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Viking River Cruises

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Los Angeles...
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Viking River Cruises

Warning: Do not take a river cruise because if the river water level is too high or low the boat may not leave the dock. We were stranded in Lyon, France at the dock since the water level was too high. After 5 days we were told to leave the ship and Viking did not reimburse us for the last 2 days. I do not recommend Viking.

Upstate New York
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1. Re: Viking River Cruises

“Misrepresentation is an understatement!”

Reviewed 14 June 2013

Hearing about flooding on the Danube, I phoned Viking to enquire about conditions. I explained that because my father is 83 and I am travelling with a wheel chair, if the cruise could be impacted substantially, we would like to use our travel insurance (which cost a hefty $1,000) and cancel the trip. The Viking representative blithely assured me that the cruise would "avoid the effected areas", and our experience would be changed very little. I later learned that THE RIVER HAD ALREADY BEEN CLOSED TO BOAT TRAVEL at the time Viking gave us that assurance.

After a night in a hotel and a four hour bus trip from Budapest to an industrial docking site an hour outside of Vienna, Stein, our cruise director, finally admitted that there would be no cruising at all. We would be bused to various sites (not necessarily those on the original agenda), an alternative that would wreak havoc with my sciatica and my father's stenosis - the very reason we had opted to spend a fortune on a river cruise in the first place. Stein informed us that the corporate office was offering two options to compensate for the inconvenience. Those who chose to stay on would receive a 75% discount on a future cruise, and guests who chose to leave would receive a "full credit" for the unused cruise days, and help rebooking air travel. My father said to me, on the brink of tears, "I am broken, I want go home".

Four days of duplicity, inaction and manipulation later, I went to sleep at midnight STILL not knowing if my husbands 7:00 a.m. flight was confirmed. My father and step mother had arrivec at the airport with a confirmation number for their flight in hand, and were told by Swiss International that there was no record of a booking for them, and after several fruitless calls to Viking and their thinly veiled "insurance" division, he paid out of pocket a ridiculous last-minute price for his flight.

Of course, my first phone call when I finally arrived home was to Viking's "customer service" department. I was stunned to hear the final bait and switch - that I would not be receiving any refund at all. I was told "there must have been a misunderstanding." Viking was offering a credit in the amount of my unused days on a future cruise. AS IF!

Setauket, New York...
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2. Re: Viking River Cruises

My wife and I left New York on May 30 for Nuerenberg for joining the Viking Romantic Danube River Cruise from Nuerenberg to Budapest in time for our June 2 embarkation. During the transit between JFK and Nuerenberg I had no access to phone or internet. Upon arriving at our hotel in Nuerenberg on May 31, in the evening, I saw the emails sent to me by my travel agent and by Viking River Cruises, informing of the cancellation of our river cruise and of the 2 options available to us. The Viking representative I spoke with subsequently told me that the 'full refund' option did not include reimbursement of the cost of changing our travel plans as we had booked our air tickets not through Viking, and as I was jet lagged and disoriented after a long overnight flight and still trying to grasp the full impact of the cancellation of the river cruise, reluctantly accepted the motor coach tour option. However, when my wife and I met the other passengers of the river cruise on June 2 at the Ramada Nuerenberg Park Hotel, I came to know that they were given options more favorable than the one we were given, although their predicament was similar to the one my wife and I were in. Also, all those who had booked their air ticket with Viking were given the option of receiving full refund plus the air fare. When I brought this discriminatory treatment by Viking to the attention of the Viking Program Director and asked her that my wife and I be allowed to withdraw from the motor coach tour without forfeiting full refund, she became defensive and curtly informed me that such an option was simply not available to us. My wife and I helplessly stayed on with the motor coach tour.

My wife and I, and most other members of the motor coach tour, were quite dissatisfied with having to move from hotel to hotel every other day. Besides, we did not get the special food - chicken or fish- which we had requested due to our dietary constraints. What we got was, in most instances, inedible substitution.

What I find intriguing is that, despite the latest weather report available to Viking, we were informed of the cancellation of the river cruise only after we left New York and that there was no consistency or uniformity in the compensatory choices given to the passengers. This has left us and, by what I understand from the correspondence I am getting, most others in the group, quite skeptical about Viking’s corporate ethics.

In view of the unsatisfactory and inequitable treatment my wife and I have received from Viking River Cruises, I have asked Viking River Cruises to refund at least 50% of our paid cruise fare instead of the credit being given towards the next Viking River Cruise. By doing so, I argued, Viking River Cruises would be giving us the choice of willingly and freely joining their river cruises in the future, instead of requiring us to join another of their cruises to receive compensation. I feel that tt is the least that Viking can do to restore the lost goodwill and customer satisfaction.

