Viking Star Stuck in Tallinn

Viking Star - Stuck in TallinnThe Viking Star cruise ship operated by Viking Ocean Cruises is stuck in port in Tallinn, Estonia. 

A person contacted us and wishes to keep her name anonymous.

The cruise ship lost power in an engine three days ago. Passengers are reportedly getting restless. Some of them are complaining that their 14 day cruise has been delayed and they have missed ports of call in Germany and Poland.

The crew and guests have not been told anything specific about what the problem is, only that the ship is "waiting for a part to arrive." The ship will remain in Tallinn until at least August 4th, although the passengers have reportedly been told that they can get off of the cruise ship and end their cruise vacation.  I have not been told what type of financial restitution has been offered, if any, by the cruise line.

The Viking Star is a new ship which has been in service since April of this year. It is an embarassment to sustain a major engine problem so soon. It was built at the Fincantieri shipyard. It has a capacity of 930 passengers and 600 crew.

We received a photo of the Viking Star in port in Tallinn, photographed in front of a Celebrity ship. 

August 2, 2015 Update: Cruise cancelled.  Read the comments from passengers on the cruise ship. 

Local newspapers are reporting on the cruise cancellation.  A newspaper in Estonia mentioned the incident as well as a nerwspaper in Bergens (Norway). 

 

If you have information regarding this incident, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

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Comments (22) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Kaye Barnes - August 1, 2015 6:45 PM

I have a cruise scheduled on the Star in October. Wondering if the passengers just miss the destinations on the scheduled days while the ship is waiting in port. Or. . .will the cruise pick up where it left off?

Vicki Hahn - August 1, 2015 6:46 PM

One of my clients called me at 6:30 am this morning to report they are stranded in Tallin until next Friday. Said they don't have any phone or internet access and are hoping to catch their plane back to the US on Friday.

Michael Erwin - August 2, 2015 10:54 AM

Don't know where you're getting your info...I'm sending this email from the main pool on deck 7. Yes, we're disappointed that the trip has been cut short...but we've had a chance to learn about Estonia at Viking's expense.
Just talked to a Canadian who told me he was approached by several Americans who were planning to sue Viking...for me, as an American, I am embarrassed. It's sad that we've become so litigious...

ps...Estonia has free, country wide wifi, ship's wifi is working, and the phones are fully functional.

jim D - August 2, 2015 11:17 AM

We are indeed stuck....got to 3 of the 11 ports and are now stranded...cruise cancelled....offered 50% cash back and 50% towards future cruise....very difficult to get flights from Tallinn so no word on when we get out
There is plenty of phone and internet access

Jim Walker - August 2, 2015 3:25 PM

Michael Erwin:

We are receiving emails and Facebook messages from passengers and crew on the ship.

There is a wide range of comments it seems.

I doubt that anyone files suit once they get home.

I have not seen the passenger ticket but if it is like any other ones I have seen, it fully protects the cruise line's legal interests. How the cruise line handles the PR side of things is another matter.

We certainly are not filing suit on behalf of anyone over this. We have seen lots of cruise line keep sailing on one engine and risk passengers' safety.

Katherine DeMott - August 2, 2015 3:40 PM

yup,we are not going anywhere on Viking Star. The starboard engines transformer blew. It may be a long time until this can be fixed. Thank our lucky stars we are not stranded at sea, instead we are here in a lovely port with the gracious people of Tallinn. Despite this very disappointing experience, Viking is providing many free shore excursions, and the service and meals are still top notch. My husband & I went on a 3 hr bike ride thru their lovely park, to the historical museum, and rode along the waterfront. The quality of the food and service has not suffered, and the staff seem upbeat. It's certainly difficult to get 930 passengers out of this small airport, but there are many options available on your own. Most of the passengers are experienced travelers who accept the unexpected. The ship is absolutely gorgeous, a top of the line boat. We would return in a heartbeat.

Dewi - August 2, 2015 8:11 PM

hope will normally soon, and every all passenger and crew of viking star to be patient with this condition.

Michael Gasperi - August 3, 2015 9:28 PM

I'm on the next cruise for this ship. Just got an email saying it will leave from Copenhagen on August 11 not Bergen on August 9 as planned. No longer stops in London and only one day in Paris to get back on track.

