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Very disappointed with Viking River Cruises

Very disappointed with Viking River Cruises

Old Sep 5th, 2015, 09:36 AM
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Very disappointed with Viking River Cruises

Reservation # 2672768

We were supposed to do a river "cruise" and ended up doing a motor coach tour due to low river levels. We were not notified ahead of time even though Viking was aware of the situation. Viking was not willing to compensate appropriately.

We were scheduled on a river cruise on the River Elbe July 5 - July 13. The boat(s) did not cruise one inch the entire time. We were stuck, docked on the river with lousy views and uncomfortably motor-coached to different areas. Viking did not notify us of the problem until we were in Amsterdam and on our way. Viking knew of the river issues and should have cancelled the trip or at least notify us in a timely manner so that we could cancel. Instead, once we got there, they substituted poorly planned motor coach activities. Had I known this was going to happen I would have cancelled especially after purchasing trip insurance through Viking for over $600.

I tried to deal with Customer Relations directly, however, they were not willing to negotiate reasonable compensation. Insufficient vouchers were offered - not enough to convince this customer to try Viking Cruises again.

If Viking wanted to win their unhappy customers back they should offer reasonable compensation. This particular customer was willing to try Viking again if they had offered reasonable compensation. Viking did not seem to care whether I tried them again or not.

According to the locals we talked to, the water level had been down for over 4 weeks and it would take at least 2 weeks for it to recover, therefore, it is apparent that Viking should have known this and cancelled the trip. Apparently they cancelled the Elbe trips on their bigger boats. We were scheduled on the smaller boats recently built specifically for the Elbe which is known for lower water levels. I guess Viking has to try to pay for these new boats by taking money from the customers who were unfortunate enough to be scheduled on these boats.

I believe that Viking is not concerned with their disgruntled customers and has grown too big to take their concerns into consideration. Their customer care department is lacking and their willingness to compensate people for lousy trips is negligible.

I sent certified letters to the CEO, top executives and board members and did not hear back from any of them. As mentioned before, they just don't seem to care.

Each time I spoke to someone from Customer Relations I was told they would get back to me by a certain day and there was never any follow through. I always had to call them back to hear from them.

What was supposed to be a relaxing and leisurely vacation turned into the vacation from Hell and Viking does not seem to care.
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Old Sep 5th, 2015, 04:03 PM
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I agree that this is a pretty darn poor way to treat a customer. Any traveller should understand that there can be unavoidable changes to an itinerary, and of course the tour company makes sure its backside is covered in the fine print. Unfortunate that you did not know in advance that it was possible, perhaps even likely, that water levels could cause a problem. We have heard several similar stories here on Fodor’s, although I don’t recall any others where the ship “did not cruise an inch”

However, knowingly delaying notification to passengers that their ‘cruise’s in fact a motor coach tour is in my mind inexcusable. What you describe is not an insignificant change, but a major alteration of the product you thought you had purchased. Failing to adequately compensate passengers only adds insult to injury. Perhaps it will take a lawsuit or two to convince the cruise companies that it is in their own best interests to play fair with their paying customers.

What kind of compensation were you offered?
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Old Sep 5th, 2015, 06:46 PM
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Wow, that's disappointing, unacceptable and somewhat arrogant. Don't they understand that a cruise can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sigh.
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Old Sep 6th, 2015, 06:14 AM
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I think close to full compensation should have been given. You paid for a cruise, not a bus tour.

How many days was to cruise to be and where was it supposed to go?
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Old Oct 3rd, 2015, 05:47 AM
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We recently returned from the Viking "Elegant Elbe" river cruise, and we also did not sail. We had been watching the news for several weeks so we knew there was a real possibility that the water levels would be too low to sail. Viking offered us a full refund if we chose to cancel, or a discount on a future cruise should we wish to take the "adjusted" itinerary. We decided to go since we'd never been to that part of Europe. It was seriously the best vacation! Viking staff were excellent and everything was very well organized. We saw all the sites per the schedule, plus a few more. Unlike the OP, our ships were docked in places that were quite picturesque in Wittenberg and Dresden. There was one couple on board who said they had no knowledge of the low water levels and that they hadn't heard from Viking before they arrived in Europe. They were unhappy at first, but after a day or two, they relaxed and went with the flow (pun intended). Yes, we had to adjust our expectations somewhat, but I wouldn't hesitate to take another cruise with Viking.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2015, 06:20 PM
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One time wonder registers to kvetch about the horrible 'non cruise', hated everything, ruined their vacation. (Ad never returns BTW - so wasn't actually interested in participating on Fodors)

jranger posts the same thing happened to them and how Viking took care of them and while it was a 'different' trip then they planned, it was fun.

OK, a "they ruined our trip" sort or a lemonade out of lemons sort . . . which of these two would you rather travel w/?

