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  #1  
Old June 17th, 2013, 08:31 PM
CruisinGert CruisinGert is offline
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Default Deceived by Viking River Cruises

Cruise Critic has advised me to place my complaint in the Boards, although I would prefer to place it in Reviews. This is not a Ship Review, it is a Company Review.

I have cruised 3 times with Viking. My latest was booked over a year in advance, a 14 night Grand European from Amsterdam to Budapest, on the Viking Skadi. Our cruise began June 2nd. We watched the weather before leaving home, but had no idea of the massive flooding taking shape across central Europe.

We received an email from Viking on May 31st. It stated that "...as a result of a scheduling issue, your cruise will take place on the Viking Tor instead of the Viking Skadi." We were assured the Tor & the Skadi are sister ships, identical in amenities. There was no mention of floods, itinerary changes, re-routing, bussing, hotel stays, docks being under water, etc. We embarked in Amsterdam, on a beautiful sunny day. Passengers were told at our first meeting that the water was high & although it was receding, we might need to transfer ships at some point. On a Christmas Market cruise I had done with Viking, the water was too high for us to cruise the Main canal. I thought this was similar. I was not concerned. I trusted Viking.

On June 3rd as we sailed to Cologne, I was amazed at how high the river was. It was well beyond it's normal borders. No mention of flood in our passenger meeting. We were told the water was high, but was receding. The Tour Director wasn't sure if we would need to transfer to a different ship. He had no further information, but would tell us immediately when he heard something.

On June 4th as we approached Cologne, we pulled off the river & into an industrial recycling area. Huge piles of crushed vehicles, piles of garbage everywhere. We finally docked across from a nuclear cooling tower, next to a rusting old river ship. We shuttled into Cologne where I saw other ships docked in the old town area, on the river, by the cathedral. I became angry - why were we in a garbage zone? I found out our normal dock was under water. That evening we were told the water had not receded enough & we would need to transfer to Bamberg by bus on the following day. In Bamberg, we would transfer onto the Skadi. Now I finally was beginning to understand. The "scheduling issue" was actually a flood and the reason we embarked on the Tor was because the Skadi was stranded in Bamberg, & had been there since before our cruise began. One of the other passengers called Viking Customer Service to complain. He was told that he could leave the tour at his own expense and he would not receive any refund or cruise credit.

On June 5th we left Cologne in a bus caravan at 8:30am. We stopped to tour Marksberg castle & have lunch. We arrived in Bamberg at 6:30pm, exhausted, & had to find the ship. We finally found it in an industrial shipping area, surrounded by cranes, shipping containers, etc. At our passenger meeting that night, the Tour Director began to smilingly tell us the plans for the next days touring options, by bus. Passengers became very vocal in their complaints. The Hotel Manager was called to come speak with us. The 2 of them made a bad situation much worse, and the meeting became quite contentious. The passengers asked to speak with the ships captain. He declined to address us. The Hotel Manager finally agreed to call Viking corporate & said that he would let us know at breakfast what they said.

At breakfast on June 6th, the Hotel Director had not yet received a reply from Viking corporate. Some people chose an 8hr bus tour to Werzberg. My husband & I shuttled into Bamberg. Just before dinner, we had another meeting with the Tour Director where he presented Viking's offer. In part, it read "Should you wish to return home, you will receive full credit for unused cruise portion". We were also told at this meeting that the remainder of the tour would be by bus since river navigation was dangerous and closed. The plan was for hotel stays in Munich, Vienna & Bratislava, and one more Viking ship in Budapest. We left the ship for the nearest airport the following morning.

Tauck River Cruises had a similar cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, also leaving on June 2nd. On June 4th they offered full refunds to passengers who decided to leave. Avalon Waterways and Uniworld canceled cruises in June & offered their guests not only full refunds but a $500 credit, per person, on a future cruise.

