Vantage Majestic Rivers of Europe Fiasco

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Jan 28, 2019
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#1
My husband and I booked a Majestic Rivers of Europe cruise for July 7, 2018 on April 10, 2018. It was a two week cruise and we upgraded to a "suite" in order to get the perks that came with it. After one week we were taken off the boat and put on buses for hour(s) each day to finish the trip. We contacted Vantage personnel using the names on your website. Attached is the last email I sent.

Dear Ms. Dirkman and Ms. Rendes,

We received your letter of August 2, 2018 responding to our concerns about our recent trip. Your offer of $4240 to apply toward another trip is unacceptable. We understand that you have no control over the depth of the river and your inability to navigate it. What you do have control over is how you respond to that occurrence and how you inform passengers before the voyage of your knowledge of the real potential for this to occur (since it has occurred before at the same spot and in the same month).

We booked a river trip not a bus trip. When you found that the boat could not proceed on the river, you made the change to a bus trip without giving your passengers much information or any choices.

You advertise that hotels on your trips are "First Class". The hotel you had us in in Nuremberg was a Holiday Inn in the red-light district. The hotel in Frankfurt was a NH Hotel in an industrial area near the airport. Neither of these are "First Class."

You had the option of offering us our money back for the second half of the cruise and letting us choose how we spent our time. Instead you decided to provide a trip that we did not want and gave us no options. We could have returned home or traveled on our own until our return flight. Your company gave us very little information regarding what was happening except to say that "maybe we can return to the boat in 3 or 4 days". Since the river was impassable, you knew that was not true.

According to your invoice, the journey price of our trip was $12,398.00. We were able to travel on the boat for one-half of that time. The cost of that would be $6,199.00. We upgraded our cabin because it included not only a nicer cabin but also free laundry. Because of the free laundry, we brought fewer clothes. We then had to use the laundry facilities at the hotels which was an additional cost.

Since the cruise was turned into a bus trip at mediocre hotels, we researched some week-long land tours of Germany. The prices for these tours ranged from $749 per person up to $1405 per person at comparable hotels to the ones we stayed in. An average of these fares would be about $1200. Using that figure, we would like a cash refund of $3,799.00. We feel this is a reasonable request.

We are retired and travel often. This is the first vacation we experienced that we can truly say was a major disappointment.

Sincerely,

Michael and Elizabeth Riback

Shortly after I sent this email my husband was taken very ill and spent 2 months in the hospital. Only now can follow up on my email which received no response.
 
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#2
The problem of low water levels in European rivers is an ongoing problem that has affected many river cruise operators in the last year.
Your cruise contract likely has addressed this issue when you signed the cruise package agreement. Some operators have canceled cruises and refunded the fares. Others, including Viking, have run the cruises and transferred passengers by bus. Unfortunately, cruise travel insurance does not cover low water levels.
It is up to the operator of the cruise to decide how they will proceed. Refunds are at the discretion of the operator.
You can escalate your request to the next level executive at Vantage.
 
Likes: Neil Maley

johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#3
@Betty R. Here's your problem: (From their T&C)
"ALTERATIONS & MODIFICATIONS: We reserve the right to modify tour itineraries and substitute hotels and accommodations if Vantage believes it is necessary to do so or will enhance the safety, comfort or enjoyment of the trip. Included features may not be available for all departures. If a vessel is not able to complete the scheduled itinerary due to low water, high water, governmental intervention, mechanical breakdown, or other reason, we reserve the right to modify the itinerary, which right shall include the use of hotels and motor coaches where necessary. Additionally, Vantage may, for any reason, without prior notice, cancel a cruise; deviate from the scheduled ports of call, route and timetable; call or omit to call at any port or place or cancel or modify any activity on or off the vessel; comply with all governmental laws and orders given by governmental authorities; render assistance to preserve life and property; or change the date or time of sailing or arrival, change the port of embarkation or disembarkation, shorten the cruise or substitute a vessel or other transportation or lodging. Vantage is not responsible for any losses you may incur as a result of such cancellations or deviations. Vantage, at its option, may substitute accommodations of an equal or superior class or provide a full refund of the fare actually paid by you for such cruise, or substitute accommodations of a lower class and provide a refund of the difference, if any, between the booked class and the substitute class for such cruise, but Vantage shall not incur any other liability for failure to provide the reserved berth. Any partial refunds shall be calculated in accordance with Vantage’s typical business practices. "

So the short answer is that according to the T&Cs you agreed to, they owe you nothing.

You can continue to push but understand that under the terms of your contract, they don't owe you anything.... A credit maybe the best you'll receive.
 
