Viking Mississippi cancels some cruise passengers four days ahead of departure

The Pletchers wanted to throw a lavish 50th wedding anniversary party. The Eagan couple spent $18,800 to secure a five-star cruise from St. Paul to New Orleans in April 2020. This would have been their sixth trip with Viking, a world-renowned cruise line with headquarters in Switzerland.

Four days before to the Viking Mississippi’s first voyage from the Mississippi River’s headwaters to its mouth less than a week ago, the firm notified them by letter that their reservation had been canceled. The 386-passenger ship, which was specially constructed for the river, sailed out from Lambert’s Landing in St. Paul as scheduled, but the Pletchers were not there. The news was about to become worse.

Richard Pletcher, who is in his 70s, stated, “I contacted right away and was given very little information, just that we could reschedule for the trip around 2023 or 2024 with a 110 percent credit. “When I contacted merely to ask about this, I was informed that anything earlier was completely booked, therefore the earliest possible trip was really in 2025.”

In other words, Pletcher claimed a complete refund because “Viking wanted to hold our money for three more years, after already having it for practically two years.” “Asking for our patience, devotion, and ongoing support. Needless to say, none of these characteristics were present in my answer.

The Pletchers are not the first couple that was abruptly removed off a new Viking Mississippi River trip.

Passengers from all across the nation claim to have received letters from the cruise line advising them that their reservation, which had been made more than two years in advance and had been paid for in full, had been canceled only days before departure. The letters provided just a brief justification, stating that because of difficult circumstances, the Viking Mississippi must sail at a lower capacity in order to maintain the high caliber of its excursions.

This summer, several boat voyages from St. Paul were postponed in July and August. Additionally, interior work on the ship seems to have continued right up to the first departure from St. Paul for St. Louis, Missouri, on September 3.

It’s unknown how many tickets have been cancelled with days to spare, but a Facebook community group called “Viking Mississippi Cruise” that was started on July 1 by a ticket holder has received hundreds of comments, many of them from anxious or disgruntled reservation-holders. Others said that they carried around 200 people on flights that were about halfway full.

This week, calls to Viking for a remark went unanswered.

It is unclear if the company’s problems are mostly caused by the country’s manpower shortage, sluggish employee trainings, or actual physical factors like supply chain problems that have an affect on certain locations. According to passengers, the likelihood of all three appears to be increased by their consolation letter or on-board experience.

During a voyage to St. Paul on September 15, traveler Dean Siddons posted on Facebook, “We are now on this ship.” “There are a lot of ship maintenance and repair personnel aboard, and they are taking up space. Additionally, there are some Vikings here to provide staff training as well as additional Vikings with unspecified crew-unrelated duties. All of these wouldn’t typically be present aboard a ship. Due to these factors, some of the rooms are not available.

The introduction of Viking’s new cruise ship, which was initially scheduled to debut in 2017, was postponed by five years as the company dealt with federal regulatory issues arising from the Jones Act, also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920. According to the legislation, ships that sail between U.S. ports must have American crews, be owned, registered, and constructed in the United States.

The U.S. Maritime Administration was placated by Viking leasing a charter from Edison Chouest of Louisiana, but the company still had to cope with federal appeals brought by other cruise lines. There may be difficulties with the supply chain, according to several media publications along the river corridor.

A letter from Viking dated September 8 to a passenger in California who opted for a full refund states, “As you may be aware, due to circumstances beyond our control, construction of the custom-built Viking Mississippi was delayed, impacting the ship’s delivery date and the preparations necessary to welcome guests on board.

The letter adds, “The ship has already started sailing with her first passengers, although we are currently fine-tuning the entire experience and adjusting the schedule. “As we ramp up service, we must operate at a lower capacity on your planned departure. Unfortunately, this necessitates the cancellation of certain staterooms, and it is for this reason that we are reaching out to you right now.

Customers who had their reservations bumped were given full refunds or vouchers worth 110 percent of what they had previously paid so they could make new reservations. Due to excursions selling out years in advance, many have claimed that the latter is easier said than done. Some older guests find the idea of waiting until 2025 to go on a Viking cruise dubious, if not improbable, considering their advanced age.

Richard Pletcher added that when he asked how to reschedule a trip in the future, if they ever wanted to, they were told to check every day in case there was a cancellation. They wouldn’t even keep track of cancellations and would give us priority when deciding whether to fill a position.

It was only last month that Catherine Frohnert and her husband, who are both in their 80s, discovered that their reservation from New Orleans to St. Paul had been canceled. They had scheduled their Viking voyage on the Mississippi River in 2019 and paid for it in early 2020. Frohnert, an Irish-born traveler who has spent most of her life in the United States, had intended to fly to New Orleans and take a boat back to Minnesota for what she believed to be her last trip. She finds the idea of rescheduling a vacation for three years out of the question.

I eagerly anticipated it. I’ve read all of Mark Twain’s works, said Frohnert, a former resident of St. Paul who now resides in Rochester, Minnesota. “We have been to nearly 85 countries over the 56 years we have resided in America, mostly Minnesota.”

She said, “The only thing left that we wanted to do was sail up the Mississippi. “Compared to what we paid, the price has significantly increased. There are a lot of folks who were discarded on Facebook. This was my final dream for travel after doing Viking cruises on the Danube and the Rhine. Wednesday last week, I was upset.

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1 COMMENT

  1. My wife and I were on the September 10th to 17th cruise from Alton to St. Paul, and this article is very accurate. Even though we were fortunate to finally use our voucher that Viking refused to refund, this will be the last time we ever cruise with Viking. This was our fifth and last cruise with Viking. There were numerous problems on this trip, and no apologies from Viking. They blame everything and everyone except Viking. Some of my posts on the Facebook page were deleted, or discounted and canceled by their “loyaly” customers who weren’t on the cruise. The ship seemed crowded with only 230 passengers. I can’t imagine being on it with 386 passengers. Shame on Viking. They are taking advantage of their customers, especially the elderly.

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