It seems highly unlikely that Viking will be sailing to Crimea anytime soon, so I’m not sure why it won’t refund your vacation.
Oh wait, maybe it’s because, buried in the fine print of its terms and conditions (http://www.vikingcruises.com/terms-conditions/index.html), it specifically says it’s not liable for any security problems beyond its control, including a “civil commotion, riot, insurrection, war, government restraint, requisitioning of the vessel, political disturbance, acts or threats of terrorism, inability to secure or failure of supplies including fuel, acts of God, or other circumstances beyond our control.”
But does that mean it gets to keep your 15 percent? Again, referring to the company’s terms, if you’re canceling between 120 and 90 days before your departure, you have to pay a 15 percent penalty. Eventually, Viking canceled some of its Ukraine itineraries, but it’s not clear if it would have refunded the 15 percent after the fact, or kept it because you decided to cancel first.
This situation could have been prevented by doing a little research before booking. Political upheavals usually don’t happen without warning, and there were signs that Ukraine might be a problematic vacation choice. A check of the State Department website (www.state.gov) might have left you with some reservations.
Viking was entitled to keep your 15 percent. But let’s not get hung up on technicalities. You weren’t sailing to Odessa this summer, even if Viking imposed a 100 percent penalty. I wouldn’t have.
I contacted Viking on your behalf to see if it intended to keep your $1,739, regardless of whether it operated its Ukraine tours this summer. A representative called you, told you that your request had been routed to the wrong desk and agreed to refund the remaining 15 percent.