Viking River Cruise Disappoints

Aug 20th, 2012, 06:33 AM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 1
Hi potential Viking Cruisers.....think twice and read this - it's Aug 20/12 and if you're wondering about taking Viking, consider the following letter we sent today to Viking and which still goes unanswered. Never again will we take Viking:

Dear Ms. Maldonado,

Pursuant to instructions on our Viking ticket/contract with respect to being 100% satisfied (page 23, paragraph 3), we expressed in writing (within the 24 hour window) to our program director yesterday morning that we were not satisfied with the service. This was again brought to the attention of the Hotel Manager, in person, upon arriving on the Viking Odin yesterday. Both the program director and the hotel manager stated that they have no authority in this area and that a person of authority, as it pertains to your service contract, was unreachable – nor could they state more specifically when someone could be reachable. We were told that there were time differences affecting this and/or perhaps someone later in the week would address the matter.

Our dissatisfaction has had nothing to do with water levels but with the lack of quality of care and communication from the onset.

1. Your message was presumptuous and rude suggesting/offering a $250 “goodwill” credit of a FUTURE cruise. Any attempt to resolve this with you were treated dismissively.. And it has come to our attention from all of the passengers on the ship that we have communicated with that they feel the same. We have travelled extensively with ocean cruise lines and when unforeseen circumstances were experienced, they have immediately credited us to our shipboard account and they have been generous beyond expectations.
2. Upon arriving at the NH city hotel, it was absolute chaos.. As we waited in an endless line for a room key, we were eventually given a room with separate beds (great way to start our anniversary) overlooking a roof of weeds. Moreover, there was no wi fi, and each separate bed was unmade with a folded duvet placed over a covered mattress sheet in a Spartan outdated hotel room with a little old fashioned TV. We were told that there were no rooms available with a king bed. Moreover, as we waited in the reception for our room, there were no refreshments, cool hand cloths, letters of instructions or direction – which was disorienting and uncomfortable when jet-lagged and toting luggage.
3. The staff we eventually were able to speak with were completely overwhelmed with the situation and repeatedly apologized for low water levels while the Viking customers were more concerned with interim accommodation and having some sense of direction. Most of us were communicating that with the amount of money we have spent for a cruise, the interim accommodation and conditions were horrible and we wanted at least 3 days of credit. We were told by Viking staff that they could not make any decisions and that no one was available that could. When we asked when and where we could speak with someone in authority, no one really knew, again citing time differences, “perhaps later in the week in Austria”, or maybe the hotel manager could help us (which we discovered could not). When I approached the captain he could not converse in English, so even he was not someone we could address our concerns with.
4. The first evening at the hotel, they herded us like cattle into one room and began the apology for water levels again. Again, no one in the interim was upset about water levels but rather the quality of our conditions and having some sense of direction; and, that no one from Viking in authority was present or communicable with.
5. The program director informed us that night that we must have our bags outside our door by 7am (a very early hour when one is exhausted and jet lagged) and that we must be ready to get on a bus by 8am -8:30am and that we would be on that bus (off and on) until 5pm. They were going to bus us around Nuremberg, take us for lunch, and then for a bus ride to the ship. I asked if we could go to the ship first to get settled and the reply was no. I asked if we could keep our hotel room so that we may lock our valuables and not have to bus-ride around with personal belongings, but I was told no and to just leave them on the bus - but when I asked if they would be responsible for our personal belongings, the answer was no. So I asked if we could skip the tour and stay in the hotel until later in the day and then go direct to the ship, but I was again told no and that I must go on the tour or be left behind. Ugh!
6. After a sleepless night we got onto the steaming hot bus with little room to place our personal effects. Viking guests on our bus were dripping sweat out of the heat, anger and exhaustion. The fellow across from me was gasping for air as he reached for his puffer. The bus driver could not turn the air on because we were sitting idle. As we began our bus ride, the air conditioning still did not work.
7. We reached some stops. We and other guests got out carrying all of our carry-on luggage as we went up and down cobblestone streets eventually ending up in a restaurant in the old town of Nuremberg. The restaurant was not air conditioned and the staff were overwhelmed as they just learned the day before that we were coming – they didn’t know earlier! After a one-hour wait we were served consommé with a few noodles floating in it and then 6 greasy and tiny breakfast sausages with cabbage. We started to chat with the restaurant manager as he shared with us his frustration that it was difficult to serve a large group on such little notice. He was sweet and asked if he could make me a cappuccino.
8. As we were about to leave our table, my husband sympathized with one of the Viking staff whom were bombarded with the resentment, anger, frustration and confusion of all these guests – she broke completely down and cried. It saddened me deeply to see this young lady in distress.
9. Eventually we got back onto our steaming hot bus ride to the ship. We were told it was about 1.5 – 2 hours, depending upon traffic. There was no traffic whatsoever and we arrived in 2.5 hours.
10. Upon arriving at the ship, the pleasant part of this note is that the staff were friendly, charming and helpful. The condition and circumstances of the ship were lovely and as were advertised. However, we are on the 3rd day of our supposed cruise, we haven’t moved an inch on the water, and we are not where we are scheduled to be…..and this element is acceptable as water conditions warrant it.
So there you have it for our romantic Danube River cruise which we paid you $6500U.S. for. We want to be refunded with 3/8 of our ticket price as it is outlined that we may receive it on page 23, paragraph 3 of our service guarantee. With respect to this clause and guarantee of your contract, it has been breached already by Viking by a) not already providing our refund; and, b)no one in authority has been in touch with us within the 24 hour time-frame outlined in your stipulation.

