Viking River Cruises

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#1
Northern Ireland
6 Posts
Joined Jul 2013
Viking told us we would get off ship at one side of a broken lock and board an identical one at the other side. Only trouble was that the other side was a 4 hour bus journey to Vienna. We also clearly stated that we did not eat pork products and yet when we arrived late due to cancelled and delayed flights we were handed ham sandwiches. Our romantic Danube cruise started in a gravel carpark outside Nuremburg. Apart from the day we left, every single days schedule was altered. Go for a balcony and you can enjoy the views into other balconies that you are moored along side. Just got another phone call today 7th October and they still don't think they did anything wrong. Food not great and served on chipped crockery.
The amount of time spent aboard buses on this river cruise is just amazing.
It is true that Viking do not know how to deal with people when things go wrong. The arrogance of the chap I was speaking to in the complaints section is an experience in itself. To charge this amount of money and then to expect people just to accept any old thing that they offer is a disgrace. We were offered a 50% reduction until 2015 on any cruise or offer from Viking - but why would we want to subject ourselves to a bus tour again, when we thought we had booked a river cruise? There are other well documented accounts on this forum of just what the Romantic Danube cruise involved in June 2013 and like the others who have commented, we should have been given the option to cancel. Viking and the staff who deal with the complaints - I trust you can sleep well knowing what fare paying folks have had to endure, and you thinking it was acceptable.
#2
513 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
sorry you had this experience. chipped crockery sounds vile. plus a health hazard. standards of care certainly vary. people need to make informed choices. your review will assist others. but sadly too late for you.
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#3
New York
8,106 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
This is the second complalint on Cruise Critic in the last few days about chipped crockery on a Viking ship in the last few days.

This is the Nth complaint on Cruise Critic about poor customer service from Viking when things go wrong.

But hey, the way they advertise there is a steady stream of new cruisers who only know that Viking "is the world leader."

Sorry you had a bad cruise. Look around the other threads here on Cruise Critic as you plan your next cruise, and you will dramatically increase your odds of avoiding such disappointments in the future.
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#4
Manito, IL
89 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
This June saw unprecendented flooding on several European rivers, and all of the river lines were involved in the crises. We just returned from the Danube Waltz and saw the high water marks on the buildings at Passau, as well as other cities, that far surpassed previous records.

Several rivers in the US often flood higher and faster than any predictions - with equal surprise and disruption. No company can control, predict or prevent weather issues, or water levels. If the river is too low, they can't sail. If the river is too high, they can't sail, and the terms on all river lines state that alternative transportation may have to be arranged in that event.

Viking and other companies did the best they could under extreme circumstances, that were beyond their control. This was not a mechanical breakdown of their boats, or the fault of their staff. They should have been complimented on the very fact that they were able to find/arrange alternative transportation, lodging, food, and tours for their passengers at that time.
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#5
372 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Originally posted by milling73
...
Viking and other companies did the best they could under extreme circumstances, that were beyond their control. This was not a mechanical breakdown of their boats, or the fault of their staff. They should have been complimented on the very fact that they were able to find/arrange alternative transportation, lodging, food, and tours for their passengers at that time.
I totally agree
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AT SEA: 16 cruises
RIVER:
2011 -- Viking Sun 'Rhine Getaway'
2012 -- Viking Primadonna 'Passage to Eastern Europe'
2013 -- Viking Odin 'Tulips & Windmills'
2013 -- Viking Lomonosov 'Footsteps of the Cossacks'
2013 -- Viking Spirit 'Paris & the Heart of Normandy'
2014 -- Viking Schumann 'Elegant Elbe'
2014 -- AMA Waterways 'Melodies of the Danube'
2014 -- Viking Hemming 'Portugal's River of Gold'
2015 -- American Eagle 'Lower Mississippi'
2016 -- Viking Forseti 'Chateaux, Rivers & Wine'
2016 -- Mekong Navigator 'Mekong River Cruise with Saigon & Siem Reap'
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#6
Woodland Hills, CA
731 Posts
Joined Oct 2010
Dear Weejohnw,

First, let us say welcome to Cruise Critic. We hope you enjoy being a part of this community as much as we do, though we of course wish that you had been inspired to join under different circumstances.

