We recently returned from the Russian Waterways cruise on the Viking Pakhamov. This was the culmination of our special Golden wedding year, so we treated ourselves to this cruise. Our expectations were high based on our three previous river cruises. These were delightful and relaxing. We did not envisage having to spend 3 hours plus on a coach, each time we had to go on a trip into St Petersburg and Moscow. Being forced to rise early every morning for breakfast, finished by 8.30, boarded by 9. On previous river trips, you were able to wander on and off at will, especially if you did not want to go on a trip. On this holiday, THIS WAS NOT AN OPTION, even when we landed at Uglich, where you could have done this, you still had to get up early for breakfast. For many older people, this was not a pleasurable or relaxing time. We missed one stop at Goritzy because of fog, although he could have stopped albeit an hour and half late, he didn`t. Ironically, he made the next stop one and a half hours early. Because of this Viking offered to give us a `free ` night trip to see the lights of Moscow. As we had already seen most of them on the first night on our way from the theatre which took one and three quarter hours to get back to the boat, we decided not to bother to spend another 4 hours in a coach, getting back after midnight and then up again early next morning. This had now become an ENDURANCE TEST not a holiday.
I had always thought of Viking as a 4/5 star company, their prices certainly are. So why do they use 2star boats in Russia. Russia builds boats, why have Viking never commissioned new comfortable and quiet vessels? They might refurbish them from time to time, but the basic boats are still RUBBISH. They still have the same very noisy diesel generators and engines, making sleep very difficult, even with earplugs. They have a laughably called `sun deck`, positioned right next to the funnel. The noise and vibration level is intolerable, how you are supposed to `relax` here is a joke. Their video man actually videod a glass of water on a dinner table showing the vibrations in the water, everone laughed, unfortunalely, SLEEP DEPRIVATION FOR 13 NIGHTS IS NOT SOMETHING THAT CAN BE LAUGHED AT. The other problems are the air conditioning, `beds!!!` and the laughably called `bathroom`, or as Viking like to call them `yacht style bathrooms`. Firstly the aircon. It is ancient, very noisy and inefficient. There is no way that you can leave it on, even very low, at night. How the people coped during the heatwave in the summer I do not know. Totally useless. The `beds`. They were like bunks, hinged off the wall, so that if the person in the next cabin was a bit too heavy getting into bed, it would impact on your side of the wall. Great. Now the best bit, the toilet/wet bathroom. There was a hand held shower above the sink and a plastic curtain in front the toilet. When you used the shower, you then had a wet room. The toilet itself was the most disgusting I have ever come accross. Solid waste did not drop into water because of the stupid design, so you had to keep twisting round whilst on the loo to keep flushing. Even some of the deluxe cabins I saw had the same disgusting unit, having paid 50 to 100 per cent more than me for this privilege, I would have been incandescent. IT IS A TOTAL INSULT TO PUT PEOPLE INTO ACCOMMODATION OF THIS CALIBRE NO MATTER WHAT THEY PAY. I was told that this vessel was refurbished 7 years ago, making it 2003. It was more like 1903.
When we booked this holiday, we told them that it was for our Golden Wedding. On arriving in our first awful cabin, there was not even a chololate on the pillow. We had to move cabins because the so called aircon in the first one did not work at all. Viking state that `The ship meets the High standards of Viking` This has to be a joke. This comment comes despite the appalling and disgusting `toilet` facilities in the so called bathroom. As for the beds, the mattresses on my garden furniture are more comfortable.
I REPEAT----- DO NOT USE VIKING FOR THE RUSSIAN WATERWAYS----
They cannot reverse what has been done, and it has been a very upsetting and disappointing end to our special year.