Local Travelers Get an Unexpected (Air) Lift

Local Travelers Get an Unexpected (Air) Lift

Rochester couple posing in front of a Viking Cruise they were later air lifted from
Rochester Natives are Rescued from a Viking Cruise with the Help of AAA
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Elizabeth Carey

When Rochester area natives Bill and Lynda Fleming (pictured left) booked a Viking cruise with AAA Western and Central New York, little did they know that they would end up being dramatically rescued from the ship via airlift!

The Flemings are regular travelers and enjoy booking trips with Maureen Talavera, a AAA travel consultant in Pittsford. They were traveling on the Viking Sky in March when the ship became stranded off Norway and was forced to evacuate in heavy seas. “The seas were pounding down,” Bill explains. “We were airlifted off the ship on the second-to-last airlift.”

The couple was taken to an area hotel, and that’s when communication got complicated.

“I got a call and a knock on the door at 1 a.m. on Sunday morning saying we had to be on a bus at 5:15 for a flight,” Bill says. “It was the first night we’d had the opportunity to get some sleep and the lack of details were confusing, so I texted Maureen that we needed help.”

“They were in a hotel and it was very chaotic and they weren’t getting information – it was bits and pieces,” Maureen explains. “They wanted to get back to London – that’s where the ship was supposed to go and they wanted to get to their business-class seats.”

After many emails, texts and phone calls, Maureen was able to get the Flemings booked on a flight from Norway to London.

“She went and booked us a beautiful hotel room in London,” explains Lynda. “She did all of that for us. We started using her as our primary communication vehicle.”

After a restful stay, the Flemings were able to fly home as planned with quite a harrowing story to tell. “It’s sort of a joke that a free airlift wasn’t in the plan,” Bill jokes.

“We’re all of a sudden very interesting people,” Lynda adds. “What I tell most of my friends now is that I didn’t have this on my bucket list – being airlifted off a cruise ship – add it to the bucket list and then check it off!”

The Flemings say Viking went above and beyond from a reimbursement standpoint and this incident won’t stop them from traveling on Viking again.

But one thing is certain, when the Flemings do travel, it will be with Maureen by their side. “She’s right there with us every step of the way – she’s always gracious and patient with us,” Bill says. “We refer Maureen every chance we get!”

As for Maureen’s take on this: “I’m happy that I was there, but I didn’t save the day,” she says modestly. “It was just a matter of working on it and trying to get the communication correct.”

Why Buy Travel Insurance?

It’s AAA Western and Central New York’s motto to be there for travelers before, during and after their trips.

AAA travel consultants recommend that travelers protect their investment and be prepared for the unexpected by buying travel insurance to make the most of their vacation.

Travel insurance can help protect you if:

  • A family member gets sick
  • Your baggage is lost
  • Your trip is delayed
  • Your passport is lost or stolen
  • You need last-minute travel arrangements
  • Weather prevents your travel

For more information on benefits and pricing of travel insurance, visit your AAA travel consultant or  


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