John Crisci - August 3, 2015 10:24 PM

Does anyone know if Viking is being communicative with the passengers and the public. We are scheduled to catch the ship in Bergen on Friday and it sounds like it will not be there. Also it appears that they are only offering minimal compensation that will not offset airfares for Business Class upgrades or Limos hired to get to Paris. The fact that they advertised 2 days in Paris and 2 in London could never happen on their schedule that they released only after bookings were made. We know people who have yet to be contacted that everything has changed.

Personally this is a PR nightmare for them and they should be bending over backwards to make everyone happy. I am sure they will experience PR fallout over this.

Sharon Cofer - August 4, 2015 3:44 AM

I am currently on the Viking Star in Tallinn. Last Wednesday, July 29, on the 5th night of the cruise while leaving St. Petersburg I was having dinner in one of the ship's specialty restaurants, Manfredi's, around 7:30. There was a boom, the lights flickered off and on, fire alarms sounded and fire doors closed. The waiter explained that someone accidentally pulled the fire alarm. I noticed shortly after that another cruise ship was going faster than we were and passed us like we were standing still. Although I can't confirm that the problem we are experiencing is related it definitely is a coincidence. We were notified Thursday morning by the Captain around 8:00 when we were supposed to arrive in the port of Tallinn that the ship was having a problem and we would not arrive until noon. Some of the shore excursions were cancelled as time in port would be shortened. After returning from an included walking tour of Tallinn we learned that we would remain in Tallinn

G P - August 4, 2015 11:26 AM

We just came off the earlier sailing in Stockholm on the 26th. We are lucky. The ship is very nice and the crew was fantastic. The food was amazing with special options at Manfredi's and Chef's Table. They had some limited shows in the evenings. However the ships Recreation department needs major revisit. Even the ship's recreation director acknowledged. This was so much hyped ship. The gym is too small for the 930 people on-board, the much advertised wet Spa was broken after the fifth day and never got fixed, the snow room was actually ice room (no snow falling as per their web site). Their sports deck was virtually useless. The Bacci ball court was completely banned due to the noise it created in the penthouse suites below (major design flaw that would require a redo in the dry dock as per Viking), the sports deck was shut down every day at 5:30 (as directed by HQ due to noise complaints)when most of the people returned to the ship. If you are going for more than just sitting by the pool and reading a book then this is NOT the ship or the cruise especially for 14 days with no recreational activities. And now this mishap will require major PR efforts on their part.

Jay Calman - August 4, 2015 12:42 PM

Trying to contact Viking by phone & email for refund for August 8 departure, no response. Has anyone been able to make contact?

Barbara - August 6, 2015 7:29 AM

Is anyone still going out of Kennedy Airport on Delta tomorrow(8/7)?

Anyone have any further info on what they are offering for the next cruise. How do they expect us to spend $500 shipboard credit that they are offering and 30% discount on next cruise booking.

Curtis Williams - August 8, 2015 9:11 AM

This is a beautiful ship with very good food and amenities. Disappointed that the"Snow Room" was merely a cold room with frost and the Steam Room was out of service for the entire cruise. The staff, with the exception of the clueless Customer Service people, were quite good. They did a great job! Cabins were comfortable and the heated floors in the bathroom a really nice touch.

All was wonderful until after we left Russia. Lost one of the two engines and spent several days in Tallinn, Estonia. That was not bad, everyone understood that things can break down. At least we were in port and not drifting powerless at sea. But then after a couple of days, Viking really treated about half of us like dirt. Half of the ship was flown on charter aircraft to Bergen where they are evidently being wined, dined and entertained by Viking. Since we had booked the post cruise rail journey to Oslo, we had asked to go to Bergen.

Instead, we were kicked off the ship on short notice and flown home from Tallinn via Air Baltic on a small regional jet to Paris. Four of the ten or so couples were not given food or drink because Viking forgot to tell the airline that we were all on Air France flights to the USA. The flight attendant call her HQ, but came back with a negative.

They split up a group of four couples who were traveling together. Two couples were on the flight with us, one couple went to Bergen and the others flew somewhere else. These people had marked their paperwork requesting to stay together as one women was in a wheelchair and need lots of care. Another couple was told after getting to the airport, on two different days, that they had no tickets! The second day they had no place to go as the ship was shut down. They asked about hotel arrangements, but the Viking people there was clueless. Four Viking reps got us on the bus and to the ticket counter at the airport. That was it; they could not answer any questions for us.

