Viking Cruise Disaster

  • Hi Guest, welcome to the help forum. You can get fast answers to your customer service questions here. We have a dedicated team of advocates who are ready to help. Just go to the section that matches your question and ask us!
  • If you've posted a question or issue for our advocates to assist with, please be sure to check back frequently for responses and requests for clarification.
  • Did you know you can get email notifications when something new posts to your favorite forum? It's easy. Just click the "watch" link right next to the "post new thread" button at the top of your favorite forum. The rest is easy. Now you'll never miss another conversation.
  • Want to become an expert user? Drop by the How to use this forum section and all will be revealed. We'll show you how to make the most of your experience.
Mar 14, 2019
1
0
1
18
#1
We would like to request your assistance in receiving a refund for a recent Viking Romantic Danube river “cruise” that we took from August 11 to August 19, 2018.
My husband and I are both retired and this was supposed to be the vacation experience of a lifetime. We decided that due to our back issues we would purchase business class airfare to minimize the discomfort of a long plane ride.
We made our reservations on July 28, approximately 2 weeks before the cruise was to begin, and paid in full. At this time, Viking and its representative must have known about the low water conditions on the Danube; however, nothing was mentioned during our reservation process. The first notice that we received about the low water conditions was an email on August 8, three days before our cruise was to begin, saying that due to low water levels on the Danube, “when water levels are low, navigation on the river may become restricted.” The full letter we received is attached.
Consequently, this “cruise” became primarily a bus trip, with our being on 3 separate Viking ships (the Hermod, the Atla, and the Jarl), and only 1 afternoon of daytime scenic river boat cruising. We did not pay for a bus ride – we paid for a cruise.
While on the ship, we learned that the waters of the Danube had been low for quite some time. It is simply unbelievable that Viking’s representatives and Viking as a company would be so disingenuous as to fail to tell customers booking cruises that this was the case.
What was expected to be the experience of our lives, unpacking our suitcases for the duration of the cruise, as advertised, cruising the beautiful Danube with side trips for 8 days and then repacking to depart to return home, became a nightmare: Seemingly endless bus rides, residence on 3 Viking ships, being told we had to leave our packed suitcases outside our cabin doors very early (e.g., 6:00 am) and then having to leave the ship approximately 90 minutes later. So we had to get up extremely early, rush to put luggage out, rush to eat breakfast, rush to take another bus ride. We were not able to fully enjoy the tours or cities we visited due to exhaustion. This certainly was not the extensively advertised, relaxing cruise that we had envisioned.
We had paid for a room with a veranda to be able to sit outside our room and enjoy the view. But our ships, being mostly at dock, were parked right next to other ships. We could not even open our drapes without finding ourselves looking into a stateroom of the ship next to us.
In fact, most planned scenic cruising on the river never occurred. An especially big disappointment was not being able to cruise the Danube Narrows, as advertised in Viking literature and another one of our expected highlights. As a substitute we were taken to the Kelheim Hall of Liberation, which seemed to interest no one in our group.
While visiting the Weltenburg Abbey we were given the opportunity to hire a small boat to take us through the Narrows, which we and others did and which was beautiful. But we were surprised and disappointed to discover that WE were expected to pay the 6 euros for the ride – a small sum, but to us another indication of Viking’s inattention to customer satisfaction.
On a very personal note, we both have medical problems with our backs. It took us approximately two weeks to recuperate from the packing and unpacking of suitcases, lugging heavy suitcases outside of our staterooms, long rides in cramped bus seats, and having to take our carry-on luggage with us on the buses.
In a supposed attempt to compensate passengers for the many disappointments, inconveniences, and hardships of this cruise, Viking offered a 25 percent discount on a FUTURE cruise, which does nothing to compensate us for THIS cruise. So, the only way to be compensated for this thoroughly unsatisfactory cruise is for us to pay Viking more money. This is totally unacceptable to us, and borders on the insulting.
In summary, this cruise, which should have been and could have been the vacation of a lifetime, was extremely frustrating and disappointing. We most certainly did not receive what we paid for.

