Viking Elegant Elbe - the good, the bad & the ugly!!

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#1
75 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Our recent cruise down the River Elbe on the Viking Fontane was less than ideal and regrettably fell well short of our expectations. The following is my own assessment of our experience:-

THE GOOD
  • Generally the cruise was very well organized and punctual.
  • Some of the tours were good – if you had the right guide on your bus!
  • The staff were by & large friendly and helpful – the Program Director went out of his way at times to please.
  • The issue of tips was dealt with very well – no pressure was asserted by Program Director.

THE BAD (or certainly not so good!)
  • “Explore the world in comfort”! -- Not on the Viking Fontane, a 20 year old ship which certainly was anything but comfortable. The narrow single beds, the very small cabin, the noise from the adjoining room, the steep staircases and poor aircon did not help at all! Viking should consider the ongoing use of this vessel.
  • If you are an ocean cruiser then you will find the food disappointing & not to the expected standards – I found it very variable in quality & portion control.
  • The entertainment is amateurish at best – to hear the 3 senior crew members talking about their favourite foods was “cringe worthy”.
  • At our last port of call the staff all greeted us back by each holding a letter on A4 paper spelling out WELCOME HOME! A corny way of holding out the begging bowl for tips if ever I have seen one!
  • There was nowhere to go on the ship for a bit of space – the cabins were very uncomfortable so that left just a lounge or a sundeck, which was weather dependent (& full of insects!)
THE UGLY
  • The itinerary was regrettably changed due to low water levels & 2 ports were missed out – we were only told of this at the hotel check in in Prague.
  • Viking River Cruises UK had assured me, following the flood saga’s in June, that they would contact me in advance should a major itinerary change be made. Regrettably that did not happen & long bus journey from Prague to Dresden with a doubling up of river sailings to & from Bad Schandau resulted. Tours were missed out & it felt like we only received half of what we had paid for.
  • To make matters worse the Captain, at his welcome aboard party, told us all we had not missed anything in not sailing from Melnik to Bad Schandau as we would still see the best scenery twice. Those of us who had been to this area before knew this was simply not true!! A very poor effort indeed in trying to cover up for the itinerary change & one that certainly did him no credit at all.
  • We were all told by the Program Director that Viking would be in touch when we returned home to discuss compensation for the itinerary change. We have now been back well over a week & still had no contact from them at all – not what you would have hoped for from a company that tries to position itself as a premier operator.

THE BOTTOM LINE
  • The most overpriced & uncomfortable cruise I have taken for many a year.
Despite all the past postings on Viking poor customer service I still hold out hope that they will get in touch & attempt to redeem for what has happened – I will post the result for anyone that wants to know on this thread.

Regards
#2
Sarnia, Ontario Canada
4,439 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Originally posted by 9stilton
Our recent cruise down the River Elbe on the Viking Fontane was less than ideal and regrettably fell well short of our expectations. The following is my own assessment of our experience:-