Setauket, New York...
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3. Re: Viking River Cruises

My wife and I left New York on May 30 for Nuerenberg for joining the Viking Romantic Danube River Cruise from Nuerenberg to Budapest in time for our June 2 embarkation. During the transit between JFK and Nuerenberg I had no access to phone or internet. Upon arriving at our hotel in Nuerenberg on May 31, in the evening, I saw the emails sent to me by my travel agent and by Viking River Cruises, informing of the cancellation of our river cruise and of the 2 options available to us. The Viking representative I spoke with subsequently told me that the 'full refund' option did not include reimbursement of the cost of changing our travel plans as we had booked our air tickets not through Viking, and as I was jet lagged and disoriented after a long overnight flight and still trying to grasp the full impact of the cancellation of the river cruise, reluctantly accepted the motor coach tour option. However, when my wife and I met the other passengers of the river cruise on June 2 at the Ramada Nuerenberg Park Hotel, I came to know that they were given options more favorable than the one we were given, although their predicament was similar to the one my wife and I were in. Also, all those who had booked their air ticket with Viking were given the option of receiving full refund plus the air fare. When I brought this discriminatory treatment by Viking to the attention of the Viking Program Director and asked her that my wife and I be allowed to withdraw from the motor coach tour without forfeiting full refund, she became defensive and curtly informed me that such an option was simply not available to us. My wife and I helplessly stayed on with the motor coach tour.

My wife and I, and most other members of the motor coach tour, were quite dissatisfied with having to move from hotel to hotel every other day. Besides, we did not get the special food - chicken or fish- which we had requested due to our dietary constraints. What we got was, in most instances, inedible substitution.

What I find intriguing is that, despite the latest weather report available to Viking, we were informed of the cancellation of the river cruise only after we left New York and that there was no consistency or uniformity in the compensatory choices given to the passengers. This has left us and, by what I understand from the correspondence I am getting, most others in the group, quite skeptical about Viking’s corporate ethics.

In view of the unsatisfactory and inequitable treatment my wife and I have received from Viking River Cruises, I have asked Viking River Cruises to refund at least 50% of our paid cruise fare instead of the credit being given towards the next Viking River Cruise. By doing so, I argued, Viking River Cruises would be giving us the choice of willingly and freely joining their river cruises in the future, instead of requiring us to join another of their cruises to receive compensation. I feel that tt is the least that Viking can do to restore the lost goodwill and customer satisfaction.

Cambridge, Canada
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6 posts
3 reviews
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4. Re: Viking River Cruises

Viking River Cruises : does not do the right thing when things go wron

We, along with 188 other passengers anticipated our Viking River Cruise on the Idun departing Nuremberg on June 1. The cruise turned into a very expensive and deceptive bus trip through Europe. Unfortunately, the passengers had not done full due diligence prior to arriving to realize that the Danube river was ALREADY closed to river traffic and the ship would NOT be able to depart the canal it was on. The crew professed no prior knowledge of this and each day we had to see what the contingency plan was for the next day. The ship actually departed the canal dock in Nuremberg and sailed a short distance to Redensberg where we then proceeded to bus to either planned destinations or destinations such as Munich that VRC offered to keep everyone busy.

The horrible part was the lack of information by the crew to the passengers and a continued message of optimism that the water levels would lower and we would sail. This was impossible as they did not even crest until after our 'cruise' had ended.

VRC acted irresponsibly in transferring all guest by motor coach ( over 7 hours ) to Bratislava, Slovakia to the Viking Njord which was holed up in a totally flooded commercial shipping slip where passengers had to access the trip through a flooded parking lot walking on railroad ties and on a corrugated tin utility access cover that covered the electrical controls for the gantry crane that ran beside the ships. At 50 we were probably the youngest on the trip and there were many with disabilities that had to either stay on the ship or chance the path. VRC dropped one passengers suitcase in the water and did not even inform them.

They used the Njord as a 'hotel' for us for two nights and bussed us back and forth to Vienna from Bratislava instead of DOING THE RIGHT THING and putting people in a hotel in Vienna instead of saving money this way and wasting even more of our time on busses.

Everyone was empathetic to the situation the crew was in HOWEVER, the cruise that was scheduled to sail the next day from ours gave the passengers the option to go home / full refund or take the 'bus cruise'. VRC should have or fully knew the situation and pushed to get us through the system and out the back door.

VRC offered passengers a 75% cruise credit (time expired in 2015) to people that saved years for this trip and/or will never do another river cruise again. A few communications with VRC in California resulted in a reinforcing letter that they feel they did everything to accommodate and compensate according and that they will not move from this position.

