Home Travel & Vacations Viking River Cruises scam
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6:15 am EST
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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?


The complaint has been investigated and resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.

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Dec 23, 2019 11:39 am EST

The Company is still up to this unfair practice. I was told only a n administrative cancellation up to 120 days. Then they state the trip mate premium is lost despite many assurances that it could be cancelled before 120 days. The company must make that clear and till customers that they can wait until 120 days.

Aug 24, 2018 2:32 pm EDT
Verified customer This comment was posted by a verified customer. Learn more

In my review I said be very careful booking Viking. After reading these reviews, I change it to DON'T book Viking.

Nov 25, 2017 2:49 am EST

Even a cursory examination of the terms and conditions on the Viking web site should be enough to discourage all but the most foolhardy traveller. The terms make perfectly clear that Viking Inc is a sales company and that the tour operators are seperate, independent companies. They also clearly state that at their discretion, they need not provide any service at all, nor provide any refunds. Buyer beware.

Jul 25, 2016 7:36 am EDT

My wife and I just returned from a 7 day Amsterdam to Basel Viking River Cruise. We made the awful mistake of allowing Viking to handle our flights. They butchered the flight arrangements causing us to spend 24 hours on multiple stops from Savannah GA instead of 1 stop in either NYC or Atlanta (about 13-14 hrs).
Viking made a stupid error in booking our flights and then mandated that we keep their lousy tickets. Viking does not have a customer service department, rather they harass customers instead

Dec 20, 2014 11:24 am EST

My epensive camera was stolen during a bus transfer while Viking had possession of my luggage. Viking should reimburse me for the loss but they take no responsibility.

Dec 07, 2015 12:27 pm EST

Had booked a Viking River Cruise for two (Danube Waltz) far in advance for cruise to start on 10/11/15 from Passau to Budapest. Deposit made and contract called for bal some 3 months prior to cruise. But 11 months before the cruise, was advised my booking was being cancelled due to non payment of $ due. Pointed out the written contract but still got cancelled out. Was told I could rebook at a higher price or take a lesser cabin for price - refused this bait and switch offer. Got 80% refunded w/20% taken as a penalty. Thank goodness the deposit had been put on a credit card and I got that 20% by filing claim w/the credit card co.

Was upset at the cancellation as I had already booked my own airline tickets to/from Europe, forcing me to convert the trip to a land tour. But the land tour turned out really great, getting in all the major sights + more that was to be on the cruise. And it was done $3, 500 cheaper! After reading all the horror stories on Viking River Cruises, I am now very happy that they cancelled out my booking. Thank you Viking River Cruises! Thank you! You'll never see any more of my $$.

Aug 17, 2015 12:46 am EDT

My wife and I were booked on a Viking River Cruise in early June.

We never got on a boat - it crashed into a bridge on its way to pick us up AFTER the previous cruise was called short due to other "mechanical problems" on the boat.

The way Viking handled the problem, both during the "trip" (which ended up on buses) was atrocious and a nightmare.

So bad I chose to share a warning to others thinking of going on a Viking "cruise"... check out the details on my website...


It warns what you're likely to experience!

Aug 13, 2015 12:01 pm EDT
Verified customer This comment was posted by a verified customer. Learn more

Thank you
I really like that you folks take the time to write a post . I so want to take a Viking cruise before I book, I like to check complaints first to see if there is something I need to asks or check before I book. +
after reading the posting the Rhine river has a lot of issue not sure why Viking is not upfront about the river water levels
sounds like bate and switch
the sad think about what I was reading is the selling point of the cruise is you are on a boat not a bus..

I just talked to some folks that were going on a Viking cruise family of 4 and they said that the river is closing and they are taking folks on 2 hour
bus trip to the city.that is why they are not going on the Rhine
I was thinking that the drinks were free at dinner and the tours were free how do you find out what is what
and you dock close to the city is that true?

Jul 21, 2015 1:02 am EDT

I am terrified after reading these complaints... I made a mistake of booking my trip on Viking Rhine river at the end of October and already am having trouble trying to resolve the situation with air schedule. Their customer service is horrible, they do not show any concerns or willingness to help you... Really for that kind of service I could have used someone much cheaper!
I have two questions if someone can reply::
What are the bad seasons when the water is too low// too high? How big chance we would have to get into the switching to bus situation at the end of October?
The first page here mentions some contact email for vikings such as Can someome verify that this is still the active email to send complaints about Vikings?
Thank you... wish I read this all first before making my booking, now I am stuck...

Apr 11, 2015 5:49 am EDT

I've traveled with Viking 7 times and know how luggage is handled. It would be 99.99% impossible for luggage to be stolen, except by hotel staff. A police report on discovery, plus an insurance claim would have solved the problem, if it was, if fact stolen. Personal, my very expensive camera is alway on a shoulder strap over my shoulder!

Sep 12, 2014 9:58 am EDT

A few years ago we took the Viking cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. The cruise on the Danube was incredible, food, stateroom (bottom deck, in stern) but comfortable. During this cruise as we moved north we heard rumblings of low water to the north. We also were forced to stop because of water depths, they bussed us ahead, got on another ship for a few days and again ran into low water and forced to dock and bussed to a third ship. We did get to most towns and it was an adventure and very enjoyable despite all the transfers but what really got my goat was that we took a canal boat trip right after arriving in Amsterdam, and to our surprise did we see the first boat, the one we departed on from Budapest sitting at the departure dock. Where it passed us or how with the low water I have no idea. We did complain and did get a $500 each voucher which we used on the Elbe River trip between Berlin and Prague, another great trip but needs to be a day or two longer to really enjoy the cities visited.

