Viking was founded in 1997 with the purchase of four ships in Russia. In 2000, the company purchased Europe’s KD River Cruises in order to grow its fleet, to leverage 40 years of river cruising experience and to acquire rights to prime docking locations in key European cities.
The company expanded into the American market in 2000, establishing US headquarters in Los Angeles, California. Through rapid expansion, the company has grown to be The World’s Leading River Cruise Line, with double-digit growth in recent years. And with the launch of its ocean fleet in 2015, the company has also become the leader in small ship ocean cruising.
With operational headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, Viking provides destination-focused itineraries designed for experienced travelers who have an interest in geography, culture and history. Each journey includes a shore excursion in every port, and an exclusive Viking Culture Curriculum program that provides deep immersion in the destination through performances of music and art, cooking demonstrations, informative port talks and carefully selected guest lecturers.
The company currently operates a fleet of more than 60 vessels, state-of-the-art ships that have received numerous accolades since their launch from industry experts and travelers alike. Viking was voted the #1 River Cruise Line by Condé Nast Traveler in their 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards, and for the third year in a row, has been named the #1 Ocean Cruise Line* by Travel + Leisure readers in the World’s Best Awards 2018.
River Ships and Itineraries
Sailing Europe’s storied rivers, the award-winning Viking Longships offer a variety of stateroom categories and true two-room suites with full-size verandas. Onboard amenities include a restaurant, bar and lounge, library and expansive sun deck. The ships feature al fresco dining on the Aquavit Terrace, an elegant Scandinavian design and “green” features, such as solar panels, an onboard organic herb garden and energy-efficient hybrid engines for a remarkably smooth ride.
River cruises range from 8 to 23 days, with itineraries featuring Europe’s Rhine, Main, Danube, Seine, Rhône, Douro, Moselle, Elbe, Dordogne, Garonne and Gironde Rivers; Russia’s Volga, Neva and Svir; Ukraine’s Dnieper; Egypt’s Nile; China’s Yangtze; and Southeast Asia’s Mekong.
Ocean Ships and Itineraries
In 2015, Viking introduced its first ocean ship with the christening of the 930-guest all-veranda Viking Star. One year later, Viking launched its second ocean ship, Viking Sea, which was joined by sister ships Viking Sky and Viking Sun in 2017 and by Viking Orion in 2018. The fleet welcomes Viking Jupiter in 2019. Four more yet-to-be-named ships are scheduled to launch by 2023.
The company’s award-winning ships are engineered at a size that allows direct access into most ports, so guests have easy and efficient embarkation and disembarkation. Each ship boasts a private veranda in every stateroom, a choice of restaurants offering a variety of fine dining options, the most al fresco dining at sea, an infinity pool, a Nordic-inspired spa, panoramic Explorers’ Lounge and thoughtfully curated book collections throughout the ship, and more—all designed in understated elegance.
Ocean itineraries are designed to maximize the amount of time travelers spend in their destination. These enriching itineraries include base and combination cruises sailing to Scandinavia and Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, Alaska, North and South America, and Africa.
Viking Sun spent her maiden season sailing the company’s first-ever world cruise, spanning 141 days and visiting five continents. She will embark on two more global crossings in 2019: the 128-day 2019 Viking World Cruise and 245-day Viking Ultimate World Cruise. In 2018, Viking Orion embarked on journeys in the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Alaska. And in 2019, the newest addition to the fleet, Viking Jupiter, will begin her maiden season with voyages to the Mediterranean, Scandinavia, the Baltic and South America.
*Ship size category: 600–2,199 guests
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Our Viking river cruise was a disappointing experience; marred by poor customer service and misleading information. While I appreciate there is a drought and hence impact to the cruise that is out of Viking’s control, how the situation was handled by Viking —delays in shuttling between destinations, multiple accommodation changes, excursions canceled and lack of transparency/misleading communications by Viking before/during the trip— is unacceptable. This is my fifth cruise; first cruise on Viking. The cruise was an all around disappointing experience and not what I would expect from a luxury cruise line.
Given the inability to cruise due to water levels on the Danube, Viking should have informed guests prior to the trip —AND provided an honest representation during the trip (this is the 4th month of fraught conditions). Instead, Viking withheld information until the night before (daily update meetings before dinner to inform guests of next day changes to schedule) and in certain cases were dishonest in communications.
Viking river boats are not designed to handle situations such as low water levels as there are no activities for guests that may choose to remain on the boat. Food is fair and service is poor in relation to cost: no room service; special ordered food at breakfast that came out as prepared for buffet; noted this was a cruise to celebrate a birthday during cruise - no acknowledgment; Viking cancelled pre-scheduled excursions without communicating the change directly; needed something printed and front desk unable to deliver to room, etc.
As others have stated, balconies are a waste of $ as the majority of time we were docked and stacked with other boats with immediate views into other rooms. Not only did we not use the balconies, we kept our drapes drawn for privacy. The Viking river cruise was such a bad experience that we disembarked two days early, took the train to the final destination, and checked into a hotel. Viking staff made no offer to assist in coordinating this change nor would staff assist with luggage transfer.
October 19, 2018, 4 days before our departure, we received an email from Viking regarding our cruise “City of Lights” informing us water levels have receded further than anticipated and Viking needed to adjust Days 8-10 of our itinerary. Day 8: Bus ride 220 miles. Day 9: Bus ride 60 miles. Day 10: morning- 125 miles, Afternoon- 253 miles. My husband has been in severe pain in his back and had an Ablation October 9th to relieve the pain and the procedure worked! The last thing in the World he needs is to be strapped into an uncomfortable bus seat with little room to even move his legs for hours on end. Even IF he were 100% hale and hearty who in their right mind would pay $21,000.00 (for 2 people) to ride buses for 558 miles in 3 days?
Our concern is, obviously, this type of transport undoing a procedure Which has positive results. We made the decision October 20 to cancel the trip. We do have Trip Mate Travel Protection. Our travel agent has been met with negative responses from the Viking people she has spoken with who say we (the customers) have no rights to a refund because Viking did not cancel the trip! Viking changed the trip we paid for therefore our “contract” with Viking was broken and we want a refund. We would like to hear from someone at Viking who understands customer service.
We "sailed" with Viking October 12 through October 19, 2018 with a three-day extension in Prague, starting on October 9. In short, our "Romantic Danube River Cruise" turned into a "Stressful Danube Bus Tour". Due to low water levels on the Danube, which we now understand has been known by Viking for many months, we were bussed to all our ports, except for Nuremberg (an industrial port with cargo "scenery"), Regensburg and Passau (another industrial port actually located in Salzburg). We never experienced the beautiful river sites of the Wachau Valley, the Danube bend, or Budapest's extraordinary architecture. However, we did experience a boat hotel/restaurant experience on three different ships--the Tor, the Wilhelm and the Idun--having to unpack and repack our luggage several times and in time for very early bus departures to our next city.
A few of the "highlights" of our bus tour included: Absolutely no leisure time to explore Vienna or Budapest. A lunch of overdone pot roast and tater tots at a Melk hotel restaurant. Becoming experts in European bus companies and rest stops. (After all, Viking does market itself as a "thinking person's" cruise company, and we certainly did learn a lot about bus travel!) Two cabin bathrooms that smelled of urine, one broken toilet seat, one clogged shower drain, three very dirty balconies. Cancelled optional excursions in Budapest. Balcony sites that included cargo, foul-smelling water, other ships cabins (Many ships docked in tandem so that you can see into others cabins). A bus driver who almost got us all killed by challenging two tractor-trailers to a skirmish (Viking does advertise an "exciting trip"!).
