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11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2014
The Viking River Cruise of the Douro that my wife and I took at the end of March did not call at a series of ports according to the planned “cruise”, and the only day of movement on the ship that we all experienced was the last day ... Read More
The Viking River Cruise of the Douro that my wife and I took at the end of March did not call at a series of ports according to the planned “cruise”, and the only day of movement on the ship that we all experienced was the last day when it was able to take advantage of the downstream current and cover over 100km in just over half a day. As happened last year, there was a high water problem on the Douro River. Our new ship, the Viking Hemming, overnighted in Porto, and on Monday there was a tour of the town (in the rain), and after lunch an optional excursion. This joined the ship again (it was a little late) at the deserted mooring of Bitetos. There is nothing in Bitetos except a car park and a cafe. We expected to set sail the next morning, but it was delayed a couple of hours and then later that day, and then indefinitely. The boat remained moored in Bitetos for three days. Regrettably Viking, who may or may not have known that this would happen, did not come clean, and kept promising that we would be moving soon, but that we were at the hands of the Port Authorities (not sure if they meant the river or the drink!). We were eventually offered excursions from Bitetos, but these were a diluted form of what we were expecting, and because of the location and the nature of the roads, necessitated long coach journeys. Whether or not it might have been a good idea to cut everyone’s losses and go back to Porto was never considered or offered. As passengers we were kept pretty much in the dark, being reassured that Viking was doing everything it could to assist passenger needs, but the one thing that was not happening was cruising. We spent 3 days with a great view of the mooring wall from our “state room”. It needs to be noted that the river destinations on the Douro are not the ‘inspiring’ ones promised by Viking literature. Some of the destinations, confirmed by the guidebooks, might only have one attraction, so a two hour journey to Pinhão on a coach was only to see the wonderful railway station with its decorated tile panels. One thing that Viking did was to get in visits to a series of vineyards such as the Quinta do Seixo where Sandeman comes from: this trip was not short of port-tasting opportunities. These helped provide some 'glowing' memories of the cruise, dulling some of the anger and disappointment. Eventually the ship moved (apparently at such short notice that one set of people who were passing the time walking the country roads were abandoned and were brought along subsequently by taxi) whilst most were on another coach trip, to the town of Regua. This is a main transport interchange, but the only thing really worth seeing is the Museum of the Douro. At last we could look out of our stateroom window, but that only lasted 6 hours, as another cruise boat of identical proportions, running the blockade, tied up alongside, and we were plunged into darkness. By this time it was clear that the cruise would never reach its final destination before coming back, and we were given poor choices for excursions on coaches. The choice we did not make was a four hour trip to Salamanca for a four hour stop (of which 1.5hrs was a lunch). Only 4 of 83 passengers chose to do that. So the good points were that the Viking Hemming is a brand new boat ( it was the maiden voyage) which is well kitted out with televisions and wifi in every room. The food was mostly good, being heavily influenced by local cuisine, and there was plenty of wine. In principle this could be a very interesting tour if it happened. The down side was that there was seemingly inadequate contingency planning, and the information given to passengers was of such poor quality that it resulted in excessive speculation and became the dominant topic of conversation of the trip. People started to compare disaster stories rather than enjoy the events. Whether or not Viking knew before departure that the trip would not be completed is debatable, but from hearsay, it seems that some of the crew knew that ships simply would not be moving that month. Towards the end of the trip all passengers received a standard letter indicating that there would be compensation from Viking. Even the Captain (who did not have a great command of English or public speaking) admitted that we had only had half a cruise. Tempers started to fray and a briefing meeting was impressed by some passengers who insisted, in strident tones, that we should have a 100% refund. Other passengers talked of failed river cruises where they had been given 75% off their next cruise. Before we had even completed our return to Porto, where the cruise had started, a letter had been sent out from Viking offices to our homes with a derisory offer of 25% of what we had paid (i.e. not the book price but the final negotiated price(+) against another cruise taken before the end of 2015. I hope this will be improved upon, as the company has done significant damage to its reputation, and came across as an organisation which we felt we might have difficulty in trusting. Whilst the ground part of the holiday worked fine in Lisbon, and we had a floating hotel, board and drink, and some of the excursions, this was not the holiday we signed up for. At the moment, subject to my further negotiation with Viking, it is difficult for me to feel that the company want to make me feel any better about this sad experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2010
Our letter to Viking following the cruise was 2 full pages and was practically ignored. They offered us $500 each credit on a future cruise with them (which will never happen). I will reduce it here for you. My wife has been in the travel ... Read More