Next, while we’re unsure of which particular sailing you were on that was affected by the lock closures due to needed repairs from high water, we are confident that our Switzerland-based teams worked diligently and in good faith trying to make arrangements as needed during changing conditions. Please know that at its conclusion each sailing was individually reviewed to determine compensation that we believed was equitable for the necessary itinerary modifications. It is our hope that you and our other guests who were impacted by these highly unusual circumstances will choose to experience a river cruise under more favorable conditions.

Finally, please accept our apologies for the other ways in which you mention being disappointed. The error is meeting your dietary requirements sounds like a mistake made under unusual circumstances (again) due to delayed flights. As for a member of our team being arrogant, that does not sound typical of our service or standards, but we do apologize for your continued disappointment with the overall Viking experience.

Weejohnw, we hope that you will consider contacting us directly again, this time at [email protected]. We’d very much appreciate another opportunity to further discuss all of the points mentioned in your post.

Kindly,
Viking Cruises


Originally posted by Weejohnw
Viking told us we would get off ship at one side of a broken lock and board an identical one at the other side. Only trouble was that the other side was a 4 hour bus journey to Vienna. We also clearly stated that we did not eat pork products and yet when we arrived late due to cancelled and delayed flights we were handed ham sandwiches. Our romantic Danube cruise started in a gravel carpark outside Nuremburg. Apart from the day we left, every single days schedule was altered. Go for a balcony and you can enjoy the views into other balconies that you are moored along side. Just got another phone call today 7th October and they still don't think they did anything wrong. Food not great and served on chipped crockery.
The amount of time spent aboard buses on this river cruise is just amazing.
It is true that Viking do not know how to deal with people when things go wrong. The arrogance of the chap I was speaking to in the complaints section is an experience in itself. To charge this amount of money and then to expect people just to accept any old thing that they offer is a disgrace. We were offered a 50% reduction until 2015 on any cruise or offer from Viking - but why would we want to subject ourselves to a bus tour again, when we thought we had booked a river cruise? There are other well documented accounts on this forum of just what the Romantic Danube cruise involved in June 2013 and like the others who have commented, we should have been given the option to cancel. Viking and the staff who deal with the complaints - I trust you can sleep well knowing what fare paying folks have had to endure, and you thinking it was acceptable.
#7
Australia
1,207 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
Originally posted by milling73

Viking and other companies did the best they could under extreme circumstances, that were beyond their control. This was not a mechanical breakdown of their boats, or the fault of their staff. They should have been complimented on the very fact that they were able to find/arrange alternative transportation, lodging, food, and tours for their passengers at that time.
I also agree with Milling73. You know what the Terms and Conditions of River Cruising are when you sign up to go. How anyone can expect umpteen river cruises to find 5* accommodation for everyone at the time of a national disaster is totally beyond me.
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#8
270 Posts
Joined Mar 2009
And I totally agree and am really getting a little frustrated by reading all of these complaints. We have had two wonderful, flawless river cruises with Viking the last two years....The Danube in 2012 and the Rhine in 2013. I would jump on the opportunity to go on a third cruise and especially at 50% off. River cruises can be interrrupted because of natural events which are totally beyond the control of any cruise line. The Viking I travelled with has always gone above and beyond making sure that my trip was a memorable one. No complaints from this happy traveller. I think anyone needs to understand that river levels can change, strikes can occur, and locks can become damaged. When they do all ships, on the river at that particular time, have to make adjustments and make them quickly. To think that there are hotels and restaurants just randomly placed along the European rivers to accomodate displaced river boat cruisers is niave. I can't imagine how hard it is to find alternate plans for 200 people at one time. I am very sorry you did not have the trip of your dreams....we just returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast and it rained one full day we were there. The water was brown with seaweed instead of the beautiful blue we are used to. We could have turned around and gone home but we had already paid a couple of thousand dollars for our place for the week and we would LOSE all of that money. Nobody offered me free cancellation and my money back. This is part of travel. And I know everyone has a right to voice their opinion but it is all getting a little old. Sorry.
#9
New York
342 Posts
Joined Feb 2001
I have enjoyed 4 cruises with Viking and my 5th will be in November. I have never had a complaint or heard of anyone on my past cruises that were dissatisfied. It is unfortunate that Europe had suffered such flooding issues and strikes along the river; but these issues are not Viking's fault. We also have suffered in the US. Just look at the effects of Hurricane Sandy !!!
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Frank & Pat
New York, NY
---------------
10/17 Viking Foresti - Chateau, Rivers & Wine
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11/14 Viking Hermod / Viking Buri - Portraits of Southern France
11/13 Viking Prestige - Vineyards & Vistas / Trier to Bamberg
11/12 Viking Odin - Romantic Danube / Budapest to Nuremberg
11/11 Viking Schumann - Elegant Elbe / Prague to Berlin
10/10 Viking Sun - Rhine Getaway / Amsterdam to Basel (Lucerne)
11/09 Viking Pride - Romantic Danube / Nuremberg to Vienna
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#10
Mackay Australia
786 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
The thing that I find most disturbing about threads like this one is that more and more posters are are assuming that because something didn't happen to them then it couldn't possibly have happened to the OP. Thus by inference the OP posted false information.