Unorganized disembarkation -- oh, I mean bus departures -- due to unprepared staff; in fact, we almost missed our flights home due to miscommunication between the ship and the bus driver. An Austrian bus tour guide who could not speak or understand English (Well, I guess Viking does advertise a truly “in-country” experience). A Tour Director who constantly touted the excellent service and scenery which should translate into gratuities for the staff. He was certainly laser-focused on getting his tip! A farewell captain's speech that summarized why we should buy from Viking again. (Can you say ‘tone deaf?) Ahhh, but the most memorable highlight of all was the Tour Director lecturing us on why we should be happy with our circumstances, because "after all, you could be a victim of hurricane Michael." (I kid you not!)
Again, Viking has known for many months about the low river levels and chose not to notify their customers/passengers in a timely, honest manner. After some online research and talking with other Viking passengers, we have also learned that Viking consistently performs misleading advertising and unethical business practices.
Basically, they lie to their customers in return for profits. Viking has offered us a 25% discount on our next cruise, but what about our current cruise? We did NOT get what Viking promised. Viking, why not start demonstrating some integrity and provide a minimum 50% discount on the "cruise" we just took? We're about to retire and thought we would be traveling numerous times with Viking. But based on the way they have mishandled this cruise, we will book with their competitors like Crystal, AMA or Avalon. In short, #MYVIKINGSTORY: NEVER AGAIN!
Thank you for taking a moment to review your experience, Joann. Although Viking has no control over the water levels on the river, we understand your disappointment with other aspects of your voyage. Kindly, contact us at TellUs@vrc.com with your booking information, so we can connect you to a Customer Relations agent to discuss your experience in detail. We look forward to connecting.
Poor Transportation Scheduling... We booked our 50th anniversary cruise for three couples. Was booked on a single speaker-phone call. Viking should've assumed we wanted to travel together, and I needed to help two others with bags, etc. Our arrangements could not have been worse - we NEVER traveled together except on the boat. Flight paths lead us out of our way, assigned seating was ignored, and flight connections were near impossible. Cruise Viking if you must - but handle your own travel plans otherwise.
Thank you for taking a moment to review your cruise, Tom. We appreciate your feedback, as it allows us to evaluate our areas of improvement. Should you wish to submit further comments, please contact us directly at TellUs@VikingCruises.com with your booking information. Thanks again, and have a great week ahead.
My husband and I along with a few family members are currently on the Danube river cruise - well as I said - sort of. As I write this we are in an airport hotel in Vienna rather than aboard the Viking Var. Now - we totally understand that Viking has no control over water levels but we feel that the company should be honest with their customers in expectations due to the unprecedented and historic conditions that have plagued the summer and fall of 2018.
I write now as a warning and a hope that this will keep passengers scheduled for a river cruise - with Viking and ALL cruise lines - in the Danube, Rhine, Elbe rivers thru the month of October, November, and December somewhat informed of river conditions. Understand that the Danube water level is down AT LEAST 3 feet and longships CANNOT pass thru most sections of the river as propellers are getting stuck in river mud and rocks. This has been the case thru much of September and October.
We arrived in Budapest on Friday, Oct 19 early AM and had to board a bus to Kamaron, 60 miles north of Budapest and a 90 minute bus ride. We were advised of this by email the evening before we flew out from Philadelphia. On arrival we learned that no longships are moving on the river between Budapest and Passau and Viking will keep to our itinerary as close as possible by bussing us to various destinations. So here is what we’ve done since our bus trip to Kamaron - where we did stay on the Var for 2 nights (ships stranded along the river are being used as hotels).
Sat 10/20 Kamaron to Budapest - 90 min each way, 10am-5pm touring, Sun 10/21 Kamaron to Vienna - 2 hr bus ride with 30 min rest stop on a highway - we believe this was mostly to avoid arriving too early in Vienna as lunch was our first stop - scheduled for 11:30. Food on the ship was excellent for meals we had (dinner and breakfast, happy hours) but the lunch in Vienna was HORRID at Augustiner Keller.
And what’s to come in the next couple days: 10/22 Vienna to Krems - 1 hr bus ride each way, abbey tour and wine tasting scheduled per itinerary, bike tour option cancelled. Second night staying in airport hotel in Vienna area (Right - an airport hotel!!! Outside central Vienna area). 10/23 Vienna to Passau - 4 hr bus ride. Apparently we’ll be staying on Viking Tor this night - which is stranded in Passau. Plan for the remaining days to Regensburg and Nuremberg are unknown - tho we fully expect that we’ll be bussed to these destinations and will only find this out the night before we are due at these locations.
Now - the most disappointing thing about this ‘adventure’ is that when I called Viking 4 days before we flew out to Budapest - and knowing river water levels were an issue - I was told ‘no decisions had been made about our cruise’ and ‘rain was expected so they anticipate ships will be moving on the river’. As suspected - and now confirmed by what we are learning here in the river region - water levels have and will continue to prevent any longships from moving in the river. The claim by Viking customer reps via phone that rain is in the forecast is just plain untrue. Forecasted rain is nothing more than a short sprinkle. For water levels to improve, there will need to be DAYS of consistent rains.
We do not blame Viking for the conditions BUT - as noted in previous posts - these vacations are not cheap!! Viking - be customer conscious and honest. If we had wanted a bus tour of cities along the Danube we would have signed up for just that. Offering discounts on future cruises is not a viable solution. The problem is here and now - not in the future.
We regret to hear your disappointment, KM, and are interested in discussing your comments more in detail. For that, kindly contact us at TellUs@VikingCruises.com with your booking information, so we can arrange for a Customer Relations Agent to contact you promptly. Thank you for reaching out, KM, and we look forward to connecting.
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Viking Magni allowed an obviously sick man to board the ship and infect other passengers and crew members. I was infected with the virus the sick passenger was spreading throughout the ship. I missed all of the cruise. I spent the entire time too sick to leave my stateroom. It is evidently more important for Viking to keep the sick man's money than to prevent him from infecting other passengers. Viking Cruises is so money hungry that it puts passengers' health at risk. I will NEVER travel with Viking again. Their travel agents badly handled our air reservations, resulting in an excessive charge for airline tickets. Their travel agents are incompetent. The whole company is a disgrace.
Thanks for reaching out, Juliette. We are sorry to hear of your illness on board, and assure you that Viking takes extensive measures to ensure the safety of our passengers. However, oftentimes these things fall out of Viking’s control. In order to learn the details of your experience and evaluate where we can improve, please contact us at TellUs@VRC.com with your booking number so we can connect you to a Customer Relations Agent. Wishing you a speedy recovery!
I paid nearly $9000 for an upper level veranda, for sailing down the Danube River, leisurely for 7 days. Instead I got 6 am wake up calls, for 3 hours bus trips to the next ship and port, where we had to collect our luggage, once again, and unpack. We arrived late to all our destinations, therefore getting abbreviated rushed tours, with no quality time spent in the ports. Budapest was just a waste of time. We arrived so late and had to travel so far. We did get to spend quality time in European rest stops. The last night of our cruise was a disappointment. No last night festivities. No special menu. Not even music in the lounge. Instead the lights were turned off so we can go to sleep and forget about this horrible experience. What does Viking do, make excuses and offer us a 25% discount off our next cruise. That is not justifiable and only another money maker for Viking.
Deceptive, disappointing and disgraceful! If you’ve watched the Viking ads you may be fooled into thinking you are going on a relaxing river cruise. Don’t be fooled by the misleading ads. We went on our Romantic Danube cruise just a few weeks ago and had the exact same experience about which so many others have posted.