Our travel agent contacted Viking multiple times on our behalf and was told that the most they could do would be to offer us $1500 each off of a future cruise, which, given their prior offer of 25% off a future cruise, made no sense.

What we are respectfully requesting from you is to get someone at Viking to give us a full refund for Viking’s disingenuousness which resulted in the extreme inconvenience and disappointment of this cruise. Our payment to Viking for this cruise was $15,494, $7698 cruise and $7796 airfare. Their offer of 25% off a future cruise is grossly unfair.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,150
14,741
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
If you review our many other posts about Viking- all similar- you’ll find Vikings terms and conditions you agree to by buying your ticket states they can change the itinerary and they often do- more then other lines.

And no- they wouldn’t know they have to bus rep weeks before the cruise. There could be a rainstorm the day before the cruise leaves that would allow the ships to sail.

You won’t get a refund- you can read these threads to see the outcomes.

https://forum.elliott.org/forums/viking.86/

Sorry for the bad news but people don’t realize there are many other river cruise lines that don’t end up busing as much a Viking.
 
Likes: VoR61
Jan 6, 2015
2,267
2,167
113
#3
Additional information to what Neil has provided . . .

In their Terms and Conditions, Viking states the following:

"Neither Viking nor the Carrier shall be liable for delay or inability to perform any condition herein or any part thereof caused by or arising out of . . . standing or foundering of the vessel, adverse weather or water conditions . . . or other circumstances beyond their control."​

They also have a Current Sailings page where they post conditions that make affect upcoming itineraries. That page may have alerted you to the low water levels, at which time you could have taken action.

I believe Neil has stated here in the past that Viking has larger ships than most cruise lines which makes them more susceptible to this problem.

Finally, you don't say so I'm going to guess that you did not buy trip insurance. If you had, and if their Current Sailings showed water level issues, a policy with Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage could have helped you recover a large portion of your investment ($16,000, of which potentially 75% would have been refunded). Things to consider for future trips.

The Company Contacts link at the top of this page will take you the list of contacts where you can find Viking.
If you choose that route, read this first: How to Present Your Case
 
Sep 19, 2015
3,834
5,038
113
48
#4
Not a cruise person but I have seen a lot of disappointment on this forum with Viking River cruises.

However:

"What we are respectfully requesting from you is to get someone at Viking to give us a full refund for Viking’s disingenuousness which resulted in the extreme inconvenience and disappointment of this cruise. Our payment to Viking for this cruise was $15,494, $7698 cruise and $7796 airfare. Their offer of 25% off a future cruise is grossly unfair."

Asking for a complete 100 percent refund is unreasonable. You did take those flights. You did eat the food, use the services etc. You may have a better chance asking for less than 100 percent refund; your complaint will be ignored by asking too much.
 
Jul 13, 2016
223
377
63
56
#6
Did you use a travel advisor/agent to book this trip? If so, they they should have explained the possible issues with the low water. But it sounds like you booked yourselves.
So your issues were:
Low water--not Viking's fault, and a good couple of days of rain could have raised the water level enough to cruise.
Balcony not to your liking and lack of privacy--a travel agent would have explained the realities of the the balcony and being tied up to another ship.
Heavy suitcases--you choose how much to bring, not Viking.

I agree that it was disappointing to not have the river cruise experience. I agree that Viking should have paid out for the Narrows small boat. I agree that your days were more rushed and chaotic than ideal.
 
Mar 14, 2018
251
281
63
#7
If you purchased the cruise two weeks before departure, I think Viking knew (or should have known) about the water conditions. The extended weather forecast should have told them that it was unlikely to rain enough for the conditions to change.

Yet Viking's web site and other materials continued to market this as a cruise with no mention of the fact that they were very unlikely to be able to deliver the experience they described. While the T&Cs do say they are not liable for water conditions, I don't think that relieves them of their duty to disclose. To me, this seems like it should be misrepresentation.

Unfortunately, it's very difficult to litigate a $15K loss. But you might want to look into the small claims court limits in your state and/or pay an attorney to write a demand letter.

