To start, I would like to say I feel so bad for people who booked a River Cruise, but got cheated out of their vacation due to the low water levels. I hope someday you have a trip that will more that double your expectations. Next, for ... Read More
To start, I would like to say I feel so bad for people who booked a River Cruise, but got cheated out of their vacation due to the low water levels. I hope someday you have a trip that will more that double your expectations. Next, for those who will be traveling on the Rhine soon (Basel to Amsterdam), I want to say from the start that, Yes, the Water Levels will affect you.
I say that right away, because I wish someone was honest enough to tell me that from the start. Instead, I got cryptic emails from Viking. I then call them as the website suggests for updates, and they tell me I'm doing the right thing by trying to stay informed and to call as it gets closer to the day to find out about water levels. I called the day before I was going to leave and the cruise representative I spoke to had to put me on hold two times just to come back on the phone to tell me that they are still unsure if my trip would be affected by the low water levels.
Now that I have gone through the Rhine River cruise, I can tell you with certainty that your cruise will be affected. Even if it rained for a week, I don't think that would be enough to help the water levels. Let me put it this way, there were parts of the river that I could walk on. On the very first night when the Cruise Director welcomed us aboard, he said "I know you are all concerned about the water levels, but we won't know if we have to swap ships until the night before". Then, the captain got up, and made his welcome speech and said, "Yes, you will be affected". At least someone was telling the truth. The Cruise Director though, still insisted we won't really know till the day before. Then sure enough, on the day before, he explained that due to the low levels we would have to "Swap Ships". A lot of people had questions of course, but the Cruise Director stopped the Q&A session after a certain point stating it was time for dinner. Myself and other passengers realize there is nothing they could do about the water levels, but we didn't appreciate being left in the dark.
The Ship Swap meant we had to pack up before our tour of the day, and at the end of the day we would be 'bussed' to a new Viking ship, Tialfi, that was docked where the water levels would allow us to continue travelling to Amsterdam. The passengers from the other ship would then be bussed to our old ship. Our luggage would already be in our new ship, same rooms #'s, however, different crew, which was another disappointment, because I had gotten to know the crew members on Viking Alruna. We didn't mind packing up again, but what I did mind was skipping a port, Koblenz Germany. And even though Viking committed to making sure we got to go on all the included tours, the ship swap meant that we would not be able to go on the optional tours. I was very disappointed, because I was really looking forward to having dinner at the Eberbach Monastery. The low water levels also meant we couldn't do the "Middle Rhine Sailing" portion on our ship. We had to take a 2 1/2 bus ride to board a smaller boat that would allow us to cruise in the low water levels of the Middle Rhine. Note, the food on this non-Viking boat was "Horibleeeee" ! (A dry piece of Chicken (no sauce or anything) that was inedible with french fries - I just ate the fries). The Middle Rhine cruise itself, however, was magnificent, with memorable views of castles & fortresses. This is probably my favorite part of the whole Trip ! After cruising the Middle Rhine, we toured Marksburg castle, and then had a 3 1/2 hour bus ride to our new ship. They handed out lunch bags with a sandwich & fruit for the bus ride.
Despite all the disappointment associated with the water levels, I still give Viking a 3 star, because the crew was amazing, the food was amazing, and the included tours, although short (Not enough time on your own), were really amazing. (I'll do separate reviews with tips on each of the ports). Also, Viking is very organized with the Embarkation and Disembarkation process. They will give thorough instructions and help you if you need guidance.
I realize Viking and other cruise companies can not do anything about the water levels, however they can do something about treating passengers "Fairly" and with respect. I just wish they were truthful about the trip up front. I also wish the 25% credit off our next cruise "due to the disruption in our itinerary", would have been applied to the Current cruise - that would have made more sense, and have been a more sincere gesture. Read Less