We commenced what was supposed to be our Viking Grand European river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam with a Prague extension on 08/08/18. 3 days prior to the cruise departure from Budapest on 11/08/18, Viking emailed us advising that our planned overnight stay and sail away from Budapest as per the planned itinerary was changed due to low river levels. This was the start of our river cruise farce which I believe bordered on fraudulent behaviour by Viking. Namely, providing passengers with a vastly altered river cruise package holiday they knew they could not deliver according to their original product description and failing to advise passengers of the full extent of the impact and implications the river levels would have on their holiday.
Viking had been watching the river levels in Europe for over 6 weeks prior to our departure date. Europe had been experiencing an extremely dry and hot summer and river levels were very low, Viking knew this but chose not to disclose the full extent of the situation, the difficulties passengers would face and the full impact on the itinerary. Passengers were not provided with real time facts, stopping them from making informed decisions on their travel arrangements.
Our holiday commenced with a bus ride from Prague to Kormarno in Slovakia, not Budapest, to join our boat. This change to itinerary meant we never docked in Budapest overnight but were bused in for a coach drive by tour. From Budapest we were bused to Vienna to finally join our ship, the Bragi (we were actually booked on the Skadi). Viking had already repositioned some of their ships obviously to cover their bases and attempt to provide some extremely limited scenic cruising on some small parts of the Danube and Rhine. For the initial change we were offered a 25% reduction of the cruise portion on a future cruise but were also advised that we may have to do a ship swap later in the cruise.
The swap did occur on 16/08/18 , we missed numerous listed port dock stays, we were transferred on numerous long bus rides to get to sights on the itinerary or remained docked in destinations like Passau for longer or alternate destinations like Mainz for longer periods. It was not scenic cruising, it was sleeping on board a ship, or completely missing out on the ports of Koblenz and Kindersdik. We were never told the entire truth about the situation, it was the Viking cover story that was continuously provided.
On our last day, 24/08/18, we endured a 9 1/2 bus trip from Mainz to Amsterdam with a 1 hour walking tour of Cologne, delays of 2 hours waiting for buses that had gone to another dock area in error, a guide who did not wait for his tour group to exit the bus and took off across the street with at least half the group missing in Cologne.
Many of us would have happily bypassed Cologne and been driven directly to Amsterdam. Despite requests, the Viking representative would not oblige.
It was a total farce, the errors and arrangements made to rectify the errors became a major frustration for all passengers and I have never seen so many irate, angry passengers at the end of that trip.
We will be demanding genuine compensation for the loss of our dream holiday as will many, many other fellow passengers. Sadly as we left Amsterdam on 25/0818 we met many people about to experience the same tour as ours in reverse, they told us they had already been advised by Viking that they would be receiving a 50% discount on a future cruise due to the changes to their itinerary.
Cabin was well appointed, clean and tasteful