I honestly don't know how I'd feel in the same situation, but I sure hope I'd react more like jranger.
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Old Oct 7th, 2015, 01:14 AM
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This while "the river was low and we got stuck on a bus" is so not a new thing, unfortunately.
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Old Nov 12th, 2015, 12:16 PM
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Thanks for sharing.
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Old Nov 12th, 2015, 12:22 PM
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TTT
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Old Nov 17th, 2015, 07:36 AM
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Just got back from the river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. Although there were many good things about the trip (food pretty good and plentiful; excellent trip manager) there were a number of things that were not.

We had two ship swaps due to low water in the rivers (Danube to Main-to Rhine). While Viking obviously can't control the rivers' water supply, they could have warned us earlier on about what was to come and given us the option of postponing our trip. It's simply not credible that they didn't know for months that ship swaps were likely. Swapping ships is no easy thing--the need to repack; to ride crowded buses for hours to the new ship; changes in expected walking tours and towns. Some elderly folks had planned on a ship-only experience but couldn't do that. There should have been compensation of some sort.

The amount and frequency of walking tours was explained ahead of time, but a lot of the walking wasn't touring interesting places--it was walking--often on very steep inclines--to *get to* the walkabouts of interesting places. For us elderly people Viking could do a better job reducing necessary walking. Three days later, my legs are still sore; I can't imagine the pain others in poorer shape than me suffered.

Don't get me wrong--much of the river cruise and walking tours were very, very good. The tour of the Nuremberg court room and the Marksburg Castle were top-notch. The small concert in Vienna was terrific...as were other parts of the trip, including meeting many great folks.

But it could have been much more memorable. We shouldn't be reflecting a few days later on how much better the trip could have been had it come off as advertised.
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Old Nov 17th, 2015, 08:51 AM
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Blue44 - what ships were you transferred to? we are supposed to leave on the Jarl from Budapest this coming Sunday. We have been monitoring sailing conditions and it appears the last few cruise from Budapest to Nuremburg have had at least 1 night in a hotel and a ship swap half way through, I assume around Passau? Any info you could provide would be appreciated since nothing has been posted on our cruise yet and no word from Viking. Thank you!
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Old Nov 17th, 2015, 09:04 AM
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jranger: Be honest--are you employed by Viking? Are you paid for writing good things about Viking? Do you have a relative working for Viking?

It is true that it's always good to make lemonade out of lemons. That doesn't change the nature of the lemon though and the sense of fairplay to make up for shortcomings.
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Old Nov 17th, 2015, 10:11 AM
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kejee28--we had no stays in Hotels.

(The sequence of cities for the Tour for the parts where swaps were made was Passau--Regensburg--Nuremberg--Bamberg--Rothensburg-- Wurzburg.)


I believe this is the sequence for the ship swaps:
We left the ship Mimir at Passau and bused to Nuremberg. From Nuremberg we were bussed to Regensburg where we boarded the ship Vili. We sailed on the Vili overnight to Bamberg. From Bamberg we were bussed to Rothenberg and then bussed againforward to Wurzburg where we boarded the ship Eistla for the remainder of the trip.
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Old Nov 17th, 2015, 11:45 AM
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An unexpected stop at Mainz was in the middle of all that. IIRC that's the place from which we made the second swap. It got confusing to be sure.
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Old Nov 17th, 2015, 01:26 PM
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Thank you Blue44. Sounds like we're in for an adventure.
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Old Dec 5th, 2015, 05:32 AM
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We just had a cruise experience morph to an expensive bus tour via Viking River Cruises. There was no advance notice even though the low water level was known for months. Customer Relations told me they only give advance notice if the nautical crew alerts Viking. UNACCEPTABLE. They refuse to change their policy, do not respond in writing to multiple requests and offer totally inadequate compensation--a 20% voucher for a future trip. That means I could spend thousands once again and not be notified if the water level was not going to allow for an uninterrupted cruise. No thank you.
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Old Feb 11th, 2016, 03:40 PM
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I just noticed Blue44's question to me back in November. Sorry I didn't respond sooner. LOL - no, I'm definitely not employed by Viking, nor do I know anyone who works there. We sincerely felt Viking did the best they could do under these circumstances. We have just booked a Rhine cruise for 2017, taking advantage of the discount we had. I think the Rhine is less likely to have low water issue levels (fingers crossed) and that we will actually sail!
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Old Feb 21st, 2016, 10:50 AM
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We had the same experience in the Provence cruise in 2014, except that it was due to high water. A cruise is a gamble and we definitely lost.
The situation was compounded when we were stuck in Avignon by some lame brained alternative bus cruises. The most appalling was a 2 hour each way excursion to Aix-en-Provence where we had one hour on the ground before being herded back on the bus. 20 minutes of that time was spent waiting in line to use a unisex Turkish toilet. That was followed by a whirlwind tour at a very brisk pace. How any travel professional could devise such a thing is beyond me.
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Old May 26th, 2016, 07:35 PM
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Joe19-What month did you take the Provence cruise? I am considering a cruise in this area and wonder if some times of the year are more likely to have problems.
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