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Viking River Cruises



Complaint Rating:  94 % with 231 votes
94% 231
Contact information:
Viking River Cruises
United States
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?
Complaint comments Comments (39) Complaint country United States Complaint category Travel & Vacations


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N  11th of Feb, 2010 by    +1 Votes
let me disclose that I work for Viking. Even when things beyond our control go wrong, we try our best to limit the impact it has on your travels. Please contact me at Tellus@vikingrivercruises.com to see if there is a way to come to an agreeable solution.
N  14th of Feb, 2010 by    -1 Votes
I'm curious, did you have the insurance TripMate and did it help?
N  8th of Mar, 2010 by    0 Votes
I was planning on taking this cruise. Thanks for the warning
N  8th of Mar, 2010 by    0 Votes
I was planning on taking this very cruise. thanks for the warning.
N  15th of May, 2010 by    0 Votes
I am considering taking companion travel free Viking River China Trip in August 2011 but now I am worried
a) After reading clients unhappy experiences
b) I have to pay in full by end of May 2010
.Would you consider to do that risky
c)There consultant is already having computer trouble losing my information(Vacation to Go)
d)I am the the eager customer but minimum approach from there consultant
e)Anybody had good Cultural Trip to China
N  17th of May, 2010 by    0 Votes
Dear Olwill,

let me disclose I work for Viking. You can contact me at Tellus@vikingrivercruises.com to discuss any problems you are experiencing with your booking. Please keep in mind that we host tens of thousands of guests every year, and we strive to satisfy all of them. In addition, if we do not live up to someone's expectations, we still try to make things right - to that purpose, we monitor sights such as this one.
N  21st of Jan, 2011 by    -1 Votes
I am so glad that I read this post! I had just received a new brochure and was interested in the Waterways of the Czars or the Imperial Jewels of China itineraries. I thought that since the excursions were included, it would be worth the price. But now I think that I'll pass. I am disappointed, though. Their literature is so enticing.
N  6th of Jun, 2011 by    0 Votes
Did you contact Viking as they requested above? If so did they satisfy you, and if not, why not? We just got back from a Viking cruise "Windmills and Tulips" on the Viking Europe and it was beyond good. The crew was excellent, and with the free wine at dinner, there is no reason to purchase the separate drink package. You have to be a serious drinker to go through that much in 8-10 days. This was our first Viking cruise, but not our first cruise in Europe. I found it excellent and highly recommend them. No I am not a Viking employee.
A  13th of Dec, 2011 by    0 Votes
We just returned from a Viking trip and had the same problems. Called twice last week with a promise they would call me by Friday and this being Tuesday and nothing! My letter would sound just like yours with the exceptions of our trip started in Basel on the 27th of Nov. Very disappointed!!!
N  13th of Dec, 2011 by    +1 Votes
Before booking on Viking I would see how they handle all these cases. We had 180 people on our trip and only 2 thought Viking was treating us ok the rest very unhappy. I called again today and they are still talking about my case and will call. I will post what I hear from them.
N  4th of Mar, 2012 by    +1 Votes
I saw some interesting television advertisement which gave me enough interest in checking out Viking River Cruises. Now after reading this post and others... I will pass. No way !
N  23rd of Apr, 2012 by    +1 Votes
Geez, I was thinking of doing the same cruise this upcoming November as a 25th wedding anniversary gift to my wife. But, after reading this and other comments, think I will get with a travel agent and discuss other options and companies. And their advertisements on the PBC channels looked so enticing.
N  4th of Jan, 2013 by    +3 Votes
I just returned from a Viking River Cruise on the Danube to visit the Christmas Markets. After three days on the ship we were informed that the water level were too high to continue the trip. We were informed that we would continue the cruise as a "bus tour". The bus tour was brutal spending as much as eight hours on the bus one day. We were fed fixed menu pre-pepared meals. They sat the food in front of you and you could eat it or not. We did not purchase a poorly planned bus tour but that is what we got. Now Viking is offering $500.00 per person voucher to be used on a future bus trip (maybe a cruise). Beware!! Viking has poor customer relations when things go bad.
A  5th of Jan, 2013 by    +2 Votes
Hi Carl - fellow traveller - you were not alone as my husband and 2 other friends were on that cruise too! How disappointing that a boasting 'romantic' river cruise turned out to be an unbearable bus tour which we didn't sign up for. We paid for a so-called luxury cruise but we were herded to the bus, used side road fast food for toilet facility and served with salty and tasteless food with no option. What happen to our special diet needs, fine cuisine and plushy pillows? We were shuffled from hotel to hotel, packed and unpacked, woke up extra early to leave for hours of bus ride that we were so deprived from our sleep, not to mention back aches and swollen legs... We didn't even set foot in River Danube!
A  5th of Jan, 2013 by    +2 Votes
We were on the same cruise and agree completely. Counting transportation most of us were in for $10-15, 000 for a Danube Cruise that as stated sailed not one inch on the Danube. I suspect that the high water was known in advance or at least predictable. The paying customers assumed all the risk; Viking lost nothing. Note that we were on the ship for two days and on a bus for five days! The $500 credit is an insult. Even if the credit were larger, say $2000 or even $4000, it remains useless because after this experience we would not choose Viking again. Please note that there were three ships on this cruise with the same problem and same dissatisfied customers. It is a curious strategic decision on the part of Viking to accept the negative marketing from as many as 500-550 complaints from these passengers. I am not sure how to proceed, but suggest that we try to keep this dialogue alive and give more visibility to the unfair practices of Viking.
A  5th of Jan, 2013 by    +2 Votes
I too was on the Viking River Cruise on the Danube River and was equally disappointed in the Viking's apparent norm for handling interrupted cruises. We purposely booked a river cruise to avoid possible health issues contributed to long hours and poor fast food on bus tours. It also appears, from other complaints, that Viking knows in advance that these conditions exist prior to sailing and does nothing to eliminate the inconvenience and hardships to its customers. Why not just postpone or reschedule the trip? Then to add insult to injury by offering an unacceptable $500 credit per person on a future cruise is beyond poor customer relations. What if you do not want to cruise on Viking again or due to health reasons are not able to use the credit, what compensation is that? We paid a high price for a supposedly romantic cruise and ended with a very disappointing and long bus tour that resulted in health issues. We should be compensated for the days that we were not on the cruise ship. That would be an acceptable compensation!
Janet from California
A  15th of Jan, 2013 by    +1 Votes
My partner and I were probably on one of the same Longboats, ours left Nuremberg on the 23rd. Our first complaint was the horrid smell in the lobby area and which drifted over all the open common areas. Found out it was sewage! The food was horrid! I had taken the Elba cruise a few years ago and had raved about the food. I have since heard the food is not frozen and basically banquet food.

