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  #1 (permalink)  
Old October 7th, 2004, 05:48 PM
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Default Viking River China questions

We are considering the Viking Imperial Jewels cruise next summer. While we have traveled on large cruise ships, this would be our first riverboat cruise, so I have some questions.

On a riverboat does it really matter which cabin category or which deck you select? And are there any advantages or disadvantages to booking through a travel agent versus booking directly with Viking? And finally, do you recommend airfare through Viking?

Thanks for your help.
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Old October 7th, 2004, 10:00 PM
Shirley B
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Default Re: Viking River China questions

Although I am a TA, I think I am answering your question objectively! The answer to your question is YES...there are advantages to using a travel agent rather than booking directly through the cruiseline. Many times TA's can get you reduced fares that you would not find if you booked directly with the cruiseline. This happens most often when an agent has blocked group space on a particular cruise...when there is a group, there is usually a discount in the offer. As a "preferred agent" for Viking, even when I don't have a group, I may have knowledge of a current promotion not known to the general public.

With regard to flights, like other cruiselines, Viking has contracted for flight fares far in advance of the actual flight dates. Sometimes Viking offers very competitive fares; other times you can do better on your own. When it comes to the Russia cruises and the China cruises, Viking appears to be VERY competitive. I've searched for better fares through consolidators and on the internet, and there are NONE. In fact, fares for both Russia and China are offered for more than twice as much as Viking is asking...and Viking's include ground transfers between airport and ship or hotel on both ends of the cruise. When it comes to flights to France and Germany, I've found better pricing outside of Viking.

With regard to cabin choices...the fares--like real estate--differ due to three major considerations: location, location, location! The higher the deck, the better the view, the higher the cost. Choose inside cabins vs. outside cabins...unobstructed views vs. obstructed views...quiet location, with cabins above and below vs. cabins over or under the cabaret or the dining rooms... Actually there are other considerations: size of cabin, amenities offered (bathtub + shower, or just shower? sitting area? veranda? concierge service or butler service (not typically available on riverboats, but consideration on oceanliners). Sometimes there are unique cabins on a given ship that the cruiseline does not openly advertise but that an agent might know about (ask me about the Viking Burgundy and the Viking Seine...). And when a problem arises, sometimes an agent can work small miracles!

If you have further questions, please get in touch with me. I've sailed on seven river cruises (plus dozens of ocean cruises), and I'll happily share my experiences with you.

Shirley B
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Old October 7th, 2004, 10:17 PM
Shirley B
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Default Re: Viking River China questions

Just one p.s.: I can't think of any riverboats that have inside cabins...but the higher cabins often have large picture windows that open while the lower decks may have picture windows--or even portholes--that don't open. You certainly don't have to worry about motion and motion sickness on river boats...the rivers usually provide smooth sailing. So fore, aft, midship are less important criteria on riverboats than on ocean liners.

Shirley B
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Old October 13th, 2004, 11:24 PM
Donna Bergeron
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Default Re: Viking River China questions

We took a Viking Yantzee trip in Sept. 2004. The land portion of the trip was wonderful but the cruise was a problem. We only cruised one of the 7 days and there was no one on the ship for anyone to talk to re: this problem. We --as a group are trying to get Viking to compensate us for the lack of a cruise but they have told us that they are busy and will get back to us in 30 days.(They have told the travel agents the same thing) Their 30 days is almost up. RE: the cabin, they are all the same--just different levels. When we booked, we were told that the only cabins left were on the top floor(the most expensive ones). Well, the only floor that all the rooms were full was # 4. RE: the air--we let Viking do it and found that people from the same city had different flights. Some got direct flights home and others jumped around the country--one couple spent 47 hours getting home (east coast). One couple stated that they told Viking which flights they wanted--and they got them. We expected Viking to get us the best flights available but that did not happen. You just take what they give you. The air portion of the trip was $199. so we got what we paid for. I would hope they would do better with flights if you are paying the normal price.
This was not our first Viking trip. The other was wonderful---and again, the land portion and the tour guide we had in China was absolutely fantastic. We are just very disappointed that when a problem came up, there was no one to talk to and they are stil too busy to talk to us. FYI: some travel agents offer a discount even the Viking tours. Good Luck
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Old October 18th, 2004, 03:16 PM
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Default Re: Viking River China questions