Our letter to Viking following the cruise was 2 full pages and was practically ignored. They offered us $500 each credit on a future cruise with them (which will never happen). I will reduce it here for you. My wife has been in the travel business for 30 years and this is the first negative review we have EVER written. Some problems were minor but altogether, this was just bad. By the way, the cruise started in Antwerp and ended in Basel - a nice itinerary. They sent us information prior to the cruise for the wrong cruise. Rather than courier the correct info, they mailed it and we were already on our way to catch the cruise. The food was of the lowest quality, not cooked well and there was little choice. Dining room service was fine as long as you didn't require anything extra or different, such as a second glass of water. The boat was understaffed to the point that staff would not meet your eyes fearing you might ask for something. There was no maitre d', leaving guests to line up prior to dining room opening and rushing for a choice table - like high school. Not once in 14 days were we called by name and this ship had only 200 guests. They skipped one stop on the itinerary because another Viking ship had the dock that day and they would not pay for a second spot. We had a 2nd Viking ship docked alongside us on 4 days, which meant that we could not open our blinds of our rooms or lose all privacy from the room literally 3 feet away on the other ship. Also, that side of the dining room was dark on those days as that ship blocked all light. There was no security to get onto the ship (there was a warning to Americans in Europe the day before we set sail). Almost all excursions were to "the old town" and to "the cathedral". Very little diversity. Tour guides were anywhere from 2 out of 10 to 10 out of 10. The main lounge was too small for everyone to fit in and the design was not condusive for ease of listening to lectures. The staterooms were small but fine. Nothing special but not a problem. There was the occasional smell of fuel at night while the ship travelled. For others, it was every night and their bed was like a massage bed when the engines started up. They advertised that the fares were 2 for 1, which was a total lie. If so, this would have been a $700 per day per person cruise, more than what you can pay on a 6 star cruise today. It seems like Viking is in trouble and cut corners where possible, lower quality food, less staff, cheap tours (places with no entrance fees). Do yourself a favour and book another river cruise line. I'd be concerned with losing your deposit. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2010
As we had heard from others that traveled with Viking was of the same quality and service as AMA Waterways and they had the itinerary that we wanted, we booked a cruise with them. On 9/3/10 we embarked on Viking MS Maribelle in Lyon on ... Read More
As we had heard from others that traveled with Viking was of the same quality and service as AMA Waterways and they had the itinerary that we wanted, we booked a cruise with them. On 9/3/10 we embarked on Viking MS Maribelle in Lyon on their Southern France Serenade 8 day cruise on the Rhone and Saone Rivers. Our first impression of the ship was that it was an old ship and that it did not have the luxury appearance of their Neptune ship. When we got to our stateroom, we were disappointed to see that it did not have a bed, but had two small couches which turned into separate small twin beds with hard mattresses. This was the same setup throught the ship. My husband who is tall could barely fit and if you turned too quickly, you hit the wall. Next came the very small shower that when you turned on the water, the curtain stuck to your body. The dinning experience can be described as the same level and quality as eating at a Denny's restaurant. The food was without taste and of poor quality. They added so much ice to their orange juice that when it melted, it was more water then orange juice. They served their left over smoked fish from the night before for their breakfast. You got the feeling that they were rationing their food throughout the trip, not that it matter as it was of poor taste that you did not want large portions anyway. They offered wine with dinner at no cost, but it was cheap wine, so you were not too eager to drink much of it. The cruise director though friendly, provided minimal service. He did not go out of his way to provide more service then required. Some of the waiters had a difficult time understanding English and made it hard to get service from them. The maitre'd came across as very rigid and strict with rules that it made you feel uncomfortable asking for service. The stateroom cleaning staff, however, were very good. They service your room efficiently and left your room sparkling clean. The entertainment was very poor. The one musician aboard played the same beat to every song in a Hungarian tone. This was not conducive to wanting to stay and enjoy hearing him play or enjoy dancing to the music. The one thing that was good about this cruise, were the port and shore excursions. We saw some very beautiful areas of France and sites. During the cruise, we heard that Viking leased the ship Ms Maribelle and it's crew as there was a high demand for this itinerary. In my opinion they were more concerned with making money, then providing quality and excellent service. Throughout our trip, we heard the same complains from a number of passengers and it became a joke to talk about the quality and service of the ship. We could not wait to get off the ship. It was very upsetting to feel this way after having travel so far and having spend the money and receive this kind of treatment. In summary, we would not recommend this cruise to anyone and would not recommend Viking as it appears they cared more about making money and little about the service and quality they provide. Read Less

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