Viking cruises

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VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
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Can you provide more information?
  • Was this indeed Viking (you posted it in the NCL forum)?
  • What was the itinerary?
  • When did you purchase?
  • When did you cancel (or attempt to)?
  • Who offered the credit?
Answers to these would be helpful . . .
 
Mar 9, 2019
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Hi Neil and Chris. This is the last email I sent to Viking. It is in fact Viking...my apologies for posting in the wrong spot. I think this will explain everything. If you need more information, let me know. Thanks so much, Linda
Dear Joost Ouendag,​
After communicating with with several people at Viking, it is clear I have not yet spoken to the correct person. My last contact was with Andre Jacobs, and after sharing my experience, he offered an unsatisfactory settlement of 25% of the upfront cost of the trip. Read below to see why that is insufficient.​
I’m sure you are able to see the itinerary, so I will not bore you with the details other than a few exemplar, specific issues.​
I was on the pre-trip in Budapest when I received the first email indicating that the trip would not go as planned. (Had Viking simply told me the truth in advance, I would have skipped the trip altogether, but alas, I was not given that information.) I then met George, the "Cruise Director." We talked about the email and he was very quick to say the trip should never take place. I asked if we should just stay in Budapest. His response was that he had no say in that decision, that he had no power, and that we should contact “Corporate." I made several attempts to contact "corporate," but got no response at all. I’m sure you know there is no “Corporate” to talk to.​
Our first evening we arrived in Komarno, an hour and half away from Budapest by bus. There was no one to greet us outside the ship. The gangway was broken and steep and difficult to maneuver with a cane and carry-on luggage. When we got inside I was one of the last to come in and was pointed to my room. No one escorted me. My suitcases were thrown in my cabin. I could not pick them up, but then again, there was no sense in unpacking anyway since the entire trip was living out of a suitcase.​
We travelled 150 miles to Vienna. We missed several shore excursions because we could not get to a destination in a timely fashion. One of the main reasons for going on a River Cruise is to be able to explore.​
We arrived in Vienna, stopping at rest areas where we had to pay for toilets. Really? Viking did not even pay for the toilet charge. We were taken to the hotel at the airport, an hour away from the center of town. We were told that it was a four star spectacular hotel. It was a dump. The buffet food at the one, overwhelmed restaurant was cold and tasteless. There was supposed to be a shuttle, but the hotel knew nothing about it. The hotel tried to get someone at "corporate" via email and phone, but of course, they received no response. So, we ended up spending two nights in the hotel and never even got to see Vienna. When we checked out of the hotel, we were told we had to bring our luggage to the lobby because there was not enough personnel.​
We travelled 175 miles to Passau in order to eat in a restaurant that was 1/2 mile from the bus. Keeping up with the group was difficult for me, as I walk with a cane. We then travelled another 50 miles to board a sister ship. We were supposed to get to Nuremberg the next morning. Apparently someone inexperienced was steering the ship and forgot to lower the steering pole. We wound up docking in what looked like someone’s back yard. We were about 2 hours from Nuremberg.​
One of the highlights of this trip for me was to be the art works tour in Nuremberg. Viking cancelled that tour.​
There were about 15 or 20 people taking a 6am flight the next day. Because of where the ship docked, we had to leave between 2:30-2:45am. When I asked George ( the only person to talk to on the ship) if we could take our luggage to Nuremberg and find a hotel, he said it was impossible. Consistent with the total lack of coordination and planning, the bus driver showed up at 3:35am. Instead of getting to the gate on time, the plane was boarding as we reached the gate. The END to a perfect trip.​
Viking was totally aware of the conditions on the river and totally aware of its lack of any contingency plan. But instead of cancelling or changing the date of departure, Viking put us in an unsafe and miserable environment. We were assured we would follow the itinerary as closely as possible and be treated as five star guests. That was a lie.​
I picked a River Cruise for the ease and access to the towns and sites. I knew I would have the option of staying on the ship if I wasn’t feeling up to touring. That was a lie.​
When I arrived home it took me several weeks of physical therapy and rest to get back to being able to get around. Offering me a credit towards another trip is laughable and quite frankly disgusting. I not only don’t have to prove my inability to travel, I should not have to spend my time and energy to receive a full refund. There should be no question as to what the right thing is.​
I’d appreciate a prompt and appropriate response.​
Linda Coveler​
 

Neil Maley

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Unfortunately, Vikings cruise terms you agree to state the change the itinerary if needed and due to low water levels, several of their cruises have become bus trips because they do not build their ships properly with low draughts to be able to navigate low water levels.

