My wife and I took the Viking Odin Christmas Market trip over Christmas week. It was supposed to be a river cruise from Nuremberg to Budapest. We only made it to the first port. For the brief time we were on the ship things were ok. The staterooms are nice as are most of the staff. The food was just ok and the onboard entertainment was poor. Once we were told that the ship could not go any further due to changes in the river water level, the trip became a horrible experience. We were taken by bus, for 3-4 hours at a time, to the next stops on the itinerary. Once at a new stop we were placed into a hotel. So much for the luxury cruise. Most of the amenities expected on the trip ceased the moment we left the ship. Many elements of the itinerary were lost; such as,
- Although we booked the Christmas Market cruise, the Christmas Markets were closed in all but Nuremberg.
- The ship did not go to Passau. Instead we had a 3-hour round trip bus ride that resulted in reduced touring time.
- We had a limited tour of Melk and a poor lunch.
- We did not experience the "scenic cruising" through the Wachau Valley due to the bus ride.
- The optional concert in Vienna was moved to a different night, again limiting our tour time.
- We did not have the "Captain's Farewell Reception and Dinner."
We also lost the amenities of the ship, such as,
- We had free Wifi on the ship. There was no Wifi on the bus and the Wifi in the hotel was limited to 1 hour and could only be accessed in the lobby. This significantly limited our ability to have needed contact with our home.
- We had to unpack and repack several times. One of the key selling points of the cruise is that we only have to unpack once. We also had to get up very early as the buses left at 8am - so much for leisure time.
- We lost the companionship of our fellow passengers as we were stuck on busses for many hours.
- We had originally purchased the bar package on board which provided our drinks at reduced prices. In order to continue to enjoy social time with our fellow passengers, we had to pay full price at the hotel bar.
- On the ship we had choices at every meal. Once we left the ship for the substitute itinerary we were provided with no choices and meals were served banquet style with a take it or leave it attitude.
Although we spoke with Viking personnel on board the ship and at the hotel many times to express our dissatisfaction, nothing was offered or done. When we returned we contacted Viking both in writing and by phone to no avail. We asked for either a refund or a replacement cruise. They refused. Although their brochure speaks of a satisfaction guarantee, it isn't worth the paper it is printed on. They clearly failed to provide a comparable experience once we left the ship, and then failed to take responsibility. We certainly will never cruise Viking again and strongly encourage others to avoid them as well. The true measure of a company is not in how they handle things when they are going well but in how they respond when things do not go well - Viking has a lot to learn about customer service.