THE GOOD
  • Generally the cruise was very well organized and punctual.
  • Some of the tours were good – if you had the right guide on your bus!
  • The staff were by & large friendly and helpful – the Program Director went out of his way at times to please.
  • The issue of tips was dealt with very well – no pressure was asserted by Program Director.
THE BAD (or certainly not so good!)
  • “Explore the world in comfort”! -- Not on the Viking Fontane, a 20 year old ship which certainly was anything but comfortable. The narrow single beds, the very small cabin, the noise from the adjoining room, the steep staircases and poor aircon did not help at all! Viking should consider the ongoing use of this vessel.
  • If you are an ocean cruiser then you will find the food disappointing & not to the expected standards – I found it very variable in quality & portion control.
  • The entertainment is amateurish at best – to hear the 3 senior crew members talking about their favourite foods was “cringe worthy”.
  • At our last port of call the staff all greeted us back by each holding a letter on A4 paper spelling out WELCOME HOME! A corny way of holding out the begging bowl for tips if ever I have seen one!
  • There was nowhere to go on the ship for a bit of space – the cabins were very uncomfortable so that left just a lounge or a sundeck, which was weather dependent (& full of insects!)
THE UGLY
  • The itinerary was regrettably changed due to low water levels & 2 ports were missed out – we were only told of this at the hotel check in in Prague.
  • Viking River Cruises UK had assured me, following the flood saga’s in June, that they would contact me in advance should a major itinerary change be made. Regrettably that did not happen & long bus journey from Prague to Dresden with a doubling up of river sailings to & from Bad Schandau resulted. Tours were missed out & it felt like we only received half of what we had paid for.
  • To make matters worse the Captain, at his welcome aboard party, told us all we had not missed anything in not sailing from Melnik to Bad Schandau as we would still see the best scenery twice. Those of us who had been to this area before knew this was simply not true!! A very poor effort indeed in trying to cover up for the itinerary change & one that certainly did him no credit at all.
  • We were all told by the Program Director that Viking would be in touch when we returned home to discuss compensation for the itinerary change. We have now been back well over a week & still had no contact from them at all – not what you would have hoped for from a company that tries to position itself as a premier operator.
THE BOTTOM LINE
  • The most overpriced & uncomfortable cruise I have taken for many a year.
Despite all the past postings on Viking poor customer service I still hold out hope that they will get in touch & attempt to redeem for what has happened – I will post the result for anyone that wants to know on this thread.

Regards
Hope ours is much better; we are on a brand new ship: The Idun. Anxious to hear if you ever hear back from Viking and what they offered in compensation.
#3
75 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by burrma
Hope ours is much better; we are on a brand new ship: The Idun. Anxious to hear if you ever hear back from Viking and what they offered in compensation.
Another week has passed & still no contact from Viking Cruises --- regrettably it looks as though I will have to write to them formally!!

I would have hoped they would have done the decent thing & got in touch, -- just as their programme director advised.

I will keep posting regular updates on the progress (or lack of) being made
#4
Sarnia, Ontario Canada
4,439 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Originally posted by 9stilton
Another week has passed & still no contact from Viking Cruises --- regrettably it looks as though I will have to write to them formally!!

I would have hoped they would have done the decent thing & got in touch, -- just as their programme director advised.

I will keep posting regular updates on the progress (or lack of) being made
Then I'm not impressed. When friends of ours had problems on Avalon; a credit note was given to them right there showing it would be taken off their credit card. They and I was very impressed and they will certainly go Avalon again due to this. Hope Viking treats you right as well by contacting you soon.
.
#5
Woodland Hills, CA
712 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
Originally posted by 9stilton
Our recent cruise down the River Elbe on the Viking Fontane was less than ideal and regrettably fell well short of our expectations. The following is my own assessment of our experience:-

THE GOOD
  • Generally the cruise was very well organized and punctual.
  • Some of the tours were good – if you had the right guide on your bus!
  • The staff were by & large friendly and helpful – the Program Director went out of his way at times to please.
  • The issue of tips was dealt with very well – no pressure was asserted by Program Director.

THE BAD (or certainly not so good!)
  • “Explore the world in comfort”! -- Not on the Viking Fontane, a 20 year old ship which certainly was anything but comfortable. The narrow single beds, the very small cabin, the noise from the adjoining room, the steep staircases and poor aircon did not help at all! Viking should consider the ongoing use of this vessel.
  • If you are an ocean cruiser then you will find the food disappointing & not to the expected standards – I found it very variable in quality & portion control.
  • The entertainment is amateurish at best – to hear the 3 senior crew members talking about their favourite foods was “cringe worthy”.
  • At our last port of call the staff all greeted us back by each holding a letter on A4 paper spelling out WELCOME HOME! A corny way of holding out the begging bowl for tips if ever I have seen one!
  • There was nowhere to go on the ship for a bit of space – the cabins were very uncomfortable so that left just a lounge or a sundeck, which was weather dependent (& full of insects!)
THE UGLY
  • The itinerary was regrettably changed due to low water levels & 2 ports were missed out – we were only told of this at the hotel check in in Prague.
  • Viking River Cruises UK had assured me, following the flood saga’s in June, that they would contact me in advance should a major itinerary change be made. Regrettably that did not happen & long bus journey from Prague to Dresden with a doubling up of river sailings to & from Bad Schandau resulted. Tours were missed out & it felt like we only received half of what we had paid for.
  • To make matters worse the Captain, at his welcome aboard party, told us all we had not missed anything in not sailing from Melnik to Bad Schandau as we would still see the best scenery twice. Those of us who had been to this area before knew this was simply not true!! A very poor effort indeed in trying to cover up for the itinerary change & one that certainly did him no credit at all.
  • We were all told by the Program Director that Viking would be in touch when we returned home to discuss compensation for the itinerary change. We have now been back well over a week & still had no contact from them at all – not what you would have hoped for from a company that tries to position itself as a premier operator.

