Summary: City of Lights Cruiseon Viking Odin with time before and after in Prague and Paris. Poor Value for Money primarily due to maintenance issue with the ship, and poor customer service. Would recommend travelers considering a river ... Read More
Summary: City of Lights Cruiseon Viking Odin with time before and after in Prague and Paris. Poor Value for Money primarily due to maintenance issue with the ship, and poor customer service. Would recommend travelers considering a river cruise seriously consider Viking competitors such as Avalon or Grand Circle.
Travel Dates: 29-July-15 to 10-Aug-15 with pre-cruise in Praque, 8 day “cruise” and post-cruise in Paris.
Our cruise was booked at the same time as my in-laws with our reservations cross referenced using the same departure and return cities. This was done so that we could assist these other two travelers, both in their eighties.
FIRST SURPRISE: After paying in full, but months before departing, we were notified that we would now embark at Bamberg (normally the second port) rather than Nuremberg.
SECOND SURPRISE: When notified of our flight details we discovered that Viking had placed us on one airline and my in-laws on a different one. The cost to get the same flights would cost hundreds of dollars above what we had already paid.
THIRD (and Biggest) SURPRISE: We were informed upon our arrival in Prague, Thursday 30-July, that our ship had broken down the day before. We were not notified of this problem prior to our departure from the US. Passengers on the cruise prior to ours were stuck at an unplanned location from Wednesday to Saturday. We were informed on Friday night that we would be bussed an additional distance to the ship on our schedule embarkation day on Saturday, and that we would be staying onboard even if the ship wasn’t capable of moving. Viking would attempt to keep as much of our itinerary the same even if it was by bus versus a river cruise.
Mega bus ride: Because of the additional distance to be covered, our time in Nuremburg was shortened with the time for lunch and our tour very rushed. Some guests missed have a lunch for fear of missing the bus departure and ate at street vendor stands. We spent over 8 hours on a bus that day.
Arrival at the Odin: When we reached the Odin, the good news was that the air conditioning was functional in our staterooms. The bad news was that the ship was still incapable of moving, with no firm projection on when things would be fixed. Additional problems persisted with air conditioning in the dining and common areas, and no TV or internet service.
More Busing: We were given the option (but declined) to spend about 4 hours on buses to see some our planned itinerary. Some guests did that touring while we remained in the local town where the boat was stuck. The next day, Monday, the ship was able to start moving, but time wouldn’t allow it to reach the intended itinerary location of Bamberg, so we were bussed the remaining distance. We spent a total of nearly 4 hours on a bus, and due to time constraints had less than 2 hours in Bamberg. The first stop in Bamberg was waiting in line for a pay toilet. On the bus ride back to the ship the Viking representative apologized and said that because the problems that day we would be treated to an open bar. With about 15 minutes to spare before our delayed dinner (due to bus delays), I attempted to get a free drink at the open bar and was informed that it wasn’t going to be a free open bar until after dinner.
Positives: Once the ship was actually moving and we were having a “River Cruise”, the sites from the river were as picturesque as the commercials and brochures.
A few more scares: Even once the ship had been “repaired”, there were a few instances of brief power and water outages.
Follow-Up: We handed in a cruise evaluation to Viking at our disembarkation where we asked to be contacted by Viking. I waited several weeks and made my own attempt to contact Viking via email. After waiting weeks for a response to my email I attempted to reach customer service by phone. The representative I spoke with apologized for our cruise issues and offered a credit for future travel. I indicated that I believed that their offer was too small based on all of the problems. She said she would investigate the possibility of a larger credit (a refund of any money was out of the question), and that she would get back to me within a week. A week later I called again, to have her apologize for not getting back. Viking offered a 25% credit on the cruise portion of our bill. She mentioned that this credit might not apply to offers already heavily discounted by Viking. That is a terribly stingy policy. It means that a prior customer with a poor experience due to Viking performance can possible get no better pricing that anyone without a voucher. It has now been over a month since the verbal communications and STILL NO COMPENSATION. Viking certainly knows how to contact me as they have sent over a dozen emails offering new cruise deals since our return home. Read Less