If you check our cruise forums you will see MANY complaints about Viking about the exact same problem.

You probably won’t get a refund at all because it still cost them money for all the things they did to get you where you went.

You chose the wrong cruise line - there are many others that don’t have the problems to the extent of Viking.

I recommend you read the other posts so you can see that this is not unusual for Viking and see most are not sure successful in getting anything at all back. Their contract covers changes like this.
 
Mar 9, 2019
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I understand they are not responsible for the lack of water on the river. They promised us a 4 star bus trip and we stayed in a dump. They are offering a full credit but I am unable to travel and they have offered me $1000 instead. I feel that under the circumstances I should get more compensation. The fact is I have proven I cannot travel. If they had been honest up front, I would have stayed in Budapest. I do believe I have a legitimate claim.
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
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the United States
These are my thoughts . . .

Conditions of carriage for cruise lines and airlines can sometimes be difficult to locate. Viking's is in their Passenger Ticket Contract. In paragraph 8.0 it states in part:

If the performance of the proposed voyage is hindered or prevented (or in the opinion of the Carrier or Master, is likely to be hindered or prevented) by . . . we may deviate from the scheduled cruise tour by omitting, adding or changing the dates for any port or destination, and may provide alternate transportation to some or all of the ports and destinations . . .

This, of course, is a general, catch-all warning but it is available for viewing.

All cruise lines have a disclaimer that states, in effect, "if there are circumstances beyond our control, we reserve the right to alter the itinerary".

My own experience, when coupled with the exposure I have in this forum to cruise issues, informs me that river cruises are much more susceptive to changing water levels than ocean cruises. Thus the risk is higher. In the case of Viking, their ships are also larger which adds to the challenge.

For upcoming cruises, Viking also provides information about Updates on Current Sailings.

To your specific issues, which are:
  • First notification was during Pre-Trip in Budapest. No opportunity to cancel.
  • Cruise director states that "The trip should never take place".
  • No one to greet passengers at first stop in Komanaro:

    The gangway was broken and steep and difficult to maneuver with a cane and carry-on luggage.​
    I was was pointed to my room. No one escorted me.​
    My suitcases were "thrown in my cabin".​

  • At Vienna, we:

    Missed several shore excursions because we could not get there in a timely fashion​
    Were forced to stop at rest areas where we had to pay for toilets.​
    Were taken to the hotel at the airport, an hour away from the center of town. We were told that it was a four star spectacular hotel, but it was very run down. The buffet food at the one, overwhelmed restaurant was cold and tasteless. There was supposed to be a shuttle, but the hotel knew nothing about it.​
    We spent two nights in the hotel and never even got to see Vienna. When we checked out, we were told we had to bring our luggage to the lobby because there was not enough personnel.​

  • Next we arrived at Passau, where we were required to eat in a restaurant that was 1/2 mile from the bus. Keeping up with the group was difficult for me, as I walk with a cane.
  • We then traveled another 50 miles to board a sister ship headed for Nuremberg. Apparently someone inexperienced was steering the ship and forgot to lower the steering pole and the ship had to dock two hours from Nuremberg.

    One of the highlights of this trip for me was to be the art works tour in Nuremberg. Viking cancelled that tour.​
  • Because of where the ship docked, we had to leave between 2:30-2:45am the next day for our return flights.

    The bus driver showed up at 3:35am. Instead of getting to the gate on time, the plane was boarding as we reached the gate.

You feel that they knew well-ahead of the email you first received. That may be true, but I think it is unknowable. As to your experience, the bus exchanges are typical for Viking and are part of their disclaimer.

When you booked this knowing that you are handicapped physically, did you inform Viking that you required assistance? Some of your experience was affected by your mobility issues.

The remainder are not representative of good service in my opinion. Given that they offered a full credit toward a future cruise, you could appeal for a full refund instead.

You can reach out to Viking using the Company Contacts link at the top of this page. . Please read this first: . How to Present Your Case


"The sweet taste of criticism disappears quickly when exposed to the foul odor of rejection"​
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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I have to tell you if they offered a full credit for another cruise - that is extraordinary. That’s not usually done by Viking.

Did you use a travel agent? If you have any type of mobility issues, a river cruise is the last type of cruise you should take. As unpleasant as this was, if you did have a normal cruise you might have had an issue in Port because ships tie up together in port and you have to actually cross over from ship to ship over the top decks to get on and off the ship.

We have company contacts on top of our pages. It won’t hurt you to appeal to the Executives and ask to have the credit turned back to cash. If you are unable to walk much, you should provide a doctors lettet stating that as it could make a difference. You have nothing to lose by giving it a try and lately we have been seeing a kinder and gentler Viking so give it a try.

