Our Viking River boat NEVER left the dock

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Dec 31, 2018
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#1
My husband and I are terribly dissatisfied first-time Viking River cruisers whose $12,000 October trip from Switzerland to France turned into an insufferable bus tour through Europe. Because of low water levels, our ship NEVER left the dock. Instead, we rode busses for hours and hours to port cities along the Rhine, dashing through each town, so as not to miss the bus carrying us back to our sleeping quarters on the stranded ship.​
In conveying to us via email two days before we were to leave for our trip that low water levels may impact our itinerary, Viking’s note said, “Rest assured, we have considerable experience in navigating situations like this and we are confident you will enjoy your journey with us.” Viking’s confidence is woefully misplaced, and its attempt to disguise an expensive bus trip as a river cruise was a colossal failure. Our journey was misery. OK, stuff happens. Just be fair with us.

I've spoken to several Viking customer service reps and written detailed emails to Viking top execs (thank you for providing their contact info), and they are not stepping up to make fair restitution. They are offering measly partial (20%) vouchers for another cruise, giving us another opportunity to spend more money with Viking. Once wasn't bad enough? Why would we want to do business with this company ever again? Give me a reason, please.
 

Neil Maley

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#2
Viking is known for not budging in this. They often are the line that has to bus passengers the most because their ships aren’t built with shallow draughts to help with the low levels.

Because they disclose that they may have to change itineraries or bus you they cover themselves for these situations. This year has been an extraordinarily dry summer and almost all lines has this problem. It is very rare that the entire trip has to be bused and I can certainly understand why you are upset.

Did you use a travel agent to book your river cruise who could have warned you that this can happen? It’s a well known issue.

The only thing they will offer you us something off another cruise. If you are never going to use them again, why should they do anything else for you? They want you to come back and give them another try. I would really try to negotiate more of a discount towards another cruise and sail in a less dry season.

I highly recommend using another river cruise line that has ships built for river cruising. The experience is much better than what you experienced and other are more customer friendly as well
 

weihlac

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Jun 30, 2017
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#3
My husband and I are terribly dissatisfied first-time Viking River cruisers whose $12,000 October trip from Switzerland to France turned into an insufferable bus tour through Europe. Because of low water levels, our ship NEVER left the dock. Instead, we rode busses for hours and hours to port cities along the Rhine, dashing through each town, so as not to miss the bus carrying us back to our sleeping quarters on the stranded ship.​
In conveying to us via email two days before we were to leave for our trip that low water levels may impact our itinerary, Viking’s note said, “Rest assured, we have considerable experience in navigating situations like this and we are confident you will enjoy your journey with us.” Viking’s confidence is woefully misplaced, and its attempt to disguise an expensive bus trip as a river cruise was a colossal failure. Our journey was misery. OK, stuff happens. Just be fair with us.

I've spoken to several Viking customer service reps and written detailed emails to Viking top execs (thank you for providing their contact info), and they are not stepping up to make fair restitution. They are offering measly partial (20%) vouchers for another cruise, giving us another opportunity to spend more money with Viking. Once wasn't bad enough? Why would we want to do business with this company ever again? Give me a reason, please.
We used another river cruise operator in October and made every river port stop on the schedule. We fortunately were on a very new ship with a shallower draft, designed to deal with the low water levels. We were aware that Viking was having major problems with their ships not being able to navigate the river we were on (Danube) as well as other European rivers. Viking, unfortunately, resorts to buses. The cruise operator we were with told us if they did not cruise on the river they would cancel the entire tour and refund 100%.
If you want to direct message me I can provide more details.
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#4
I just returned from an AMA river cruise, from Nuremberg to Vienna and we were apparently the first ship getting to sail from Nuremberg (we did have a slightly altered schedule as the Danube was dropping by the hour), but us and the other 3 ships in berth made it out in the next 24 hours. Not sure what is going on now. The water levels are still extremely low. That being said, AMA was great with the schedule change, but I too, would have been really upset had a cruise turned into a bus trip. I feel that any line should allow for a refund and allow the customer to decide if they want a bus trip or not. However, that is not how most cruise contracts work.

If you used a travel agent, have them go to bat for you with Viking. If not, you can try writing the execs, one at a time, waiting a week in between each. You need to come up with a realistic resolution. I understand a few days of being bused around, but the entire trip is another thing and I feel they should reimburse you more than with 20% a future sailing.
 
Dec 31, 2018
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#5
Thanks, Neil, for your response. I would appreciate your recommendation on better cruise companies. I’d give Viking another chance if they compensated me with a cruise, but how can the company expect me to essentially pay them for a second chance. C’mon.
 
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Neil Maley

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#7
I just returned from an AMA river cruise, from Nuremberg to Vienna and we were apparently the first ship getting to sail from Nuremberg (we did have a slightly altered schedule as the Danube was dropping by the hour), but us and the other 3 ships in berth made it out in the next 24 hours. Not sure what is going on now. The water levels are still extremely low. That being said, AMA was great with the schedule change, but I too, would have been really upset had a cruise turned into a bus trip. I feel that any line should allow for a refund and allow the customer to decide if they want a bus trip or not. However, that is not how most cruise contracts work.

If you used a travel agent, have them go to bat for you with Viking. If not, you can try writing the execs, one at a time, waiting a week in between each. You need to come up with a realistic resolution. I understand a few days of being bused around, but the entire trip is another thing and I feel they should reimburse you more than with 20% a future sailing.
AMA is one is the best river cruise lines because they make their ships specifically with the low draughrs. That is our preferred river cruise line but there are others that also do a great job. Viking is known for this issue.
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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#10
Ava
I’d be very interested to know which cruise lines are more reliable and treat customers better.
Avalon! We made it into the port of Budapest with one other (Scenic), port had been closed and no one else was able to make it in because of low water. We passed numerous Viking “Long Boats ” Parked up and down the rivers between Amsterdam and Budapest and passengers being bussed long hours to do tours and switch boats that may or may not have sailed.
The low waters have been bad for the last couple 3 years. Some companies are doing better than others but the Viking Boats while very pretty have deep drafts and are not designed the way the other shallow draft boats are.

