Viking cruises

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jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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Your trip has got to be one of travelling's worst experiences, I cannot imagine the frustration and anger that resulted. Every time we book a river cruise, I'm on pins and needles worrying about the water levels. Viking has made you a good offer; if you're unable to travel again that's a real shame. One of their ocean cruises might be far more to your liking.

For our other readers, I do want to point out that Viking transports far more passengers than any of the other cruise lines, perhaps all of them combined. So naturally they're going to see the most complaints. No cruise line will give you advance notice of water level issues for two reasons: 1) the weather can change at any time and solve or cause a problem and 2) they don't want to take the financial hit of cancelling a cruise. As far as things like not being able to lift your own luggage, your cabin steward is always there to assist with problems like that. But bottom line, the over-riding issue is booking with a cruise-expert travel agent. It's so sad to read these posts, knowing that a good TA would have booked the OP on a trip that was suited to her individual needs. Just because you can book on the internet or by phone does not mean that you should.
 

Neil Maley

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I do have to point out one thing- you should not be traveling with more or heavier luggage the yku cam carry. How do you get through the airport with luggage you can’t lift or pick up? If you can’t handle your own luggage you should be traveling with a companion.
 
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Mar 28, 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​
We did a Viking River Cruise and also had issues. The cruise before ours was cancelled by Viking, due to the low water. We got a recorded call the day before we were leaving for a pretrip in Prague, saying there would be some changes due to the drought. (We had the reverse itinerary to yours). They should have given us the option of cancelling or going at a different time.
We ended up renting cars at two stops, once the bus got us close enough to walk to the town.
Also Because of the problems, we ended up only with one day in Budapest instead of three. We were really looking forward to exploring Budapest.
The cruise director really tried to accommodate everyone, but there was nothing she could do. She did give us free booze for the whole trip. That's great if you drink.
We were offered a free credit of $1000 on the next cruise. HAHA like I would ever get on another Viking Cruise. There were so many issues, that I posted everywhere I could to tell people NOT to go on Viking.
A friend just went through the same thing we did, unfortunately.
I wish I knew about this site sooner.
 
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Mel65

Mar 23, 2015
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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"
Really nice distillation of the OP's complaint!
 
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VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
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I think I can vouch for that -- I do not recall a time when the ocean water levels dropped such that boats could not cross them.
Agreed. But ocean cruises do expereince issues at some ports due to low water levels. The difference I have seen is that tour operators are often prepared with water shuttles . . .
 
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weihlac

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Jun 30, 2017
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Agreed. But ocean cruises do expereince issues at some ports due to low water levels. The difference I have seen is that tour operators are often prepared with water shuttles . . .
I think they call this tides. High and low twice a day. Ocean levels are not changing.
 
Mar 15, 2018
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Your trip has got to be one of travelling's worst experiences, I cannot imagine the frustration and anger that resulted. Every time we book a river cruise, I'm on pins and needles worrying about the water levels. Viking has made you a good offer; if you're unable to travel again that's a real shame. One of their ocean cruises might be far more to your liking.
Ohhh...good point! I forgot they also now have ocean cruise ships. I wonder if the credit they are offering would be valid on one of those? That might be a great solution...certainly, ocean vessels are appropriate vacations for people with mobility issues. You often see passengers in wheelchairs or scooters. I just returned from a South America cruise that I did with a friend who is mobility-challenged and uses a scooter, and she had a FABULOUS time! Sure, there were excursions she couldn't do, and on some days she stayed on the ship while most went into town...but the ship is chock full of things to do, and she was never bored.

If this option is available, I hope the OP considers taking it. As others have noted, it's rare for a cruise line to make such a generous offer, and I'm not sure she'll get an equivalent offer in cash money. After such an awful vacation experience, it sure would be nice to hear that she ended up getting a wonderful vacation out of it!

Agreed. But ocean cruises do expereince issues at some ports due to low water levels. The difference I have seen is that tour operators are often prepared with water shuttles . . .
Let's not sugar-coat ocean cruises - they can have their issues too. Bad weather happens, and can make cruises very uncomfortable and even result in missing ports altogether. I can't count the number of times I've read on Cruise Critic about cruises that ended up being a "cruise to nowhere", in which every single port was missed. For many people these events can spoil the whole trip for them, particularly if the main reason they were taking the cruise was to see specific ports. That's one piece of advice we frequent cruisers often offer: don't EVER take a cruise in which you HAVE to stop at a particular port. Missing ports is common, and the possibility of such is even written in the cruise contract.

While I have not been on any of Viking's ships, I've read that they are splendid indeed.

But the main difference in relation to what the OP experienced, is that even if this happens, she would not be forced to pack/unpack, spend many hours sitting in a bus, and be dumped into sub-standard accommodations. Even on a cruise-to-nowhere, you still have the ship...which many cruisers consider the primary destination anyway. Pick a ship you like, and you're almost certain to have a great vacation regardless of where (or if) it stops.
 
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Neil Maley

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We did a Viking River Cruise and also had issues. The cruise before ours was cancelled by Viking, due to the low water. We got a recorded call the day before we were leaving for a pretrip in Prague, saying there would be some changes due to the drought. (We had the reverse itinerary to yours). They should have given us the option of cancelling or going at a different time.
We ended up renting cars at two stops, once the bus got us close enough to walk to the town.
Also Because of the problems, we ended up only with one day in Budapest instead of three. We were really looking forward to exploring Budapest.
The cruise director really tried to accommodate everyone, but there was nothing she could do. She did give us free booze for the whole trip. That's great if you drink.
We were offered a free credit of $1000 on the next cruise. HAHA like I would ever get on another Viking Cruise. There were so many issues, that I posted everywhere I could to tell people NOT to go on Viking.
A friend just went through the same thing we did, unfortunately.
I wish I knew about this site sooner.
Just one question - were you aware that there are other river cruise lines besides Viking? Just curious about how effective their marketing campaign is.
 
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jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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For clarification, I did not say (or imply) that "ocean levels" are involved. Only that ocean cruises can/do experience "water level" issues in ports.
I think we all understood your message, VoR. Some people seem to revel in being picky and even snarky. Comes with ability to hide behind the internet I guess.
 
Mar 9, 2019
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I have reached out to all four names you have listed on Viking Cruises. All four emails (with different names go to the same department). When I asked for executive email they said they were the end of the line and had no other points of contact. Am I to assume you can’t do anything to help me.?
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
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For clarification then, you used the Viking contacts on this site starting approximately 3 months ago and are just now posting this thread. And each email elicited a response from the same department (person).

Do I understand that correctly?
 

Neil Maley

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It’s actually not a no brainer. No cruise line usually gives you cash back. The fact they even offered you $1,000 in cash comes as a surprise.

If you want to give them proof your health had worsened since you originally took the cruise you should get a doctors note and supply it. They may be looking at this as you were able to take the cruise with your issues, and another cruise that would not have the same problems would be physically easier for you to handle.

If you’ve appealed to the CEO and been told no, there is not much more we can do . Unfortunately every story doesn’t end the way the consumer wants it to,
 
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Mar 15, 2018
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I'm really confused right now as to what Viking is actually offering as compensation. I went back through the thread but I'm just not seeing it. Can anyone enlighten me as to what their final offer was? I'm probably just missing it somewhere.
 

VoR61

Jan 6, 2015
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I'm really confused right now as to what Viking is actually offering as compensation. I went back through the thread but I'm just not seeing it. Can anyone enlighten me as to what their final offer was? I'm probably just missing it somewhere.
It's in the original post: "credit of 100%"