Jan 11, 2015
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#4
I find that the Riback's letter to Vantage is very well written, and is clear, concise (not a laundry list of complaints) and objective. They are more than fair in what they are requesting of Vantage, and hope they are successful.
 
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Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#5
I find that the Riback's letter to Vantage is very well written, and is clear, concise (not a laundry list of complaints) and objective. They are more than fair in what they are requesting of Vantage, and hope they are successful.
Most likely they will not receive anything back because every river cruise line's terms and conditions cover them for these issues with low water level. John Baker posted the terms. Unfortunately, this is a known issue with river cruises and most will not refund anything because they have to pay for the buses and hotels that they need to put the clients in when they have to change.

Vantage is not a luxury river cruise line so I can't see them putting clients in luxury hotels.
 
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johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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#6
@Tenerife I agree with you... it is a well written letter. I'm always cognizant of what I'm legally owed, in this case nothing, vs what I'm requesting. In the case that you aren't legally owed anything, the odds are not high that you are actually going to receive a refund. In those cases, the company is going to offer you a credit. In this case, the company offered them a fairly significant credit (30% +) for a future cruise.

Now in the case you arent legally owed a refund... I always push for the refund or significantly more in credit. The contract is on your side.
 
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Dec 27, 2014
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NoVA
#7
What you do have control over is how you respond to that occurrence and how you inform passengers before the voyage of your knowledge of the real potential for this to occur (since it has occurred before at the same spot and in the same month).
Low water levels is very common with river cruises. I think it's one sided to hold all the blame the cruise line for not informing you of a "known issue" where it was just as easy for a traveler to discover that this itinerary (ship/date) is prone to being redirected to buses. There are many travel sites that would have alerted you that this was a potentially problematic sailing. It's always important to do as much research as possible before committing to a cruise. River cruises are always a buyer beware situation.
 
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#8
My husband and I booked a Majestic Rivers of Europe cruise for July 7, 2018 on April 10, 2018. It was a two week cruise and we upgraded to a "suite" in order to get the perks that came with it. After one week we were taken off the boat and put on buses for hour(s) each day to finish the trip. We contacted Vantage personnel using the names on your website. Attached is the last email I sent.
Did you book this cruise yourself directly on the Vantage website, or did you use a travel agent? If you used a travel agent, they should have informed you of the low water issues which have been ongoing for some time. If you used a travel agent you should talk to them directly.
If you booked yourself directly on the website then you need to be aware of the product you are contracting for.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Mar 23, 2015
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#9
I find that the Riback's letter to Vantage is very well written, and is clear, concise (not a laundry list of complaints) and objective. They are more than fair in what they are requesting of Vantage, and hope they are successful.
I agree. I also think these river cruises are VASTLY overpriced in general so that when you, in cases such as this, do not get what you paid for, you feel even more shorted than you otherwise would have. I hope they get a refund of something. I despise companies that only offer to allow you the opportunity to give them MORE money.
 
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Neil Maley

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#10
I agree. I also think these river cruises are VASTLY overpriced in general so that when you, in cases such as this, do not get what you paid for, you feel even more shorted than you otherwise would have. I hope they get a refund of something. I despise companies that only offer to allow you the opportunity to give them MORE money.
They are priced higher than ocean cruises for several reasons. First you don’t have 5,000 people on a ship to pay for running the ship. You have usually less than 200 people. They also include beer and wine in many cruises, excursions and some include gratuities.

You are getting a much more inclusive vacation on a river cruise.
 
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Dec 18, 2018
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#11
My Wife and I took a Vantage 21 day river cruise from Prague to Amsterdam and had our boat time cut in half due to the low water. Viking made it work by using shuttles and another line, Avalon, got half their cruise price refunded (or credited) . We got NOTHING from Vantage and will not use them again. Response from Vantage was non-existent. They don't care about customer service. Viking appears to be the best out there from what we have learned.

Jim Fitch
Winter Park, FL
 
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#12
My Wife and I took a Vantage 21 day river cruise from Prague to Amsterdam and had our boat time cut in half due to the low water. Viking made it work by using shuttles and another line, Avalon, got half their cruise price refunded (or credited) . We got NOTHING from Vantage and will not use them again. Response from Vantage was non-existent. They don't care about customer service. Viking appears to be the best out there from what we have learned.