Viking "Customer Service" and "Travel Specialist" are the worst that I've ever seen. We have yet to be contacted by a Viking representative regarding reimbursements. I'm not sure if they are all completely inept or just don't care. The right hand does not seem to know what the left hand is doing. When we were told something it was almost always the opposite of what we had just been told!

The ship visited slightly more than a third of the scheduled ports; only four out of eleven! We are still waiting to hear from Viking regarding a refund for the cruise and expenses incurred during the trip home.


Chad Hynes - August 9, 2015 6:55 AM

We just returned from our trip on the Viking Star. We had looked forward to this trip for several years. It was to be a reunion of a group of 12 our wedding anniversary.

Viking does many things well but is going through a learning curve on the Ocean program. My first night I had a minor issue in the restaurant, A simple I am sorry you were upset would have settled it. I talked to a supervisor when I noticed the policy was not enforced consistently. The supervisor was very abrupt with me and and I then became inwardly irritated. PR 101 is to say that you are sorry that this policy is upsetting regardless of right or wrong.

We were pretty much on schedule until we left St. Petersburg on day four. We spent 4-5 days in Tallin without motoring power. At least the ship generators were working so we had electrical power on the ship.

Viking was not geared up to handle an interruption of this magnitude. The staff did work very hard to try and get a handle on this situation.

The officers on the other hand went into hiding. Other than the restaurant were they were enjoying a festive dinner, they were gone from site. Being front and center is (once again) PR 101. Passengers were not allowed to approach then officers table.

I needed upgraded seats for air travel due to my height and a recent knee issue. Viking could not guarantee that. Because we booked our own airfare and hotel space in Bergen was limited, we were in a Bergen lottery and may need to be sent home. The passengers that used Viking to arrange their airfares were giving priority for the lottery.

Going home was not an option for me. Vacations are hard to arrange and we had over 5000.00 of airfare and other expenses on top of the cruise cost. I was going to stay somewhere in Europe for the last week and still planned to fly home on our scheduled Amsterdam flight on August 8.

That night we were awakened at 1AM by a call to pack and were leaving for Bergen at 6 AM.

We left in the night. Our travels including 3 connecting flights. At that point we were glad to be going somewhere. We were told a representative would meet us at the Bergen airport with hotel information. Upon arrival, we had no greeters and did not know where to go.

After several hours we were finally able to contact the ship and told where our hotel reservation was. We finally checked in later that day and went to sleep.

The next day we returned to the airport to find out the plan. Our hotel front desk told us 122 cruisers were coming from the ship to our hotel. The masses arrived with a host of greeters. They were flown in direct, with lunch, and had a full modified agenda. We joined the group. Our trip turned into a bus excursion trip at that point. That was not quite the sailing excursion in Norway we had looked forward to.

On a side note, I came down with Bronchitis. I had seen the ships doctor and was given some medications that helped. I was to see the doctor the day we exited the ship and tried to make contact with them for a refill. The Viking staff on sight was unable to assist with this. The rest of our trip became trying to find a refill prescription. I limped through with over the counter remedies but could not shake the cough which was getting worse daily.

The fellow passengers, Bergen residents and other tourists all tried to offer cough drops. My deep constant cough most have been annoying to them.

Once in Bergen, our group of 12 became a group of 4. One couple in our group was sent home (literally kicking and screaming because their #1 reason for the trip was Norway).

The others in our group were housed at various locations around Bergen and our paths did not cross. We finally linked up as a group the last afternoon during free time in Bergen.

I can see where docking in Bergen and sailing the Fiords would have been breath taking.

Although we met new friends we had looked forward to traveling with our reunion group. Being separated from them for the last week was the most upsetting for me.

Viking has offered some credits and vouchers but after thinking about it. This trip is still our most expensive (out of pocket) European trip and the most stressful we have ever done - not to mention the time. I used up a years vacation time for this trip.

This is our 2nd Viking trip and it is the second time we have had a mechanical delay. Our first river cruise with Viking on the Rhine was delayed due to a broken prop. They did not miss a beat and we did not feel we lost out on any part of that trip.

The lack of experience with ocean program showed early on. They were not prepared to handle a disruption of this size.