I realise that because Viking have the most number of boats and thus the most number of sailings over the season they will have many, many great positive reviews, as they should but it also means that simply by that great number of sailing dates they will also have quite a few negative reviews. Why then is what happened to the OP wrong or untrue. I know that if someone told me that because of a lock outage we were going to be transported to another boat I would not have expected a 4hr bus ride. This whole matter could have been avoided if the CD had truthfully told passengers that their new boat was in Vienna, 4 hours away, not on the otherside of the broken lock. It seems that Viking have trouble telling the whole truth.

The OP's other main concern was that even though they had advised Viking prior to arriving that neither of then ate Pork products they were served a ham sandwich. So I don't agree that "Viking did the best they could under extreme circumstances." Attention to detail and telling the truth is not, IMO, doing their best.

Having a great holiday is the norm as it should be but if something goes astray then I don't think posters should lambast a fellow contributor for telling their side of the story.
#11
Ontario, Canada
2,747 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by Ozjohnno
I know that if someone told me that because of a lock outage we were going to be transported to another boat I would not have expected a 4hr bus ride. This whole matter could have been avoided if the CD had truthfully told passengers that their new boat was in Vienna, 4 hours away, not on the otherside of the broken lock. It seems that Viking have trouble telling the whole truth.
I am going out on a limb here and say that the CD was the biggest part of the problem here. I do believe that the CD's experience, skill and approach to people is one of the details in your cruise that can absolutely affect your trip.... It sounds as if Viking has someone of similar worth and skill in their office in the British Isles/Ireland. I doubt that the OP would have been speaking to anyone in California. I only hope that the OP contacts Viking via the information given in their post to explain his concerns and give them an opportunity to apologize. They have already been offered a 50% voucher for another cruise.

Originally posted by Ozjohnno
The OP's other main concern was that even though they had advised Viking prior to arriving that neither of then ate Pork products they were served a ham sandwich. So I don't agree that "Viking did the best they could under extreme circumstances." Attention to detail and telling the truth is not, IMO, doing their best.
I do agree that this would leave a bad taste (no pun intended), but the OP indicated they were very late due to late and cancelled flights. I would guess that they arrived outside of meal time, and whoever offered to get them something to eat didn't think to ask if there were dietary restrictions, or had access to the records that indicated these. Although they were served ham, they could have indicated that they could not eat this, and have asked for something else. If they asked, and were refused, then this is something totally different. But I expect that the sandwich was someone trying to be helpful.

Fran
#12
1,795 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
Originally posted by Ozjohnno
The thing that I find most disturbing about threads like this one is that more and more posters are are assuming that because something didn't happen to them then it couldn't possibly have happened to the OP. Thus by inference the OP posted false information.
I don't think that is really what people are suggesting.