Low water levels, calls to Viking with reassurances that just a little rain will solve the problem, last minute emails informing us that we would be on a different ship, nightly meetings letting us know that we would be bused to our destination city and bused back that evening, further meetings during “happy hour” letting us know that we will now have to pack our belongings and change ships, docking at gravel pits instead of near any city, more bus rides, shortened times in our destination cities, excuses about the water levels and the deception that the decision was “JUST” made that we would not be sailing tomorrow, instead we’d spend more quality time on a bus with rest stops at highway gas stations!
The clear problem here is that Viking is refusing to acknowledge the problem with sticking to their published itinerary, constantly stringing travelers along and “acting” as if they have just learned that they are not going to be able to sail to the next city. THEY STRANDED US! We were docked in Komarno, Slovakia (instead of Budapest) and were told that we could take a 90 minute bus ride to the city, take our tour and then ride back to Komarno that evening. We were visiting Budapest after our cruise so we opted to stay in Komarno for the day. The Viking representative working the desk on the ship gave us disembarkation cards and directed us to a fort that was just on the other side of the river. (A short walk from our boat.)
We toured the fort and had lunch and returned shortly after that. TO OUR SURPRISE, THE VIKING SHIP HAD SAILED AND WE WERE STRANDED IN SLOVAKIA. We were assured before leaving the ship that we were not sailing until later that night. Just imagine the anger that the 10 of us felt knowing that they left us behind and understanding that we were told we were not moving! We took three taxis to catch up with our ship and when we boarded our Viking Longship, the activities director was sorry for our “trouble!” Really??? Sorry??? That was it?
As time went on, most of the passengers on our ship were disgusted, dissatisfied and felt deceived by Viking. In light of the overwhelmingly feeling that our trip did not measure up to the supposedly high standards that Viking advertises, I would expect that Viking would at least match the conciliatory offer made to our friends. Wow Viking! Very disappointing!
It is crystal clear that this is the way Viking has decided to handle this ongoing practice. Deception is their work model and the traveler should beware! We have spoken to Viking and were hoping that they would offer us the same package they offered another couple that we met on our cruise. (35% off a future cruise and a $300 shipboard credit.) When we asked if they would at least offer that as compensation, they refused to match the offer that they gave our friends. We were told that they never give a shipboard credit. We continue to struggle with accepting their poor business practices and hope that others will not be fooled by their advertising. Low water cannot be helped, but very poor customer relations affecting SO MANY people can! Do the right thing Viking!
Where to start? I have good and bad experiences on my Rhine Getaway. Even before stating I asked my sales consultant about the water levels and was told that a ship swap was a distant possibility. And if I chose to cancel or rebook I would lose the total amount. SO I proceeded to "enjoy" my Rhine river getaway. First let me say that we did indeed swap ships. This gave us a unique perspective to compare two ships and staff. The first ship the KARA was beautiful and the front desk, waiters, and bartenders, were beautiful in spirit and accommodating our every request. We purchased the silver drink package (150 per person) and I can report to you that it was a bargain, as there are eaters and drinkers and we are definitely drinkers. SO if you enjoy drinks you must purchase this package.
OK so we are on the KARA, for two days and then we are told that we will do a ship sway. So here we go packing everything again. And we need to be bussed to the next ship. As a result we had to leave the people with whom we became friends, (the ship's staff), and boarded a bus for a long trip to our reduced excursion. I cried when we left that friendly staff. They even got a cab to deliver our lost luggage and deliver it to the next port of call. And did our laundry for free while the bags were lost. AND even members of the crew offered their personal clothing until ours arrived. The KARA crew was EXCELLENT. God how I will miss them. OK so reduced time at our next excursion, back on a bus and then we boarded the HLIN. BIG DIFFERENCE!!!! I expected the bartenders and staff to be "same but different".
Now I am an outgoing and friendly guy but almost IMMEDIATELY I found the attitude VERY DIFFERENT and cold. This was not just my opinion, but ALL of the fellow passengers with whom I came into conversation with. If it were just me, I could write it off BUT it was unanimous! Even the guests in the SUITE at the rear of the ship (the executive presidential suite), the largest in the ship, with whom we became friends, said that the bartender was downright RUDE. They had planned to go on another Viking cruise and were making plans. Told me that they will go one Tauk or Crystal instead. They told me that that trip was around 25K and they planned to "vote with their wallets". And eschew any future Viking cruises.
As I said before we were one of the lucky ones who went on the Rhine. Our captain told us the Elbe and Danube were now completely closed to river traffic of large ships. One a positive note I spent MANY hours in the wheelhouse with our captain, Adam, who as an engineer appreciates all the technical details of captaining a longboat. Radar, FLIR, river navigation systems, sonar, and all the logistics were explained to me. As we became closer he showed me pictures of his beautiful Polish wife and handsome son. For me this was the best part of the cruise. The captain on the HLIN made this ship OK for me but the rest forget it.
We made friends with a guest who was a professional chef and he had "words" with the HLIN chef about things I don't know about like the temperature of a "sear". I tried the "stew" which consisted of boiled cubes of some kind of meat, cubed potatoes and carrots in a broth. NOT stew in my definition. Almost the same meals every day. Now I am very easy to please BUT if you are looking for above average meals, you won't find it here. I did the poached salmon almost every night. My wife had a "ribeye, which she could not eat. Our table guests looked at the food presented and many had the caesar salad instead which was actually pretty good.
So would I do it again you are asking. Are you sitting down? IF and this is a big IF Viking makes it worth my while I may consider them again. But after reading the other reviews and what Viking did after they returned home, I think not. Now I know that Viking cannot control the water levels, but that is not the issue. The insincerity and holding back of information is what I have an issue with. They got our money and it seems that it was all they wanted. It was MUCH worse for the Danube travelers. All in alI guess I was pretty lucky in the end.
Here is a copy of an email that I sent to Viking. (I have yet to hear back from them.) Please pass it on to others who might be thinking of any future river travel in Europe: "I am writing this email to express my sincere frustration with Viking Cruiselines. Our trip on the Danube Waltz was a huge disappointment. We endured long bus rides, long waits and huge inconveniences with our baggage. We were halfway through our trip before our ship, the Viking Vilhjalm, even moved. This aggravation was blamed on low water levels in the Danube River and the inability for the ship to travel between Budapest and Vienna. What an excuse! Does Viking not know about water levels in the rivers in which they operate? Why do they schedule cruises in times of low water levels?
"Viking aggressively advertises their river cruises. They are selling a product. A very expensive product. A product which they did not provide but they felt justified in keeping their customers money in full even when failing to provide what they advertised. This hard-earned money was paid by the customer several months in advance of the cruise.
"There is no other industry on earth that treats their customers with such contempt. When a product is offered for sale and a lesser product is provided there is always a discount on the product promised. Viking offers a discount on future travel. This is not an appropriate solution. The discount should be provided on the initial cost of the cruise in terms of a direct refund to the customer.
"In my opinion Viking Cruises has decided to operate in a disrespectful manner. Companies that decide to behave without integrity and without respecting their customers will eventually suffer the consequences. It may take time, but the consequences will come. Companies who respect their customers will always succeed."
Thank you for your review, Ken. We hear your concern regarding cruising during times of low water, and while Viking has made every effort to mitigate deviations to itineraries during this historic season, we do understand that these changes may fall below some guests’ expectations. Your remarks have been recorded for review by our executives. If you haven’t already, we would be happy to receive your comments at TellUs@VRC.com should you wish to discuss your individual experience in more detail.
Like many posts here, my trip was affected by the water levels. I travelled at the end of September. What angers me the most is how the company appears to be deceiving people. The company notified me less than 24 hours before departing that water levels are low but rains have sustained the river, so my trip should have “minimal impact.” My trip was impacted on the 3rd day all the way to the end. This included long bus rides and port stays overlooking cargo. I’ve read on here from people who travelled weeks after I did, that they were contacted with little notice too and that Viking says they can’t predict water levels. If that were true, and keeping in mind that I travelled in September, how come they are telling people who are travelling weeks after I did the same thing—that “they can’t predict the weather.” They know. They just want your money.
