Viking River Cruises / refund
I have been trying to forget my "once in a lifetime" vacation with Viking River Cruises; however, the nightmare continues to haunt my mother and me.
October 19, 2018
We boarded the Viking Var - but not in Budapest as scheduled. We were instead taken on a 90-minute bus ride to a vacant wooded area in Kamaron.
We had upgraded our room to a French Balcony ($1000), but in Kamaron our only view was right inside some couple's room in an adjacent Viking boat. Our curtains were thus closed for two days. To make things worse, something got everyone on the boat sick, including us.
October 20, 2018
This day was supposed to be a tour of Budapest and a scenic cruise on the Danube Bend, but instead became another three-hour round-trip bus ride. We chose to remain on the boat that day, as a bus tour was not what we signed up for.
October 20, 2018
We packed our luggage and boarded a two-hour bus from Kamaron to Vienna (which included a disgusting 30-minute truck stop, where we had to pay to use the dirtiest restrooms).
We were taken to the restaurant Augustinerkeller. My mother asked for pumpkin soup and the waitress was yelling at her and said she could not have it, even though other guests at our table had just been served it. The main meal was served to everyone and was horrible.
After lunch we had 30 minutes to see Vienna, so we basically never saw Vienna!! We then boarded the bus for the optional tour of Schonbrunn Palace.
We checked into the Vienna airport hotel outside Central Vienna. We were told this was the only hotel that could accommodate our large group on short notice - but we found out that Viking had been having problems for at least five months!
October 22, 2018
We took another bus one hour from Vienna to Krems and went on the included tour of the Gottweig Abbey. Viking added a boat ride with an included lunch on this tour. On the boat we were told twice that we could not sit at the tables we wanted and were moved near the stairs. Everyone was once again served the same dish, (whatever happened to the buffet or the menu choices we paid for from Viking?) I couldn't eat the food that was served. If the itinerary was not changed, I could have had lunch and seen Vienna.
October 23, 2018
This was the optional tour I was most looking forward to - "City of Mozart" and "The Sound of Music" in "Salzburg Highlights". This tour cost us $209 each ($418 total). Viking cancelled this tour as it would have been an eight-hour bus trip. They informed us that we would get 100% credit for this cancelled tour, in the same currency we paid (US Dollars on my mother's credit card.) However, my mother received a refund check for only $383.90, which was $34.10 short due to the currency conversion.
We packed our luggage again and checked out of the airport hotel. We had a four-hour bus ride from Vienna to Passau (because our Salzburg tour was cancelled) so we went on the included walking tour of Passau and the "Organ Concert".
We returned to an older ship called the Viking Tor, which had been stranded in Passau, and cruised for seven hours before we struck a bridge, destroying the wheelhouse on the top. At this point we were parked in a residential area near a lock. That night and the next morning there were police aboard our boat due to the incident.
October 24, 2018
We were bused to Regensburg for an included tour. It was very cold, damp, and rainy. Once again, we boarded a bus back to the Tor, which was basically parked in someone's back yard due to the wheelhouse accident the night before.
Back on the Tor, my mother ordered chicken for dinner. When she cut it, the chicken was rare - still red and pink!
October 25, 2018
We paid for an optional tour, "Surviving the War: Art in Nuremberg." When we arrived in the lobby at 6:00 am, we were told the tour was cancelled. Really?? Why did they wait until we woke up early to be in the lobby? The tour was paid in US Dollars and Viking refunded my mother NOTHING. The price of the tour was $49 each ($98 total) With the previous $34.10 my mother is now due $132.10!!! Viking applied the AAA voucher discount of $49.00 x 2 = $98.00 to the tour that they cancelled and charged my mother the $49 x 2 = $98 as well. Technically this cancelled tour (BY VIKING) cost us $196.00.
We were bused into Nuremberg and did the included tour of "Nuremberg Through History."
Fast-forward to our last dinner on the boat. We both ordered steak well-done which was served to us medium rare. We returned the dinners to have them cooked as ordered. When the meals came back to the table, my mother had vegetables and a half of a dumpling, I had no vegetables and the other half of her dumpling. We were told they ran out of meals.
We originally booked with AAA Travel and they had given us both $125 to use for onboard shopping, optional tours, or beverage packages. Onboard the Tor I tried to make a purchase, but the AAA Travel credits were not available for me to use, so I ended up having to use my credit card. The credits were gone because when we signed up for the My Viking Journey website and booked our optional tours, Viking automatically applied the AAA credits to the optional tours without giving us the option. My mother was told that the credits would not be refunded, because we didn't buy anything onboard and didn't buy the beverage package, so Viking took this credit to pay for our optional tours!
I paid US dollars for the optional tour (Jewish Prague on October 28, 2018), which was $69.00 each totaling $138.00 with my credit card. When my mother telephoned Viking she was told that the voucher discount is the AAA Travel Credits and if we do not use it, we lose it. Viking charged me $138.00 on my credit card and took another $138.00 from our AAA Travel credits. That tour cost us $276.00. I am due a refund of $138.00. ($69 x 2 = $138.00).
We obviously do not blame Viking for the weather or the low water conditions - BUT, we do blame Viking for being fraudulent, dishonest, and negligent about the situation, since they knew this has been a continuous issue for five months now.
Viking gave us a voucher for 100% off a future tour of $3, 449.00 each, which expires on October 31, 2019. However, considering everything we experienced, we're entitled to a 100% cash refund ($3, 449.00 each), the remainder of the $132.12 owed (to my mother) for the cancelled tours, and $138.00 to me for the money paid for the Jewish Prague paid both by the AAA voucher discount and my credit card purchase. I do not intend to give VIKING any future business (or recommend Viking to anyone). On a week-long cruise we "cruised" a total of 11 hours.
I am in the process of contacting a network affiliate TV station in California that I have contacts with. I'm also sharing the experience on social media.
John of Baltimore MD, we will join you or anyone else in a class action suit!
Viking River Cruises Customer Care's Response, Jan 02, 2019
Thank you for reaching out, Kibadog. We sincerely regret to hear that your recent trip was impacted by severely low water levels and are sorry to hear that many aspects of your cruise- from the food to shore excursions to itinerary changes due to uncooperative river conditions- did not meet expectation. We would appreciate the opportunity to discuss your comments in further detail, Kibadog, and invite you to email us at TellUs@Vikingcruises.com with your booking number should you wish to do the same. We hope to hear from you soon.
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