How Viking responded to curtailed cruise

By: Thomas C. Miller
This item appears on page 22 of the December 2017 issue.

For many years, my wife and I have gone to Europe over New Year’s. Early in 2016, we spotted a trip called “New Year’s in the Mediterranean,” Dec. 27, 2016-Jan. 8, 2017, on one of three new oceangoing vessels of Viking Cruises (Woodland Hills, CA; 855/338-4546, www.vikingcruises.com).

We have no interest in large ships that carry thousands of passengers, but Viking’s ships each carry only 930 passengers, so it was a “go” for us. The cruise was relatively inexpensive, at slightly over $10,000 for both of us, which included round-trip air (purchased through Viking Cruises), some shore excursions and insurance.

Flying into Barcelona, Spain, we boarded the Viking Sea early on Dec. 27, leaving enough time to see something of Barcelona — a great city that we had visited over New Year’s some years earlier. Before the ship’s evening departure for Toulon, France, on Dec. 28, that day was also available for sightseeing in Barcelona. 

Our itinerary after that included ports of call in Monaco (Monte Carlo), Italy (Livorno, for Florence, and Civitavecchia, for Rome), Malta, Tunisia (Tunis) and Spain (Valencia).

My wife and I were enjoying dinner at a table for four couples as the ship departed for Toulon, and we were soon in good conversation with a couple who told us they were enjoying the cruise at half price. We learned that they had been on one of the other three new Viking ships in 2016 and the ship had broken down, causing the cruise to be canceled. In addition to Viking’s refunding their cruise price, all passengers were given 50%-off vouchers for another trip within a year!

Before dinner was over, we heard sirens. The crew informed us that the sirens had nothing to do with fire, but the ship had stopped and it had to (slowly) make its way back to Barcelona for repairs.

While still at the dinner table, we were informed that Viking would refund the cost of the cruise plus issue vouchers for 50% off on a future cruise. The other couple took everything in stride. We were also told that we could remain on the ship in Barcelona until Jan. 8 or request a change of our air tickets to fly home early, although that might be difficult at holiday time.

The Viking Sea is an elegant ship, and the food was perfect, but we wanted to go home, so, at no extra cost, we were finally given a return flight (Barcelona-Paris-Newark) for Jan. 3, when we would leave the ship at 6 a.m.

At dinner with friends the evening before that departure, a ship’s officer sought us out. They believed that they had repaired the ship and were going to take it out for an inspection run at midnight. They were concerned, though, that if the repairs were not good, the ship might not make it back in time for our flight departure. Consequently, we left the ship on the night of the 2nd and checked into the hotel they had arranged for us in Barcelona. 

After we returned home, we heard from friends that the ship did make it back to Barcelona in a timely manner, although the cruise did not resume.

Viking Cruises (not our insurer, whom we had paid $1,000 for the “travel protection plan”) refunded our roughly $7,500 for the canceled cruise, in addition to giving us the discount vouchers for another cruise.

Despite the cruise having been canceled, we really have nothing against Viking Cruises and may even use those vouchers before the Jan. 18, 2018, deadline… or we may not.

THOMAS C. MILLER

Bethlehem, PA