We are very dissatisfied with the overall ‘cruise’ experience and the compensation offered by Viking to make up for the changes in our anticipated vacation - a 7 day CRUISE on the Romantic Danube River.
Our group of three couples was aware of the low water situation a week prior to the scheduled sailing. We contacted Customer Relations on the Monday, August 13th requesting an opportunity to cancel our trip and plan our own itinerary since we were all committed to non-refundable airfare. Customer Relations refused to allow us a full refund prior to the trip and requested that we travel to Europe, embark the ship, and then file a complaint within 24 hours if we were still dissatisfied.
We were officially notified by Viking Tuesday, August 14th at 6:16 p.m. that water levels were low and that the itinerary had been changed. We again reached out to viking and left a voice message that we were interested a refund and scheduling our own trip. We did not hear back from her before it was time for us to travel.
We flew to Europe and took the train to Nuremberg. Fortunately we took an early train or we would have missed the bus to the ship. We quickly realized how disorganized, stressful and disappointing the trip was going to be. The refreshments at the Le Méridien Grand Hotel Nürnberg were second-rate and were depleted when we arrived. We received mixed instructions from the Viking representatives on hand, an apparent foreshadowing of the days ahead of us. The bus left earlier than we were earlier told, we had no time to explore Nürnberg. After a 2 hour bus ride, with no comfort stop, we arrived in Passau and embarked the Egil on August 18, 2018.
Upon arrival we discovered our cabin’s view was blocked by another ship. We did however have a great view of the other ship’s guests dirty socks drying on their deck chair. Eventually the ship moved and we had a view, sadly our friends who were on the other side of the ship now had a blocked view.
The night of the 18th the on board crew relayed to us the itinerary changes for the next day. They said they were unable to tell us about the rest of the cruise days because conditions downstream were volatile and changing. We were told that the excursions the next day would be leaving at 8:00 a.m. by motor coach. Unlike most of our fellow passengers we are not retirees. We are employed individuals who came on vacation to relax and get away from the stresses of our busy work lives. We anticipated relaxing evenings on board, cocktails in hand, long restful nights of sleep, awakening leisurely in port before excursions in the adjacent port. Getting up at 6:30 a.m. was not any of our ideas of a good time. None of us wanted to get on a bus first thing in the morning. We therefore skipped the excursions on the 19th and filed an official complaint, as your brochures instruct passengers to do, within the first 24 hours of embarking. Hotel Manager Davis Thomas relayed our complaint to Customer Relations via email that day.
On Sunday, August 19th, Mr. Thomas relayed to us that because the water levels were out of the control of Viking Cruises, no refund of our expenses would be given.
We were very disappointed and frustrated with the lack of refund or financial compensation offered. Viking’s offer of 25 percent off a future cruise was completely a slap in the face. We wanted to get off of the boat, not think about planning a return cruise! We wanted to get off and derive our own itinerary. We are very capable of doing so and it would have allowed us to have the relaxing, stress-free vacation we anticipated. While we realize that the water levels are out of control of Viking, what was in Viking's control was the forthcoming communication of information and/or the opportunity to offer financial compensation that would have helped to make us feel less trapped and less taken advantage of. It was very difficult to have our itinerary communicated to us piecemeal by the crew and we feel strongly that this was done intentionally. When we arrived in Budapest we saw a Viking ship that we were told had been stuck there for a month! So, Viking was aware of the water conditions downstream and was not forthcoming with that information.
Our trip was not relaxing. We spent many hours on motor coaches. We spent only 1½ days cruising. We were deprived of hours of relaxation on board that we had looked forward to for over a year. We came home stressed, frustrated and feeling that we had been taken advantage of by Viking Cruises.
Our outreach to Viking has been just as stressful as the trip. They first offered 25% off a future cruise, then 50% off a future cruise, and then finally $500 with the condition that we sign a non-disclosure statement. Obviously, those offers have been declined in favor of informing as many people as we can so that others will make more informed decisions regarding who they cruise with. Choose a company that will stand behind their Customer Service pledges. Choose a company that will be honorable. Choose a company that will not take your money and keep it regardless of the product they provide.