I have to think Viking would have protected themselves against legal action by now, but I don't see how they've done it. Maybe they've just optimized for people who book well ahead of the cruise date.
 
Likes: VoR61

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,150
14,741
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#8
If you purchased the cruise two weeks before departure, I think Viking knew (or should have known) about the water conditions. The extended weather forecast should have told them that it was unlikely to rain enough for the conditions to change.

Yet Viking's web site and other materials continued to market this as a cruise with no mention of the fact that they were very unlikely to be able to deliver the experience they described. While the T&Cs do say they are not liable for water conditions, I don't think that relieves them of their duty to disclose. To me, this seems like it should be misrepresentation.

Unfortunately, it's very difficult to litigate a $15K loss. But you might want to look into the small claims court limits in your state and/or pay an attorney to write a demand letter.

I have to think Viking would have protected themselves against legal action by now, but I don't see how they've done it. Maybe they've just optimized for people who book well ahead of the cruise date.
That’s not true. Anything can happen up to the day of the cruise. If cruises two weeks before were having fewer disruptions, why would Viking have a magic ball to know that 2 weeks later they would be lower?

Any time you book a river cruise you agree to the cruise lines terms and every cruise line, ocean or river, has the same terms.

If you want to guarantee your cruise won’t be disrupted by high levels, low levels, too much wind to get into port- then you need to stay home because anything can happen be it a river or ocean cruise. They can be changed if the river levels are too high too.

Too many people book on their own and have no one to advise them on the things that can affect a river cruise. And too many people also think there is only one line to book when there many fu we cruise lines and some are known for having ships built specifically for low river levels they have a better chance of making all ports in low water.
 
Jan 6, 2015
2,267
2,167
113
#9
Neil's comment brings back memories of out first river "cruise". It was on the Delta Queen, going from NOLA to Baton Rouge. On the return we were delayed because the boat was pinned against the dock! We laughed about it and watched as the "tugs" came out and pulled us away.

So yes, buyer beware. But I approach river cruises with more caution than ocean cruises. Rivers are narrow and levels go up and down more quickly than the ocean, but with either Neil is right. Many ocean cruises have ports that require navigation through narrow channels that are shallow (Costs Maya for example).

And BTW, it was an amazing trip . . .
 
Jan 6, 2015
2,267
2,167
113
#10
If you choose to write them, barzanai, it would be helpful to shorten your description of the issues you experienced
From your original post this is one idea for a summary . . .

Because of low water levels:​
  • We were forced to relocate to 3 separate Viking ships (the Hermod, the Atla, and the Jarl)
  • We had to get up extremely early, rush to put luggage out by 6:00 AM, rush to eat breakfast, and rush to take another bus ride
  • We had only 1 afternoon of daytime scenic river boat cruising
  • We were not able to fully enjoy the tours or cities we visited due to exhaustion
Also:​
  • We paid for a room with a veranda to be able to sit outside our room and enjoy the view. But our ships, being mostly at dock, were parked right next to other ships. We could not open our drapes without finding ourselves looking into a stateroom of the ship next to us.
  • On a very personal note, we both have medical problems with our backs. It took us approximately two weeks to recuperate from the packing and unpacking of suitcases, lugging heavy suitcases outside of our staterooms, long rides in cramped bus seats, and having to take our carry-on luggage with us on the buses.
We understand the risks of river cruising, but feel that this experience was far below what is reasonable to expect and was more than just an inconvenience to us.​

And then make your request for compensation. Asking for 100% will likely fail, so choose a dollar amount you feel is reasonable.

Best wishes for success barzanai . . .
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,150
14,741
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#11
And it isn't like weather forecasters are perfect - how many times have they been wrong? No rain expected and then sudden flash floods. A storm will be a hurricane, it turns out to be nothing. Just like Superstorm Sandy - we had a hurricane a year or two before that we had no damage - Sandy wasn't even a hurricane and we got wiped out. So a weather forecaster certainly can't predict with certainty what river levels will be like two weeks from now.