I expect you to respond punctually to this email communication and that you refund me as outlined above without further aggravation
paul88 is offline  
Aug 20th, 2012, 09:02 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 45
Just a shout out as a "previously" happy Viking customer - we loved our cruise with them in France and were grossly disappointed in our most recent cruise on the new Idun in Holland and Belgium. The land tours were great and we enjoyed our time OFF the ship. We expected glitches with a new ship but did not expect the attitude and lack of helpfulness from the hotel manager and his crew. They dutifully recorded our room problems (sewer water in the shower every morning - no shower for 8 of our 9 days - and A/C-heat in the room for only 1 of 9 days and problems with our glass closet doors repeatedly slamming open in the middle of the night. Menus are now all handed down from corporate and we were informed by the chef (he and his crew were really nice and did their best but food was disappointing) that all but the salmon and vegetables are frozen and shipped in by corporate now. You are expected to attend (and we do enjoy) the evening get together to go over the next day's itinerary but there is not room in the lounge for all of the passengers so many miss out on each activity/presentation. The dining room has shiny, hard surface ceiling which makes it almost impossible to talk to folks at your table. We won't sail with the Viking longboats again (the design is too flawed) and we are looking at other companies for better service and better food and, most of all, a company that cares about our experiences and communicates with passengers (yes, they say write to them - no, they aren't responsive/ yes, we talked with them and were virtually ignored but they'd be happy to have us sail with them again!). A pretty ship does not make up for bad design and poor training in customer service. We love river cruising and know that it can be fantastic. We are already planning our next river cruise - just not with Viking.
LouUS is offline  
Aug 20th, 2012, 03:26 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,554
In the latest issue to travel and Leisure Viking was rated # 1 for river cruise companies. They must be doing something right.

How in the world can paul88 send such a letter with so many details and expect it to be answered the same day, especially when a substantial refund is demanded??? He says:

"consider the following letter we sent today to Viking and which still goes unanswered" Still goes unanswered?? Its just the 1st day! Talk about impatience. Good lord.
jacketwatch is offline  
Aug 20th, 2012, 05:03 PM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 123
We are just back from our first Viking River cruise to Russia and loved it. We have also taken one Ocean cruise through the Black Sea and loved it. What I did note on our river cruise is there were often comments made from ocean cruisers expressing "dissatisfaction" with some level of service - primarily based on their "expectations" from ocean cruising. The two are completely different and if you want the "ocean service" perhaps you should stay with ocean cruise lines.

@jacketwatch - agree entirely with your comments. Good Lord.
Beachnut11 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 02:55 AM
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 2
July Rhine cruise with Viking could not have been better. Food and wide range of choices were excellent. The Hotel Manager and all staff were friendly, helpful, and seemed to really enjoy helping us have a great time. Our bags were carried for us whether to taxi or bus. Viking had brand new air conditioned buses for excursions -- very comfortable. We have already signed up for a longer Viking Cruise next summer.
seattlesmile is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 04:08 AM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 810
I have yet to take a cruise (though hope to do a European river in 2014) but I can tell you one thing I hate about travel: fellow travellers who carp and complain about unintended and unavoidable problems, which those in charge and working hard to remedy. If they are working to make the best of it, the passengers should too.
eliztravels2 is offline  
Oct 12th, 2013, 06:18 PM
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,515
totally agree with you. I often feel sorry for the staff as they are not the boss and are following instructions and doing their best.

