1. This cruise was booked and paid for in January 2014. January 24, 2014 – to be exact. (I still have the emails.) At that time, the booking number was xxxxxxx. Viking had email addresses for both travelers but only showed my cabin mate's mailing address, even though we made it clear that we were 2 singles traveling together and that we did NOT have the same address. ) At the time of booking, we specified that we wanted twin beds in all accommodations. We were told that the record showed this. I also provided my mailing address, which has not changed since the booking. I continued to receive emails from Viking regarding when final payments were due.
2. Fast-forward to 2016. Information from the Viking website stated that I needed to set up a ‘My Viking Journey’ account. When I attempted to do so, and entered xxxxxxx as my booking number, it was shown as ‘cancelled.’ ????? So I called Viking. I was told that we had been given a new booking number – yyyyyyy. I asked why I didn’t get an email about this. I was told that they only had my cabin mate’s email address on file. REALLY????? When the record was transferred over from xxxxxxx to yyyyyyy., apparently, they didn’t transfer over my email address. So I provided it again. And I provided my mailing address again. I told the representative that all of our accommodations required twin beds; we were two friends traveling together. The representative assured me that this was on the record. I was then able to set up my Viking Journey account.
3. On June 23, I contacted Viking again because I noticed in the Viking Journey account still only had one address. I needed my travel documents mailed TO ME. (I’m attaching a copy of that email.) Imagine my surprise when I finally receive my travel documents mailed to me from my cabin mate. Both sets of documents were mailed to her, so she had to turn around and mail them to me. When she contacted Viking about that, she was told it would cost an additional $50 to send me my documents to a separate address and that ‘policy’ was to mail the documents to the first address on file. Really????? Policy????? I contacted Viking about this, and received an email stating that, for our trouble, we would each receive a $100 shipboard credit (email attached). So when I got to the ship, and used the stateroom TV to look at my cabin mateChris Anderson’s account. The email (attached) clearly stated that EACH traveler would receive a $100 shipboard credit. So I contacted guest services, explained the situation, and was asked ‘do you have documentation?’ Seriously???? I told them to look up the booking number and take care of it. It was resolved.
4. Pre-Oslo extension – We weren’t at the hotel referenced in our travel documents. We never received notification of this. I provided all my travel details to family members for contact in case of an emergency. This resulted in my providing incorrect details. It’s a good thing nothing happened that required my family to contact me, isn’t it?
5. Pre-Oslo extension – in spite of the fact that we contacted Viking multiple times about twin beds, our room didn’t have twin beds. The Viking representative at the Hotel Bristol told me that he worked for a subcontractor and that the hotel was full. First of all, Viking can subcontract all they want, but Viking cannot delegate responsibility. I told him that they could arrange for us to have a room at a different hotel if there wasn’t one available at Hotel Bristol. After multiple phone calls and 4-5 hours, a separate room was miraculously found for my cabin mate. Just another example of how Viking dropped the ball.
6. Pre-Oslo extension – I called Viking to get details about what was included in order to be able to make additional plans for tours and meals. The Viking representative was unable to provide me details about a) what was going to happen on each day of the extension and b) what departure and arrival times were for the train from Oslo to Bergen. I ended up making plans and then having to cancel them once I got to Oslo and Bergen because inadequate information was available up front. It was a hassle. As a result, I ended up on 2 Bergen tours that were identical. Instead of seeing the same things twice, I would have like to use my time doing something that I missed seeing because I didn’t have adequate information in the first place.
7. Based on the information from the Viking website and my travel documents, I brought a 110V curling iron, a stepdown transformer (220V to 110V), and a plug adapter. The Viking Star has more outlets for charging and small appliances than most ships, but still not enough. I have used the stepdown transformer successfully in hotels and on cruises for years. Well, I returned to my stateroom one day early in the cruise, and was handed a piece of paper from housekeeping stating that they were required to report and turn in any heat-producing devices. So down to Guest Services I go. Again – ‘Policy.’ They finally gave me back the curling iron back, but kept the plug adapter and transformer until the end of the cruise. I was not the only guest affected by this; there were multiple people at Guest Services when I went down there. My points are these:
1) If I had been communicated the ‘policy’ and known that stepdown transformers were not allowed, I would have simply plugged my curling iron into one of the 110V outlets and used the plug adapter in the 220V outlet to charge my phone or tablet, which are dual voltage devices.
2) Someone who understands electrical engineering principles needs to write the policy,
3) Policy needs to be clearly communicated on Viking’s website and in the travel documents; it was not.
4) Policy compliance and enforcement is management’s responsibility, not a housekeeping person’s responsibility. Requiring someone who interacts with guests multiple times on a daily basis to do something like this is poor policy.
8. Post-Stockholm extension - I called Viking to get details about what was included in order to be able to make additional plans for tours and meals. The Viking representative was unable to provide me details about what would happen on the bus transfer from the ship to the hotel. The guide on the bus decided that we would stop at the hotel briefly, then take a tour of city hall. Because I didn’t know what was going on ahead of time, I had already arranged and paid for private tours. I luckily was able to access my baggage at the hotel so that I could get what I needed for my private tours.
9. Post-Stockholm extension - in spite of the fact that we contacted Viking multiple times about twin beds, our room didn’t have twin beds. The hotel was able to provide us with another room with twin beds. Just another example of how Viking dropped the ball.
10. I had to contact Viking Cruises for issuance of my air reservations. The flights were ‘reserved, not ticketed.’ I wanted to be sure I kept the reserved flights, so I contacted Viking. I was asked, “Oh, do you want these ticketed?” ????? The reservations were finally ticketed on 6-23-16. But, my United Frequent Flyer number was not entered on my departing flights from Little Rock to Chicago, Chicago to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Oslo. I had to contact United when I got back to get these miles credited. Again……hassle. I made sure on the return flights that the FF# was on the reservation, but I’m expecting to have to do the same thing within 15 days to get credit for the return flights as well.
Ultimately, I guess you get what you inspect, not what you expect. But it seems like a lot of effort was expended just to insure I got what I paid for. When I go on vacation, I like it to be as hassle-free as possible; otherwise, it’s no different from work.
Onboard experience: Now I’ll tell you what I liked about the cruise and Viking Star.
1. I loved the ship layout. The common areas were very comfortable and welcoming and abundant.
2. The alcoholic beverage prices were quite reasonable. The gratis wine and beer offerings were excellent; no need to pay to upgrade in order to get something drinkable.
3. The stateroom and bathroom amenities were excellent. The TV information system was very good and easy to use.
4. Food in the World Café – lots of options and very good. I really enjoyed the Chef’s Table and Manfredi’s options and that there was no extra charge to book them. The Dining Room offerings were OK.
5. Embarkation was well-managed.
6. Disembarkation was well-managed. I’ve been on other cruise lines, and disembarkation was a free-for-all; they simply didn’t care what happened to you once you walked down the gangplank off the ship.
3. The stateroom and bathroom amenities were excellent. The TV information system was very good and easy to use. Lots of light in the cabin.
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