My wife and I, for our Honeymoon, booked an 8 day river cruise with Viking Criuse Lines beginning in Amsterdam and ending in Basel Switzerland. We left Amsterdam and cruised for two days then stopped, we were informed that the water level on the Rhine was too low and we may not be able to proceed. In the mean time we took a short cruise up the Mosel River, were told again that the water was still too low, then were bused for several days to two of the stops on our itinary (out of a half dozen). We spend hours on buses to have only a short time at each stop. We were then bused to our final desination city and that was that. We ended up cruises for three out of eight days and missed seeing most of the stops on our itinary. For that Viking offered us all 30% off a future cruise but only if we took it within one year, not booked it, took it. This was at a time when the company was offering two for one deals and big discounts on airfare to anyone off the street!
I obviously don't blame Viking for the river being too low. I do however blame them for the way they handled the situation. They later admitted that they had known before leaving Amsterdam that the chances of them being able to complete the cruise were very slim. At that point they should of let us know that and offered us options; a refund, re-scheduling the cruise, or going on ahead and chancing it. Instead the crew lied to us for four days so that they could claim that they had done their best and at least provided a partial cruise.
Also, during the entire trip the crews demeanor was abrupt to the point of being rude. This was so apparent to all that it became a running joke amongst the passengers. During the onboard meeting at which we were finally told that we would do no more cruising the majority of the passengers expressed the desire to see the Black Forest (one of our scheduled stops) but instead we were bused to Strasbourg because it was easier for the company to bus us from there to Basel and cut us loose. The crews attitude throughout was "We're going to do things the way we want, that's the way it is so just live with it."
Also, the ship was noticebly understaffed, the wait staff in the dining room was so harried and rushed that they did little more than put your food in front of you and rush off, never to be seen again. If you asked them for anything extra (a cocktail etc.) they acted as if you'd just called them a dirty name and rushed off, you then had a slim chance of recieving what you'd asked for before the meal was finished.
Drinks aboard ship are also not included in your ticket price so Viking offers a package deal, for $250 per person you get two cocktails a day and unlimited beer, wine, soft drinks, etc. My wife and I both opted for this package however, since we spent most of the trip being bused all over Europe and so not eating meals on the ship as we should have, we had to pay for our drinks at all the stops. Viking paid for lunch at each stop (in fair to poor restaurants btw) but would not cover drinks; another $500 wasted on the trip.
My problem with Viking is that they knew ahead of time the cruise would not happen and lied to us about it. They then offered us no options at all other than a paltry discount on another cruise IF taken within a year, a discount that paled in comparision to the deals they were offered the general public. Their attitude throughout was a far cry from the sterling service their literature claims they offer passengers. And after returning home and writing a long thoughtful letter to them about all of this I waited for two months and then recieved a form letter from them basically telling me they were sorry, that was the way things were, get over it, and hey, we hope to see you on another cruise real soon!
All of this cost my wife and I $9, 000! We basically got a very expensive bus tour to a few cities in Europe and a very short cruise. Basically we were taken advantage of by Viking Cruise Lines.
If you're planning a river cruise there are numerous companies in the business; Uniworld is a good one, so is Globus, but I would strongly advise steering well clear of Viking. Our experience may not be typical but then again, I suspect that it may be, and would you really want to spend that kind of money to find out?