We all know that there were major problems earlier this year due to the flooding and that many people had a distinctly sub-standard holiday during that time, but how people reacted to that and their expectations of what Viking and other cruise lines could/should have done vary considerably.

At one extreme, for some, anything less than the perfect holiday they imagined based on the brochure pictures is a complete failure and should justify a 100% refund along with further compensation ...

On the other-hand, some accept that river cruising comes with certain variable risks, they made the best they could of what was going on, appreciated the efforts made to deal with the changes at short notice and were appreciative of the discount offers they received on future cruises.

Both groups of people had the same experience, they just reacted differently to it.

I have in the past managed large groups of customer service staff and currently I travel globally on a very regular basis so I get to both see service staff handling travel problems frequently and I've also in the past been able to review recordings of customer/staff interactions and I've learned a lot from this.

I will often observe a member of staff providing exemplary service delivery but be unable to give the customer what they want because it is either impossible or the customer is just not entitled to what they are asking for. In those cases the customer will frequently report the service delivery as 'rude', 'unhelpful' even 'arrogant' etc. when there really was nothing of that tone in the conversation at all.

When we don't get what we want it tends to color our perception of the interchange and there isn't a lot that can be done to change that.

So no, it is not that some deny the existence of problems for those reporting them, it is just a reflection of different expectation levels and different understanding of the product and what was reasonable or unreasonable.

For the OP, delayed flights followed by ham sandwiches are barely worth a mention, most likely a member of the reception staff tried to help out, without access to the normal process and procedures used by the catering staff to cope with specific dietary needs. If there had been no recognition of the notified special meal needs during main meal service that would have been a problem worthy of note, but even then only if it happened again after the first correction.

Chipped/cracked plates etc. should be reported, no food establishment should allow that to continue.

Balconies looking into other balconies is a normal situation on river cruises, made worse in this case by a lack of regular movement along the river, but still a fact of life at times.

So in short, was this a perfect experience for anyone? No, of course not, neither for those on holiday, nor for Viking having to pay for hotels and additional travel costs, but this doesn't mean all river cruises are like this or that all Viking cruises have these major variations.

I just read the complaints knowing that when bad things happen and people take it badly it becomes more likely that otherwise small issues will get blown up out of proportion and it becomes harder to get an accurate read on the reported quality of interactions with customer service staff.

Nobody is being accused of providing 'false information' just that their perception may be different from that of others looking at the same conversations.
#13
Weston, FL
305 Posts
Joined Feb 2013
Mark T - That was VERY well said and should become the "holy grail" on this forum.

Also...

- Sometimes people listen, but they don't hear. Maybe the passengers were told where the 2nd boat was, but just didn't understand that it was 4 hours away. And what is the difference. That is what was required to get around the lock. It was not as if the passengers had a choice. Viking did what they needed to do to get around a broken lock situation.

- On the sandwiches. Yes a simple "I'm sorry we don't eat that" I'm sure would have rectified the situation in an instant.

- Some people will just never be satisfied if things don't go EXACTLY as planned...and some people will just never be satisfied period.

- In life it is not so much what happens to you that matters...what really matters is how you deal with it.

With that said our Viking travel docs arrived yesterday. We leave for Prague in 2 weeks. Can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to be going on my first RC.

Now that I have read soooo much on this Forum, I don't think anything can happen that will surprise me.
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GCT M/S Provence, April 2017 Carnival Imagination, April 2016  NCL Norwegian Sky, March 2014  Viking Idun, November 2013  Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas, April 2004  Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas, April 2003  NCL Norwegian Sun, March 2002  Celebrity Cruises Century, August 1999  Admiral Cruise Lines Emerald Seas, July 1988
#14
Manito, IL
89 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
Mark T...great post and perspective!

It is extremely disappointing when a vacation does not go as anticipated or planned, particularly when thousands of dollars are involved. I didn't mean to sound unsympathic, but more to forewarn those who have not taken a river cruise.

