[Resolved] Viking River Cruises — river cruise turned into a bus tour; no refund offered
Romantic Danube River Cruse that became a Bus Tour November 1 to 8, 2015 My wife and I took the Viking Romantic Danube River Cruise departing Nuremberg (Erlangen) on 01-Nov-2015. After the second day of the cruise we were informed a decision had just been made that due to low water levels in the river, instead of sailing for the next two segments of the trip, we would be transferred by bus 1.5 hours to tour Passau and return by bus 1.5 hours to the docked ship for the night. The following day we boarded busses for the 4 hour ride to tour the Melk Abby and transferred to the Jarl’s sister ship the Atla. We were informed that a decision had just then been made that again due to low water levels, the ship could not make it to Budapest. Therefore, we were told that after our tour of Vienna the following day, we would return to the ship for the night. The following morning, we were again put on busses for the 4 hour bus ride to Budapest and installed in the Marriott hotel for the final night. My wife and I were staying on for two additional nights in Budapest at the Intercontinental Hotel and we requested that we be put there instead of the Marriott to avoid unpacking and packing again, but this request was not honored. During the Cruise, we were led to believe that the low water issue was a last minute occurrence and resulted in a last minute decision by the company to transfer us by bus. We ran into a number of other travelers during our stops in Regensburg and Vienna that had similar experiences with bus transfers and switching ships. Upon our return, we have read the various complaint boards and learned that the low water issue has been ongoing for part of the summer and in reality, this was not a last minute occurrence. We feel that we should have been notified in advance of our departure of the low water issue and been given the option to cancel our trip for a full refund. We specifically purchased the river cruise ($6, 235.99) to avoid having to pack, unpack, and repack multiple times as we traveled. We were also keen on the idea of SAILING along the Danube River! If we had desired a bus tour, we would have purchased a bus tour at substantially lower cost. We respectfully requested a refund of 50% of the cost of the River Cruise ($6, 235.99/2= $3117.99). We did received a call from Viking customer service offering us a $1000 credit on a future cruise. Obviously they don’t take customer service very seriously.
Customer Service has done everything in their power to resolve the complaint. All attempts to contact the customer have failed. Therefore, the complaint has been annulled and must not be considered where image of the company in question and its services are concerned.
Viking River Cruises Customer Care's Response · Nov 24, 2015
Dear Mr. Alperin:
Thank you for your comments. We truly regret to hear of your disappointment in both your overall experience and our offer of compensation.
We do understand (and share) your disappointment in the low water level and its subsequent impact to your itinerary. River cruising is dependent on cooperative river conditions and, should the rivers become unnavigable, Viking does reserve the right to provide guests with a modified itinerary. In an effort to be transparent, we detail the possibility of such occurrence in our literature.
Areas of the Danube River have been low since mid-July, but water levels are highly unpredictable and, unfortunately, past trends cannot be used to forecast future conditions. Viking will typically send email notice prior to departure if changes to an itinerary are definite. For your sailing, however, changes were not confirmed until your cruise was already underway.
We are happy to hear you have discussed your experience our Customer Relations team and efforts have been made to alleviate your disappointment. While we regret you find our offer to be unacceptable, we do hope you understand our position and will reconsider our gesture of goodwill.
Mr. Alperin, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to address your concerns. Should you wish to discuss your experience further, you are welcome to contact us directly at [protected]@vikingcruises.com.
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