Thanks for the information. Viking is taking $350 a person off for bookings paid by Oct 29, and we also got another $100 through an agent. And we took the cheapest cabin category since all the rooms seemed the same. We are using frequent flier miles for the air, but Viking did seem to have good air prices. So it does seem like a great bargain for all that is included!
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Old February 21st, 2005, 11:47 AM
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Default Re: Re: Viking River China questions

Hi Dkayford!
We are on the Imperial Jewels of China tour leaving 08/31/05, have you gone on your trip yet? If so please tell me about it. We got an excellent deal on airfare through Viking, $500. pp round trip from Boston. This was just too good to pass up. We too chose a cat. F. whereas all the cabins on the Viking Century Sky have balconies. I would really appreciate anything you can tell me.
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Old March 13th, 2005, 04:57 PM
Shirley B
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Default Re: Viking River China questions


We are considering the Viking Imperial Jewels cruise next summer. While we have traveled on large cruise ships, this would be our first riverboat cruise, so I have some questions.

On a riverboat does it really matter which cabin category or which deck you select? And are there any advantages or disadvantages to booking through a travel agent versus booking directly with Viking? And finally, do you recommend airfare through Viking?

Thanks for your help.


I think you will love river boat cruising...though you must be prepared for the differences between river boats and large cruise ships! I've taken 7 cruises on Viking, and in April we leave for Viking's China cruisetour, which will include 5 nights in 5-star hotels and 9 nights on the Yangtze. While cabin category does matter on the European itineraries (while all but the least expensive cabins offer picture windows, it is only on the upper decks that the picture windows open; in the least expensive cabins, there are portholes), both of Viking's ships have veranda cabins throughout the ship, from most expensive to least expensive. Needless to say, the upper decks offer better views than the lower decks.

Often travel agents have better pricing than you can get when you call direct to Viking. That is especially true if the travel agent has booked a block of rooms and has a group going on a particular cruise. In addition, agents are also bound to be more aware of specials and promotions than the average passenger; but if a prospective guest calls into Viking direct to book a cruise, unless the passenger knows of any ongoing promos and specifically requests one by code, the Viking res agent is unlikely to offer the special rate.

I have booked hundreds of guests on Viking, and for about 75% Viking's airfares are the best available. The exceptions are for those travelling in very early spring or in late fall and winter. Why? Viking's fares are the same year 'round, but airfares offered by airlines change according to the season/week/month of travel, with winter, late fall, and early spring fares being far less expensive than "peak season" fares of late spring, summer and early fall.

I kept a journal of my first Viking river cruise, and I'd be happy to share it with you at your request. You can reach me at shibin4cruises@aol.com. Although the itinerary was not China, the journal will provide detailed information about a river boat and specifically outlines the differences between river boat cruises and ocean cruises.

Bon voyage,
Shirley Binder
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old March 14th, 2005, 04:18 PM
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Default Re: Viking River China questions

We are going on the July 18th cruise, so I'll try to report when we get back.
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old April 18th, 2005, 01:45 PM
Bud
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Default Re: Viking River China questions

We went on the Viking Century Star last year and it was a wonderful experience. I did post a review under "Other Cruise Lines....Viking River Cruises: century Star" on the Ship Reviews...reader reviews. We booked our entire trip (air,land and river) with Viking using a travel agent. Viking did a wonderful job.

You are in for a major treat! Don't miss anything they offer.

Bud
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Old April 18th, 2005, 03:13 PM
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Default Re: Re: Viking River China questions

Bud, you are too modest! The trip report is excellent. For those not inclined to search for things I will make it simple. Just click on http://www.cruisemates.com/articles/...king-star1.cfm and it will take you there.

For anyone planning to visit China this report is a big help. We are heading to China in September for the Viking tour known as Roof of the World that takes us to Tibet for 4 days. I will post a report upon our return. Only 4 1/2 months to wait! Clarence
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Old April 18th, 2005, 03:16 PM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Viking River China questions

Sorry but the URL doesn't seem to show up as a link. I guess the best way is to copy and paste it. Clarence
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