After saving money for several years my parents who are retired and living on a fixed income were eagerly looking forward to a trip that they had spent many years dreaming and saving for; Viking European River Cruise.
They booked their Viking Cruise on the 8th of May, 2014; for departure on the 17th of July, 2014, Viking Booking #2265589. Taking into account the amount of money they were spending on this trip, they purchased the Travel Insurance Policy through Travel Guard Insurance, which was the only insurance company Viking said they could use for insuring this trip. The Policy they purchased was the most expensive ($1000.00) one offered that was advertised as "Cancel Anytime for Any Reason Up to the Day of Departure". A few weeks prior to departure, my mother’s 80 year old sister had an emergency surgical procedure and as a result suffered with some unforeseen postsurgical complications. The next day my parents learned that she had some serious post-surgical complications and they did not expect her to make it through the week. After consulting with the treating physician and being told that she was not expected to improve and the family should start making arrangements for her funeral, my parents had no choice but to cancel the trip on the 16th of July, 2014. My mom called Travel Guard and notified them of the cancellation. Travel Guard immediately refunded to their credit card the amount money they had spent booking an excursion and reimbursed them for the cost of the hotel room they had booked at the end of the cruise. They were then told to contact Viking directly for a full refund for the cost of the cruise. When my mom called Viking, the agent recommended that she take the refund in the form of a Viking Travel Voucher that she could use on a future trip. Mom agreed to that because she knew that they were going to rebook the trip at a later date. At no time did the Viking Customer Service Representative inform her that Viking Travel Vouchers have “No Cash Value” and cannot be Insured or redeemed for any reason. Had she been informed of this fact, she would have obviously told Viking to credit the cost of the trip back to her credit card that she used to book the 1st Trip.
Fast forward a few weeks when my mom called to make the 2nd reservation and they rebooked for a later departure date. The cost of the trip had gone up so they had to come out of pocket another $1000 plus the cost of another travel insurance policy; which they understood and accepted. The 2nd Reservation Viking Booking #2158322 was for departing the following month. As luck would have it; the next week my mother fell in a freak accident and ended up fracturing her pelvis in several different places. The orthopedic surgeon told my parents that there was no way she could travel until her pelvis healed, so with much regret they canceled for the 2nd time. They immediately called the travel insurance company and Viking to inform of the cancellation and were told by the travel insurance representative that they would reimburse them for the excursions and hotel room and Viking would mail them reimbursement vouchers for the trip. Shortly after that, they received the vouchers from the travel insurance company for the excursions and hotel room and after waiting several more weeks without receiving anything from Viking, they decided to contact Viking to see when the primary vouchers would be issued for the trip. That was when a Customer Service Representative from Viking informed them that they were not getting a refund vouchers for the trip. The Viking Rep went on to say that the travel vouchers could only be redeemed once and since they had “no cash value” they could not be insured. In other words; when they cancelled the 2nd cruise, they forfeited the entire trip and were basically out $10,000.00. Needless to say my parents were devastated when they were told about this Viking Policy regarding their vouchers and do not understand how this could have happened. I cannot believe that a company the size of Viking would treat customers the way they have treated my parents. The Viking Travel Voucher Policy is deceptive, intentionally misleading, and fraudulent. In looking into the Travel Guard Travel Insurance Policy further, I saw that the total cost of the policy was right at $1000.00 for each trip, with $400.00 of that going back to Viking Cruise Line. To think that Viking made $800.00 off 2 separate travel insurance policies in addition to the $10,000.00 that my parents originally paid for the cruise; infuriates me. I am writing this for two reasons; the first is to inform other folks who are looking to book future cruises on Viking Cruise Line and to see if anyone can offer us any help or guidance to how we might be able to pursue some type of reimbursement from Viking Cruise Line. To date, Viking is taking the position that my parents lost their money when they cancelled the 2nd Cruise Reservations.
Thanks again for all of the responses so far and I hope that this more detailed account of our experience, clarifies some of the details that were previously omitted.
The Wilson Family