My wife and I made reservations for the Viking 2013 Passage to Eastern Europe (June 15 Budapest to Bucharest) cruise in August of 2012. Their brochure described a wonderful journey spending eight days cruising down the Danube and visiting venues we had not seen before. They particularly highlighted the Iron Gate area.
In addition to the monies paid to Viking we used many thousands of air miles for our flights. These miles could have been deposited back in our account had the trip been cancelled prior to leaving.
Due to extreme flooding on the Danube I checked with Viking regularly during the seven days prior to the departure date from Budapest both by phone and their online site. They said we would be notified if the cruise were to be cancelled.
I called Viking 24 hours prior to leaving San Francisco Airport and again was advised the trip was a go even though Viking had cancelled many trips due to rising waters on the Danube and elsewhere. Their online site still stated we would leave Budapest as scheduled.
Whoever made the call to force the trip from Bucharest back to Budapest made a very unfortunate decision.
With state of the art weather information, history of flooding, local river officials and continued cresting of the river it is unfathomable Viking would depart Bucharest only to be stuck between bridges in Novi Sad.
It was not waiting one day for the river to subside but six days. In addition we paid extra for an outside balcony we could use sitting in chairs enjoying the described sights. Unfortunately we spent six days looking at another boat tethered one foot away.
After cancelling so many trips I also wonder if the insurance company put pressure on Viking to make an attempt to depart. Had Viking cancelled this trip the insurance I paid for would have reimbursed me and I could have put my air miles back in my account for future use.
In any case Viking with its resources knew the river was or would not be navigable and should not have left Bucharest. The decision to continue this cruise was a reckless decision and is the full responsibility of Viking Cruises.
As stated in a petition signed by many we believe we were lied to by Viking as they knew full well a completion of the journey to our embarkation point of Budapest was not possible.
Why Viking would risk it's reputation and the loyalty of passengers with such a feckless decision is beyond comprehension.
We finally left after six days in Novi Sad to cruise 20 hours mostly in the dark to Calafat Romania. We went through the highly touted Iron Gate at night. We were then bussed six plus hours from Calafat to Bucharest enduring a flat tire on the bus along the way. We arrived in Bucharest around 4:30 pm, were hustled to a tourist trap restaurant for what should have been a 12pm lunch where we had exactly one hour to eat blah food and listen to loud music.
Initially we were offered 50% off a future cruise and after the petition was presented were offered 100% back on this cruise excepting air costs and 50% of the value of this cruise towards another cruise we must book before June 2014. I am not sure why other posts indicated only a credit of 75% credit on different cruises.
To those Viking sycophants' who defend Viking because of the weather I say yes you can't control the weather but you can make intelligent decisions with the information at hand and if you don't at least be honest to your customers. If some of the malcontents had not signed the petition I am sure the first 50% offer would have been the only one.
I won't comment on noise, food or rambling bus trips as those have been already been addressed on other posts and I for the most part agree.