Once they were somewhat caught up with the logistics, they worked to satisfy the most they could. There were many passengers that fell through the cracks. Viking has said they will look at each client case by case. A quick refund to several passengers already tells me they will be moving on and some of us will end up less equal than others.

The ship itself was magnificent but after day 4, it became less fun.

The trip is behind us now. We tried to make the most of a bad situation. Our most anticipated vacation ended up being fun but more of a bust.

Cathy Price - August 10, 2015 8:29 PM

I was on the Viking Cruise. Those who have said we were not informed must have kept a pillow over their heads when announcements were made. When they knew there was a problem, we were informed. As they went through the process of trying to fix the problem, the situation changed, but they let us know. Was it disappointing? Of course. Originally, they thought they could fix the problem, but as time went on, trying out fixes that no doubt the manufacturer was telling them to do, they realized they could not fix it without parts and tech support. I don't know what intricate details of the part being broken people thought they needed to know about.

We were given options of what we wanted to do, stay on board or go home. Some opted to leave early on, and then changed their minds. Others, no doubt, could not get the choice they wanted. I don't doubt that priority was given to those who did their air transportation with Viking rather than independently. Viking had more control over that. But some of the people whining and acting like divas about what wasn't done for them are the same people who verbally abused the people in customer service. Customer service people only knew what they needed to perform their jobs. While it's understandable that the customers were disappointed and upset that the cruise was interrupted, some of the bad behavior I saw and heard was inexcusable in anyone over the age of 3. Apparently, these people have never tried to get a flight last minute at the high point of tourist season for themselves, much less for 930 people!

While in Tallinn, I saw many of the crew, generally on the bottom deck, working hard to get things fixed. I did not see any signs of crew members hiding. I also saw the captain and several others at dinner one night, and my husband, who went over to talk with them, was in no way prevented from doing so.

Someone mentioned being awakened at 1 am to pack for a flight. While I was not on that particular flight, I knew there was one leaving in the middle of the night well before it was scheduled to leave. Several other passengers had told me about it because they were on it. We were given a paper with our flight time and the hotel we would be staying in listed on it. Important information was highlighted in yellow.

As for being "wined and dined in Bergen," we had hotel rooms to stay in and were provided with 3 meals a day. We had absolutely no choice of food for dinner, unless one was allergic to what was being served, take it or leave it. We were allowed two glasses of a beverage at dinner. I would hardly call that being wined and dined. Our needs were being met. I can't really complain, given the situation.

The tours in Bergen were beyond what my husband and I had signed up for, as were the extra ones offered in Tallinn. I think whoever got those together did an outstanding job. Yes, one that we had signed up for wasn't available, but we really expected that we'd be on our own for the 3 days in Bergen, given the circumstances, so having a tour each day was a plus.

My experience of the crew was that I was treated respectfully and courteously whenever I came into contact with any of them.

I didn't see many of the shows on the ship. I'm not really into that facet of cruising. If I wanted to see shows, I'd vacation in Las Vegas. My interest was in the excursions.

As for reimbursement, the passengers were given papers stating that we would be reimbursed 50% in cash and 50% in credit for a future cruise. I'm sure some people won't be satisfied with that, especially those who were sent home who wanted to stay. One person told me the night before we left Bergen that she had already received the cash reimbursement; she had checked her bank account that morning. (To date, I have not, but I didn't expect to receive it yet.)

If anyone should be blamed for what happened, it is the company that manufactures the parts that failed, or the ship builders. It is inexcusable that a brand new ship should break down. That is not the fault of the captain, it is the fault of the manufacturers. But as with cars or other machinery, sometimes these things happen, and the more technology involved, the more difficult it is to fix.

Debbie Friesen - August 11, 2015 9:23 PM

Just want to echo what Cathy Price has said. I think that Viking did the best they could under the circumstances and the compensation being provided is very fair. Of course there were hiccups and individual circumstances that made the situation more difficult for some people - I hope that Viking will be able to do something to make up for that. We were lucky that everything went smoothly for us and our fun was not diminished at all - other than having to listen to some of the griping. Our credit card has already been credited with 50% of the cost of the cruise, plus 100% of the optional excursion we missed in Bergen and we expect to hear soon regarding the 50% discount on a future cruise. The choices we had were very clear, you could stay or leave and as I understand it the compensation is the same whatever choice you made. By choosing to stay, we essentially got a free trip, not the trip we were expecting, but I was quite happy to have more time to get to know Tallinn, the wilderness of Estonia and Bergen, the unexpected makes for more of an adventure.

