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This was my first river cruise. We were originally scheduled to sail on the Kara from Amsterdam to Basel for a seven night cruise. However, a few days before we were to sail, we got an email telling us that we were going to be getting on the Hlin in Amsterdam instead of the Kara. This did not really concern us since they seemed to be identical ships. The Hlin was initially docked at an industrial port in Amsterdam, Coenhaven, which is about 10 km outside of the city. It cost us $50 euro to get there. We could not walk to the city from here, and as a result,, we lost time in exploring the city. The worst thing is that Viking did not tell us where to go for the ship! It was not one of the three "possible" ports indicated on their website. We really enjoyed the first three nights on the Hlin. The chef was excellent, the crew was great and we had a happy ship. That all changed on day three when we were told to pack our bags and have them ready at our door at 9 am, we were going to be transferred by bus to the Kara and the Kara passengers were being transferred to the Hlin. OK so we were going to miss an evening in the lounge, I was not that upset. Sometimes you have to go with the flow. I wish I could say that was the end of our troubles. After our morning excursion to Marburg Castle, we got back on board the ship for lunch and a brief sailing on the Rhine. We were not allowed to return to our rooms and had to stay in the public areas. We were lucky it was a nice day and we could enjoy the top deck. This turned out to be the only time we actually sailed on the Rhine! For just 2 hours. We missed seeing the most beautiful part of the river. Of course they lied and told us that we would be missing nothing, that we would only miss seeing the part of the river they sail on when we are sleeping. Then they stopped at the side of the river and loaded us all on buses. They told us it would be a 2 hour bus trip to Kehl. It took almost 5 hours to get there! We stopped for the bathroom once and had to pay to use the toilet! The crew of the Kara had been told not to discuss how long they had been tied up at Kehl (over 2 weeks!). The ship seemed older than the Hlin and the service on the Kara was below par. It was if we were with a different tour company. We did not sail once we were at Kehl, but rather,we were bused everywhere! For the next four days. The cruise director said these circumstances were most unusual. We later learned this is a common occurrence. We completely skipped four of our port cities: Koblenz, Heidelberg, Breisach and Basel. We received no compensation for this deviation of itinerary. We were bused to some (not all) of these places but we did not sail to any of them. We paid extra to have a balcony. It was a waste of money. We never got to enjoy it. The view from my balcony in Amsterdam was of a highway. Would you want to sit on your deck looking at the cars flying by? Here's another thing they don't tell you: the ships are often stacked at ports. This happened to us twice! Can you imagine having a ship right next to your room? We could not see out of our window (as advertised) or sit on our balcony. In fact, I had to keep the curtains in the room closed if I didn't want someone to see in my room! We paid for a balcony and never got to use it. One of the things that Viking advertises is “Our ships gently carry you to the world’s greatest cities, deliver you to the center of charming towns and villages and connect you to your destination.” This never happened for us. In fact, not once did they "deliver us to the center of charming towns and villages" On the second night in Cologne, we were docked about ten kilometers from the city. We were told there were no docks in the city. But we saw many river cruise boats docked right in town including several competitor companies who were in Viking spots using Viking River Cruise ramps. And after that we were stuck in Kehl for the rest of the trip. Every day they lied to us. They lied about changing ships, the lied about how much time we would be on each bus (by at least an hour each day!), they lied about what we would be missing on the Rhine, they lied about the locks and they lied about the problems. And everyone on the ship felt the same way as we did. Not only has Viking not offered a refund, they only offered us 25% off of future cruises. We will never again sail on Viking. My ratings below are a combination of both ships. In general the Hlin was well run and, in general, the Kara was below par. The lies and lack of information was inexcusable.

The Lies Viking told us

Viking Kara Cruise Review by eavigad

62 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was my first river cruise. We were originally scheduled to sail on the Kara from Amsterdam to Basel for a seven night cruise. However, a few days before we were to sail, we got an email telling us that we were going to be getting on the Hlin in Amsterdam instead of the Kara. This did not really concern us since they seemed to be identical ships.

The Hlin was initially docked at an industrial port in Amsterdam, Coenhaven, which is about 10 km outside of the city. It cost us $50 euro to get there. We could not walk to the city from here, and as a result,, we lost time in exploring the city. The worst thing is that Viking did not tell us where to go for the ship! It was not one of the three "possible" ports indicated on their website.

We really enjoyed the first three nights on the Hlin. The chef was excellent, the crew was great and we had a happy ship. That all changed on day three when we were told to pack our bags and have them ready at our door at 9 am, we were going to be transferred by bus to the Kara and the Kara passengers were being transferred to the Hlin. OK so we were going to miss an evening in the lounge, I was not that upset. Sometimes you have to go with the flow. I wish I could say that was the end of our troubles.

After our morning excursion to Marburg Castle, we got back on board the ship for lunch and a brief sailing on the Rhine. We were not allowed to return to our rooms and had to stay in the public areas. We were lucky it was a nice day and we could enjoy the top deck. This turned out to be the only time we actually sailed on the Rhine! For just 2 hours. We missed seeing the most beautiful part of the river. Of course they lied and told us that we would be missing nothing, that we would only miss seeing the part of the river they sail on when we are sleeping. Then they stopped at the side of the river and loaded us all on buses. They told us it would be a 2 hour bus trip to Kehl. It took almost 5 hours to get there! We stopped for the bathroom once and had to pay to use the toilet!

The crew of the Kara had been told not to discuss how long they had been tied up at Kehl (over 2 weeks!). The ship seemed older than the Hlin and the service on the Kara was below par. It was if we were with a different tour company.

We did not sail once we were at Kehl, but rather,we were bused everywhere! For the next four days. The cruise director said these circumstances were most unusual. We later learned this is a common occurrence.

We completely skipped four of our port cities: Koblenz, Heidelberg, Breisach and Basel. We received no compensation for this deviation of itinerary. We were bused to some (not all) of these places but we did not sail to any of them.

We paid extra to have a balcony. It was a waste of money. We never got to enjoy it.

The view from my balcony in Amsterdam was of a highway. Would you want to sit on your deck looking at the cars flying by? Here's another thing they don't tell you: the ships are often stacked at ports. This happened to us twice! Can you imagine having a ship right next to your room? We could not see out of our window (as advertised) or sit on our balcony. In fact, I had to keep the curtains in the room closed if I didn't want someone to see in my room! We paid for a balcony and never got to use it.

One of the things that Viking advertises is “Our ships gently carry you to the world’s greatest cities, deliver you to the center of charming towns and villages and connect you to your destination.” This never happened for us. In fact, not once did they "deliver us to the center of charming towns and villages" On the second night in Cologne, we were docked about ten kilometers from the city. We were told there were no docks in the city. But we saw many river cruise boats docked right in town including several competitor companies who were in Viking spots using Viking River Cruise ramps. And after that we were stuck in Kehl for the rest of the trip.

Every day they lied to us. They lied about changing ships, the lied about how much time we would be on each bus (by at least an hour each day!), they lied about what we would be missing on the Rhine, they lied about the locks and they lied about the problems. And everyone on the ship felt the same way as we did.

Not only has Viking not offered a refund, they only offered us 25% off of future cruises. We will never again sail on Viking. My ratings below are a combination of both ships. In general the Hlin was well run and, in general, the Kara was below par. The lies and lack of information was inexcusable.
eavigad’s Full Rating Summary
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