I fail to understand such a blatantly stupid business management plan as the one Viking has pursued. By failing to be honest & forthright with all information, in a timely manner, they have now created absolute distrust & very angry clients. Viking has created clients who will never cruise with them again & who will warn everyone of their bitter experience. Had Viking chose to adopt a plan of integrity rather than one of deception, those passengers would now be singing their praises. Mutual respect and trust would have been engendered & Viking would have gained many more loyal clients.

In short, Viking has now set the standard for how NOT to handle a PR nightmare.
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  #2  
Old June 17th, 2013, 09:58 PM
kdowneymd kdowneymd is offline
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Suggest EVERYONE contemplating a Viking cruise read this
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  #3  
Old June 17th, 2013, 10:16 PM
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This is a shocking report of a company who doesn't care about their customers
NEVER USE VIKING
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  #4  
Old June 18th, 2013, 03:55 AM
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A harsh posting by an angry, disappointed traveller. Having observed the situation as it gradually emerged, it sounds more like a bunch of humans doing their best in a difficult and constantly evolving situation.
Obviously the long awaited and planned for holiday went badly wrong for circumstances outwith Viking`s control. It must have been a difficult judgement call- to cancel at short notice could have left self travellers stranded as well as risk that the situation didnt actually deteriorate and they`d have been left looking stupid and accused of overreacting. No winners here.
Scientists tell us that the increasing wet weather is due to global warming and we should all try to cut our long flights, gas guzzling cars and recycle lots more. Oh joy...................
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  #5  
Old June 18th, 2013, 04:26 AM
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I probably posted my reply on the incorrect thread before - apologies ...


Hi Gert - read your comments with great interest.

I was on the 2 June 'sailing' from Budapest to Passau which was a total disaster from start to finish. The 'cruise' should have been cancelled before we even departed - Viking knew of the rapidly deteriorating conditions on The Danube and knew the holiday would be impossible.

At the moment, we are still 'working up' to our reviews ... watch this space.

For general information though, please note, other potential customers of Viking ... WE DID NOT CRUISE AT ALL not even a millimetre!

Viking have offered us a partial credit note on a future cruise, which is wholly unacceptable.
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Old June 18th, 2013, 05:48 AM
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What a shame to cut your trip short Because of the Floods
We will be leaving in 12 more days and so far every thing is go
If the rivers are still out of control we intend to make the best of it and see what we can of Europe

I sure there will be some sort of Compensation for you from Viking if you ask

STUR DAYTON,OHIO
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  #7  
Old June 18th, 2013, 06:00 AM
goose30 goose30 is offline
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I think you have to take the lemons and make lemonade. What do you expect Viking (I am no Viking cheerleader and would not cruise with them) to do about high river levels? All of the river cruise lines were scrambling to make alternate arrangements. There is only so much that could have been done with alternate docking arrangements.

On the other hand there has been much talk in past weeks on these boards and others as well as various web sites about high river levels. I am sure that a search would have brought these sites up. One that I happen to remember talked about Budapest being flooded and that emergency measures were being taken by city officials.

I am sorry that you were disappointed and certainly hope that you get some compensation. Maybe they will offer you two for one fare on a future cruise.
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  #8  
Old June 18th, 2013, 08:01 AM
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I will be following this thread with great interest. While flooding is out of Vikings control, how the problem is a handled is a great indicator of the company. I am going to book a China river cruise in Oct 2014 and was considering VRC. I may have to rethink this.
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  #9  
Old June 18th, 2013, 08:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amtico View Post
I probably posted my reply on the incorrect thread before - apologies ...


Hi Gert - read your comments with great interest.

I was on the 2 June 'sailing' from Budapest to Passau which was a total disaster from start to finish. The 'cruise' should have been cancelled before we even departed - Viking knew of the rapidly deteriorating conditions on The Danube and knew the holiday would be impossible.

At the moment, we are still 'working up' to our reviews ... watch this space.

For general information though, please note, other potential customers of Viking ... WE DID NOT CRUISE AT ALL not even a millimetre!

Viking have offered us a partial credit note on a future cruise, which is wholly unacceptable.
So sorry to hear about what happened on your trip.