I spoke with a rep who offered me a voucher (25% off the next trip). I asked for an email expressing what we discussed and the rep declined. I asked for this multiple times. Each time, the rep declined and tried to deflect. I was told that I must agree to the terms without seeing it in writing. If I agreed, then the voucher would be given to me and then I would be able to see the terms. The rep had as much tact as a used car salesperson—they spoke deliberately fast, spoke over you and kept repeating “we can’t predict water levels.” It was tacky. Viking, do better. If only you put as much money into your Customer Service reps as you do your advertisement then maybe people wouldn’t be as dissatisfied as they are.
We’re appreciative of this opportunity to connect with you, John, though we are saddened to learn of your displeasure in your recent Viking experiences, both overseas and customer service. Though we understand you have contacted us to discuss your dissatisfaction, we would be happy to receive additional comments and assist where possible via TellUs@VRC.com should you wish to continue the conversation. Thank you, and we hope to hear from you.
I booked our first-ever river cruise with Viking in January 2018 to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary the following October. Quite by coincidence, in August I saw a comment on Facebook about a drought impacting Europe - essentially turning river cruises into bus tours. I immediately called Viking to emphasize we would not accept a bus tour of Europe in lieu of a river cruise. But I found the customer service representative's comments to be so reassuring, that I backed off. Among other things, he said by the time of our embarkation on 10/5/18, the "river should be back to a normal flow" and "it should be normal all the way through."
I never heard anything from Viking about the river levels being a problem until 3 days before our scheduled departure when I got their email confirming our worst fears. I immediately called and this time the Viking rep was not so sympathetic but rather matter-of-fact. She said Viking would not be "extending the option to cancel" nor would they "protect the cost of the cruise" should we cancel. We sat on the fence a few more hours but after finding an extraordinary number of comments on this forum and elsewhere (going back to and including that first call I made in August to Viking with concerns about river levels) with details about hours' long bus rides, unpacking and repacking, sleeping in less-than-desirable hotels rather than on the ship, we decided to cancel. It soon became clear the earlier rep had downplayed - if not outright lied - about the situation, even as far back as August.
While it goes without saying that Viking can't control the river, had a true picture of the situation been communicated to us in August, we would have been in a better position to consider our options. As it turns out, we purchased the trip insurance but are still waiting to learn whether our claim will be approved. Even if it is, we will still be out of pocket the $1,400 cost of the insurance. Reviews of Viking's competitors paint a much more favorable picture, including offers of a full reimbursement under these same circumstances. Given the poor communication, outside of booking with the vouchers if our claim is approved, I can't see us booking another cruise with Viking. I've even read a few reviews mentioning a class action lawsuit. As for us, we are weighing all our options considering we have all our calls with Viking representatives tape recorded.
Thank you for reaching out, Diana. While we regret to learn of your cancellation, we're glad that you had the foresight to protect your investment. Although, like most insurance premiums, your travel protection is non-refundable, we understand your concerns and have noted your feedback. Additionally, we would be happy to provide assistance with your insurance claim, and welcome you to contact us at TellUs@VikingCruises.com with your booking information. Have a great day.
We have today arrived in Budapest for a 2-day extension before starting our river cruise. We had received an email a couple of days ago about possible disruption due to low water levels but no follow up. On checking in with 4 other guests from the USA it became apparent that they had received an email with changes to the itinerary incorporating a 150-mile coach journey to Vienna and then further 50 mile round trips to Bratislava.
A copy of the email was requested. The Viking rep apparently could not provide this and it was suggested that it be obtained from another passenger! A 5-star service... I think not. It took some hunting for the rep to give me an email address for customer services. Her colleague questioned why I would want it. I am wondering myself now as a reply is promised within 5 working days! I left a message for a call back urgently. This was received at 19.01... The office closed at 19.00 and I could not call back!
Looking at the reviews this is an ongoing issue and whilst I appreciate water levels are low poor customer service is unacceptable. We chose Viking as a 5-star company. It was booked for a special occasion and we are so disappointed. As a result I am afraid I cannot advise anyone to use Viking and I haven’t even got on the boat yet.
We’re sorry to hear of your disappointment, Karen, and appreciate you bringing this to our attention. While our records indicate we’ve been in recent contact, we welcome you to email us at TellUs@VikingCruises.com upon your return home to continue the conversation. We hope that, despite this snag, you are able to enjoy your vacation, and look forward to treating you to our first-rate service onboard.
My husband, myself, and another couple went on the France's Finest cruise in June 2018 from Avignon to Paris. This is actually 2 cruises (Paris & the Heart of Normandy and Lyon & Provence cruises) together with a high-speed train ride to connect them. There was a train strike and still Viking got us VIP treatment and it was flawless. They walked us thru the train station like we were ducklings and it was much appreciated! We had a fabulous time on this trip. Water levels were not an issue like they were on our 2015 Romantic Danube cruise and we were able to cruise the entire time! Both program directors were fabulous and the staff was attentive and well-trained. Food was fantastic. The included tours were nice and our optional tours were amazing. Our room was good (balcony room B). Great job by Viking.
I did want to take half a star off for the way the flights are organized. But there are no half stars :(. Paying extra to select your own flight and again extra to pick seats is kind of ridiculous. And even though we paid extra for seat select and to choose our flights early, they still tried to re-book us on a different connection. I am glad I have a travel agent because they were able to figure it all out for us. There appeared to be no reason to change flights and connecting cities and we were able to get our original flights back, but had to wait to pick our seats, even though we paid extra to do so. It was kind of annoying but our new seats were acceptable. Just wonder why we paid extra when we couldn't pick them anyway.
I do believe the Viking experience is entirely dependent on the water levels and the ability to experience the full Viking cruise experience (as opposed to taking a bus everyone). I think that accounts for the disparity in the reviews here and elsewhere. I think if you don't take the insurance you are taking a huge risk, especially when you are paying this kind of money for a trip. I have already booked a Viking ocean cruise to Cuba in February 2019 and another river cruise on the Rhine for October 2019. I have my fingers crossed for the Rhine water levels and will keep watching the levels up until the trip so that we can reschedule if we can. All in all a lovely memorable trip!
I called Viking before my trip considering what I was reading online about water levels. I was assured itineraries were being met and they were sailing smoothly all week. (This was an obvious lie considering there were multiple posts about Viking boats making swaps and people being bused.) I called a second time with an initial response being the same until someone came on the phone to say they might need to swap. Ok, I can handle that. In a third phone conversation they spoke of only a swap and so I thought I would go.
Our boat swap included a FOUR HOUR bus ride which not only cuts into cruising the river or visiting a port. The result was we had to chose between cruising or doing our optional tour that we had signed up for. We wanted to cruise the valley because that is the best section. So we missed our tour. Then "suddenly" they were informed they could not cruise to Budapest ("suddenly" even though days before another person on a Viking boat posted that they could not get into Budapest because they were told the port was closed due to water level.). This "sudden" change meant they informed us we would be bused another 3 HOURS to a hotel and our scheduled optional tour of the Jewish holocaust memorial and synagogue was not canceled and that everyone would do the free tour after 3 hours on the bus! After the tour we were taken to a hotel and told to put our luggage outside our rooms at 2:45 a.m. for pick up and to meet the shuttle at 3:30.