Crap happens and I'm sure the staff would have loved to have had everything go smoothly.
southeastern is offline  
Oct 19th, 2013, 02:08 AM
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 78
Oh, bad part of Viking cruise. If customers are paying them accordingly then it is their responsibility that they also provide best services to their customers and satisfy them.
MellisaTurner is offline  
Oct 21st, 2013, 10:25 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 198
OK so from what I read... dont travel on Viking and dont visit Budapest as they threaten to make our stays unenjoyable ( the opposite of enjoyable?)
Not a problem there are other parts of the world who would love our travel $!!
emdee is offline  
Oct 21st, 2013, 05:41 PM
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 193
We cruised with Viking in April 2013. We loved the ship. Our accommodations were excellent. The food was very good. All of the staff members that we interacted with were pleasant, efficient, and did their jobs well. The program director was outstanding. We are traveling with Viking again in December.
takemealong is online now  
May 29th, 2014, 06:47 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 491
I'm booked on the same tour this coming October. I've never been on a cruise and admit that I'm somewhat apprehensive. Actually, most my apprehension stems from being with other passengers who can't walk 500 feet and complain about every f***ing thing. I'm determined to enjoy this trip for the destinations and if my travel companions are pleasant and fun, that will be a bonus. If not, I will do my best to filter them out. Maybe Viking personnel have become inured to people determined to be miserable.
GaryCA is offline  
May 30th, 2014, 04:12 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,629
This was "unclerennie's" first, last and only post, 3 1/2 years ago.

Post a new query here if you have any real apprehensions or check
Cathinjoetown is offline  
May 30th, 2014, 05:49 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 491
Well said.
GaryCA is offline  
Jul 18th, 2014, 08:18 AM
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 1
Our experience in May 2014 was tainted by the absolute lack of problem solving by Viking, caused by their limited customer service agents.
Viking accepts NO responsibility for their mistakes, even when called, asked a question and their people give wrong or non-answers.
DO NOT book directly with Viking. They get the discounted airfares but will not help with any travel problems, like a travel agent will. Even knowing where lost baggage is can be a problem for them. There are NO refunds for any cancelled travel. There are NO refunds for delayed travel due to airline mechanical problems. Miss your boat? Too bad.
DO NOT buy their travel insurance. Not only were we overcharged for the insurance, which they received a commission for selling, but it is a limited policy which protects the cruiseline, not you the customer.
If there are any problems or disputes, they consult their employees and will not permit you, the customer, to see what was said so their employees may alter the facts to protect their jobs.
And they are very good at non-apologies. Mr. Hagen and his daughter have no idea since letters sent directly to them are never read by them and other people intercept them. If they do read them, then it does not say much for the Hagens.
Class is offline  
Jul 19th, 2014, 04:24 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,554
Just got the latest issue of T+L mag and according to a poll Viking ranked # 2 for river cruise companies behind Tauck.
jacketwatch is offline  
Jul 21st, 2014, 07:49 AM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 119
Class- not sure how a cruiseline could find lost baggage? Or do you mean the cruiseline (vs airline) lost our baggage??
foggybridges is offline  
Jul 21st, 2014, 05:25 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 491
Now that I reflect on it, Cathinjoetown, I think my apprehension IS "real". However,I expect to return from my cruise in October and give an upbeat report, in spite of any indignities at having to handle my own luggage or adjust to any unforeseen circumstances.
GaryCA is offline  
Sep 8th, 2014, 06:40 AM
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 1
We haven't done the river portion yet, but the airline (Lufthansa) has been a nightmare. We received seat assignments weeks before the trip from our agent, but when the Viking documents arrived nothing on the outbound flights had reserved seats. Our agent explained that Viking doesn't ticket the trips till 60 days prior to departure and Lufthansa does't hold unticketed seats for a similar period. Luftansa offered to hold seats (in the next to the last row by the lavatories) for a $100+ charge/seat. Why pay for terrible seats?

Viking declined any respsosibility. Now we have to hope for seats when we arrive at the airport!

I hope Viking is better at crusing than they are at air travel !
Hopsing is offline  
Sep 8th, 2014, 01:54 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,554
Did you book the air thru Viking?

We are in Tokyo now about to cruise and we booked separate air by ourselves. No problem at all.
jacketwatch is offline  
Sep 30th, 2014, 10:49 AM
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 233
Just as personal experience, I did not get a very friendly response when I called Viking once to inquire about a cruise. I can't say I would never take a Viking cruise, but these experiences do color your perception a bit, and I think I'm more likely to look at Uniworld, AMA, etc., now. It would depend on available dates and all those things. I think they all have similar routes and itineraries, no?
itspat is offline  

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