5 Viking River Viking Lif Cruise Reviews

We've had done 4 European river cruises over the years - 2 with Viking and 2 with other companies and we wanted to do the 2-week Grand European River Cruise as part of a relaxing October vacation. This trip, however, turned out to be ... Read More
We've had done 4 European river cruises over the years - 2 with Viking and 2 with other companies and we wanted to do the 2-week Grand European River Cruise as part of a relaxing October vacation. This trip, however, turned out to be a total disaster from start to finish - anything but relaxing! Viking has yet to offer us adequate compensation for our ruined vacation. and until they make things right, I cannot recommend this once-leading company any more. On the Grand European River Cruise, buyers need to prepared for itinerary changes, canceled side trips, ship swaps, and many segments of the trip done by bus rather than on the water. There is also high likelihood that even when you do arrive at a city by ship, you will not be docked "in the heart of the city", but out by some oil storage depot where you cannot come and go on foot but need to be bused in and out on a particular schedule. Most of the cruising is done at night when you can't see anything Two of the three Viking river cruises that we've taken have had shortened itineraries and bus trips substituted for river cruising. and the few times that we've docked in or near a city, we've been double- or triple- docked with other boats so our pricey balcony was useless. This latest "cruise" had 65% of the itinerary covered by bus, and 35% by water, and was only a thin piece of what was advertised. . . Our troubles on this cruise began the day before we were arriving in Budapest to meet the ship. I was emailed to say that the ship wouldn't make it to Budapest due to low water, and that we'd be put up in a hotel for the first night - but the Viking management didn't know which hotel it would be - and then we would be transferred by bus up to to Vienna, skipping the river cruising. Not knowing where to go in Budapest, we stopped by the Sofitel, (which Viking had used in the past), and fortunately we found a rep there who said we should go to the Marriott. We did, but nobody there knew where the Viking people were, and we didn't see a rep until the following morning (the second day of our supposed cruise) when a bus came to pick us up. We spent day 2 of the cruise sitting a bus to Vienna, where we actually did get to board a ship. Despite assurances that our luggage would be in our stateroom when we got there, I found I was missing one critical suitcase with my medications, (which staff eventually found in another stateroom).I The rest of the cruise followed in the same disorganized vein: cruise a few days, then more busing. Switch ships, cruise a day or so, then more busing. Eventually the ship made it to Mainz which was it's "end-of-the line", and we had to be bused all the way up to Amsterdam where we had another chaotic hotel check-in. On bus days - there were many - we had group lunches at so-so- restaurants, and occasional highway rest stops for which we had dig out our own change to pay for rest rooms (Viking should have passed out Euros to everyone for this!) Most of the pre-paid-for side trips were cancelled, and while we eventually (2 months later) got a refund for ours, it wasn't the full amount we'd paid. By the end of this so-called "cruise", I think most of the crew were demoralized and the passengers were glad to say goodbye. As I said, this once-noble company has to make this one right before I can recommend them! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We had taken a Viking cruise from Budapest to Bucharest two years earlier, and thought that two weeks on a ship from Budapest to Amsterdam, passing through some areas that we had not visited before or had seen decades earlier, would be ... Read More
We had taken a Viking cruise from Budapest to Bucharest two years earlier, and thought that two weeks on a ship from Budapest to Amsterdam, passing through some areas that we had not visited before or had seen decades earlier, would be pleasant. Little did we know that Europe would experience five months without rain, that the rivers would be too low for the ships to sail, and that two-thirds of this cruise would be done on buses, including a final six-hour ride from Mainz to Amsterdam on a bus filled with coughing, hacking disgruntled fellow passengers. So much for the view of Budapest's chain bridge at night, or a cruise past Bratislava on the way to Vienna, or any cruising on the Rhine at all. At least we caught a glimpse of the Rhine when we crossed it on bridges. Viking could not do anything about the weather, so it cannot be faulted for the low river levels. But several other aspects of the cruise did not meet the expectations we had for a river cruise. Viking gives the impression that sailing through the heart of European cities means that you dock in the cities and can disembark and reembark at your leisure. That would have been true in Budapest, had a ship been there, and was true in Vienna, but then things changed. In Passau, where the ship was supposed to spend one night but actually stayed two, the ship stopped in the center so passengers could disembark, but then in the afternoon moved to a docking location out of town to which a person could not walk, but rather had to wait for a bus transfer. The cruise