BEWARE OF VIKING RIVER CRUISES. Competitive cruise lines did the right thing and cancelled cruises and/or offered refunds and compensation where VRC weight the options of the impact on its business and made a fiscal decision, not a customer focused decision.

Boat was good. Crew was good. Food was good. If the water was fine, it would have been good however a corporation is judged by how it reacts when things to WRONG and there are hundreds of very disappointed and upset passengers that feel that we were tossed along like hot potatoes, outright lied to and misled by the crew ( even to the point that the transfer to Bratislava was with the 'hope' that we would sail to Budapest form there ( THEY KNEW THE RIVER WAS CLOSED AND RISING ) but did not communicate that to the passengers.

The cost of doing the right thing would have been much less than the loss of business they will encounter from this. Even a partial refund in cash vs a time expired credit would have been the right thing.

Peed off in the North

Woodland Hills, CA
3 posts
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5. Re: Viking River Cruises

Dear Viking Guests,

We’ve read your feedback and points of view, each, it sounds like, from different cruises that were all affected by the recent floods in Europe in the spring of 2013—and we’d like to offer some input to this conversation, for your consideration. But, most importantly, we’d like to ask that you contact us again at TellUs@vikingcruises.com so that we may discuss your individual situations once more.

TIMING & MAKING ASSESSMENTS

Our Swiss nautical and operational teams rely on an extensive, established network of local authorities and port operators—along with decades of experience with past high and low water situations—to make assessments on navigability of all rivers on which we sail. Weather, soil conditions and water levels are routinely monitored and evaluated. This is particularly crucial under circumstances where a few hours or a few centimeters of difference can have an enormous impact on a ship’s sailing schedule.

CANCELLATIONS

Where conditions precluded us from being able to provide a modified itinerary that we believed would be worthwhile—we canceled those particular cruises. For these cancellations, we provided a refund plus a credit for a future cruise so that these disappointed guests may book another journey with Viking.

MODIFIED ITINERARIES

If we believed that we would be able to continue operating an itinerary with some modifications, we did. Each of these modified sailings was considered individually. Partial compensation in the form of a voucher was provided. In most cases we contacted guests ahead of departure to let them know the ways in which we anticipated their itinerary would proceed based on current conditions. In some cases the rapidly changing navigational conditions prompted additional modifications to the itinerary and as a result we have re-evaluated the compensation provided for these.

LOOKING BACK

Not all of our assessments were perfect and as conditions quickly changed, not all of our contingency plans always occurred exactly as we had planned them. But a good many of them did.

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. At the time we made decisions whether to cancel cruises or proceed with modifications, we always had the interests and safety of our guests and crew in mind. We have received many emails and phone calls from guests whose cruise did not go perfectly, but who still enjoyed themselves.

DEPARTURES IN THE FIRST WEEK OF JUNE

We get the sense that many of the posts in which returning guests are voicing their disappointment, feedback and point of view, are from departures that occurred in the first few days of June. We understand that when these guests arrived they were taken by surprise at the conditions of the rivers; we were taken by surprise, too. Our Switzerland-based teams worked diligently and in good faith trying to make arrangements as needed and keep their guests informed. We’ve heard frustration over instances where a crew could not provide answers on contingency plans that were beyond the next day, and we apologize for this, to both our guests and our crew, as it was surely frustrating for both parties. With conditions changing quickly, we did the best we could to provide each crew with complete information as it became available. Again, a few hours or a few centimeters of difference can have an enormous impact on a ship’s sailing schedule.

COMPENSATION FOR IMPACTED SAILINGS

We have extended compensation in the form of a credit voucher of varying percentages of the cruise fare paid for the impacted 2013 sailings. These sailings were provided alternative travel arrangements, dining, lodging, and excursions to destinations on the original itinerary (where possible) and substituted places of interest. However, based on sentiments expressed here and elsewhere online, as well as with our Customer Relations department, it is clear that some of those affected guests are unsatisfied with our attempts to make amends for a difficult and challenging situation. So, please do contact us directly if you would like to discuss your experience. Our Customer Relations team is starting to return to normal levels of incoming calls and emails after a few weeks of very high volume, and they would be happy to continue the conversation with any of our guests. We can be reached at TellUs@vikingcruises.com and will be pleased to put guests in touch with a member of our Customer Relations team.

SAFETY

The safety of our guests and crew is always our top priority; in every deliberation we had it was our primary focus. We are happy and grateful to report that no Viking guests were injured as a result of the flooding. However, we recognize that some of our guests have voiced concerns about their safety and we take those concerns very seriously; please contact us atTellUs@vikingcruises.com so we can further discuss your particular experience.