The boat did not even make it to the first port but stopped well outside Regensburg. We had a nice view of a cement pillar and a parking lot for the time we were stuck here. We were bussed to Passau, and actually had to re-track the entire almost 2 hours right BACK there when they finally told us we would NOT have any more cruising. We did not pay that sort of money for a long bus ride (we can easily drive ourselves in Europe) or for a hotel (we have lots of hotel points and could get hotel rooms for free) and we certainly did NOT pay to eat dinners in banquet halls with no windows and virtually inedible mass produced food! We ate every meal except for breakfast on our own dollar for when not trapped on the bus.

This is the 2nd time we have had the Romantic Danube cancelled on us. 2 years previous they cancelled with only 24 hour notice, supposedly the boat broke down. That left us high and dry. They offered us the same $500 voucher each time (we used the last ones on the China trip which was not bad). I am not happy with being offered voucher AGAIN! Even BEFORE the busing started we were very disappointed with the smell of the Longship and with the food. Also, to USE the vouchers will cost us 2 more flights and lots more money, and I hear the Rhine cruises are also having lots of busing issues. I really feel we should be reimbursed, not give credits! I would also like to know why cruise lines are not made to give the average number of cancelled cruise nights per each route as airlines have to post on flights!

Romantic Danube? No romance with having to put your bags out at 6:30 each morning and NO DANUBE until we hit Budapest and saw it from the hotel window! TOTALLY misleading. I am thinking that I will have to contact the BBB about this.

Nancy in Illinois
A  16th of Jan, 2013 by    +1 Votes
Hi Nancy, totally agree. Viking wanted us to give it another try but at our own expense. It didn't sound right to me at all. You are not alone as I am also planning on writing to BBB as soon as I have all my records in order.
N  21st of Jan, 2013 by    0 Votes
I made a similar posting on the Viking Facebook site under a link were someone else had complained. It was REMOVED! They have actually removed 3 other postings, I am guessing they left up the complaints so they could leave ONLY replies that said the original poster was wrong and how great Viking is. Well, my first 2 trips with them were good, but I guess they do NOT want any criticism on their FB site. NOT RIGHT!!! That is the chance you take when you have a forum on a social network. They could EASILY check my name against what I posted and see that ALL IS TRUE!!! ANOTHER strike against them!
N  22nd of Jan, 2013 by    +1 Votes
Tried to post again on the Viking FB site, I have been banned! NO WONDER I cannot find may people who I KNOW have also had such a bad experience, they delete all bad comments! I thought that was the chance a company took when using a Social site, guess they HEAVILY EDIT the comments!!

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