We departed Phoenix,AZ on July 12, 2022, bound for a Viking Grand European River Cruise boarding in Budapest, Hungry on the Viking Aegir. We are very experienced cruisers with 9 Viking cruises for myself and 12 for my spouse. Upon arrival we were greeted by Viking representative at the Budapest airport and boarded a bus telling us they had called the ship, and someone would be there to greet us. Arriving at the dock the bus driver opened the luggage door and not speaking English motioned for us to take our baggage. 2 Ships were tethered together and not knowing which one was ours and about 20-30 steep stairs and a gangway we had to manhandle the bags down the stairs, not one Viking rep was to be seen. After finding our ship the Customer Service desk said they didn't know we were coming and made no effort to find anyone saying it was time for dinner. We soon found this lack of empathy was to be repeated over the next 2 weeks on 2 different ships and crews. Our luggage was lost by the airlines, as was 10% of the ship's passengers, it didn't seem much effort was being put into help to locate it. If effort was being made, they did not convey any information to the passengers.
Due to low water levels, we were told we may need to change ships halfway through the trip in Nuremberg. We thought maybe this would be good as the staff seemed so inexperienced, dinner would take 2-3 hours because of lack of staff and experience (how wrong we were). Sure enough we did change ship to the Viking Embla after 2 days in a hotel with mediocre food. From the first day there was confusion when tour buses didn't arrive or arrived late. Our tours consisted of abbreviated trips because we were always late and due to lack of personnel, we often drove around the countryside oblivious to what we were seeing. I felt we had booked a bus tour rather than a river cruise, because so much time was spent driving around. Daily schedules were never correct with many event cancellations, confusion was the rule of the day. Once we were on the second ship the air conditioning did not work in the public spaces and the crew would never offer any explanation and dinner for 3 days was excruciating. We never saw any of the officers except the Captain for about 45 seconds when he told us we can freeze now as the air was fixed (he wasn't a people person). The staff was in the same condition as the first ship in that they were shorthanded, inexperienced, and overwhelmed.
Several of the staff have to be commended especially the cruise director who devoted himself 150% with absolutely no help from the ship staff or it seemed Viking Headquarters, who seemed to parcel out needed information only after desperation set in. He was a one man show and desperately needed an assistant.
Response from VikingS, Community Team