My husband and I are planning on taking the October 19 Viking Romantic Danbue - Budapest to Nurnberg cruise. Is anyone on this with us... or has anyone taken it in the past. This is our first river cruise. We're wondering about weather and stops. Thanks, Diana
I hope you plan on riding the bus because that is what Viking will be doing to you. If you havn't heard, there is no water in the rivers so Viking is planning on placing you on a bus. Don't worry about being compensated for this though, since they don't plan on compensating anyone for this. To them, it is still a "cruise", but only on a bus.
My mother and I are scheduled for the October 19 Romantic Danube. This will be our first river cruise in Europe. I am anxious about river levels and am keeping my fingers crossed for rain over the next couple weeks. I would appreciate any additional information you might have about the status of the trip. Thanks! Karen
We have talked to our travel agent and to the cruise line. It seems that for a few weeks, low water levels have stopped the ship from cruising somewhere shortly after Passau. The last 2 days of each cruise, Viking has been busing people to the sights. Nuremberg is 2 hours away so on that day it would be 2 hours each way. The earlier stops are closer.
We've had a hard time getting a straight story... but it seems they notify passengers week by week as to how their cruise will be affected. We were told we would have the option to not go on the cruise and apply the $ to a future trip (probably not including air). They also said we would receive a 50% credit (no air) toward a future trip if we elect to take the cruise... and it is not able to cruise the entire distance.
Each time we call we get a slightly different story. Diana
I am just signing up for the Nov. 16 trip, Budapest to Nuremberg also, and hope you will give me some feedback after your return! Booking a Category C – will you let me know about rooms and noise and locations? Don’t know if it will be noisy under the lounge. What do you think or what was your criteria? The trip is not very booked at this time.
My daughter is in Dusseldorf so I’ll take the trip, then stop in Munich since I’ll be close and then go visit her for a while. Have wanted to see the sights in the Munich area. FYI it is raining now in Germany so hope it will be helpful for all of you.
I want to stop in Budapest a day or two to get over jet lag and sight see a bit, but I think the cruise gives a sightseeing day so I won’t want to duplicate that. Anyone know what events they do there? This will be my first trip travelling alone and will be a new experience as my husband recently passed away.
Hope you have a great trip, I’ll look forward to a report. Thanks so much. Lynn
I have just returned home from the Viking Rhine cruise scheduled from Basel, Switzerland, to Amsterdam over a period of 6 days. The cruise was shortened considerably due to low water level in the river. Upon arriving in Basel airport, after many hours flight over the Atlantic, we were taken by bus 6 hours down the river to the farthest point upstream that the ship could navigate. This meant that we missed the Strasbourg tour, Heidelberg and Rudesheim tours (including wine tasting & Music museum visit). We missed seeing all the castles, the Lorilei, and all the picturesque scenery along the upper parts of the river since the bus ride was after dark and after we were already exhausted from the long flight. Our first on-shore tour was in Cologne which was originally scheduled for day 5 of the cruise.
From information I have received, water level on the Danube is even more critically low than the Rhine. It will probably take many days of rain to bring the rivers back up to a level where ships can pass. I suggest it would be worthwhile to question Viking soon about their plans for alternative itinerary. They seem to be rather slow in volunteering any information about changes in schedules or about refunds or credit for parts of the cruise that were not completed.
Hmmm...your travel agent "just repeats what they say and has taken no responsibility."
I'm just wondering exactly what would you like your travel agent to do instead? What other source of information can your TA?
And what do you expect the river cruise lines to do? The drought in Europe has been devastating to guests and to river cruise lines, as well as to the economy of port cities that must be bypassed due to low river levels. Is there anyone who has a solution to this problem other than what the cruise lines are doing (bussing instead of sailing, as dictated by the rivers)? Are you saying that all the river cruiselines should just close shop and shut down for the rest of the cruising season?