Unlike ocean cruises that can sail around a hurricane or alter their route....river cruise tours have few options, other than to leave the river if conditions are such that they cannot sail. I've read so many posts of "I booked a river cruise, not a bus trip. I want a refund." But the fact is, that is exactly what "could" happen if conditions warrant. I don't think it occurs often, but cruisers need to be aware that the possibility exists, and be prepared to accept the change in agenda and transportation.
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Viking Jewels of China - 2014
Viking Tulips & Windmills - 2017
Viking Magnificent Mekong - 2018
#15
Northern Ireland
6 Posts
Joined Jul 2013
To all those "happy" Viking River Cruisers who think I have no right to complain, in 28 years of married life, and taking 2 to 5 holidays a year, this is the very first time we have ever complained.
Our main point of concern is that we were given the wrong information from Viking regarding the boat at the "other side of the lock". I have a disability as a result of surgery and tire out quite quickly. We booked a leisure river cruise with short half day tours which we thought I could cope with. Instead of that - every single day - the schedule was changed. No t only was there a 4 hour bus trip to Vienna after a morning tour, but the following day, in order to retrace part of the river we had missed by going 4 hours to the "other side", it too had about 4 hours of bus trips. I missed meals on two nights due to tiredness from all the travelling. As for the food, not exactly as good as advertised.
If it was not for the fact that Viking have better staff than they deserve on the boats, the holiday would have been unbearable.
I have every right to complain about being delivered an experience that fell far short of what was advertised and Viking have no right to be complimented on feeding us misleading information as to where the "other side " actually was.
We should have been offered the opportunity to travel at another time or to cancel.
As for the "arrogance" of the person I was speaking to on the phone, it was the approach that they took, that 50% off until 2015 was what others had found to be a very good offer and that I should be grateful for it too as that was all that was going to be offered.
I have written to ABTA and a BBC consumer program and was told by the Viking representative to pursue my complaint through ABTA. I have the forms and cheque ready to send off.
And as for the food, we had to ask the Cruise director to have a non pork based meal prepared as there was nothing on the menu that was not pork based and the kitchen staff had already said there was nothing he could do - although the cruise director was able to have something prepared.
On the several days when we had to eat in a hotel rather than on the boat because of the bus trips - the set meal at one hotel was - pork - we had to ask the hotel senior staff to have an alternative. Also at the hotels, drinks at the meal was strictly limited to one. When we asked for a refill, no one ever came back - and others also experienced this. On the boat there would have been a menu to choose from and you would have had your glass refilled as required.
I have never had to complain about any other holiday in 28 years and yet some folks out there think that this is "tired".
What we are tired off, is Vikings response and their total inability to deal with our complaint.
#16
Northern Ireland
6 Posts
Joined Jul 2013
Quote from someone who thinks its wrong to complain:-
"Balconies looking into other balconies is a normal situation on river cruises, made worse in this case by a lack of regular movement along the river, but still a fact of life at times."
It's strange that this is not mentioned in the glossy advertizing, that you can experience the "Romantic Danube" by peering into another persons balcony. There is a term for this and it is not "romance"
#17
Australia
1,207 Posts
Joined Jun 2013
Originally posted by Weejohnw
And as for the food, we had to ask the Cruise director to have a non pork based meal prepared as there was nothing on the menu that was not pork based and the kitchen staff had already said there was nothing he could do - although the cruise director was able to have something prepared.
I am sorry your trip was such a disappointment for you. I haven't travelled on a Viking cruise so I cannot comment on Viking specifically.
But I was under the impression that vegetarians were catered for on most river cruises - is this not so on Viking? I always feel that if I can't find something that I like, I can always have the vegetarian option.

Perhaps others who have travelled on Viking can comment on the usual menus. Did Weejohnw just strike a very bad chef/kitchen staff or is there very little choice on the menus.

I am sure this will help a lot of future cruisers when choosing a river cruise.
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Strath


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#18
Littleton, CO
937 Posts
Joined Aug 2001
Originally posted by Mark_T
I don't think that is really what people are suggesting.

