Posted June 20th, 2014, 04:31 PM
Viking ships have a deeper draft than other lines' [instead of Longships they should have been called Leadbottoms ]
Viking also has a pattern of not canceling -- even last year during the historic flooding they ran bus tours when other lines cancelled and refunded the money.
I would like to share 2 river cruises taken by 2 friends of mine during summer 2013. We are all Canadians.
The first river cruise was taken in June with Avalon from Amsterdam to Budapest. The water level was too high so my friend had to pack her belonging twice to be changed ship. Everybody understood the situation and were grateful to be move so the daily bus trips would not be too long. At the end of the 15-day trip, Avalon told everyone that they would receive a cash reimbursement for the trouble... I do believe my friend and her husband received close to $2,000 in cash.
The second river cruise was in July with Viking from Amsterdam to Budapest. The water level was good for cruising but a German lock strike happened. When her Viking ship arrived in Germany, the trouble started. They had to travel from the ship to the towns by bus. Everyday, the time on the bus increased. The whole ship was VERY UPSET and asked to be transferred to another ship (east) so the commute by bus would not be so long as one day they drove 2 hours to get to where they had to visit and another 2 hours to get back to the ship. They were also told they had to pay for lunch as the bus would drive them back to the ship if they wanted to have lunch on the ship. WHAT? Excuse me but do you think people would lose precious time to take the bus back to the ship, then back on the bus to visit some more that afternoon (if you would have time to go back out there....) and then back on the bus to get back to the ship?
It went on like that for several days. They even miss a stop as they had lose too much time due to the lock strike. Meanwhile, my friend found out that the cruisers on an Avalon ship were transferred to another ship...
Finally, people were MAD, COMPLAINED, YELLED... Name it. Viking could have cared less. At her return, my friend/husband and 2 other couples travelling with them had their TA complained to Viking. Viking came back with "Too bad it's not our fault. However, we will give them a $500 certificate good for another river cruise booked within a year." What an insult! They will never travel with Viking so that certificate was pointless. To make a long story short, they had found that one of their cruise mate (a lawyer) had received a settlement but could not discussed it as she had signed legal documents with Viking. My friend and her cruise mates (2 couples) had a letter sent by an American law firm and Viking was a little bit more willing to satisfy her customers. My friend and cruise mates received a settlement but they can not discussed it! My friend just said "It's not much but it's more for the principle!".
You make your own mind about what river cruise company to select: one (Avalon for example) that will reimbursed you a reasonable amount in CASH without even asking OR Viking who might give you a "voucher" to be used on a future cruise booked within a year after you beg them to look at your situation. And if you are lucky enough to have an American lawyer, you could receive a SETTLEMENT if you signed legal documents stating you will not be able to discuss the case.
Well, I know for sure I will never cruise with Viking. I know a lot about ocean cruises but didn't know much about river cruises until last summer. The only thing I knew about river cruises was that your ship would disembark you in the middle of a town where you could explore on your own or with a group. I didn't know the water level could change a dream trip into a very disappointing trip. It's why people spend so much money on a river cruise, to be disembarked exactly in the middle of a town and not getting therea by riding a bus! Water level problem should be mentioned in their brochures as it is happening often (well, last year and this year...). The company should mention what they would do to help cruisers... Viking could have shown some compassion by trying everything they could and at least move the cruisers to another ship so their commute by bus was not have been so long...
A lot to think about when you book an expensive river cruise!