Shorten your letter using the tips VoR gave above. Do not write to all the executive at once- start at the lowest executive and write once a week. Be nice- tell them you greatly appreciate the credit but your age and physical condition prevent you from traveling on a cruise again.

This is our information on how to write effectively:

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/resolving-consumer-complaints-and-developing-a-paper-trail.8903/

Let us know how you make out.
 
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Sep 27, 2017
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Does any entity do studies on these type of issues? Like, I would love to see what % of Viking River Cruises actually complete over 90% of the original itinerary, 75%, and 50% or less.

Also, at what point does governing body step in and do something? I know Viking has all the legaleze in the world to cover themselves, but let's say (and these are arbitrary #'s I'm making up in my head) only 60% of their cruises complete 90% of the scheduled plan, then somebody's got to pull the alarm.

Viking has gotten away for far too long with the legal nonsense. They've made an art about not delivering on their services. I might as well put up a website offering rocket trips to Mars for 100,000k/person. I'll have a beautiful full-color brochure as well as a 50-page contract to sign, including one line in 6-pt type (grey ink, of course) hidden somewhere in the middle of the document saying that 'for any reason' the destination and mode of transportation can be changed... and then the day of, swap a bus trip to McDonald's instead of a rocket ride. No refunds.

>>>>

P.S. -- Putting your guests on a bus and then NOT covering for the pay toilet stop? Really?
 
Feb 21, 2018
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RiRoom, I would imagine that as long as the disclaimers are out there and people continue to click "I agree", there's nothing going to stop it.

I've never done a river cruise but based on the way I am bombarded with literature from them through the mail, I originally believed they were pretty much the only game in town. There may be others who get that impression as well. It's only through reading up at sites like Cruise Critic and here that I've learned there are more vendors for these trips who may be able to do it much better than Viking.

As with any purchase large or small, research and attention to the details can make a big difference.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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RiRoom, I would imagine that as long as the disclaimers are out there and people continue to click "I agree", there's nothing going to stop it.

I've never done a river cruise but based on the way I am bombarded with literature from them through the mail, I originally believed they were pretty much the only game in town. There may be others who get that impression as well. It's only through reading up at sites like Cruise Critic and here that I've learned there are more vendors for these trips who may be able to do it much better than Viking.

As with any purchase large or small, research and attention to the details can make a big difference.
There are some GREAT river cruise providers out there. Viking is not one of them. But they are the only one that advertises heavily on network and cable TV so people see the beautiful pictures of ships cruising merrily along the river and do not check with a knowledgeable travel agent and book themselves, only to find out that they have a bus tour.

That said, as Neil points out, even if the OP's Viking cruise had gone as planned it was not a good choice for someone with mobility issues. We did a 7 day Danube cruise with another operator in Oct 2018 that met every port call on schedule (by ship, not bus). No destinations were missed or delayed. There was a lot of walking, including exiting the ship over other ships rafted together at the dock because of limited space for the 440+ ft longships. We had several people on board with mobility issues; they were aware of the demands of the tour and simply limited what they did. They enjoyed the experience and took advantage of what they could do.

At the end of the tour, we heard from many people from Viking cruise ships that their tours were not able to navigate the Danube, and were bussed from ship to ship on navigable portions of the river.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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RiRoom, I would imagine that as long as the disclaimers are out there and people continue to click "I agree", there's nothing going to stop it.

I've never done a river cruise but based on the way I am bombarded with literature from them through the mail, I originally believed they were pretty much the only game in town. There may be others who get that impression as well. It's only through reading up at sites like Cruise Critic and here that I've learned there are more vendors for these trips who may be able to do it much better than Viking.

As with any purchase large or small, research and attention to the details can make a big difference.
That is very true. And what most people don’t know is that the ships really need to be built for river cruises. Companies like AMA build their ships with lower draughts so they can navigate low river levels. Many have small pools which can be emptied to lessen the weight when river levels are low. Some have retractable bridges that can be lowered to get under bridges when river levels are high. And the experience of the Captains is also important- some are quite experienced in navigating low water conditions and can get ships through low water without damaging them.

When we did our last river cruise, there was low water and quite a few times we felt the ship hit bottom. We also never saw the Captain. Instead of mingling with passengers he was in the bridge ensuring safe passage for the ship. We did see at least 2 Viking ships offloading luggage as we sailed as well. So those were ships that couldn’t get through the water but we did.

