Viking River Cruise - "Romantic Danube" false advertising refund in dollars vs. cruise credit

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jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#21
This is such a PERFECT story, dgyland. There are all kinds of people who love to travel ... but the people with negative attitudes will NEVER travel well.

"Approximately 5 years ago Prague was absolutely flooded. I had two couples on the same river cruise(good friends at that). To listen to their accounts of how everything was handled you would think that were on two different trips. One couple had empathy and managed to stay positive and enjoyed everything except for lamenting for the poor residents of Prague. The other absolutely let it ruin his entire journey, even though it was at the end and the previous twelve days went without a hitch. One came back with praise of everything that was done to try to accommodate them, the other could not be appeased and was miserable. Sometimes it's how you approach the hurdles that may be encountered while traveling that makes all the difference."

River cruises are incredibly special, I don't think there's another type of trip like a river cruise ... maybe an African safari. Thank you for sharing this story which explains "perception" so well.
 
Oct 18, 2018
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#22
Taking a cruise is like making a big leap of faith. Why do it? Earlier this year, my wife and I looked at a cruise brochure (college alumni tour of the "Romantic Danube"), and made reservations to drive the same itinerary. We had a marvelous experience and stayed the exact number of days in each town we wanted to. No getting up at 7:30AM to accommodate the group. No having to purchase group tours. And most of all, not having to travel with people we never would want to spend time with! No missed ports of call, no busing and no arrogant cruise directors! Take a little initiative and you will be very pleased with the outcome.
 

Neil Maley

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#23
On the Plus side of a cruise , you get a tour guide and experts on your cruise who tell you everything about what you are seeing and where you are going. Plus your food is included. It’s also quite breathtaking seeing castles as you cruise by too.

Not everyone is comfortable driving in Europe either.

There are pluses on both sides- it’s what you are more comfortable with.
 
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jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#24
Taking a cruise is like making a big leap of faith. Why do it? Earlier this year, my wife and I looked at a cruise brochure (college alumni tour of the "Romantic Danube"), and made reservations to drive the same itinerary. We had a marvelous experience and stayed the exact number of days in each town we wanted to. No getting up at 7:30AM to accommodate the group. No having to purchase group tours. And most of all, not having to travel with people we never would want to spend time with! No missed ports of call, no busing and no arrogant cruise directors! Take a little initiative and you will be very pleased with the outcome.
We've done the Danube, Rhine and Mosel both ways, on a boat and in a car. You're definitely right with your reasoning, but travelling with a good river cruise company has many intangible benefits, as Neil pointed out. Education is a big priority with me, and I enjoy hopping on a bus for the day as much as the freedom of hitting the road in a rental car. It's all a matter of how much research and planning you want to put in. On a river cruise, you learn a great deal without much effort ... except for the early morning wake up calls of course. We actually find the crew to be a great asset, I've never met a cruise director that I didn't really like and admire. We have always thought the meals on a river boat were consistently far superior to restaurants. You're right about "the people"; sometimes we get tired of them and just have a meal by ourselves. Of course, I always review CruiseCritic before booking anything, and my travel agent is a genius.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 21, 2018
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#25
Unfortunately, Viking appears to have this problem regularly. I am now in Prague at the end of an 11-day cruise/tour with another tour operator. We spent 7 days on the Danube, on a new shallower draft ship, from Budapest to Vilshofen, missed no cities and our itinerary was exactly as advertised in June 2017.

I was told that if our tour encountered issues like Viking's we would be refunded or allowed to use the credit another time. Viking, however, busses people all over and uses hotels.

As Neil notes, the choice of cruise operator can make all the difference.
The river you are on and the week you go has a lot to do with it as well. ALL the river boats suffer at some time from the issue -- but most travellers never are warned about the potential issue - and THAT is a huge difference.
 
Sep 21, 2018
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#26
I am so sorry your cruise was so disappointing; I can definitely empathize. I'm told that Viking has many more ships on European rivers than any other company, so of course there are more issues. Did you book through a travel agent? S/he should have explained everything that was available for your trip and offered you alternative choices. If travellers do their own booking, it's vital to read all the fine print before you make a commitment. You should know in advance what will happen if there are issues with the cruise.
That is VERY true -- the sheer number of their ships eclipses the next 3 larges companies combined - so of course, they will seem to face more issues than others
 