Ok, so once we checked in my sister discovered their room was blazing hot because they shut off air in October and worse they had NO WATER...ZERO WATER until morning. I was able to take a shower but halfway through there was no hot water. In the morning our luggage was not picked up at all. Luckily my sister called me because at this point they decided just to carry their luggage and wait for the shuttle at 2:45. By the time we got to the shuttle we found seats and saw that my sister was helping the driver who had a list of names that did not match. Some people on the shuttle were not on the list, others on the list were not there. Did I mention we were to receive breakfast via a breakfast box that morning but...you guessed it...there was no breakfast box. We were simply abandoned completely.
I am so disappointed that this happened. I will say the food on the non-cruising cruise was good. The staff on the cruise was also good. I might consider another cruise but I strongly think there needs to be some compensation for being abandoned in a hotel without breakfast, in conditions that were terrible and for losing the one tour I really wanted to take. By the way...there were other folks who had difficulty on this cruise as well and all we got was, "I am sorry this happened", and they did not even know about how we were abandoned at the end. I forgot to add, I was not completely abandoned as when we arrived at the hotel we were given the official Viking information sheet regarding what was going to happen. The problem was...it was for a different cruise and did not apply to us at all. Did I say, abandoned?
We appreciate you reaching out with a recap of your experience, David. While we're happy to hear that you enjoyed aspects of your trip, we regret to learn of your disappointment. According to our records, an agent from our Customer Relations Department has spoken with you about this matter, and should you wish to continue this conversation, we welcome you to reach back out to the handling agent. We hope to join you on future sailings, David, and we wish you a lovely day.
First, we tried to take advantage of their low airfares. However, they charged us extra to come in early and stay later since we didn’t want to use their overpriced extensions. Also, their travel group was Very difficult to deal with. The good: The staff was, by far, the highlight of the trip. They are extremely well trained, friendly and quick to help. The French balcony room was very well designed and made excellent use of space. We liked the bed and the design of the shower.
The bad: The “included tours” were too large (38-42 people). In hindsight, we would have preferred no included tours, at a lower price and booked our own. In addition, some tours were not that great, even with if it had been a small group. Viviers, in particular, was a sad little forgotten town with not much to see. You had to pay a premium to get a smaller group. One such “optional” tour was 120 euros per person and the group size was 22 people. The food was so so. We expected excellent food and got mediocre. The pre-cruise information talked of three venues, but in reality, there were two with basically the same menu.
Tandem docking, ships docked side by side, was the norm at each port, taking away the view from our French balcony on a regular basis. There were only four ports on an 8 day cruise and very little daytime cruising. The sundeck was closed 90% of the cruise. The overall experience: We paid a premium to take a Viking river cruise and didn’t receive a premium experience. How anyone can give this cruise 5 stars is absurd.
We appreciate you taking the time to share your experience, Joe, and we’re happy to hear that the friendliness of the staff and design of your stateroom left good impressions. While we’re sorry to learn of your disappointment with some aspects of the voyage, we appreciate the opportunity to address your concerns. Accordingly, we welcome you to contact us at TellUs@vrc.com to continue this conversation and connect with an agent from our Customer Relations Department. Have a great day, Joe.
Our initial cruise (Viking Beyla) scheduled in August was cancelled by Viking and since we had been really keen on taking a river cruise, on August 19th we rebooked for another (City of Lights) which was scheduled from September 11th to 23rd. On Sunday, September 2nd (14 days after booking our cruise and 9 days before leaving) I had emergency surgery. This surgery was not foreseeable and not due to any know pre-existing condition. The surgeon stated that I would definitely not be going on a cruise and would not be able to travel for the next three months. We immediately tried to contact our agent from Viking by telephone and also through e-mail. There was no return call nor return e-mail.
We then phoned and spoke to whoever answered and were told to send an e-mail cancelling our cruise which we did and explained the reasons. We were informed by e-mail that Viking was very sorry but because we had not purchased any insurance, Viking would not be refunding us any cost. We have since sent a lengthy e-mail to ** explaining our situation and we have not heard back. We have left three messages for Lizeth ** and have received no response. Considering that our cruise included: 1) four nights in a five star hotel, 2) return airfare, 3) transportation from Airport to Hotel & Hotel to Airport, 4) ancillary cost ie meals, beverages, etc. We feel that at a minimum these costs should be reimbursed. We think this is excess profiteering by Viking. Also, Viking's non-response is unacceptable.
Before you book a river cruise here are a few things you need to know. Some Countries do not allow common medications that are prescribed in the US. They may be illegal, which could get you in a lot of trouble. Be sure you do a thorough investigation regarding this before you agree to go on a cruise to avoid all of the cancellation penalties. Our cruise was going to be to Russia and they can be very strict. It would be scary to be needing medication that is illegal in any Country. We did not check this before booking so when we decided to cancel, the cancellation penalties applied. I will discuss this in a minute.
When taking a river cruise, it was never mentioned to us that the rivers may not have enough water in them and we might have to transfer to a smaller boat or even have to take a bus. We read about people who were on buses for many hours and not getting to visit what they wanted to see. We did not want a bus tour so that is why we liked the idea of a river cruise. This is not something Viking can control. You just need to be aware that you may not have the river experience you wanted and hoped for. Also, review the daily schedule and see how long you will be allowed to be away from the ship. Many of the days we noticed excursions in the morning then coming back to the ship for lunch. Not sure how much time is wasted going to and from places to see. You might not have the amount of sightseeing time you had hoped for.
The other thing to consider is the purchasing of travel insurance. We were told we must purchase it with a very short time of our initial booking or we could not get it. We did purchase it and then when canceling the trip, we lost our entire cost of the travel insurance. There is NO proration of this fee. You can use it, transfer it to another trip or lose the entire cost. I feel the trip insurance cancellation fees should mirror the trip cancellation penalties. Read reviews from several sites that people report to. Don't just look at one site. We discovered many things that were not acceptable to us which made us cancel our trip.
We gave a $1000 deposit and since we canceled over 120 days from the trip departing date, we had to forfeit $100 for my wife and myself. I feel this is reasonable. We saw the cancellation fees of 20% of the full fare if within 119 to 90 days of the departure date and the rest of the penalties: 89 to 70 days = 35%; 69 to 50 days is 50%; 49 to 30 days is 75% and 29 to 0 days is 100%. These seem reasonable to me since Viking has to be able to pay fixed costs and it would be too late to get others to fill the vacated spots.
I feel the trip insurance costs should mirror the cancellation fees I just mentioned. Be aware you could lose 100% of your trip insurance premium. Reading the paperwork carefully after we decided to cancel brought out the loss of all of our trip insurance premium. I worked in insurance for almost 40 years. If a policy was canceled prior to the effective date, a refund was given. I must admit, this caught me off guard so I am warning you to be aware of this... Just slow down when you get excited about booking your adventure. These trips are expensive and you need to do all your homework before you sign on the dotted line. Time to call our travel agent we have used several times before.
Thank you, Paul, for your detailed review regarding your booking experience. We regret that, ultimately, you made the informed decision to cancel your voyage, however we are appreciative of this chance to collect your feedback. Though your suggestions and comments have been noted for review by management, we would welcome a continued discussion at TellUs@vikingcruises.com should you wish to share more. Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend.
This was to be a wonderful, once in a lifetime 50th wedding anniversary cruise for us. We booked our romantic trip 18 months in advance, forgoing other shorter trips and excursions to afford this premier experience on Viking. We had only heard fantastic raves about Viking river cruises... But what we experienced was far from leisurely, relaxing, enjoyable with very little fantastic. Being informed 6 days prior to the cruise that we would be on a different boat than originally scheduled was no biggie. Also learning that we would probably have a mid-trip swap of boats, having to pack up, leave the boat, move to another boat was certainly not fun or relaxing or enjoyable, but doable if we were still going to have that fabulous sail into Budapest everyone raved about! Ha-Ha! The joke was on us!