This is of course just my opinion based on my experience sailing with Avalon.
 
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JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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#11
We used another river cruise operator in October and made every river port stop on the schedule. We fortunately were on a very new ship with a shallower draft, designed to deal with the low water levels. We were aware that Viking was having major problems with their ships not being able to navigate the river we were on (Danube) as well as other European rivers. Viking, unfortunately, resorts to buses. The cruise operator we were with told us if they did not cruise on the river they would cancel the entire tour and refund 100%.
If you want to direct message me I can provide more details.
Ahhh hello??? Please just tell us who you sailed with :(
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#14
This is a terrible story, I'm so sorry that your wonderful trip turned into a bus tour. I absolutely understand exactly how you feel. I know that all cruise companies are able to rearrange almost everything as they wish, it's all laid out in the contract. There are lots of excellent European river cruise companies. It's important to use a travel agent when booking cruises ... a cruise expert TA. You probably would have been booked on a line with more low-water ships. The low water situation has been going on for a long time. This is a real shame. However, Viking has many ships on many cruises, and I urge you to pursue a voucher or discount on a future cruise. Find a good TA who can make sure you have a successful cruise. Good luck and please let us know what transpires.
 
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Neil Maley

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#15
The issue is that Viking is the only river cruise line that advertises so many people don’t know there are others out there that have a far better reputation. My wife is excellent at talking people out of Viking and to another line when she tells them the issues she’s seen with Viking.

Other river cruises also include a lot more than Viking on their prices. For instance, many have no additional costs for excursions, many include beer and wine at lunch and dinner, many include gratuities in their price. While some may seem more expensive when you look at how much more is included, it comes out cheaper.

And not many require full payment up to 18 months in advance for the special sales either. Many have much lower deposit requirements.

There is a great website called River Cruise Advisor that has a comparison chart of what is included with each river cruise company. It’s a great resource to see what other companies are out there.
 
Oct 4, 2016
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#16
Had a similar experience two years ago. One Viking captain said they had been unable to sail for 10 days prior to our arrival. Was interesting to note that all the Europeans on our cruise received an immediate 25% rebate to their fare, but Americans were only offered a $500 voucher good on another cruise within the next year. Since then, I found the following informaton:

Rights of passengers travelling by sea and inland waterways
Passengers, including those with a disability or reduced mobility, travelling by sea and by inland waterways enjoy the same rights wherever they travel in the European Union (EU). These rights, including the right to information or compensation in the case of delay or cancellation, complement similar rights for air, rail, bus and coach passengers.
ACT
Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 concerning the rights of passengers when travelling by sea and inland waterway and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004
SUMMARY
Passengers, including those with a disability or reduced mobility, travelling by sea and by inland waterways enjoy the same rights wherever they travel in the European Union (EU). These rights, including the right to information or compensation in the case of delay or cancellation, complement similar rights for air, rail, bus and coach passengers.
WHAT DOES THIS REGULATION DO?
It sets out the rights of all passengers, including the disabled and persons with reduced mobility, travelling by sea or inland waterway within the EU.
KEY POINTS
These rights apply to passengers travelling in the EU on large ferries and cruise ships on sea, rivers, lakes or canals.
They include:
reimbursement or rerouting in situations of cancellation or of delay at departure of more than 90 minutes;
adequate assistance e.g. meals, refreshments and, where necessary, accommodation for up to 3 nights in situations of cancellation or delay at departure of more than 90 minutes;
compensation of between 25 % and 50 % of the ticket price in situations of delay in arrival or cancellation of journeys;
non-discriminatory treatment and specific assistance free of charge for disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility both at port terminals and on board ships, as well as financial compensation for loss or damage of their mobility equipment;
adequate information on travel arrangements for all passengers before and during their journey, as well as general information about their rights in terminals and on board ships;
establishment of a complaint-handling mechanism by carriers and terminal operators;
establishment of independent national bodies to enforce the rights guaranteed under the regulation, including, where appropriate, the application of penalties.

Since 31 December 2012, Regulation (EC) No 392/2009 on the liability of carriers of passenger by sea also covers passengers in case of loss of damage resulting from an accident.
WHEN DOES THE REGULATION APPLY?
From 18 December 2012.
BACKGROUND
European Commission website on passenger rights - sea transport
REFERENCES
Act
Entry into force
Deadline for transposition in the Member States
Official Journal

Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010
6.1.2011
-
OJ L 334, 17.12.2010, pp. 1-16

RELATED ACTS
Regulation (EC) No 392/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of accidents (OJ L 131, 28.5.2009, pp. 24-46)

Would be nice if some attorney would file a class action suit against VIKING!
 
Jan 12, 2015
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#17
I’ve taken 2 cruises with Avalon a few years ago when water levels were fine and very much enjoyed them. I am interested in another cruise but definitely want to know which lines have the ships with the lower draughts? Any specific ships to recommend? Many thanks!
 

Neil Maley

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#20
We are doing a Vantage Rhine & Danube cruise in August and wonder how well their ships do?
I believe Vantage only has six ships so they don’t have the ability in high water to bring another ship to a bridge that perhaps one can’t get under if water levels are too high that the larger lines have.

They get mixed reviews on Cruise Critic. I would suggest that you read some of the reviews for more information.
 
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