THE BOTTOM LINE
  • The most overpriced & uncomfortable cruise I have taken for many a year.
Despite all the past postings on Viking poor customer service I still hold out hope that they will get in touch & attempt to redeem for what has happened – I will post the result for anyone that wants to know on this thread.

Regards
Originally posted by 9stilton
Another week has passed & still no contact from Viking Cruises --- regrettably it looks as though I will have to write to them formally!!

I would have hoped they would have done the decent thing & got in touch, -- just as their programme director advised.

I will keep posting regular updates on the progress (or lack of) being made
Dear 9stilton,

We apologize for the delayed response and we’re truly sorry to hear that you were so very disappointed with your trip. Please send an e-mail with your contact information to [email protected] so that we may put you in touch with our Customer Relations team in the UK.

Kindly,
Viking Cruises
#6
Auckland New Zealand
193 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
Having read 100's of threads on CC it is very clear, anybody in there right mind should not use Viking or Scenic Cruise Co's, they will continue do what they have done in the past, treat customers poorly.
How much more need to be written for people to understand.
#7
Sarnia, Ontario Canada
4,439 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Originally posted by peterdkiwi
Having read 100's of threads on CC it is very clear, anybody in there right mind should not use Viking or Scenic Cruise Co's, they will continue do what they have done in the past, treat customers poorly.
How much more need to be written for people to understand.
I hope Viking proves you wrong when we go in Oct. but you are not the only one that I have read this comment from.
#8
Holtsville,NY
23 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
Originally posted by peterdkiwi
Having read 100's of threads on CC it is very clear, anybody in there right mind should not use Viking or Scenic Cruise Co's, they will continue do what they have done in the past, treat customers poorly.
How much more need to be written for people to understand.
I understand that there were problems due to floods but having just come back from a Rhine River Cruise on Viking we plan on returning for another trip with them in the future. Their service was tremendous and the trip went off flawless. With all the ships being built by Viking there must be a lot of satisfied customers as I doubt they would send out empty ships.

I agree there may have been problems with the floods but some of the gripes I have seen on this site could be avoided if people read the fine print on their documents. If worried about your trip buy "cancel for any reason" insurance or don't go
#9
New York
7,970 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by LIer
I understand that there were problems due to floods but having just come back from a Rhine River Cruise on Viking we plan on returning for another trip with them in the future. Their service was tremendous and the trip went off flawless. With all the ships being built by Viking there must be a lot of satisfied customers as I doubt they would send out empty ships.

I agree there may have been problems with the floods but some of the gripes I have seen on this site could be avoided if people read the fine print on their documents. If worried about your trip buy "cancel for any reason" insurance or don't go
I'm glad you had a good cruise. Obviously Viking is capable of meeting most peoples' expectations as long as nothing goes wrong. The problem is that when things do go wrong, Viking not only doesn't handle them as well as some other cruise lines but also doesn't do as much to make its passengers whole.

There are also many threads on CC that show that even "any reason" insurance doesn't cover all circumstances. So your best bet remains to book on a cruise line with a sterling reputation for customer service.
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#10
Littleton, CO
919 Posts
Joined Aug 2001
Originally posted by LIer
I understand that there were problems due to floods but having just come back from a Rhine River Cruise on Viking we plan on returning for another trip with them in the future. Their service was tremendous and the trip went off flawless. With all the ships being built by Viking there must be a lot of satisfied customers as I doubt they would send out empty ships.

