only so much they can do when caught off guard by a strike or weather. A Cruise line would not stay in business for long if they reimbursed for every glitch that occurs on most weeks. Sometimes chance works for you and sometimes it doesn't. There a lot of variables in the travel industry. Remember, these cruises are planned a year in advance, how could they possibly plan on draught or strikes? It is all chance that you get a perfect cruise. I simply don't believe that Viking didn't do everything they could to make things work for the guests when circumstances altered the trip.

    1 Votes
  • No
    NOLARunman Aug 20, 2013

    To this I would say that the Travel Insurance is just that, an insurance policy. Premiums are fully earned at payment of a claim, that's standard issue just as a homeowners claim, auto etc. The reasoning of thinking the premium would be refunded would follow through that upon embarking on the trip you didn't file a claim so you should get the premiums back, Again, this is standard insurance business.

    0 Votes
  • Je
    JenniferF Aug 14, 2013
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Update: I am happy to report that a few days ago we were finally contacted by Viking and provided with fair compensation for the things that went wrong during our June 2013 Viking Grand Tour river cruise. Viking directly deposited $2, 434.00 into my mother's checking account and credited $1, 000.00 to her credit card. In addition, Viking says that it will give each of us a voucher for $1, 152.88 towards a future cruise if the cruise is booked within the next year. My mother received her voucher, and hers only. I am still waiting on my promised voucher. In addition, Lanisha Cole, the Viking customer service agent who spoke with my mother earlier this week, patiently listened to our complaints and apologized for the things that went wrong!! That was very nice. It appears Viking realized that we were the victims of a perfect ### storm... what with the 500 year floods on all three rivers and then a record setting heat wave that was too much for the A/C on the buses and the Var - on the last night- to keep up with. Viking made things right with us and we cannot wait to take a cruise on the Danube next summer, 2014, - but not in June this time- with Viking.

    0 Votes
  • Je
    JenniferF Aug 05, 2013
    This comment was posted by
    a verified customer
    Verified customer

    Barbara should be happy that she did not actually go on her Viking River Cruise. After a flooded stateroom (Viking Var #108), a broken down ship, many missed tours, additional hours on buses with no functioning A/C, broken A/C on our ship, the Viking Var, and on and on, I wish our trip would have been cancelled. Although Viking contacted many of our ship mates after this ill fated trip, giving them partial refunds and vouchers for discounts on future trips, Viking has failed and, apparently, refused to contact my mother and offer us any sort of reparations for our $14, 000.00 (plus) hell cruise! My mother has left six voicemail messages and sent two email messages to a Lanisha Cole from Viking, all to no avail. What is wrong with these people? The passengers on the Viking Var's return voyage were given 25% off vouchers before their trip even began!! And Viking cannot even return our messages? We are just so heartbroken about our dream vacation being ruined, and all of the money and time that we wasted on Viking. And why we have been singled out for such horrible customer relations I do not know. All that we are asking is for Viking to make things right with us. I would love to be able to tell all of my friends and family that there were some problems with our cruise, but Viking made it right.

    0 Votes
  • Ju
    Justwanttobefair Jul 20, 2013

    I agree with Chickolini's comment of 19 Jun 13. I was interested in conducting a river cruise in Europe and had actually contemplated using Viking River Cruises. After reading this complaint, I would never give my business to such a sleazy company. For heaven's sake, with 17 months until the cruise, VCR could have re-sold those passages a thousand times.

    0 Votes
  • Ch
    Chickolini Jun 19, 2013

    My wife and I were considering taking a Viking River Cruise but after reading some of the complaints on this web site, I wouldn't go near this company. Any company that pulls this kind of stunt when people cancel, is outrageous. To me personally, it's like stealing.

    0 Votes

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