Wait, no Viking Cruise refund after the coronavirus pandemic?

viking cruise refund

Where’s Vincent Liu’s Viking Cruise refund? He didn’t receive it after a coronavirus cancellation. But he should have.

Question

Viking Cruises is refusing to issue a total refund after canceling operations and promising refunds. I need your help getting my Viking Cruise refund.

My wife and I paid $10,096 for a cruise and tour on the Viking Idi for April. When the coronavirus pandemic flared up, Viking informed me that it would allow postponement of our trip for up to two years.

In early March, I asked Viking if the trip had been canceled, and it said no. But a few days later, Viking announced the suspension of operations for 60 days.
I immediately asked Viking for a full refund and got a rejection. I read a story that Viking was offering a full refund or a voucher for a future trip at 125 percent. But I had only been offered a future voucher at 100 percent.

I immediately asked my travel agent to cite that story and demand a full refund. As of today, there is no response from the cruise line. I think Viking is ignoring refund requests.

I’m retired. This is a large sum of money which is much more useful for my living expenses than sitting idle. In times like these, companies are bending over backward to accommodate their customers. Viking is holding my money ransom and shows utter disregard for keeping its word and corporate decency.

I want my Viking cruise refund — now. Please help. — Vincent Liu, Los Altos Hills, Calif.

Answer

Viking should fully refund your cruise. But does it have to? Technically, no. Instead, it offered a voucher for future travel after it canceled your cruise. It promised refunds later, when it suspended operations — but not to you.

This is a common problem during the pandemic. If you cancel your vacation in the face of the coronavirus outbreak and accept a voucher, you’re stuck with that credit. However, if the company cancels, it should offer a full refund. That’s true for most travel companies except for tour operators, which often have fine print in their contracts that allow them to keep your money. But I digress.

I wanted to say something about your argument for getting a refund. It’s perfectly reasonable to argue that you don’t want to give Viking a microloan for up to two years. But the fact that you’re retired has no bearing on this case. No one should have to accept a two-year credit, regardless of their financial situation.

Still, something about your case is not sitting right with me. Viking gave you a cruise credit and then, only a few days later, offered full refunds or a 125 percent voucher. It just seems unfair even though technically Viking is allowed to do it.

Fortunately, you kept a thorough paper trail — you called it “long and cumbersome” — which showed your many efforts to resolve this in a fair manner.

How to get a Viking Cruise refund after the pandemic

In cases like this, you can always reach out to an executive at Viking. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of all the Viking Cruise executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.

I can’t make Viking refund your cruise because, as I already mentioned, it’s allowed to keep your money. But you have options. A polite appeal — which you’ve already tried — is a reasonable first step. You can also accept the vouchers as thousands of other passengers have. And then there’s the nuclear option — disputing the charges on your wife’s credit card and forcing Viking to refund your cruise.

You chose door number three. Your bank promptly returned your money.

Posted in The Travel Troubleshooter Tagged , ,

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 weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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