Jim Fitch
Winter Park, FL
Actually if you lookat the forums you will finda boatload of complaints about Viking
 
Likes: Tenerife
Apr 6, 2017
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#14
We've booked the same Vantage Majestic Rivers of Europe cruise for August 2020. Hard to believe (or should it be???) that many summer European river boat cruises become bus tours. Makes us nervous. Anyone know if this is a very likely possibility?
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#15
It all depends on river levels. As we’ve said many times- there are some river cruise lines that purposely build their ships with with low draughts so the ships are lighter and higher in the water and wont be affected as much by low waters.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#16
We've booked the same Vantage Majestic Rivers of Europe cruise for August 2020. Hard to believe (or should it be???) that many summer European river boat cruises become bus tours. Makes us nervous. Anyone know if this is a very likely possibility?
Unfortunately, low water levels have been a problem for quite some time. We did Rhine and Mosel last May on Avalon and were fine ... but I was extremely nervous. We had one port change, but no bussing town to town. I seriously cannot imagine how awful that would be. Our cruise director was a real pro and most people didn't even notice that they were doing something else. I would not be booking a river cruise in August ... maybe late September or October. There's a website that gathers all this kind of info on water levels; I don't remember the name but you can get it from your travel agent or find it with a search.

To respond to one of my colleagues ... river cruises are very special, almost everything's included and then some. But they wouldn't be so expensive if they had 1800 passengers like an ocean cruiser. It's all economies of scale. I'd take a river cruise over two ocean cruises any day.
 
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#17
We've booked the same Vantage Majestic Rivers of Europe cruise for August 2020. Hard to believe (or should it be???) that many summer European river boat cruises become bus tours. Makes us nervous. Anyone know if this is a very likely possibility?
Europe has been in a drought condition for some time. Unless there is a major change, the low water levels will be an ongoing problem. August has been very dry.
You may wish to investigate further. Travel insurance will not cover low water levels.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/28/travel/european-river-cruises-low-water-cancel.html
 
Apr 6, 2017
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#18
I sent this e-mail to Vantage:
I keep hearing reports of recurrent problems with low water levels on European rivers, especially in the summer, and the inability of cruise boats to navigate when this happens. Then river cruises become bus tours with stops at mediocre hotels. Is our ship able to cope with low water levels? We are paying a lot of money for a river cruise - not for a land tour! If there is a good chance that the river cruise will not happen, we want to rethink this trip. Please advise me of what Vantage will do for its customers under these circumstances. Certainly you will know days or even weeks before if the water levels are low. Thank you
And I got this reply:
Thank you for contacting Vantage Deluxe World Travel. In an event that we are dealing with low water levels we do inform our guest prior to departure. If this occurs we will update all guest on how/if the trip will be adjusted.
So,
Not much of an answer. It seems that our ship may not be able to cope with low water levels,. So passengers should stay tuned to learn "how / if the trip will be adjusted" in case the ship doesn't sail.
Is there any data on how often in recent summers low water levels have seriously interferred with river boat sailings on the Rhine and Danube?
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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#19
I sent this e-mail to Vantage:
I keep hearing reports of recurrent problems with low water levels on European rivers, especially in the summer, and the inability of cruise boats to navigate when this happens. Then river cruises become bus tours with stops at mediocre hotels. Is our ship able to cope with low water levels? We are paying a lot of money for a river cruise - not for a land tour! If there is a good chance that the river cruise will not happen, we want to rethink this trip. Please advise me of what Vantage will do for its customers under these circumstances. Certainly you will know days or even weeks before if the water levels are low. Thank you
And I got this reply:
Thank you for contacting Vantage Deluxe World Travel. In an event that we are dealing with low water levels we do inform our guest prior to departure. If this occurs we will update all guest on how/if the trip will be adjusted.
So,
Not much of an answer. It seems that our ship may not be able to cope with low water levels,. So passengers should stay tuned to learn "how / if the trip will be adjusted" in case the ship doesn't sail.
Is there any data on how often in recent summers low water levels have seriously interferred with river boat sailings on the Rhine and Danube?
No because much depends on the weather. A few years ago there were cancellations because the river levels were too high due to excessive rain. There is now way to know until the day the ship departs.

This is how a river cruise works - not a single river cruise line is immune to this.
 

Carol Phillips

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Dec 28, 2014
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#20
Did you book this cruise yourself directly on the Vantage website, or did you use a travel agent? If you used a travel agent, they should have informed you of the low water issues which have been ongoing for some time. If you used a travel agent you should talk to them directly.
If you booked yourself directly on the website then you need to be aware of the product you are contracting for.
Vantage does not like to deal with travel agents. They offer a tiny "finders fee" to agents instead of the normal commission structure of other river and ocean cruise lines. Vantage does a LOT of direct marketing to clients, so my educated guess is that the OP booked directly with Vantage.