Pick your time of the season to cruise the rivers, and do not expect to cruise the Elbe after mid June, but do expect to pay a lot for a very small room as you travel by bus to see what was formerly East Germany.
We had previously enjoyed Viking cruises on the Rhine and Rhone. The summer of 2015 saw insufficient water in the Elbe for Viking to cruise successfully after midJune. We became aware of the problem after reading reports on the Internet. We were NOT alerted to the problem by Viking. In mid July I called the service line and discussed the issue with the Viking rep, who was very noncommittal and expressed hope that rain would fall and fill the river. I learned from reading on the Internet that a succession of angry travelers had discovered that the "cruise" would be a bus trip after they had checked in to the hotel in Berlin in late June and July .
Most of the comments expressed displeasure at not being told of the doubtful state of affairs prior to arriving at the embarcation point. A few had discovered the problem earlier and had contacted Viking before leaving home, and were told they could cancel without penalty. Viking did not offer this option to me until I asked point blank about it, and was told that in fact I could cancel.
My travel group elected not to cancel after out voting me and we went on the trip.
The staff was outstanding, the food was adequate, and seeing the former East Germany was a tremendous learning experience. The tour guides were very good.
The tiny room on Beyla was smaller than our rooms on previous Viking cruises. We could have taken a Tauck land tour with a similar itinerary, traveled by bus, and stayed in 4-5 star hotels for about the same money.
Viking adds value by cruising, not bus tours. I consider the value of this trip was reduced by 50% without the cruise. It would follow that an adjustment in the cruise fare would be in order.
Viking's compensation was to offer a $1000 discount from our "next cruise". I am confident that there will not be a "next cruise" on Viking for our group.
My takeaway message for readers: on the big rivers, cruise late in the season to avoid too much water in the rivers which may interrupt a cruise; on the smaller rivers, cruise early(May or June) and hope that there will be adequate water in the river.
And , frequently check Cruise Critic and other internet sources in the time before your trip to spot problems with your upcoming trip to allow for changes.