Help, my Viking River Cruise transfers are sunk

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By Christopher Elliott

Ground transfers are supposedly included in Robert Brown’s Viking River Cruise. But he supposes wrong, and now he’s being asked to pay extra for them. Is that right?

Question

My wife and I recently booked a Viking River Cruise. We plan to go from Washington to Moscow three days early, take the river cruise to St. Petersburg and remain there for three days before going on to a four-day stopover in Paris en route home. It is because of the diversions and deviation that Viking is attempting to set aside its responsibility to comply with what its literature apparently states.

The problem: Viking does not want to be responsible for the ground transfers in Moscow and St. Petersburg, despite the fact that we have purchased a Viking Air Package.

Viking summarily denied any responsibility for transfers. The company said we must make transfer arrangements on our own. The cruise line’s literature states that if we don’t buy through Viking we can make our own arrangements.

Furthermore, it has been difficult to get anyone on the phone at Viking at a level to discuss the matter further. Shouldn’t Viking’s literature mean what it says? — Robert Brown, Silver Spring, Md.

Answer

If Viking includes ground transfers with its air packages, then you should have received them. But I’m not sure if it explicitly promises the transfers.

At the time you made your purchase (the language has since been modified, but I’ll get to that in a moment), the promotional copy might have left you with the impression that transfers were included. But anyone with a working knowledge of the cruise industry, like a competent travel agent, would have known that’s not necessarily the case.

A closer reading of Viking’s terms would have revealed that transfers do not apply on non-embarkation days or dates that don’t coincide with tour dates. Nor do they apply to non-Viking-related hotels, such as the properties you planned to visit in Russia.

You had two things in your favor: First, the vagueness of the promotional language, and second, the apparent difficulty you had getting a clear answer to your request.

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How to fix your problem with Viking River Cruises

Viking customer service problems are common on this site. Fortunately, I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of Viking executives so you don’t have to endure bad service. (Here’s our guide to resolving your consumer problem.)

Next time, read Viking’s terms closely or work with a qualified travel agent, who can advise you about the transfers. In reviewing your correspondence, I see you spent a fair amount of time on the phone, too. When dealing with this type of request, it’s usually best to make your request in writing. That way, you’ll have a paper trail if there’s ever any disagreement with the company. (Related: Viking Cruises customer service problem: Can they charge another $600 for my Delta flight?)

You reached out to my advocacy team for help. I contacted Viking on your behalf. In addition to taking care of your transfers as “an exception” to its policy, a spokeswoman told me Viking is reviewing its terms and conditions as it applies to transfers and will “update it accordingly to ensure the verbiage is as clear as possible.”

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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