Please do post your review when you have time - it's important for future cruisers to know what they might possibly have to deal with.
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  #10  
Old June 18th, 2013, 09:05 AM
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Never fear we will (there are quite a few of us!)

We're currently giving Viking a chance to try and repair their potential PR disaster regarding our cruise and possibly others too.

So far, apart from a partial credit offer towards another cruise, we are being met with stony SILENCE. Other Companies cancelled their cruises, with a similar itinerary & refunded, in full - one departed on the same day as us from Budapest, realised after two days that the holiday could not feasibly continue, abandoned it and gave their customers a full refund. Their customers are naturally praising them from the rooftops.

Information given out during the holiday was extremely sparse.

Viking do not appear to care.



Quote:
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So sorry to hear about what happened on your trip.

Please do post your review when you have time - it's important for future cruisers to know what they might possibly have to deal with.
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  #11  
Old June 18th, 2013, 09:10 AM
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I agree 100% with your comments.

I'm sure myself and others will keep you updated - if Viking ever decide to reply to any of our letters and emails - at the moment they are maintaining a stoney silence and refusing to reply to anything. Extremely disappointing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by didicruiser View Post
I will be following this thread with great interest. While flooding is out of Vikings control, how the problem is a handled is a great indicator of the company. I am going to book a China river cruise in Oct 2014 and was considering VRC. I may have to rethink this.
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  #12  
Old June 18th, 2013, 10:07 AM
CruisinGert CruisinGert is offline
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Yes, I am an angry & disappointed traveller, but my post is not harsh. It is a partial accounting of my experience.

Quite simply, Viking lied - from before our cruise began on June 2nd. On May 31st when they sent an email telling us they were swapping ships due to scheduling change, they lied by omission. In fact our ship was marooned in Bamberg due to massive flooding. And while they were telling us "the water is receding", it was in fact still rising and several days from cresting. Viking knew all this, and more. They failed to share it.

And now we are also being given stoney silence to our calls, letters & emails. A refund for the unused portion of my cruise will not cut it. The cruise should never have been attempted.

Tauck River cruises also had a June 2nd Amsterdam to Budapest cruise. On June 4th they offered their guests full refunds if they decided to leave. Avalon Waterways and Uniworld canceled similar cruises in June & have offered their guests full refunds and a $500 credit towards a future cruise.

Viking can do the right thing. They have a choice.
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  #13  
Old June 18th, 2013, 12:55 PM
CruisinGert CruisinGert is offline
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Default Viking Compensation

Just received a "Welcome Home" email from Viking. They have offered us a 75% reduction on a future cruise.

I would sure appreciate hearing from others who cruised with Viking this June. What were you told & what kind of compensation have you been offered?

Thanks so much to all you cruisers!
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  #14  
Old June 18th, 2013, 01:31 PM
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didicruiser, please don't hesitate to book Viking China. It was fabulous from start to finish. It was our 16th river cruise and 4th with Viking. The hotels were luxurious, ship very nice--we were one of a few lucky ones to be upgraded to the suite deck. The crew is great--only one or two not Chinese. We were on the Cultural delights and would have loved more time in both Beijing and Shanghi. Had a marvelous duck dinner at Made in China at the Beijing Grand Hyatt. Please read the China thread on this board. Pat
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Old June 18th, 2013, 03:10 PM
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According to Travel Weekly (http://www.travelweekly.com/River-Cr...pean-flooding/), Viking should be able to afford to offer more compensation:
Since Viking River Cruises has the most river cruise ships sailing Europe’s inland waterways, the flooding also caused it to do the most juggling. As of late last week, the company had canceled 13 sailings and modified 25 itineraries.

“There is a financial impact anytime we have to cancel a sailing,” Richard Marnell, senior vice president of marketing at Viking, wrote in an email. “With the 2013 season nearly sold out and vibrant sales already for the 2014 season, Viking’s breadth provides the ability to withstand such an impact.
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Old June 18th, 2013, 03:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CruisinGert View Post
Just received a "Welcome Home" email from Viking. They have offered us a 75% reduction on a future cruise.