to Regensburg was a bus trip from Passau to Regensburg and then back to Passau, so there was no chance to simply walk off the ship and explore on one's own. The cruise to Nuremberg was a bus trip from Passau right past Regensburg on to Nuremberg. At Nuremberg a ship was waiting, and could sail on the lock-controlled waters of the Main-Danube canal. The next port was Bamberg, but did the ship stop conveniently in the center of town? No, it went beyond town to an industrial port from which people were bused to town. And was the ship there at the end of the day? No, it sailed on, and the passengers took buses to a small port further down the canal. So much for walking on and off the ship and exploring at leisure . The next port was Wuerzburg. As the ship sailed in we saw another Viking ship docked right in the center, with Viking banners and a red carpet, and assumed that we would dock beside it. Instead our ship sailed another five miles down the canal to dock in what appeared to be an oil terminal, from which people were bused back to the city for an abbreviated visit. Meanwhile another Viking ship passed going in the opposite direction and docked in town. The Grand European Tour is supposed to be Viking's premier cruise, yet it had the worst possible docking position. The words to describe that situation come from the barnyard. In Wertheim the ship docked in town, but then departed as soon as the passengers got off, so there was another bus trip to catch up to the ship. If a person tired early, there was no going back to the ship to relax. When the Main river joined the Rhine, the cruise ended. The ship docked in Mainz for two days, and then came the bus trip to Amsterdam. Viking did offer an excursion that included a short river trip to see the Lorelei, and the bus to Amsterdam stopped in Cologne for lunch and a quick tour, but there was no Koblenz, nor a cruise past the Drachenfels through Bonn to Cologne, nor a cruise on down the Rhine, nor any windmills in Holland. So what has Viking done for the passengers on this cruise? Certainly not a partial cash refund for the missed cruise experience. It has offered a voucher, valid for a year, worth fifty percent of the fare paid to be used toward a future Viking cruise. That is of no benefit to the people for who this was to be their final cruise, perhaps for health reasons or because they have cruised all of Viking's other offerings, or for people who for reasons of logistics or finances cannot make a decision within a year. It is Viking's cold, cruel calculation that most people will not use the voucher, and the company will pocket the money and continue its advertisements showing ships sailing through European cities. Just remember, their may sail through, but they don't necessarily stop there. Adding further insult, when refunding money paid in advance for optional tours that were canceled, Viking converted the dollar amounts paid to euros (the currency used on board the ship), and then reconverted it to dollars to make the refunds. As the exchange rate had changed, the dollar amount refunded was less that the amount originally paid. Finally, I do not wish to disparage the crews on the ships, nor the people on the ships responsible for the entertainment and the tours. They worked extremely hard under difficult and demoralizing circumstances as passengers became increasingly irritated and depressed, and appeared to have no support from Viking's headquarters, which was just over an hour's train trip up the Rhine from Mainz. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
It has now been one year since we completed our cruise on the viling Lif from Budapest to Amsterdam. With some perdpsective that a year offers, I can say without qualification that this cruise was my worst travel experience in over 45 ... Read More
It has now been one year since we completed our cruise on the viling Lif from Budapest to Amsterdam. With some perdpsective that a year offers, I can say without qualification that this cruise was my worst travel experience in over 45 years of worls travel and cruising. The upper deck was closed for over half the cruise, we docked in industrial areas miles away from the [ports listed in our itinerary, had to switch vessels once and spent most of our time on shuttle buses rather than exploring the areas we came to see. We xould not enjoy the port talks in the lounge as the lounde was too small to avccomodate all of the passengers. The only explanation for all opf tthe problems we heard from the onboard staff was that our travel agent should have advised us of the problemsthe djhip encountered. We spent over $7,000.00 on what was no more than a glorified bus tour that wasn'r woth half what we paid. The final touch for Viking Cruises was the customer service department offering us vouchers for future travel that we never received. Never again will I have anything to do with this company. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
WE chose Viking for a cruise of the Danube/ Amsterdam to Budapest along with our 90 year old parents. The trip started with NO VIKING REP at the airport gate- we had to search and decided to go to the buses/ taxis where the rep ... Read More
