I could go on and on about this trip and how Viking was misleading and didn’t come close to delivering what they originally promised. I am going to touch on a few of the lowlights. First with something positive, the crew was been put in ... Read More
I could go on and on about this trip and how Viking was misleading and didn’t come close to delivering what they originally promised. I am going to touch on a few of the lowlights. First with something positive, the crew was been put in a tough situation and tried to make the best of it; however, I can’t give the cruise director a pass. Having seen this happen over and over, he is a willing accomplice to this train wreck; feigning surprise at every new disaster along the way.
The first sign of the impending doom were the two emails I received within days of our departure stating the river was low and we might have to take a bus between ports. Once I received the letter, I immediately called Viking and asked for a refund. They assured me this was “very unusual and not to worry.” I encouraged them to do the right thing and give me a refund, but when push came to shove they said no cancellation or refund would be allowed and that this was “in my contract.”
So my family and I hoped for the best and got ready for the trip. We have been on many cruises with nearly every cruise line. I mean how bad could it be, right? I kept thinking Viking wouldn’t have all these people spend all that money only to be put us on buses; that could kill their reputation.
Passau, Germany. The wheels start coming off the train. Boat never made it to Passau. Instead we docked around Straubing in the middle of nowhere. Took a 3-hour, roundtrip bus ride from the boat to Passau. When we finally arrived in Passau, our day, of course, was cut short due to the drive. The bus pulled up to the dock right at the edge of town where the ship should have been. My wife and a bunch of other passengers paid a lot extra for the Salzburg excursion. This drive was an extra 1 ½ hours, which left very little extra time to explore.
You have seen the commercials. They advertise that you will be cruising leisurely through the captivating Wachau Valley, laughing with drink in hand as the incredible scenery passes before you. No such luck. Instead, we awoke at 8 am to pack our bags and leave them in the hall. Then boarded a bus for a 3 ½ hour trip, including an hour long stop at a truck stop in the middle of nowhere. My wife and I did manage to get a romantic stroll through the parking lot and they did give us all tokens to use the bathroom. That’s right, you read that correctly. PACKED BAGS, TRUCK STOP AND 3 ½ HOUR DRIVE. Didn’t board the new ship till after 12pm for lunch and delivery of our luggage. But, the show must go on. A few brave souls that refused to be denied, walked to another bus for another 45 minute drive to the Gottweig Abbey tour. We were now so far behind schedule it was late, completely dark and foggy. Needless to say, we could not see anything. However, the abbey really looked beautiful from the pictures I have seen.
On to Budapest! Up at 6am to pack our bags and put them at the door by 7:15am. By now we know the drill. Less like a vacation and more like the military. Bus departed at 8:21am for Budapest. Another 3 ½ hour drive, including an hour long stop at a (you guessed it) TRUCK STOP. Have you ever seen four packed tour busses unload at a small truck stop? If not, you should. It is quite the treat. No, I am not making this up. We arrived at Budapest exhausted and were shuffled off to the tour, already way behind scheduled and ending again IN THE DARK. None of the promised time to “explore the city.” No night time scenic cruise of the city.
There was a lot more that happened, but you get the idea. There were bed bugs, torn sheets, boats stacked 3 deep on docks, no toilet paper on busses, only one on ship lecture, etc, etc. Viking pretty much gave up. By the time we boarded the third boat and with a completely different crew, they had completely given up. Bottomline, this is an expensive, bad bus tour between boat docks where they use their stationary boats as floating hotels. I still can’t believe they are getting away with this. Viking’s staff issued talking points are to try and tell you how unusual this is, but we spoke to vendors that work with Viking (think bus drivers, tour guides, taxi drivers) along the way and they all said this has been going on with Viking for some time now. It is a known issue (that is, the low river levels). Final story, as we were leaving for the airport, the next group of passengers were boarding the boat. I overheard a crew person trying to explain to the new guests how the boat would not be leaving and they would need to board a bus in the morning for their next destination. Needless to say the passenger was upset. Wow, good job Viking! Read Less