On November 10, 2018 we concluded what we consider to be the worse cruise we have ever taken This cruise did not conform to what was sold to us in the Viking advertising and agreement. This was a bus trip with overnight stays at floating hotels, minimal river views, missed excursions due to significant time wasted in bus travel, and blocked views once on board due to Viking’s standard practice of double docking.
Only a few days before departure did Viking disclose that our cruise could be impacted by low Danube water levels. However, evidence obtained once on board the Egil, Gullveig, and the Bragi from Viking employees and leaders clearly indicated that Viking leadership knew of adverse river conditions going back at least to July 2018 and never shared this information with us or others. A cruise line that is ethical and committed to business integrity values would have shared such impactful information with booked travelers and offered either to reschedule, or cancel with a full refund of monies paid. Clearly based upon our experience, Viking is NOT an ethical cruise line committed to business integrity values. We do not recommend Viking for ANY cruise, anywhere based upon this experience.
1. Our Danube River cruise was not a cruise experience; rather it was a bus/road trip where substantial vacation time was lost getting from point to point to arrive at the next floating hotel (i.e., VIKING ship Gullveig and then Bragi). Accordingly, many of the planned and promised cruise encounters were missed, including (but not limited) failure to see the Wachau Valley Austria, failure to dock in Pasau Germany proper (although many other similar sized ships were docked there as part of their on-going journey), and failure to cruise into glorious Budapest. In lieu thereof, we were forced into bus travel to move on to meet the next ship. This was not a river cruise by any shape of the imagination.
2. As a result of a late arrival, we could not participate in the rescheduled 4 pm excursion to the Gottweig Abbey as it would now be conducted after dark; we were concerned about safety. As it turned out one of our travelers had a serious fall and was injured due to the dark/unsafe conditions surrounding the exterior of the Abbey.
3. Instead of spending seven nights on the Gullveig as booked and unpacking once, we were on three ships for seven nights with multiple unpackings, repacking’s, and two four-hour bus trips each to meet the next floating hotel. Also, instead of docking in Passau, we docked in the remote village of Staubing and had to travel to Passau by bus for more than 90 minutes with a similar return trip (again more lost vacation time – more stress). Also, more time was wasted waiting on the bus as the Gullveig was late arriving into Vienna.
4. Even with the limited time on board the ships, our French Balcony view was fully obstructed frequently due to VIKING ship double docking where all we could see was another ship flush against our balcony within 12 inches. This created a dismal feeling of being imprisoned and clearly precluded river and shore views.
5. We had clearly communicated to VIKING and again aboard ship that I had dietary restrictions, not withstanding this prior communication staff continued to provide me with normal/undesirable meals.
6. Interviews with staff and employees of all three ships clearly revealed that the river conditions that VIKING sighted as the basis for non-performance were known by VIKING senior leadership at least as far back as July 2018.
7. VIKING knew that they could not provide the cruise experience they promised yet continued to operate in gross disregard to known conditions. VIKING leadership knew that it did not have or was unlikely to secure local governmental authority to pass through needed river locks to continue the journey it had offered to its’ customers. Yet it continued in gross disregard to this prior knowledge. Also, VIKING on board ship senior leadership boasted to passengers in an open meeting that there was no need to worry about “ship swaps” as it had perfected the “famous ship swap process” over many months. Another example demonstrating significant advance prior knowledge of the operational problem, and failure to inform booked passengers early on to afford a cancellation opportunity.
8. Instead of this vacation being a pleasant stress relieving experience, it caused significant stress and was a source of constant anxiety.
As noted above, there was a significant gap between what was offered/promised by VIKING and what was provided. Overall this was a bus excursion road trip at best, certainly not a river cruise. It was totally stressful, and fully lacked the relaxing experience one would expect from being on a river cruise. We do NOT recommend Viking to anyone for any cruise based upon this experience and their lack of ethics and business integrity.
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