WE chose Viking for a cruise of the Danube/ Amsterdam to Budapest along with our 90 year old parents. The trip started with NO VIKING REP at the airport gate- we had to search and decided to go to the buses/ taxis where the rep finally appeared. This happened several times during our trip where they simply 'dumped us off' without any tour guide assistance. Our parents would have been absolutely lost without us!!! Additionally, Viking is cheap, cheap cheap! A Vienna symphony concert, as displayed in the brochure, was simply 12 understudies in their 20's who played well, but absolutely not the Vienna symphony. The Ship/ Lif had filthy windows and a very unfriendly staff. We changed boats to the Embla mid tour and their staff was much better. There are countless items we can criticize but we won't bore you. We took a Tauck Rhine tour 2 years ago and they excelled!! Choose Tauck cruises / Not viking !! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We booked what was advertised as A Grand European Tour over a year ago having had a flyer advising that if we booked it quickly we would get a discount of £1100 each. We paid a 25% deposit immediately to secure a French Balcony Cabin; ... Read More
We booked what was advertised as A Grand European Tour over a year ago having had a flyer advising that if we booked it quickly we would get a discount of £1100 each. We paid a 25% deposit immediately to secure a French Balcony Cabin; even with the early discount promotional offer it was an expensive holiday and from our experience represented very poor value for money. Compared to what we could have bought on an ocean cruise for the same outlay it was not worth the cost. The cruise did not start in Amsterdam; did not finish in Budapest; was not on the Embla [at least not for the first 7 nights] until we had to change ships half way through the cruise which necessitated a 4 hour autobahn coach trip from Nuremberg to Passau. We have never been told by Viking why we started on the lif and not the Embla except that it was for "operational reasons". It is certainly the case that the river levels were causing problems even before our cruise started and that was given as the reason why we had to terminate in Komarom, about two hours from Budapest. We found that trying to get answers to questions on the boat in respect of the itinerary was impossible as they were evasive. Our cabin was very small and you could not even get round the bed unless you shuffled sideways; you could also not open your laptop on the worktop as it was so narrow. It did have a very good shower and a useable 'fridge. Although we had paid for a French Balcony half the time we were moored we were tied up alongside another ship and we could not even open our curtains because of lack of privacy. We were also on many occasions moored far from the town centres or in industrial areas. On one occasion we were the jam in the sandwich between two other Viking ships and there was a really offensive smell in the public areas all day. When I complained to Viking on return they were unsympathetic and said this was due to the increasing popularity of river cruising; this was a pathetic and lame excuse as they probably have more cruise ships on the Rhine and the Danube than any other company. We found that the food was very average; menu's were basically style over substance; starters tended to be very small portions; entrees had little vegetables other than garnish an you were expected to order desert at the same time as your other courses. I complained to the restaurant manager [on the Lif] who told me ta ask for extra steamed vegetables; I did this twice- the first time they did not arrive; and the second they did but I got such a look of incredulity from the waiter I did not do it again. We also found that the complementary wine at meals [both red and white] tended to be rather sweet and when we addressed this with the waiter he tried to persuade me to buy a drinks package; however I did get the Restaurant Manager to identify more dry house wines which were freely available. Every evening there was a briefing session in regard to the following days activities and excursions; they were supposed to be "inspirational and enriching". I regret to say that our Programme Director was monotone, boring, and devoid of any enthusiasm or personality. Although English was not his first language that was not the issue; it was his mechanical delivery of information. Other passengers we spoke to also voiced this opinion. Viking state that gratuities are a personal choice yet in the information issued prior to departure they give a recommended level of tipping of 12 Euros per guest per day. The implication here is clearly that tipping is expected. For a couple this amounts to 336 Euros a not inconsiderable amount. They are guilty of giving mixed messages; it gratuities are truly an individual option then it is not appropriate to dictate recommended amounts. I have given a short appraisal of my seven page letter of complaint to Viking following the cruise but have missed out many other issues which gave us concern. I did not fine there initial response satisfactory but it has now been resolved and the matter is closed. However I will not be travelling with them in the future Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Viking Lif Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.5
Dining 4.0 4.4
Entertainment 3.0 4.2
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 1.0 3.2
Family 1.0 3.2
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.4
Enrichment 4.0 4.3
Service 4.0 4.7
Value For Money 3.0 4.1
Rates 4.0 N/A

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