This review is for the Viking River Cruise company. My wife and I contracted with Viking River Cruises to get us from our home airport to the boat and back to our home airport. Viking made all of the travel arrangements. For the quick version, we spent an absolutely horrendous weekend in airports, and not-so-nice hotels (one of which we had to pay for ourselves) on the phone with Viking and Air Canada reps, none of whom were REMOTELY HELPFUL.
Our first problem occurred on the evening we were scheduled to leave our home airport, Nashville, TN. Viking had scheduled us to fly from Nashville to Toronto then on to Frankfurt and finally into Budapest where we were to embark. These flights were scheduled with Air Canada. The one and only Air Canada flight from Nashville to Toronto was canceled and even though I had signed up for text notification, there was no notification. When we arrived at the airport, not only had the flight been canceled but the Air Canada counter was closed with only a phone number to call (Air Canada has only a small desk in the Nashville airport). We finally got a Viking representative on the phone and after being on hold for almost two hours were rescheduled for a flight at 7 am the next day to send us to Toronto via NYC and then connect to Munich and then Budapest.
We had to make our own hotel accommodations for the night in Nashville since we don't live in Nashville. We had already left our car at a hotel for the entire length of the cruise, so we decided to stay there. No explanation of why the Air Canada flight was canceled (Nashville weather was fine though rainy, and the only storms or other cancellations were in flights coming from or to Texas, not the case with our flight). It appears there were not enough people who wanted to go to Toronto that evening for the flight to be profitable since only one other man appeared to check in to find his flight canceled. The new flight itinerary meant that we would miss not only the purchased transfer to our ship and our first night on the ship, but the scheduled city tour of Budapest.
So. now we spend a second travel day to get to Toronto (leaving Nashville at 7:00am) to await our flight to Munich, of which there is only one. After spending the day in the Toronto airport (from around noon to around 6 pm) we are informed the flight to Munich will be delayed. At this point my wife approached the desk for flights from Toronto to Frankfurt, to see if perhaps we should be placed stand-by on the Frankfurt flight in case the Munich flight is delayed too much to make our connection, or canceled altogether (as it ultimately was). She was told not to worry, that Air Canada would get us to Munich in time for the connection to Budapest or a later connection to Budapest before our ship left port.
We have already been informed by Viking that we will probably have to make taxi arrangements from the Budapest airport to our ship instead of the purchased transfer. When the only flight to Munich is canceled near midnight due to mechanical problems, it was rescheduled for the following afternoon around 4 pm (nearly 24 hours after the original flight). At this point, we cannot possibly get to Budapest before our ship departs. The next stop was to be Bratislava, Slovakia. After standing in multiple lines for several hours around midnight, Air Canada informs us they do not fly into Bratislava but it should be fairly easy to get trains in Europe!
We do not have an international cell phone, but someone is kind enough to loan us one. After a long wait on hold, we finally get in touch with the after-hours Viking Air Travel representative, who tells us they can do nothing for us and that when we finally get to Budapest, we can contact the local transfer company (this individual believes the transfer company can somehow transport us to another country to catch our ship since we had included transfers). We spend the next morning, Sunday, in a hotel in Toronto trying to get someone at Viking to give us some help. They say it is up to the airline to deal with everything, though we have not contracted with the airline but with Viking. Viking tells us there is no supervisor to talk to as it is Sunday. My wife suggests that perhaps we might be rerouted to another (ANY EUROPEAN CITY) where there's a Viking boat in port. She is told that all Viking boats are COMPLETELY FULL. By now, even if we could get to our ship, almost half of the tour would be missed, not to mention how exhausted and sick we are already. If we choose to go to the next city that Air Canada flies into, we'll have missed another day, PLUS we'll have to find a hotel on our own to await the boat coming from Slovakia. "I would just go home if I were you," the Viking rep tells my wife, but he makes no offer to help reschedule our flight home. Air Canada tells us that since Viking booked our initial flight, it is up to them to reschedule it.
Viking says everything is the fault of Air Canada and Air Canada says we have to deal with Viking. After hours on the phone, we finally get Air Canada to return us to Nashville. Viking tells they will not refund any of our monies or compensate us in anyway even though we paid them months in advance and entirely in good faith to be transported from our home airport to the ship and back to our home airport. On Monday, we call Viking customer service. We are informed by Rachel that since we did not get to our ship, Viking is not responsible for anything and will not reimburse or compensate us and that she has no supervisor with whom we can speak but we can write a letter to the president of the company. We intend to do this, of course.