There was no magical nighttime sail into Budapest. Not only that, we didn’t even stay on a boat our one night in Budapest; we had to stay in a hotel far from the river so we didn’t even see the lights of Budapest on the Danube which is supposed to be so spectacular and memorable! So not only did we pack up once and move, and then pack up again and move to a hotel, and then pack up and leave. Not so convenient or enjoyable! Does this sound like a romantic, once in a lifetime, fabulous, leisurely 50th anniversary trip to you? We gave up doing so many other things in order to do this and it was a huge disappointment. We would have canceled this cruise and rescheduled at a different time had we known the condition of the river.
We were told once onboard Viking has been dealing with this problem for 6 months. We should have been told and given the option to reschedule. Information on the reality Viking was dealing with was not forthcoming. That is a poor and deceptive business practice in our personal opinion. Viking offered us a standard discount voucher off of another cruise in the future to compensate for our inconvenience. But taking advantage of such an offer would only bring Viking more dollars out of our pocket rather than anything out of theirs. We would not recommend this cruise or company to anyone at this point. We are two very disappointed and unhappy customers and doubt we would ever recommend Viking Cruises to anyone. Buyer beware!
We appreciate you taking the time to review your recent Viking journey, Linda. Though we are sorry to learn the necessary program changes due to historic water levels left you feeling dissatisfied, your feedback is certainly valuable as we learn and grow together. While your comments have been documented for review by our Executive Team, we would be happy to learn more at TellUs@VRC.com should you wish to share additional details. Thank you, and we hope to hear from you.
We went on a cruise the last two weeks of August 2018 with a group of about 40 people. Viking sent an email to a handful from our group at 3:00 am the morning of departure notifying them of changes to the trip due to the drought in Europe. Viking had all of our emails but only notified a few. Once we arrived, they would only tell us in bits and pieces what was going to happen. By the end of the trip we knew from conversations with some of the staff and other Viking travelers we encountered they knew for weeks they were not going to be able to cruise. One day in particular was an absolute disaster and extremely poorly planned by Viking. We also learned that other river cruise lines had canceled their trips rather than trying to bus their guests everywhere as Viking did.
Most of our excursions were canceled. Viking of course had charged our credit cards for the excursions and nearly two months later have yet to reimburse any of us. They keep saying they will send checks but so far nothing. I suspect the company is experiencing financial difficulties. If you are thinking of booking a river cruise, I strongly suggest you look at companies other than Viking.
Thank you for taking the time to share your review, Laura. We recognize that you were one of many on sailings affected by this historic low water season, and regret that your voyage was not the five-star journey you expected as a result. Though your feedback has been collected for review by our Executive Team, we are interested in learning more about your individual experience and assisting where possible via TellUs@VRC.com. We hope to hear from you, and appreciate this chance to respond.
Our experience is exactly that of Don of Littleton, CO. 2 days before our trip we're advised that a substantial part our trip will be by coach. Again, we understand Viking cannot control the water levels, but the extremely short notice and the realisation that the insurance only compensates with vouchers, leaves us very few options and means that Viking never lose out, but their customers do. Will never book with them again and advise others to do the same. I wanted to give this no stars, but this was not an option.
We appreciate this opportunity to respond, Donna. Although we regret to learn of your displeasure with the third-party insurance, we thank you for providing feedback on our vendor. We hear your wish for more advanced communication, and have made note for our Executive Team to review going forward. Nevertheless, we would welcome the chance to continue a dialogue at TellUs@vikingcruises.com should you wish to discuss your circumstances in more detail. Thank you, and we hope to hear from you.
No big complaints with Viking Cruise on trip. Once I came back I have a few concerns. 1. AAA offers these cruises at the same price as buying direct from Viking. AAA does give you many times ship credits up to $500.00. I understand Viking pays AAA approx 10% commission. 2. Viking offers airfare that is way overpriced.
Example... LAX to Portugal Viking charges $1899.00 minus until end of October $500.00 credit. I can book same flight for $750.00--$800.00. Viking is making a 50++% markup on flight cost. I am sure Viking gets better pricing than I could receive. 3. Hotels. Pre, after trip. Book the Hotel yourself. Same Hotel you book or Viking is 50% or more less when you book.
4. Many Viking employees, salespeople are on commission. Part of their salary is pushing/booking trips. Not sure this is best for consumer or Viking. 5. Viking has expanded greatly in a short few years. After communicating with Viking. Better training would be nice. Bottom line... Viking has great margins in their pricing. Their ships are in high demand. Many tours sold out a year ahead. Viking can/does charge what the consumer will line up to purchase. We had a good time on our recent river cruise. I know we overpaid. Other cruise lines charge about the same.
Thank you for reaching out, Andy. We are delighted to hear that you enjoyed your Viking experience, and appreciate your candid feedback. Rest assured, we have made note of your comments to pass along to our executive team for review. Please don't hesitate to contact us should you wish to submit further comments or have lingering inquiries. We hope to travel with you again in the future!
Well over a year in advance we booked a Romantic Danube cruise with Viking. Three days prior to flying out, we received the same vague email that all the other posters here did, saying we "may" have to change ships. I called Viking and spoke with an extremely rude service agent who seemed to believe I was out of line for asking about what to expect on our cruise.
After the call, my wife and I started doing some research, which fortunately included finding this website. We quickly learned that Viking was selling a cruise but delivering a bus trip, and not a very good one at that. Luckily for us we had purchased trip insurance and were about to use the "cancel without cause" option to get most of our money back. But we were out the cost of the insurance, over $1,000.
Bottom line, we shouldn't have been out even that, Viking should have cancelled the trips altogether or at least given people the option of cancelling. I feel for all the people who didn't cancel and went on the bus trips to purgatory that Viking is running. This has been going on since June, and Viking has been lying to their customers since then about what to expect. I will certainly never sign up for a Viking cruise again.
We’re sorry to hear of your disappointment, Joe. While your experience on the phone with us does not sound typical, we would appreciate the opportunity to learn more, and invite you to email us at TellUs@VikingCruises.com to continue the conversation with a seasoned member of our Customer Relations team. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We look forward to receiving your email, Joe, and hope to restore your faith in Viking.
Just got back from an eight day Viking Rhine River Cruise leaving from Amsterdam ending in Basel. VERY DISAPPOINTING! Two days before our trip, my husband receives an email from Viking saying we may need to switch ships halfway through our cruise because of low water in the Rhine River. My husband called to talk to a Viking Agent and they said it was just a possibility. To make a long story short, we changed ships after three days, rode endless hours on coach buses, excursions were cancelled and excursions were cut short. We were docked next to an industrial park for days looking at shipping crates. Passengers were tense, disappointed, angry and saddened. Our captain stated on the last night of sailing that this was the worst cruise he had ever experienced in all the years he had been with Viking, and he was glad it was ending.
I wish there was a way we could have forewarned the passengers about to board the ship, the craziness they were about to experience. Viking KNEW the Rhine River was low. Viking KNEW we were going to transfer ships. Viking KNEW excursions were going to be missed and shortened. This was our trip of a lifetime. We will NEVER be sailing with Viking again. This is a warning: DO NOT BOOK A VIKING RHINE RIVER CRUISE! Your heart will be broken. Spread the word!
Thank you for taking the time to bring this to our attention, Susan. While our records indicate a member of our Customer Relations team recently spoke with your husband, we would be happy to continue the conversation, and invite you to email any additional comments to TellUs@VikingCruises.com. Your feedback is appreciated, Susan, and we wish you a lovely week.