I agree there may have been problems with the floods but some of the gripes I have seen on this site could be avoided if people read the fine print on their documents. If worried about your trip buy "cancel for any reason" insurance or don't go
I totally agree with you. There definitely were problems with the floods but the cruise lines did what they could in a short amount of time they had to work it all out. Some people were pleased with the way they handled things. Others they couldn't please unless they got their money back plus a free cruise. You can't please 100% of people 100% of the time.

Originally posted by peterdkiwi
Having read 100's of threads on CC it is very clear, anybody in there right mind should not use Viking or Scenic Cruise Co's, they will continue do what they have done in the past, treat customers poorly.
How much more need to be written for people to understand.
Seriously???? I'm in my right mind and look forward to my cruise in November. I do understand, thank you kindly.
#11
Ontario, Canada
2,740 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by peterdkiwi
Having read 100's of threads on CC it is very clear, anybody in there right mind should not use Viking or Scenic Cruise Co's, they will continue do what they have done in the past, treat customers poorly.
How much more need to be written for people to understand.
Have you traveled with these companies? If your comments are based on previous experiences, then please be more specific about your personal experiences.

If you are basing your comments purely on posts here on CC, then your posts do lose some credibility. Telling people they are not in their right mind to book with Scenic or Viking based on others' posts is no more credible than the people here who post about "THE BEST " river cruise company when they have only traveled with one company...

Mind you - I may not be in my right mind.... Leaving next week for our 2nd cruise with Scenic, and am seriously considering another one with Viking....

Fran
#12
Ontario, Canada
2,740 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by jazzbeau
I'm glad you had a good cruise. Obviously Viking is capable of meeting most peoples' expectations as long as nothing goes wrong. The problem is that when things do go wrong, Viking not only doesn't handle them as well as some other cruise lines but also doesn't do as much to make its passengers whole. .
Actually, that wasn't our experience with Viking. We did have an issue, and they were responsive both to my posts, and to my emails.

There are some people who have very different expectations of booked vacations - and different expectations of what is required to make it right. I am a "make lemonade" type of traveler, so perhaps I am easier to please.

I am not shy about expressing my concerns and identifying what I feel a reasonable solution might be. And I do take some responsibility for my own travel experiences. IMHO, people who feel that the company owes them full refunds for cruise and air if things don't go according to plan should perhaps look at another type of vacation. Weather and water levels are out of the control of the companies . and do pose a risk to your vacation... Perhaps there is too much risk for some. To quote my kids... " just saying...."

Fran
#14
Mississauga, Canada
461 Posts
Joined Jan 2013
Here here franksi.

I'm wracking my brain trying to think of one thing we could possibly complain about regarding our recent Viking cruise. Our expectations were far exceeded and we booked another cruise only weeks after our return.
#15
Sarnia, Ontario Canada
4,439 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Originally posted by TravelBugM
Here here franksi.

I'm wracking my brain trying to think of one thing we could possibly complain about regarding our recent Viking cruise. Our expectations were far exceeded and we booked another cruise only weeks after our return.
I really hope we have the same experience. Thanks for posting.
#16
Holtsville,NY
23 Posts
Joined Jul 2012
Originally posted by franski
Actually, that wasn't our experience with Viking. We did have an issue, and they were responsive both to my posts, and to my emails.

There are some people who have very different expectations of booked vacations - and different expectations of what is required to make it right. I am a "make lemonade" type of traveler, so perhaps I am easier to please.

I am not shy about expressing my concerns and identifying what I feel a reasonable solution might be. And I do take some responsibility for my own travel experiences. IMHO, people who feel that the company owes them full refunds for cruise and air if things don't go according to plan should perhaps look at another type of vacation. Weather and water levels are out of the control of the companies . and do pose a risk to your vacation... Perhaps there is too much risk for some. To quote my kids... " just saying...."

Fran
I agree with you 100%. I feel these people may have some legitimate gripes about their cruise but are looking to get a free cruise if things don't go perfect. I like your "make lemonade" quote. We are the same type of travelers. All vacations are an adventure some good and some bad.

