Delivering Reliability: Viking World Cruise

Viking Cruises, a household name in luxury river cruising, made a splash in the ocean cruise market in 2015 with the launch of the acclaimed Viking Star. After winning multiple awards, including #1 Ocean Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure readers, Viking announced its inaugural world cruise. Beginning with its embarkation today in Miami, this 141 day voyage aboard Viking Sun will visit 35 countries on five continents en route to its final destination of London.

As a convenience to passengers, Viking partnered with Luggage Forward to ship luggage directly to Viking Sun in Port Miami. In all, 510 suitcases were scheduled to be collected from the homes of passengers and delivered on board the ship in Miami on December 15th with no margin for error, as the ship would be heading directly to Cuba.

Having pioneered the process of worldwide doorstep to destination luggage shipping for more than a decade, today Luggage Forward provides travelers with the world’s only fully online luggage shipping platform to and from cruises. Shipments scheduled through this platform are made routine thanks to an advanced booking and shipment routing algorithm. Nonetheless, the timing of the Viking World Cruise presented some unique logistical challenges.

First, these shipments would be taking place during the peak holiday shipping season. This is a time when carriers are at or above full capacity, with UPS and FedEx alone shipping more than 1.1 billion packages. Second, with luggage being picked up from 38 states and multiple countries, there was a high probability of winter weather delaying a shipment..

As it turned out, both volume and weather proved to be even worse than predicted. A record Cyber Monday had shippers struggling to manage volumes with UPS only delivering 89% of express packages on time during this period, according to ShipMatrix. As the viking World Cruise bags made their way to sunny Miami for embarkation, an unprecedented winter storm dumped up to 10 inches of snow in places unaccustomed to these conditions like Texas and Georgia.

In the face of these obstacles, Luggage Forward’s technology and people worked away behind the scenes to anticipate and overcome any irregularities. If things do go wrong, unique countermeasures are deployed, including spending up to $1000 per bag (or more) to get it delivered on time. When all else fails, every Luggage Forward shipment is backed by our exclusive on-time guarantee, which provides a full refund plus up to $500 in expense reimbursement for any late bag.

That, however, would not be necessary. As the passengers began arriving at Port Miami, Luggage Forward was completing the delivery of all 510 bags, where they would be waiting in each stateroom for their trip around the world.

So, how does Luggage Forward engineer such reliability?

  • Logistics -The key to delivering on time comes down to how well each individual aspect of the shipping process is executed. In order to maximize the odds of success, Luggage Forward employs a multi-carrier network approach. No single carrier’s network, which could experience disruptions or have or geographic weaknesses, can provide the same level of reliability as our multi-carrier network. We have established relationships with all the major carriers, including DHL, FedEx, and UPS, as well as hundreds of smaller, regional and local providers. All are vetted, ranked and integrated into Luggage Forward’s proprietary technology platform. This reduces work on both ends and it reduces errors: no phone calls, no faxes, no emails.

  • Data – Having acquired seven luggage shipping brands, LF has an unprecedented amount of data, dating back to 1997. We use this data to make better shipping decisions. Luggage Forward maintains its industry-only on-time guarantee throughout the entire year, including the peak holiday shipping season. We need to make the smartest choice every time. Because Luggage Forward has volume pricing agreements with all of our carriers, service and speed are the two factors that drive our choice of carrier.

  • Technology – The vast amount of shipping data and sheer number of real-time decisions that we make on a daily basis require leading edge technology. This is where Luggage Forward shines. Our rules-based platform uses data and machine learning algorithms to choose the best shipper and service to ensure that every bag arrives by our guaranteed delivery date.

  • Knowledge – Even the best technology has its limits when dealing with outlier or edge-case shipping exceptions. As these anomalies are identified by our algorithms, Luggage Forward’s team, based in North America and Europe, leaps into action in dealing with complex issues. These issues are triaged and resolved, usually with no impact to the traveler.

  • Communication – Many potential issues are simply avoided by clear, concise up-front communication. Luggage Forward has pioneered a process that is easy to understand, easy to use, and ultimately reliable. Innovations such as point-and-click bag categories, online ship-to-cruise booking, and electronic Customs documents make shipping luggage with Luggage Forward the best in the industry, bar none.

Luggage Forward brings these strengths to bear for each and every shipment we send to each of the 214 countries and territories we service. We take great pride in the trust that our clients place in us to help them vacation better, and we continuously work to improve our model and our service.

Bon voyage, Viking Sun!

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