UPDATED INFORMATION

For guests on upcoming sailings, we continue to update our website: www.vrc.com/weatherupdate. We began providing updates on June 3rd when the situation became apparent—including email updates to all affected guests and their travel agents—and we will continue to provide updates until sailing on the affected rivers no longer requires modifications that are known ahead of departure. Please note that currently we do not anticipate any modifications, but it was recently announced that the Altenwörth Lock in Austria will only operate one chamber until repairs on the second chamber are completed in September 2013. This may cause some minor delays in sailing schedules, but we don’t expect it to have any significant impact on upcoming summer cruises.

CONTACT US

Even if you have already done so previously we ask that you contact us directly at TellUs@vikingcruises.com. We are re-doubling our efforts to address concerns with guests who may feel that they have not been adequately heard. We understand that there are members in this community who remain disappointed and we hope that each of you will contact us again so we may discuss your particular situation.

Sincerely,

Viking Cruises

Pittsburgh...
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1 post
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6. Re: Viking River Cruises

I have to agree with the previous posts. Viking did not treat it's customers with honesty. We also were on the Danube non-cruise the first week of June (Viking Freya) and it was obvious from the beginning that we would not be cruising, in spite of the briefings each evening telling us we would be leaving soon.

Don't bother calling or contacting Viking. All you will get is the company line. Even though we booked airfare through Viking, we were told that this was a third party booking and because we had flown, we were not entitled to any compensation. We boarded the flight because Viking told us we would be cruising! Rushing through breakfast to get on a bus tour each day and being fed en masse highly salted, high-carb food at lunch on these bus tours is not receiving the same quality cruise that Viking seems to think we received. Too much time was spent on buses or replacing to be shuffled to another ship or a hotel.

While the ship was wonderful and the crew and food were outstanding, the home office's arrogance has left a bitter taste for us concerning Viking. This is not the way to build customer loyalty.

San Diego...
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48 posts
5 reviews
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7. Re: Viking River Cruises

Oh my; I'm soooo glad I read this! I've been preparing to book a cruise for multiple people in our group (on the Viking). This has convinced me to not use them and now I have to start all over. I'm so glad to find this out BEFORE I booked the trip as I would have felt responsible for recommending and booking this trip on behalf of everyone, in addition to going with them, of course. It's so unprofessional of Viking, I'm frankly shocked. There's no excuse for this cavalier attitude to the above (and I'm sure hundreds of others who haven't written here). Very disappointing.

1 post
1 review
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8. Re: Viking River Cruises

I read this discussion with a great deal of surprise as our experience with VRC was outstanding. We sailed from Paris to Normandy Beaches at the beginning of the season and had no issues, if you don't count a bad WiFi connection. Actually, we had so fabulous time on Spirit that over the past few months we felt guilty for not finding a moment to express our deep satisfaction with the overall experience.

The crew was doing their utmost to meet all our requests and think of ways to make every moment interesting. A lot of passengers were much older than we are and some with a serious health issue so some of organized excursions were off limits for them, which was clearly announced prior to leaving the ship.

The food and service were truly great. Unpacking only once but still seeing other places was of course something all of us looked forward to so I can completely understand the frustration of all of you who paid a decent amount of money, expecting a leisured, first class experience only to face undesired change of itinerary and method of transportation. I agree that a VRC handling of those imposed changes would have made a big difference and hope that all of you will have a pleasure of experiencing this type of cruise -the right way - in the future.

My suggestion to VRC: reach out to all those passengers who had a misfortune to miss a long planned sailing experience. You know who those passengers are. It will be more expensive to loose so many potential future passengers than spend a few dollars now.

Hoddesdon, England...
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73 posts
35 reviews
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9. Re: Viking River Cruises

re; post from 20th Aug But have you also read the many many many good reports that Viking also gets, people will always post their negative reviews butnot the positive. We have travelled with Viking about 8 times now and have never ever found them anything but brilliant and would always recommend them

Edited: 02 September 2013, 11:11
kansas
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3 posts
9 reviews
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10. Re: Viking River Cruises

I totally agree with SG P. In today's age of mass communication a company just cannot get away with mistreating people and expect to keep a good reputation. The travelers whose long anticipated vacations were ruined should have received a full and immediate refund from VRC. AND a discount on a future cruise. Instead of encouraging posts that would have me scheduling with VRC, I now will book elsewhere. I have been getting VRC's brochures in the mail every two weeks for about 4 years and had a trip with them high on my bucket list. If they can afford to spend that much on printing and postage, they can be fair to their guests. There is NO WAY that VRC can justify thinking that being shuffled around on tour buses is anyones idea of a substitute for a river cruise!!