Likes: jsn55
Sep 21, 2018
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#27
We have taken several European River cruises, and on one of them drought conditions prevailed. Our shallow draught AMA ship passed numerous vesssels, many of which were Viking, docked at river ports. Our ship captain informed us of the conditions, and accurately predicted that we would not have any problems. We had zero information about European river conditions prior to the cruise, knew of no way to get it, and were not given an hint of Europopean river problems (which did not actually exist for us)when we called AMA for information the day prior to our USA departure. Although all ocean and river cruise contracts permit the operator to change ports/itinerary as conditions require, river cruisers do not have the kind of river information that ocean ( Caribbean, Mediterranean, etc.) cruisers can easily obtain online, on TV, etc.
When I informed our travel agent of the low Danube conditions, and the numerous vessels unable to navigate the shallow areas, he was surprised, and after he later checked with AMA, told us that none of the river cruise companies provide any warning or advance 'low water' information.

How can any river cruiser be informed of an existing problem if the river cruise company does not tell them?
I am a travel agent, and believe me --- we are WELL aware of the issue. And AMA has had issues as well - no cruise line is exempt from the conditions. I always make it CLEAR to my clients what can be expected.
 
Sep 21, 2018
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#28
I get that their contracts allow them to do it, but I'm just surprised that they're able to put all weather-related risk on the customer. If there's a blizzard in Chicago that closes ORD, United can't just fly you LGA-MSP instead, and tell you, "OK, we got you to the Midwest, that's our substitute!" If they can't deliver the product promised (a flight to ORD), then you get a refund.
not apples to apples --- if the flight was cancelled in CHICAGO, but the cruise SAILED from Miami - you would have lost out completely, and gotten no monies back unless you had proper insurance.
 

jsn55

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Dec 26, 2014
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#29
I am a travel agent, and believe me --- we are WELL aware of the issue. And AMA has had issues as well - no cruise line is exempt from the conditions. I always make it CLEAR to my clients what can be expected.
Thank you for your perspective as a TA, Linda. I've booked my own travel forever since losing a really good agent and not being able to replace her. But I got hooked up with a cruise specialist several years ago, and the difference is night and day working with her. Particularly for us travellers who wear rose-colored glasses when we're making plans, an experienced TA is invaluable. I just read that the airlines are increasing TA commissions and I fervently hope that we could get back on track with travel agents. The airlines are NOT doing a good job taking care of us travellers!
 
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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#30
I get that their contracts allow them to do it, but I'm just surprised that they're able to put all weather-related risk on the customer. If there's a blizzard in Chicago that closes ORD, United can't just fly you LGA-MSP instead, and tell you, "OK, we got you to the Midwest, that's our substitute!" If they can't deliver the product promised (a flight to ORD), then you get a refund.
A river cruise, as far as I know, is a completely unique way of travelling. A river/small-ship cruise is NOT transportation from point A to point B. We've done 5 or 6, have had not a single serious problem. But on our last Rhine/Mosel in April with Avalon, I watched the Cruise Director scramble 23 hours a day over 3 days to make sure we were all entertained and happy when the water levels were changing by the hour. We were dressing for dinner out of Koblenz, and the ship remained stationery for ten or fifteen minutes under a bridge, with half-inch clearance on the sides. I thought it was all over, but soon we inched forward and cleared the bridge and sailed on. If you understand river/small-ship cruising, you can easily see the challenges and potential problems. And you also know that the ship and crew themselves are at least half of your enjoyment. You can't compare a river cruise to an airplane flight, that's just a non-starter.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jan 16, 2019
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#31
I get that their contracts allow them to do it, but I'm just surprised that they're able to put all weather-related risk on the customer. If there's a blizzard in Chicago that closes ORD, United can't just fly you LGA-MSP instead, and tell you, "OK, we got you to the Midwest, that's our substitute!" If they can't deliver the product promised (a flight to ORD), then you get a refund.
I think this year presented issues for many River Cruise companies. Water levels were at a record low, for months. It was a very difficult situation for passenger and river cruise companies all summer and fall.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jan 16, 2019
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#32
Taking a cruise is like making a big leap of faith. Why do it? Earlier this year, my wife and I looked at a cruise brochure (college alumni tour of the "Romantic Danube"), and made reservations to drive the same itinerary. We had a marvelous experience and stayed the exact number of days in each town we wanted to. No getting up at 7:30AM to accommodate the group. No having to purchase group tours. And most of all, not having to travel with people we never would want to spend time with! No missed ports of call, no busing and no arrogant cruise directors! Take a little initiative and you will be very pleased with the outcome.
This is great advice!
 
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