Let me begin this letter by introducing myself as an experienced traveler. My husband and I are avid cruisers, but also have traveled extensively through Europe by automobile while living in Marseille, France and Copenhagen, Denmark. We have sailed on Royal Caribbean , Holland America, Celebrity, Cunard and Regent Seven Seas; each of these cruise lines has their attributes and meets a particular need or want. We were aware there wouldn’t be live shows, extravagant entertainment etc, but we were “sold” on the idea of the ability to immerse ourselves in the culture and learn about the people and places we would visit. We would be able to come and go from our ship, docked “in the heart of” the town we were visiting; we would enjoy dining on the cuisine of the area. To say that I was disappointed in our experience would be putting it mildly. The following is a summary of why I feel Viking is selling a product it no longer delivers.
Let us begin at the beginning; our flight arrangements were made through Viking. Why would anyone traveling East be sent via Chicago (to the west of us)? Clearly, this was to save Viking money and add us to the West Coast travelers, the obvious choice would be to send us via New York. The entire trip took us 24 hours! Remember, we lived in Europe for eight years, I KNOW how long that trip should take. Even though I actually missed the first day, I let this go and chose to enjoy my trip; Budapest was as lovely as I remembered. When we arrived at port in Vienna, I was somewhat surprised at the docking structure, three Viking ships docked side by side. While I understood the necessity, I don’t think I would have opted for a balcony at extra cost to me, if I had known in advance that in several ports, my view would be that of another traveler’s room. This aspect of travel is left out of Viking advertisement! My drapes needed to be drawn the entire time we were in these ports to provide a modicum of privacy; why bother to pay for a balcony you can NOT take advantage of even to sit and read for an hour? We arrived in Melk and the tour of the abbey was lovely, however, there was no way to get up close with the locals as we were driven to the Abbey and returned in time for the ship to depart. Finally, upon arrival in Passau, I thought this is the Viking experience! We were docked so close to town; I was able to navigate my way back to the ship after the tour and leave at my leisure to enjoy my own time in the town. Unfortunately, due to water levels we were informed that we would have to change ships, something we were all aware was a possibility. Due to this our ship remained in Passau, and our travel to Regensburg was by bus, but limited time was allotted for some touring on your own before returning to the ship via bus. The following day, we had a lengthy drive to Nuremberg. Unfortunately, we had to eliminate one of our tours in this highly anticipated location, but again, I chose to remain optimistic. Due to this lengthy drive, there was 20 minutes after our tour given to explore on our own. (Having been in Germany before, I personally was looking forward to a trip to Katie Wolfhart and was denied the opportunity at this stop; the only other opportunity was in Bamberg and unfortunately our stop here was on a Sunday. Clearly, not a disaster, yet another disappointment.) Now, things begin to add up here; upon our arrival at the Viking Egdir, our buses were stopped at the entrance to the port. The entry gate was locked, and all travelers were forced to walk through an unsafe shipyard, across old train tracks to the ship. These pictures illustrate the hazards as well as “the view” I was paying to see. Viking informs its travelers that changing ships may be required, however nowhere did I see mention of commercial ports being utilized. Unbelievable AND unacceptable!
Our next port, Bamberg, here we were docked in what I believe was some kind of wood cutting-shipping port. We were able to see logs cut up and ready to be placed on a barge. Again, not the view I was promised and again a bus ride to Bamberg, which allowed a bit of time to walk about after the tour, but everything was closed as it was a Sunday. Our days in Wurzburg, Wertheim, and Koblenz were without surprises other than again being docked side by side with other Viking ships. On July 6th, I was having breakfast when I saw the magnificent Cologne Cathedral through the window. I anticipated a wonderful day in the city, but we kept on sailing. I was confused but we eventually docked in what we were told was the “Winter Harbor”. Returning to my room, I noticed the main deck was literally looking at earth. Please enjoy the pictures of this disastrous choice of port.
Response from VikingS, Community Team