I would remove anything about the veranda. EVERY river cruise has this issue - the ships are always docked next to each other in port and you will be looking into a ship parked next to yours and walking over them to get off the ship. You are supposed to be off the ship when it's in port anyway. This is a well known fact about river cruises. You still have the verandah to enjoy when the ship is sailing. This is simply not knowing what to expect.
 
Jan 6, 2015
2,267
2,167
113
#12
The issue is not the veranda next to other ships. The compelling portion of that statement is that they wanted the view while cruising but ended up with almost none of that because the ships were mostly docked . . .
 
Likes: LeeAnneC
Sep 19, 2015
3,834
5,038
113
48
#13
I cannot imagine that any reasonable Judge would say that the a company should have known or could have known something about the weather two weeks in advance.

NYC had a massive dump of snow last November 15th -- completely unexpected --. Earlier this month there was a prediction of 10 inches of snow and schools were cancelled the night before -- and there was not even a dusting of snow that night and the next day the temperatures were in the 40s (4th).

In the same month August that was dry in the Danube flash flood killed 10 people in Calabria because of heavy rains . I do not see how anyone can predict the weather through extended forecasts -- just too unpredictable.

I do not doubt that the trip was unpleasant and more stressful with all the packing and unpacking. But I think it not a credible tactic to claim that the company could predict the weather.
 
Jan 6, 2015
2,267
2,167
113
#14
I agree with you Christina. But this cruise was very little cruise and a whole lot of bus tours. Does Viking have disclaimers? Yes. Did they "see" the sites they were supposed to? Probably. Can they predict low water? No.

But seeing from the road isn't the same as from the water. This was supposed to be a cruise, and it really wasn't. And their medical issues made the on-again-off-again transfers both painful and ugly. So, given the breadth of issues, I think Viking should offer them something . . .
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,689
7,497
113
San Francisco
#16
I am so sorry to read about your trip, and I agree with you that it was a disaster. I truly understand your pain and outrage. We had a very bad cruise over Christmas ... not even remotely as bad as yours, but I am still angry about it. What happened to you is always on every river cruiser's mind and everyone hopes that water levels will be satisfactory. Had you booked this cruise yourself, or used an online booking service, we would be chastizing you for DIY. However, your travel agent did not properly explain this trip to you. Everyone in the business of booking or sailing on river cruises is aware of the water level challenges, that's been true since the first ship cruised on a European river. And recently, river levels have been low. You should have been completely informed about exactly what you were buying.

Viking gets more complaints here than the others, but they are far and away the biggest cruise line on European rivers, so it's not right to compare apples and oranges. You can do some research on Cruise Critic to see if you agree with me. I would accept the compensation that Viking is offering and ask the travel agency for a refund of their full commission. There is no excuse for a travel agent to treat clients this badly. Put your request to your TA in writing. State nothing but the facts, leave out all emotion and be polite. You deserve something back for this very ugly cruise.
 
Sep 19, 2015
3,834
5,038
113
48
#17
I agree with you Christina. But this cruise was very little cruise and a whole lot of bus tours. Does Viking have disclaimers? Yes. Did they "see" the sites they were supposed to? Probably. Can they predict low water? No.

But seeing from the road isn't the same as from the water. This was supposed to be a cruise, and it really wasn't. And their medical issues made the on-again-off-again transfers both painful and ugly. So, given the breadth of issues, I think Viking should offer them something . . .
VoR61, I agree with you completely that Viking should offer something. But there are two tactics that I think will backfire -- asking for a 100% refund -- of not only the cruise but of the airfare -- and claiming that the cruise company should have known when the cruise was bought that the water levels would be too low.

Those are just my suggestions as to approach. I have no experience with cruises or the companies -- Neil is more knowledgeable, but I was thinking of how to get something better from the company.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,150
14,741
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#19
As we have seen many times we always encourage people to write. A well written letter getting to the desk of a sympathetic executive can result in a credit so our OP absolutely should use our company contacts and write.

You both make excellent points. I agree not to ask for 100% or any of the airfare. I would try for 50%. And I suggest only asking for a credit, not cash- because I doubt they will consider that.