I know some people will say they paid a lot of money for their cruise , which I agree, but do a little research on this site and see that problems do arise once in a while due to floods, strikes and weather. This is the chance one takes on a river cruise and if you don't want to gamble on this then I would suggest you take another type of vacation
#17
75 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
All

I note with interest all your comments & opinions & would not disagree with a lot of what has been said.

I started the thread with what I believed was a balanced view of my own experience with Viking & whilst I was not happy with some aspects of the river cruise (mainly the comfort that the Viking Fortune offered) I would not have gone to the lengths of posting my thoughts had everything gone to plan.

The issue for me is clearly the major changes that took place & the resultant unfulfilled promises made by Viking staff aboard -- that Viking would be in touch when we got home to offer redress for the disappointments / major changes. Its as if they either want you to forget the matter or kept waiting such an inordinate length of time that it is too much trouble to argue & thus accept a token offer. Furthermore the program director did tell me he had submitted a report & that they would offer either a discount off a future cruise or if that was not acceptable a mutually acceptable settlement.

To date all I have is a response from the US Customer Service to contact the UK on my behalf in an effort to resolve the matter -- to which I have just provided them with the info requested.

I find it extremely disappointing & baffling that Viking seem to satisfy so many with their efforts whilst they are aboard, yet in almost every instance when there is a problem their customer service is found sadly lacking. Why can they not provide a consistent service in all aspects of their business?

I will post further when I finally hear from Viking UK

Regards
#18
Ontario, Canada
2,740 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by 9stilton
I started the thread with what I believed was a balanced view of my own experience with Viking & whilst I was not happy with some aspects of the river cruise (mainly the comfort that the Viking Fortune offered) I would not have gone to the lengths of posting my thoughts had everything gone to plan.
I do feel that your post was quite balanced. My comments were directed to the person who has made a number of comments on people being "out of their mind" to book with Viking - when I don't believe he has cruised with them himself.

Originally posted by 9stilton
The issue for me is clearly the major changes that took place & the resultant unfulfilled promises made by Viking staff aboard -- that Viking would be in touch when we got home to offer redress for the disappointments / major changes. Its as if they either want you to forget the matter or kept waiting such an inordinate length of time that it is too much trouble to argue & thus accept a token offer. Furthermore the program director did tell me he had submitted a report & that they would offer either a discount off a future cruise or if that was not acceptable a mutually acceptable settlement.

To date all I have is a response from the US Customer Service to contact the UK on my behalf in an effort to resolve the matter -- to which I have just provided them with the info requested.

I find it extremely disappointing & baffling that Viking seem to satisfy so many with their efforts whilst they are aboard, yet in almost every instance when there is a problem their customer service is found sadly lacking. Why can they not provide a consistent service in all aspects of their business?

I will post further when I finally hear from Viking UK

Regards
It is lack of communication (or misleading communication) that I usually take offense with - and had a long telephone conversation with one of the senior VPs about this when I got home. I can certainly understand your frustration when you were promised that someone would get in touch with you, and they have not. Keep trying.... And keep us posted!!! Good luck.

Fran
#19
75 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
It’s now 2 weeks since I last posted on my situation with Viking & regrettably the matter is still unresolved & rumbling on.

Shortly after my last posting & contact via Viking US Guest Relations posting I had an email from the UK team requesting “a copy of your cruise critic posting or alternatively a summary of my personal experience. I do not want to pre judge what is likely to happen but such a response was very disappointing -- given ALL passengers were told at on the truncated cruise that Viking would be in touch with a compensation package upon return home. Anyway I duly sent them a precis by return.

Viking UK did point out they have 28 days to officially respond but one would have hoped they would have done so expediently on a matter they fully acknowledged at the time. Or was it just words & the hope that time would erode the disappointment?

Watch this space!!
#20
Sarnia, Ontario Canada
4,439 Posts
Joined Dec 2005
Hopefully Viking will stand good to their word and get back to you before the 28 days. Keep us posted.