I would sure appreciate hearing from others who cruised with Viking this June. What were you told & what kind of compensation have you been offered?

Thanks so much to all you cruisers!
I was talking to a lady in one of the airports on my way home from an AMA cruise, she had been on a Viking Cruise. She told me that she had been offered 75% off a future cruise, too. She seemed very satisfied with the offer.
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Old June 18th, 2013, 03:40 PM
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Based on what has been posted, I'm certainly happy that I booked with Viking for 2014.

After providing the best that they could arrange in the circumstances and even though they could have used the 'force majeure' clause they still offered you a 75% credit, I can't imagine that I'd be complaining or expecting anything more generous than that.
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Old June 18th, 2013, 04:02 PM
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I think a little bit of time needs to pass here to allow the sting of a disappointing travel experience to wear off for these passengers. It's always easy to look back and say what Viking should have done at the time, but the situation was unfolding in real time and when the flooding first started no one knew how bad it was eventually going to get. Viking though they could persevere. It did not work out well. Guests had a bad experience. I know if it was me on that "cruise of a lifetime" I would not be happy about the experience. Is 75% off a future cruise fair? Maybe. Some will be satisfied, some will not.

If you read some of the other threads here it seems that Viking was not the only cruise line to disappoint guests that were booked on cruises during this period of time.
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  #19  
Old June 18th, 2013, 04:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cary Cruiser View Post
I think a little bit of time needs to pass here to allow the sting of a disappointing travel experience to wear off for these passengers. It's always easy to look back and say what Viking should have done at the time, but the situation was unfolding in real time and when the flooding first started no one knew how bad it was eventually going to get. Viking though they could persevere. It did not work out well. Guests had a bad experience. I know if it was me on that "cruise of a lifetime" I would not be happy about the experience. Is 75% off a future cruise fair? Maybe. Some will be satisfied, some will not.

If you read some of the other threads here it seems that Viking was not the only cruise line to disappoint guests that were booked on cruises during this period of time.
I agree.

It's nearly impossible for a large corporation, with so many moving parts in an unfolding situation like this, to "have their ducks in a row", so to speak.

Unfortunately, for the passenger caught in the situation, the only people they have to talk to, the Cruise Director, Hotel Manager, etc., are pretty low on the corporate food chain and well out of the decision making conversations. It's unfortunate, and companies who have found a way to use bottom-up decision making even in a crisis have fared better in terms of customer service, but it's far from the norm.

Passengers are anxiously trying to get information, but no one is talking to the CD, HM, etc., so they have no information to impart. Untrained folks in situations like that tend to blather, just to have something to say, thinking they can diffuse the situation, and (probably correctly) assume that being truthful (as in "corporate simply isn't telling me anything") isn't a great career move.
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  #20  
Old June 18th, 2013, 05:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cary Cruiser View Post
I think a little bit of time needs to pass here to allow the sting of a disappointing travel experience to wear off for these passengers. It's always easy to look back and say what Viking should have done at the time, but the situation was unfolding in real time and when the flooding first started no one knew how bad it was eventually going to get. Viking though they could persevere. It did not work out well. Guests had a bad experience. I know if it was me on that "cruise of a lifetime" I would not be happy about the experience. Is 75% off a future cruise fair? Maybe. Some will be satisfied, some will not.

If you read some of the other threads here it seems that Viking was not the only cruise line to disappoint guests that were booked on cruises during this period of time.
I find it difficult to believe that you think Viking somehow had little or no knowledge of the severity of the flooding and the situation somehow was sprung on them. They must have many people in the industry that they liaise with on a day to day basis and the assumption is no one told them the rivers were going to flood? It's easy to give away vouchers because they cost the company nothing. 75% is worthless if it took you 2-3 years to save for the last holiday and really how many people go back to tempt fate a second time.
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