As newly retired people we thought we would take a river cruise through Europe and found that Viking offered a grand tour of Europe up the Danube and Rhine from Budapest to Amsterdam. So, last January (9 months ago) we booked a trip for my wife and I and splurged on a room with extra space and a balcony. What sold us was the concept that you unpacked once into your room and for two weeks had the same floating "hotel" with excursions along the way. To make sure we were covered should there be a problem we paid extra for trip insurance (TripMate, through Viking) so we could cancel for any reason. What could go wrong?
Well we got a notice from Viking that the rivers were down in Europe so we would have to change boats, not their fault so we understood. Then three days before our flight with all our bags packed and out $15,000 for their two for one special and a few excursions, we received an email letting us know that the rivers were down further and our boat trip was now mostly a bus trip with multiple hotels and to make up for our inconvenience we would get a 25% discount off our next Viking cruise. I don't fault Viking for low rivers but I do for taking $15,000 and turning a luxury river cruise into a cheap bus tour.
We said no thanks and called the trip insurer who said our policy covered canceling for any reason so they would send us a refund. Nope, we got travel certificates on Viking not cash. We called to talk with someone and they hung up on us. We're out $15,000 and have nothing but frustration and wasted time planning this debacle. Safe to say we won't be a Viking customer.
It is with regret that we learn of your displeasure in the necessary itinerary changes due to low water, and do hear your dissatisfaction with the proposed compensation from the third-party vendor. The customer service experience you’ve described is not typical and we would appreciate the chance to investigate further so we may offer assistance where possible. Should you like to share more, please send us your booking information to TellUs@vikingcruises.com. Thank you, and have a pleasant day.
I was booked as a replacement roommate on the Cruise that left Nuremberg September 14, so I wasn't in on all the original planning. However this was a retirement birthday celebration for 2 members of our travelling group of 4. We had heard about the low water issues and called Viking about this and was told several times (every member of our group called individually and this was always the story) that the water was low but that it was raining and it wasn't expected that we would have any difficulties. We could always use our trip insurance and cancel if we wanted. We asked Viking when they would make a decision to cancel a trip and was not ever given a satisfactory answer (one facetious service rep said "if there was a hurricane").
So I went on my trip hoping for the best but did receive 2 days before the trip, a message saying that there might be a ship swap mid-cruise. The reality was quite different, there was a ship swap, plus a lot of bussing to the cities we were supposed to dock right at the town docks, so that we could get on and off the ship at our leisure. The trip was quite rushed due to all the bussing -- not the leisurely cruise we all were expecting. The day after we got back, Viking sent all of us a 25% voucher of the cruise fee (we had also paid for extensions in Prague and Budapest, but that amount was not added into the voucher) knowing that everyone on that cruise was a bit disgruntled.
On the whole, I would not recommend booking with Viking (at least not the river cruises, maybe the ocean ones are not so finicky about the water level). I believe Avalon had cruises during the same time frame, but chose to cancel them during the drought and refund people's money -- my thought is that would have been a better option. You may think "why didn't you just use your trip insurance and cancel" and I think yes in retrospect that may have been prudent, however I kept thinking that Viking would do the right thing and cancel if they couldn't deliver the experience they advertised. Cancelling through the trip insurance was costly to me and my travel companions.
Now don't get me wrong here, I was glad I went and I was very happy to visit that part of the world, it is amazing and awesome and the people who live there are incredible. Seeing where the history unfolded can't be replaced by a documentary for sure! The staff on the cruise were great and the food was wonderful. Just saying that things could have been done a lot better and Viking is not a company that is forthcoming and honest with their information...
We are grateful for this chance to respond, Penelope, and are pleased to learn that ultimately you enjoyed exploring the destinations along the Danube despite the pre-trip communication challenges you've described. We understand you've recently been in contact with a member of our Customer Relations team, however should you wish to continue the conversation we would be happy to receive additional remarks at TellUs@vikingcruises.com. Thank you for your feedback, and have a lovely day.
I watch Masterpiece and enjoyed the Viking ads. Sadly, our experience ending on October 3rd was NOT as advertised. Like many other reviewers, we called weeks in advance to inquiry about low river. We were assured weeks and days leading up to our departure that everything would be fine but in fact they knew full well the limitations. Good news is we were able to cruise until the Budapest port. Bad news, we docked far from any city center requiring paying your own way into town and triple docked with other Viking boats. I would have expected shuttles running back and forth to city center if the port location was disrupted.
We spent hours on buses with outdoor walking tours vs. actually seeing any interiors which is likely due to Viking's desire to minimize their excursion expenses. Free time was limited to 30 minutes at most and back to buses. Instead of cruising to Budapest, we docked 2 hours in an absolutely terrible location in Hungary where the buses had to make 3 point turns on active railroad tracks in pitch darkness. We spent 11 hours on buses on our last day to and from Budapest and one excursion with only 30 minutes free time in Budapest. On our departure day, we had to have bags out at 5am (though we didn't leave till 6am) and 2 hour ride to airport for a 10am flight - ridiculous.
Viking is charging an outrageous amount for optional excursions. For $79, you get a bus ride in Vienna and $12 entry fee to the only interior we saw the entire trip. You could have taken a cab from the ship and done it by yourself for $20. This is just one of many examples. When we discovered how absolutely terrible the excursions were and the excessive bus time, we asked to be refunded for our last optional tour and were denied. However, Viking can change itineraries, port locations, docking process and disrupt your time in the only worthwhile cities to see - Vienna and Budapest?
But these are not the worst of our troubles. The food and ship accommodations are more like a Howard Johnson meets Ikea. Not 5 star by US standards. No variety - tasteless food. The bed was smaller than a US twin bed and my husband at 6ft had his feet off the end of the bed eating into the 8 inches from bed to dresser to walk through the incredibly small cabin. There was a terrible odor in our room and the heat came on in the middle of the night with no ability to turn off. The food was terrible most days and portions tiny. They were serving you slivers of cheese the size of a nickel at a wine & cheese reception - shocking.
I have been to Europe many times and would NEVER recommend anyone spend the money for a Viking cruise which is actually a bus tour with stays in a Red Roof Inn. Save your money. Pick another company. Hotel Management and the Program Director on board was unresponsive, dishonest and unhelpful at every turn. The wait staff was friendly and did their best. However, I am able to get a bag to the bus on my own and carry a cup to a table. Run far, far away from Viking and don't contribute to their impressive marketing campaign or their massive profit margin. Viking, please do NOT offer me a credit for another cruise or another offer to pay you $100 dollars on the last day for me to get $200 toward a cruise. Silly.
While we’re delighted to hear that you found the wait staff to be friendly, Michelle, we regret to learn that aspects of your recent voyage with us were disappointing. In an effort to address your concerns and continue this conversation with an agent from our Customer Relations Department, we welcome you to contact us at TellUs@vrc.com. We look forward to hearing from you through that outlet, Michele, and wish you a wonderful day.
My husband had wanted to take this river cruise for years, and we finally decided to take our family of four on a "once in a lifetime" experience, and as stated on Viking's website, we would just have to unpack once and cruise from Nuremberg to Budapest. Due to friends who had experienced issues with their European cruises due to low water levels, we called Viking on 9/3/18 expressing our concerns and were told that had been raining steadily for days and there would be no issues cruising from Nuremberg to Budapest at all.
Four days later we received an email indicating that due to historically low water levels, we "may" need to swap ships and we would actually be on the Viking Ship TOR instead of the VAR as VAR could not get up the river to Nuremberg. Based on this information, we decided to continue the trip, but once we were picked up at the airport we were immediately advised that we would not be embarking from Nuremberg, but from further south downriver and thus began the changes to our trip.
We needed to be bussed back and forth to Nuremberg for our tour of the city. Thankfully we were able to sail to Regensburg, but we were then advised we might actually need to swap ships twice as we would not be able to sail from Vienna to Budapest, and with the hotels all "full" we would use another ship as a hotel for our last night.
