Viking River Cruises — food poisoning on cruise
My wife and I traveled on the 8-day Viking Rhine River cruise from Basel to Amsterdam on September 10-17, with Viking's 2-day extension in Amsterdam. It was a very special and long-awaited trip for our 40th wedding anniversary, especially because we had not been away by ourselves in over 10 years; and we were so excited about experiencing this beautiful region for the first time. Unfortunately, our expected dream anniversary trip was largely ruined due to the documented food poisoning we contracted on the ship on the third day of the voyage. We became very ill, including severe vomiting and black diarrhea, chills, sweats, extreme body aches and headaches. My wife became so dehydrated from the continued intestinal issues that she could not urinate, and it was painful when she did for several days. It was very difficult for her to eat much after that or enjoy the remainder of the trip. As a result of her weakness, she also contracted a bad lower respiratory infection near the end of the trip.
We know that many of the passengers contracted this food poisoning, as it was a relatively small group and all of the passengers were discussing the problem throughout the trip. One passenger, who is a nurse and could not get any staff assistance for her seriously ill husband, took him to a local hospital where the food poisoning was confirmed. There is no question that the food poisoning originated on the ship, since so many people on board came down with it throughout the trip regardless of where we docked; at least one person contracted it on the second day before the passengers had an opportunity to visit restaurants in the major cities; and when dining off the ship in the major cities the passengers ate at a multitude of places of their own choosing.
Equally disturbing and ruinous of the trip was the staff's completely unsympathetic and unaccommodating response to the terrible situation, from the Hotel Manager on down. And instead of acknowledging the truth of this potentially dangerous situation when presented with the medical reports, the ship staff continued to mislead the passengers on the cause throughout the trip; as of the end of the cruise, the ship staff when questioned were still taking the position that the cause of the severe ship-wide illness was "unresolved."
So this very special and expensive trip went from an anniversary dream into a virtual nightmare for us because of Viking. My wife was shocked when we returned and she had LOST 8 pounds of her very small frame. Obviously, the significant amount we had paid for the cruise food was largely wasted due to this food poisoning. We have tried to resolve this problem fairly with Viking, but they have been unreasonable given our ruined trip, severe sickness and losses.
We had never taken this type of trip, and we booked on Viking because of the reputation for customer service it constantly boasts. For 30 years, I have worked as an executive in a large public corporation providing excellent customer service. I have learned that the test of a company's quality and dedication to customer service is not only how that service is initially provided, but as importantly how the company deals with these types of disappointing customer service breakdowns after-the-fact. On this ultimate test, Viking gets a straight and deserved F.
Michael and Debra McGrail
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