Not to be self serving but this is where a travel agent really comes in handy because they should know all of this and can help a customer find the cruise line that is best suited to their needs. I pity a client who uses a wheelchair and books a river cruise with no guidance only to find they can’t get off the ship in port because they have to cross over the tops of three ships tied up together to get off.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
There are some GREAT river cruise providers out there. Viking is not one of them. But they are the only one that advertises heavily on network and cable TV so people see the beautiful pictures of ships cruising merrily along the river and do not check with a knowledgeable travel agent and book themselves, only to find out that they have a bus tour.

That said, as Neil points out, even if the OP's Viking cruise had gone as planned it was not a good choice for someone with mobility issues. We did a 7 day Danube cruise with another operator in Oct 2018 that met every port call on schedule (by ship, not bus). No destinations were missed or delayed. There was a lot of walking, including exiting the ship over other ships rafted together at the dock because of limited space for the 440+ ft longships. We had several people on board with mobility issues; they were aware of the demands of the tour and simply limited what they did. They enjoyed the experience and took advantage of what they could do.

At the end of the tour, we heard from many people from Viking cruise ships that their tours were not able to navigate the Danube, and were bussed from ship to ship on navigable portions of the river.
Brilliant minds think alike. We both have had the exact same experience. But you have to hand it to
Viking because they took advantage of spending millions on advertising and its paid off. I wish some other lines would advertise as well to let the public know they are our there for the do it yourselfer.
 
Jan 30, 2018
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We have never taken a European river cruise and mostly for health reasons probably never will. My sister and brother and their spouses took a Viking cruise together: sister loved it and has taken more, brother hated it and will not travel with Viking again (although it was not a water level issue, it was an issue with their cabin that was not remedied).

Anyway, somehow we get MANY pieces of advertising from Viking in the mail. They could save their money!
 

Neil Maley

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There are many Viking cruisers who are happy with the company but many have nothing to compare it to. There are cruise lines they don’t add on extras, like tips, shore excursions and booze. Many offer beer and wine at dinner. There is one rust includes not beer and wine so those that don’t drink aren’t subsidizing those that do but they have an add on for beer and wine for $149 for a week which is extremely reasonable and a great value.

Viking might be the least expensive in some cases but when you add on all the extras they charge for that others don’t, a higher quality line can be a better value. Our experience has been if we can talk a Viking cruiser into another line they will continue to book the other line.

One thing I am happy to see is that they seem to be softening a little as far as trying to please customers when something like Linda’s Cruise happens. The fact they gave her a full credit is amazing. I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like that here.

They also handled the mishap of the Viking Sky as well as they could have this last weekend.
 
Last edited:
Mar 15, 2018
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Lots of wise comments in here.

Agree that Viking is probably the WORST of the European river cruise lines to take, for all of the reasons described in your email. There are river cruise companies that do not have their well-known history of converting into low-rent bus trips due to low water levels. I did a Uniworld cruise a couple years ago that was spectacular. AMA is also a fabulous line.

All that being said, even the best river cruises are truly not appropriate for those with mobility issues. The excursions are mostly walking tours which often go at a fast clip. Getting around the ships can be a challenge - elevators are scarce. And they often have to tie up next to other ships at some point, so you are required to walk through other ships, around obstacles, up and down staircases, to embark/debark. There is little if anything to do on the ship itself if you choose to remain onboard during excursions.

If you worked with a travel agent, you should have been strongly advised NOT to take this cruise. I would not give that TA any more of your business.

Please take the advice to shorten your email and cut out the extraneous parts, and follow the advice and guidelines in the link Neil posted.

If you still interested in a cruise vacation, I would encourage you to consider an ocean cruise, where you will not be at risk of being dumped off the ship onto a bus, and where there is more to do on the ship itself.

Best of luck.
 

smd

Mar 14, 2018
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Viking has gotten away for far too long with the legal nonsense. They've made an art about not delivering on their services. I might as well put up a website offering rocket trips to Mars for 100,000k/person. I'll have a beautiful full-color brochure as well as a 50-page contract to sign, including one line in 6-pt type (grey ink, of course) hidden somewhere in the middle of the document saying that 'for any reason' the destination and mode of transportation can be changed... and then the day of, swap a bus trip to McDonald's instead of a rocket ride. No refunds.
I agree and am doubtful the language gives them as much protection as we seem to think.

A quick Google search shows that they have been sued multiple times over these issues (usually by attorneys who were on the cruise). None of the cases ever seems to make it to court, which implies to me that they are confidentially settling the cases before they reach trial.

Chris wrote an article about this a few years back: https://www.elliott.org/case-dismissed-2/secretive-viking-cruises-strikes-dont-give-damn/