We are writing this review to express our dissatisfaction with our recent Grand European Tour “river cruise".
On July 30, three days prior to beginning our journey, we received notification that we would embark on the Viking Skirnir in Amsterdam, rather than Modi due to low river levels. On Aug. 3, at 9:20 p.m., we received notification that our cruise would not sail as described when we booked it, and the Skirnir was not able to make it to Amsterdam. We were not given the choice to cancel, and frankly, it would have been too late, as we had already left for Amsterdam to begin our 3 day extension.
While understanding that Viking has no control over the weather, we cannot be convinced that the company knew nothing of the drought affecting the rivers we were to sail months in advance of our trip. We were told by locals in every city on the cruise that there had been no significant rainfall since May. This fact should have been communicated to the travelers who paid well in advance for a river cruise that was almost certain not to happen as advertised! We should have been given the option to:
1. accept the situation and continue our trip
2. apply the amount to a future cruise when the conditions were favorable for actually cruising the rivers as advertised, or
3. receive a full refund. We believe Viking was deceptive by not fully disclosing this information long prior to the day we already began our travels!
The information we received once at the hotel (Hyatt Regency, Amsterdam) was remarkably inconsistent and the Viking representatives were ill-informed. We were told to attend a meeting on Aug. 5 at 6:30 for a briefing about the changes, only to find halfway through the meeting it was for a different ship with the same itinerary. We were not the only Modi people there, so we know the information was miscommunicated to others, as well. We were told our meeting was the following day. When we asked the Viking representatives the following morning about the time of the meeting, we were told it had been canceled. Later that night, we received correspondence in our room detailing the next day’s events, luggage pickup, etc. No mention of our Kinderdijk optional excursion, just a group number of the bus we were to board. Next morning we found out there HAD BEEN a meeting, and we missed some important details. The ineffectiveness of the representatives at that hotel was shameful!
As it stood, we were bussed 1.5 hours to Kinderdijk, (misinformation caused us to be in the wrong group for the optional barge tour and we missed it), then 3 hours to Cologne, missing the entire river cruise on the Rhine between these cities. We sailed on the Skirnir for a while, but other than in Cologne, didn’t dock in cities where we could disembark and experience the ports as advertised. We purchased a suite with balcony, only to have the incredibly disappointing view of ugly harbors, recycling stations, and industrial holding areas! Not what we paid for!
In addition to this, our ship often dropped us off and then left for another port to dock, so we spent a lot of time being bussed from ship to city to new port (generally ugly, sometimes sandwiched between ships so our view was a mirror image of our own balcony). We were told this was necessary because the ship had to make up for time lost in the never-ending series of locks, which took forever to traverse because of the water levels. This unfortunately cut into the amount of time we spent in the cities (which were all wonderful, by the way, and guides were overall very good).
We really could have done without the almost unbearably boring restaurants we visited as a group with our lunch vouchers. There were so many other restaurants and cafes we would have enjoyed exploring. Instead, we were coerced into eating predetermined meals of, frankly, unappealing dishes, with no menu options, prepared in huge quantities and served by wait staff who clearly had no use for Viking and their vouchers!
Our top deck was inaccessible for the entire time we spent on the Rhine. I expected a bit of this, but the entire river??
After Nuremburg, we were told we would be bussed clear out to Passau, by-passing Regensburg. This meant if anyone wanted to see this city, it would again require a 2-hour each-way bus trip. Honestly, if we had wanted to take a bus tour through the region, we could have saved ourselves a small fortune and just booked one.
When we boarded the Viking Modi in Passau, I asked if the rest of the trip would go as planned, and was delighted to hear a definite affirmative from the desk representative! Things were looking up, and the cruise proceeded down the Danube with sundeck open and beautiful weather, stopping in ports with a view (except when we were double and triple tied off other ships, and were unable to use our balconies or open our blinds) and had access to the cities, just as we had expected for the entire cruise. It was quite lovely at this point!
But then the rumor mill kicked in, and stories of other cruisers being bussed to and from Budapest filtered through the proverbial grapevine. Still, the crew said nothing, alluded to nothing, admitted nothing - until they had to the day before we were supposed to sail.