Kate - August 11, 2015 10:46 PM

I started cruising at the age of 10. Fifty two years later I am still cruising. Viking Cruises must compensate these passengers. I am appalled by the experiences these passengers are relating.

I also wonder, did these passengers have trip insurance? If they did, are the insurance companies compensating them? For the last decade, I have always purchased trip insurance. Although pricey, sometimes adding $2000 to a selected cruise, I feel it is necessary.

I look forward to any input my query receives.

Rory Walck - August 12, 2015 1:48 AM

Viking is having trouble on its Elbe River cruises, as well, due to low water level in the river. As others have noted, the crew is doing a very good job of taking care of passengers, but the customer relations dept has been useless. We asked to be canceled, with credit towards a future trip,but were told that a $1000 future credit is all Viking will do. So we are paying nearly $10,000 for a week on a bus.

Elie Rivolier - September 2, 2015 12:49 PM

After some serious thought and discussion with my wife I called Viking customer service because I wanted to modify the compensation offered by them for the problems experienced on the Bergen to Barcelona cruise. Thirty percent off a future cruise locks me in to them and I'm not sure I want to patronize them again given their lack of communication before, during and after the cruise and the loss of two ports of call that were important to me. I was told they'd "take it under consideration" I then asked to be escalated to the next level. The "customer service" rep refused saying that he was given leeway to address my problem and he would respond in 5-7 days. I then managed to get the name of his boss (Stephanie Maldanodo) and I called the corporate office. (818-227-1234). The operator who answered told me he would put me through to her voicemail but after five minutes on hold, the same rep I'd spoken to earlier came on and told me I couldn't speak with her. I find this insulting. As I said above, there has been very poor communication from Viking before and throughout the trip. (My travel agent had to rely on an "inside guy" at Viking for information before the trip on the engine problem plaguing the ship. An "inside guy!!??") When the captain spoke to us at the beginning of the cruise, there was no explanation as to the problems and their resolution. Apparently their management is insular. When there is poor and sporadic communication as there has been since before the cruise, it does not inspire confidence. Hence my reluctance to travel with them again.
As others have said, the ship was great and the staff courteous and attentive. I'm sure there are other cruise lines with similar positive attributes and a more available and communicative senior management.

Lillian - September 6, 2015 8:50 PM

We were on the Viking Star when it broke down in Tallinn Estonia. We were booked to sail for 42 days...from Stockholm to Bergen to Barcelona and sis embarking in Venice. Needless to say, we were disappointed having planned this cruise over two years ago. Some of
The complaints stated above are totally untrue. There was NEVER a loss of Internet or communication. The crew did their best to accommodate the passengers. Everyone was given a choice of returning home or continuing on to Bergen, all expenses...flight, hotel, food and tours paid for by Viking. When we opted to return home, Viking charted a plane for us and 80 additional passengers to fly to JFK and from there, to our home airports. Within a few days of arriving home, our AMEX CARD was credited 50% of our total fare, including unused tours. We were charged an additional $320 for our baggage on the flight Viking booked for us on Jet Blue. When we faxed our receipts to them, a check was sent to us within a week.
We also received a credit of 50% of our paid fare for a future cruise. That was more than we had expected. The icing on the cake was when Viking informed us that we would be refunded an additional 15% because we did not take advantage of their extended offer to spend time in Bergen. By the way, we already booked our next cruise on The Viking Sea.
We were treated with respect and every one of our concerns was met. The crew was wonderful. The ship itself is beautiful, just the right size. Food and service were superb. The cabins and storage space were more than adequate. It's unfortunate that there was a problem but it was unforeseen and as far as we are concerned, Viking faced it head on.

Anos - August 11, 2016 5:53 PM

Viking Sea broken down in Malta today August 11th. We were due to sail at 6pm but we are now waiting on a technician who will not arrive until 0200hrs. We are due to sail to Athens and fly back from there this is causing major issues already as flights to the US will be missed and we don't know when we will leave and when we are due to arrive. The problem is the Starboard propulsion sounds similar to the Star issue.

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