Thankfully that did not end up happening but after our time in Regensburg from then on we were being bussed to Passau (a port we were unable to sail to) and then we lost an entire day of sailing and touring as we had to swap ships and then spend 3 1/2 hours being bussed to Ybbs where we were boarded on to the Viking Ship VAR.
We managed to get to Vienna via the river, but it was a whirlwind day of three separate onshore excursions that culminated in us being bussed from the concert in Vienna to another spot that we met the boat downstream. This bus ride had us being let off the bus in the pitch blackness by the river and having to use our cell phone lights to find our way to the ship to re-embark the VAR and be sailed south into Hungary where we docked in a less than spectacular location for our remaining cruise time.
Our tour of Budapest involved another 90 minute bus ride, a 30 minute bus tour of the "Buda" side of the city, about 45 minutes on the ground to view the Cathedral and surrounding area, another 30 minute bus tour of the "Pest" side and then on to a lunch at a restaurant and back to the bus for the 90 minute ride back to the boat. We did have the option to spend more time in the city and take a later bus, but the previous days had been so exhausting, we decided as a family to take the earlier bus back as we had a early departure for the airport the next morning and would need to be leaving the boat at 5:30 am as the ride to the airport would be about 2 hours.
We were given daily updates as to the status of the water, but it was always made to sound as if they had just received the information when in reality, they had known about the water conditions for months. Our bus guide for the Budapest trip advised us that ships had been "stuck" in Budapest for over 8 weeks... How could they tell us this was something they had just learned? Most frustrating. Everyone we spoke to on the ship experienced the same information; calling beforehand and being told all would be fine only to arrive and be told a much different story.
This was supposed to be a grand family vacation, and granted Viking offered us a 25% discount off our next cruise, but my husband will not be healthy enough to travel like this again. I understand it was an "act of God", as we were continuously reminded, but I still feel we weren't fully advised of the adverse conditions and offered the choice of canceling without any penalty. Viking could have done a much better job with our cruise and their c/s department could use some work too as the person I spoke to was very rude and less than helpful. This is not the way to retain customers or cultivate loyalty!
Thank you for reaching out, Constance. We regret to hear that your itinerary was impacted by the effects of the difficult drought that Europe is experiencing. Although water levels are outside of Viking’s control, our staff and crew are working hard to provide guests with an enjoyable experience. However, your concerns are understandable, so we have arranged for a seasoned member of our Customer Relations team to contact you and discuss your comments. Looking forward to connecting soon!
About a week before our 7 - 21 August 2018 Grand European Tour, from Amsterdam to Budapest, we got an email from Viking warning us that river levels were low and that we *may* [emphasis mine] have to do a ship-swap in the middle of the cruise. A couple days later, we got an email saying that not only are we definitely going to need a ship-swap in the middle of the cruise and embark on a different ship than the one originally planned (the VE), our alternate ship couldn't even make it to Amsterdam. Now, if two days after their first email, their message changed THAT much, they knew from the outset that the "may" was not a may; it was an almost certainty.
Further, once we actually got to board our alternate ship (after a bus ride to Dusseldorf, an unplanned city, via Kinderdijk for a regularly scheduled tour), we found out that no Viking ship had made a complete trip between Amsterdam and Budapest since mid June! Their initial email to us was completely dishonest. And big surprise, we didn't take a ship from Vienna to Budapest, the last leg of our cruise. We took another bus. We actually did have a good time but not a $10,000 good time. Yes, they emailed us vouchers for 25% off the full price of the cruise, not the half price we actually paid. That sounds generous but it's clearly a case of Viking profiteering off of an unfortunate situation.
It's irrelevant that they couldn't control the situation. They can control their response to it. There's no way to use that voucher without adding more money to the voucher. And maybe we don't want to take another cruise anytime soon. True compensation for our not quite getting what we paid for would be in the form of a partial refund. However, there seems to be some confusion about the voucher in what I've read so far.
I don't know what was said by Viking in regard to other people's vouchers, but based on what was said in ours, you don't have to take a cruise within a year of the one you're being compensated for. You just have to *use* the voucher within a year. If you book a cruise for, say, two years away and use the voucher within that first year to make a down payment on the cruise, you've USED the voucher. But again, forcing us to go on a Viking cruise and to make a decision about which one within a year is NOT compensation!
We appreciate you sharing your experience from our recent voyage together, Glenn, and regret to learn of your disappointment. According to our records, an agent from our Customer Relations Department discussed this experience with you in further detail while addressing your concerns. Should you wish to continue that conversation or reach out to us with any further questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at TellUs@vrc.com. Have a wonderful day, Glenn.
My tour was Amsterdam to Budapest in August, and I experienced the same switching of ships and bus rides. After reading all of the recent reviews, I have come to the realization that Viking has a very specific business model: Do not disclose probable river issues and likely trip disruption. Offer victimized customers vouchers on future cruises taken within 12 months. No cash compensation. A win-win for Viking. Full profit on the problematic cruise... slightly less profit on another cruise. No true compensation to the injured party. I am sure that older people make up the majority of the customer base. Perhaps Viking feels that we can be taken advantage of more easily. It is sad that a company like Viking decides that failure to disclose is sound business practice. There will likely be a computerized response that means nothing.
Updated on 10/10/2018: Last week I was called by Customer Service. The lady said she called because of my “social media” review, and asked how we could resolve the issue. I said all Viking has to do is to honor what the C/S rep told me on 8/23. She told me that it would take one week to locate the recorded call, and that she would call me then. I specified two specific comments I made in that call and the C/S rep’s answers and she would hear the truth.
Today (10-9-18) she called back. She told me she had verified that the Original C/S rep had not promised me anything like a 25% refund on the original ticket price. I asked if she had listened to the recorded call and she told me she HAD NOT. I asked just how she verified this information and she said SHE HAD QUESTIONED THE ORIGINAL C/S REP!!! Of Course... makes perfect sense. I said the recorded call would tell the truth. She said it would take two more weeks to find the recorded call. I said no problem... call me then.
I swear to God, she called me again just one hour later and said they HAD found the call and there was no such partial refund promised. I said I would like to come to their office and meet personally with her. She said I couldn’t get into the building. I said, "I could if you said it was for a meeting." Silence. I asked her if we could listen to the recorded call together (so that I could point out certain items), and she told me the only way I could listen to that call is if they were served with a subpoena. Nice.
Viking Cruises expert review by Michelle Baran
Viking River Cruises, which launched in 1997, has its U.S. headquarters in Los Angeles. It has more than 60 ships that cruise rivers all over the world and targets cruisers from the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.
New U.S. cruise focus: While Viking has long offered rivers cruises in destinations such as Russia, Europe and Egypt, it is gearing up to launch a river cruise on the Mississippi in the United States by the year 2018. New Orleans will be its American home port.
Inclusiveness: Viking includes Wi-Fi service, hotel accommodations, daily excursions and port charges in its pricing.
Longship: The nearly identical Viking Longships that Viking has been churning out by the dozen in Europe evoke a sleek Nordic design, are energy-efficient and have a large variety of room sizes, both with and without verandas.
Wide range of itineraries: With the largest number of destinations of any river cruise line, Viking offers a cruise for nearly every part of the world.
Value: Viking’s notorious 2-for-1 deals offer a great value for river cruisers.
Best for: Viking River Cruises is best for older travelers.
Viking River Cruises Company Information
- Company Name:
- Viking Cruises
- Year Founded:
- Formerly Named:
- Viking River Cruises
- 5700 Canoga Avenue
- Woodland Hills
- Postal Code:
- United States
- (877) 668-4546