When you travel by river your totally dependent on water and maintaining river levels. I know these rivers and locks have been there forever, however, they need to learn how to maintain pools between locks so river levels basically stay safe commercial traffic.

One other thing, I think a mistake has been made as bigger ships require more depth and probably, more delays and pissed off customers.

Despite that, we are booking 2 cruises today aboard Viking and will be keeping an eye on river levels.


Aug 11, 2014 7:14 am EDT
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We too had a bad experience with Viking and I, like N-J-B, posted a bad review on Viking's Facebook page - it was removed also ! I posted again asking if anyone else realised that only good reviews were left on the site, bad ones were deleted - it was gone within the hour. Not only that but I am also blocked from posting any more reviews ! Well done Viking.

Jan 28, 2014 7:58 am EST
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Viking has a reputation for glossy brochures and poor customer service going back many years. I once had a few complaints which I put in writing complete with constructive suggestions for improvements and sent copies to their Heaquarters and the English office. Both were ignored. For this shabby service from a company for which you can pay up to nearly £300 per day on a European cruise, they then have the unmitigated gall to `suggest` an £8 a day tip for the crew. Work it out. They expect 150 passengers to each pay £56 a week in gratitude for superlative crew service on top of the high holiday cost. Each member of the crew would then get the equivalent of a weeks wage in tips !
Only go on a Viking cruise if value for money and customer service is of little importance to you, or if you have a thick skin.

Jan 02, 2014 6:24 am EST
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My wife and I own a travel agency and before we offer anything to our clients we research it thoroughly along with taking the cruise, tour, etc. at our expense. We were considering Viking but after reading this we certainly will not take the chance. I do suggest that if Viking is attempting to usurp your First Amendment rights (if you are US citizens) that you open your own Viking Complaint FACEBOOK page so that folks know the truth about what is happening to unhappy Viking customers.

Oct 27, 2013 3:05 pm EDT
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As I type this comment, I am looking to book a river cruise. After reading about all of your night mares, I don't think I will be booking on Viking. I will be checking out global or Uniworld. Are there certain times / seasons when the river locks are not useable.

Aug 07, 2013 4:36 pm EDT

These complaints are so serious I will not now be booking a cruise with Viking.

Jul 24, 2013 9:55 am EDT
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Very nervous after reading these reviews. I am scheduled with viking in June 2014 . Can anyone comment on air fares.? I planned to use viking for that as well and agent assures that if I do not like the arrangements I can choose not to use that and they will refund with no fee so I can do my own air. I have to pay for their air now and am nervous about refund and do not want to pay an extra 100 apiece for them to " customize" my air, which seems silly as anyone with a computer can do the same thing .

Jun 24, 2013 9:32 am EDT

How do you, Viking, justify shuffling elderly people on and off 8 and 9 hour bus rides daily, pointing out sites they "don't have time" to see, and checking them in and out of unsafe hotels, and consider that a comparable experience to a river cruise? Deplorable. Future cruisers, do your research!

Jun 24, 2013 9:21 am EDT

My parents just returned from a debacle of a Viking "river cruise" which turned into miserable bus tour. The problems persist and Viking continues with the appalling customer service. Other river cruise lines resolved similar problems over the same time period much more reasonably. Look elsewhere for a cruise line.

Jun 12, 2013 7:03 pm EDT
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My husband and I had planned a Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. We were told that the waiting time for a space would be 11/2 to two years but all the same the trip had to be fully prepaid which for us would have been $20, 000.Be aware that Viking took delivery of 10 longships this spring. Do they need the money so badly and will they be still in business two years hence? We were to have for that the 2nd cheapest cabin but since we are very tall we had to book business class (our choice) which would be close to $10, 000.
How would anyone know the cost of plane travel 2 years in advance- how would one know the condition in Germany so far ahead? or if the company is still operating?
With the catastrophic flooding recently the trip would have had to end half way through in Passau.But we would be getting $500 compensation for a lousy next cruise.
If you carefully go over the legalese (to be seen on the web) there would be no recourse, none. So CAVEAT EMPTOR

Incidentally we have taken several small cruises, all of them very nice.

May 22, 2013 10:32 am EDT

We were considering a trip on Viking but I have strong reservations after reading these complaints. Perhaps paying more for one of the other companys would be a better idea.

Jan 22, 2013 10:37 pm EST
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report your issues to a higher source

Jan 22, 2013 10:07 pm EST

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!

Jan 21, 2013 11:45 pm EST

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!

Jan 16, 2013 7:29 pm EST
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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.

Jan 15, 2013 2:06 pm EST

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

Jan 05, 2013 10:57 pm EST
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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

Jan 05, 2013 1:28 pm EST
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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.

Jan 05, 2013 11:31 am EST

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!

Jan 04, 2013 7:47 pm EST

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.

Apr 23, 2012 10:52 pm EDT

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.

Mar 04, 2012 4:05 am EST

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 !

Dec 13, 2011 8:47 pm EST

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.

Dec 13, 2011 4:59 pm EST

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!

Jun 06, 2011 5:23 pm EDT

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.

Jan 21, 2011 3:03 pm EST
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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.

Dear Olwill,

let me disclose I work for Viking. You can contact me at 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.

May 15, 2010 3:32 am EDT

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

Mar 08, 2010 11:09 pm EST

I was planning on taking this very cruise. thanks for the warning.

Mar 08, 2010 11:08 pm EST

I was planning on taking this cruise. Thanks for the warning


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