So our trip would end with another 3.5 hour bus ride into Budapest…but the good news, according to the crew, was we would be docked on the Hermod at the Chain Bridge, at the very foot and center of the city! So great for exploring. Except that didn’t happen – we were docked two bridges up-river, where only taxis could transport the adventurous. There was no advantage to being on the ship, which was stifling inside. We were told that out of NINE ships stuck in Vienna, the Modi passengers were the only ones who would get to go to a ship. Woohoo. We would have preferred being put up in a hotel (5 stars, as we heard from other Viking travelers) at that point. At least we would have been in the city center.
In a nutshell, this was not the trip we booked, not the trip that was advertised, and certainly not the trip we paid for. And nearly everyone onboard agreed. I will be sending this letter to those who provided their email addresses, and we will be expecting compensation for what was clearly a misrepresentation of what we could expect.
A refund commensurate with our true experience may convince some to book another cruise with Viking…maybe. This episode has left many with a very bad taste in their mouths. We, ourselves acknowledge that if not for the Mediterranean Odyssey ocean cruise we took with Viking in 2017, we would turn our backs and look for another luxury cruise company. There are certainly many to choose from.
That said, we hope that Viking will uphold their reputation and do what is right by their guests. They have offered a 50% voucher on the NEXT trip. We are asking for a 50% refund on this trip, not a voucher for the next, since for many there will be no “next”.
The cabin was overall good and kept very clean, large enough for a river ship, but of course we paid for that luxury. Unable to use the balcony for most of the trip, since we were sandwiched between ships a good deal of the time, and docked in less-than scenic areas. Who wants to have morning coffee on a balcony facing a recycling factory or industrial flats??
We LOVED Amsterdam. We took the extension here. I recommend doing the hop on Hop Off Canal Boats. Great way to explore this fascinating city!
Excellent tour guide on this one.View All 148 Walking Tour Reviews
We did a beer tasting tour to experience the Kolsch. Very good! And Cologne is a fun city to see at night.
Tour guide was very good. Lovely city!View All 104 Walking Tour Reviews
Charming medieval city of half-timbered houses. Lots of wonderful photo ops!
Docked in an industrial area, but our main focus here was the Romantic Road to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which was lovely in the way that only an old European city can be. More wonderful photo ops.
More cathedrals and palaces. It was starting to all run together at this point, but still loveliness around every corner.
The history here is chilling. We did a panoramic bus tour to see all of the historic spots. Also did a tour of Nuremburg Castle, which offers a wonderful view of the city and landscape.
We had to be bussed back to this port, since our ship couldn't sail in low water, but I would say that though the 2 hour trip there and back wasn't fun, the city was worth seeing. Lots of creativity in store displays and windows!
Tour guide was knowledgable. Another lovely city.View All 218 Walking Tour Reviews
Not at all what we expected. The scenic part took place on the bus getting there, where we saw the famed Austrian Hills, but the cruise itself was boring. There were only trees on both sides, knocked down into the water by a returning population of beavers (good for them); we certainly did not watch the Austrian hillside unfold around us! And we were supposed to get lunch with this, but only were served one beer and a stale pretzel. The little town of Scharding was charming, but shops were closed because it was a holiday-holy day. And really, just more of the same...churches, breweries etc. Not worth the money for this excursion. But our guide, Alex was very good.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Tour guide was the worst we had. Did not want to take time for questions. Not very informative. The abbey was outstanding, though. Just gorgeous, with lovely garden views. Well worth seeing, even if you go without a guide.View All 182 Melk Abbey Reviews
Okay, just a panoramic by bus and a brief walking tour, but it gave us a feel for where we wanted to explore more. We took in the museums on our own. The Albertina is very good, and the restaurant, Palmenhaus (a destination in and of itself) overlooks the park (Burggarten).View All 169 City Tour Reviews
Good overview.View All 183 Walking Tour Reviews
Fun way to see parts of the city, but almost impossible to hear the driver's commentary over the clippity-clop. Kind of expensive for what you get - we paid 80.00 for two people for a 40 minute carriage ride. It was outr first, so I'm not sure if this is the going rate?
We were bussed into Budapest. So part of the tour was by bus, and part was walking. We abandoned the walking tour and went off on our own. Very hot, very crowded, as it was their "independence day" celebration. We were so late getting in to the city by bus, and docked so far away that we didn't see much of it. But we did enjoy cocktails and appetizers at the Four Seasons. Spectacular!View All 353 City Tour Reviews