Our tour director referred to our trip as the cruise from hell, so i am not exaggerating. The customer service aspects of how Viking dealt with a catastrophic A/C failure on its ship during a heatwave was telling. First deny the problem, ... Read More
Our tour director referred to our trip as the cruise from hell, so i am not exaggerating. The customer service aspects of how Viking dealt with a catastrophic A/C failure on its ship during a heatwave was telling. First deny the problem, than deflect the blame for the problem, then distract the passengers from the problem. Fixing the problem should have come first. An apology and acknowledgement would have gone a long way, too.
First the Good: (1) The fellow travelers were great -- every made the best of a difficult situation. (2) The ships staff and crew - they were troopers and had to put up with the same discomfort that the passengers did, and they did so with charm and good humor. (3) the Itinerary - the towns we visited were well chosen, and the local guides were excellent. (4) The ship (Viking Delling) had everything one would want on a river cruise ship -- the staterooms are well designed, the bathroom is large as far as cruise ships go, and the showers were great (hot water and good pressure). The lounges and common areas were plentiful and well designed. (5) The chef was accommodating to the vegetarians and gluten-free diners in our group.
The Mediocre: (1) the food was so-so. It was plentiful, but nothing to write home about. Avoid the soups at all costs. Their version of clam chowder and lobster bisque were watery soups--not a chowder or a bisque. (2) the women in our group complained there was not enough time to shop in the towns we visited. (3) The on board entertainment -- it was basically a Ricky Martin look alike, with a nice voice, at the piano, doing English as a Second Language Karaoke each night in the lounge.
The Ugly: (1) the ships air conditioning did not work. The temperature on our trip exceeded 35 C, on some days it got up to 40. Because the ship's A/C didn't work, the temperature in our stateroom exceeded 80 at night, and there were no windows to open so it was impossible to cool down. During dinner, guests at our table took to wrapping ice cubes in napkins, and wrapping the rolled napkins around their necks -- for 3 nights in a row. (2) The Ship and Viking refused to acknowledge that the A/C wasn't working: for a couple days. They blamed the unusually hot weather and said since a ship is made of metal, it was unavoidable that the ship would get this warm. Then one night another Viking ship docked along side us, we were able to walk into their lobby and dining room, and their A/C worked perfectly fine. So instead of fixing the problem, they offered an open bar to distract us.
If our crew or Viking had acknowledgment the A/C system failure earlier, it could have called for repairs earlier. Instead they put their head s in the sand and made the passengers suffer. It turns out that the A/C outage was caused by a plastic bag being sucked into a water intake valve. If Viking had sought a repair as soon as the problem was noted, rather than blaming the design of the ship's A/C system or the weather, the problem would have resolved days earlier. (3) The Viking booked air transfers required at least 25-30 passengers to depart the ship at 3 am (luggage out in the hall at 2:15 am) for a 2 hour bus ride to the airport on the last night of the 8 day / 7 night trip. So in effect, it was a 7 day / 6 night trip. Requiring your guests to set alarms at 2 am on the last night of the tour is not a good way to have people remember the trip fondly. Read Less