We all know that there were major problems earlier this year due to the flooding and that many people had a distinctly sub-standard holiday during that time, but how people reacted to that and their expectations of what Viking and other cruise lines could/should have done vary considerably.

At one extreme, for some, anything less than the perfect holiday they imagined based on the brochure pictures is a complete failure and should justify a 100% refund along with further compensation ...

On the other-hand, some accept that river cruising comes with certain variable risks, they made the best they could of what was going on, appreciated the efforts made to deal with the changes at short notice and were appreciative of the discount offers they received on future cruises.

Both groups of people had the same experience, they just reacted differently to it.

I have in the past managed large groups of customer service staff and currently I travel globally on a very regular basis so I get to both see service staff handling travel problems frequently and I've also in the past been able to review recordings of customer/staff interactions and I've learned a lot from this.

I will often observe a member of staff providing exemplary service delivery but be unable to give the customer what they want because it is either impossible or the customer is just not entitled to what they are asking for. In those cases the customer will frequently report the service delivery as 'rude', 'unhelpful' even 'arrogant' etc. when there really was nothing of that tone in the conversation at all.

When we don't get what we want it tends to color our perception of the interchange and there isn't a lot that can be done to change that.

So no, it is not that some deny the existence of problems for those reporting them, it is just a reflection of different expectation levels and different understanding of the product and what was reasonable or unreasonable.

For the OP, delayed flights followed by ham sandwiches are barely worth a mention, most likely a member of the reception staff tried to help out, without access to the normal process and procedures used by the catering staff to cope with specific dietary needs. If there had been no recognition of the notified special meal needs during main meal service that would have been a problem worthy of note, but even then only if it happened again after the first correction.

Chipped/cracked plates etc. should be reported, no food establishment should allow that to continue.

Balconies looking into other balconies is a normal situation on river cruises, made worse in this case by a lack of regular movement along the river, but still a fact of life at times.

So in short, was this a perfect experience for anyone? No, of course not, neither for those on holiday, nor for Viking having to pay for hotels and additional travel costs, but this doesn't mean all river cruises are like this or that all Viking cruises have these major variations.

I just read the complaints knowing that when bad things happen and people take it badly it becomes more likely that otherwise small issues will get blown up out of proportion and it becomes harder to get an accurate read on the reported quality of interactions with customer service staff.

Nobody is being accused of providing 'false information' just that their perception may be different from that of others looking at the same conversations.
Very well put.
#19
Ontario, Canada
2,747 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Originally posted by Stratheden
I am sorry your trip was such a disappointment for you. I haven't travelled on a Viking cruise so I cannot comment on Viking specifically.
But I was under the impression that vegetarians were catered for on most river cruises - is this not so on Viking? I always feel that if I can't find something that I like, I can always have the vegetarian option.

Perhaps others who have travelled on Viking can comment on the usual menus. Did Weejohnw just strike a very bad chef/kitchen staff or is there very little choice on the menus.

I am sure this will help a lot of future cruisers when choosing a river cruise.
Viking (as with many river cruises) usually has 3 options for the main course - a meat, a fish and a vegetarian choice. There is almost always a "fall back" of steak, chicken or salmon (or a choice of any of these....)

Of course, if you are staying in a hotel instead of on the boat, I doubt that you would have that degree of choice.

It sounds as if there might have been some significant inflexibility in both the menu and the staff if there really was no option other than pork.

Fran
#20
513 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Originally posted by Weejohnw
Quote from someone who thinks its wrong to complain:-
"Balconies looking into other balconies is a normal situation on river cruises, made worse in this case by a lack of regular movement along the river, but still a fact of life at times."
It's strange that this is not mentioned in the glossy advertizing, that you can experience the "Romantic Danube" by peering into another persons balcony. There is a term for this and it is not "romance"
weejohnw your experience was appalling. of course you have the right to complain about the treatment. it is a warning for others to really research and be aware of the travel product they are purchasing. we also find a good travel agent will guide and advise in this regard.
we all have different needs when travelling and some products suit better than others.
better luck with your choice next time. river cruising can be a wonderful experience.
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