Just as ocean cruises through the Caribbean, cruises to Bermuda, and cruises through the Mexican Riviera do not shut down during hurricane season, river cruise lines must make every effort to sail in times of drought. Consider the alternatives...and consider the consequences of thos alternatives. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution. Mother Nature reigns supreme (no pun intended).
FYI: I have had Portugal eliminated from a trip at the last minute (with Morocco substituted by the tour company) and spent an entire day in Heathrow Airport (instead of at Hampton Court Palace as scheduled) because of an air controller's strike. And just last month, my brother and sister-in-law who boarded a cruise to Bermuda ended up in Canada because of weather concerns. These things happen. This summer, our Danube River cruise had a number of last minute changes and yes, there were some stops eliminated and minor disappointments, but on the whole, Viking provided a wonderful cruise experience.
With regards to Shirley B, don't let her get the best of you.
Please be advised that in earlier postings, she clearly states that she is a TRAVEL AGENT. (If I was a travel agent making 10% to 15% per booking, I am sure I would be very protective of future business).
I would simply like to know if she has been on a Viking River Cruise within the last 30 days?
Although I have not been on a river cruise in the past 30 days, I was on Eastern European Odyssey in July, after the drought was underway.
You may have noted that my posting was initially in defense of travel agents. Diane complained that her agent was just repeating what the cruiseline told her and was not taking any responsibility. I wanted to know what additional information the travel agent might have, what control a travel agent has that allows him/her to "take responsibility."
As I noted in my last past, I certainly empathize with passengers who have been the victims of this drought. But don't you agree that the cruise companies and travel agents are suffering, too? This whole thing is a no-win situation.
Unfortunately, the cruise companies have no control over the weather any more than the cruisers do. And travel agents certainly cannot take responsibility for the weather or the untilmate decision for each and every sailing by cruisers on whether or not to cruise or river cruise companies on whether or not to cancel a sailing.
From the way you responded to my post, perhaps you have a solution that no one has thought of yet and a formula for who should take what responsibilities when. Please share it with us.
1st: Our travel agent, wether she knew or not, did not offer the possiblity that the cruise would not go to 60% of the original ports.
2nd: The cruise line was not forthcoming in explaining that cruises were being impacted to the level that you read in the postings of this website and others. In fact, they acted like the threat of low water was something that was just happening, when in actually, there cruise boats have been having problems all summer long.
3rd: Are cruise company's and travel agents suffering? Considering that the cruise boat that I was on last week was sold-out with individuals who were either uninformed or unaware of the impact of the drought on the water levels, NO the cruise lines and travel agents are not being impacted one bit.
4th: Solution: Don't decieve your customers by stating that "as far as you know the cruise will be unimpacted" when in realltiy , the last three cruises have been impacted. Establish alternative itinararys that are equal in quality. If you heard of the ridiculious events that were planned for our cruise in lieu of stopping in ports, you would laugh yourself silly.
5th: Provide due compensation to the passengers based upon what impact that the cruise has had on the original itinanary. If the crusie boat stays in a port days longer than that originally scheduled or 60% of the original ports are not visited, than the cruise line should refund an agreeable portion of the cost of the cruise. I'm implying 15% to 20%.
Heres a better way of understanding my crusie experience:
Imagine going to a 2 hour movie where the theater decides to skip the first half of the movie and only show the last hour of the movie. But to fill up the time of the full 2 hours, it shows the movie at a slower speed.
Do you not think there is a problem with marketing a full cruise and only providing a partial cruise at full price?
Jeff Dash, President of Viking Cruise Lines, will hopefully respond to my letters to the previously mentioned concerns of both my wife and myself.
What we are looking for from a TA and from Viking is honesty. We booked the Danube cruise 3 weeks ago and asked both the status of the river... and both said that there was no change in itinerary. We have called each week and continue to get the same message... which is clearly not correct.
I've posted 2 river water level web-sights on this board for the following reason: we arrived in July for a Viking cruise from Amsterdam to Vienna & were told upon arrival that we'd be on a bus & in various hotels for at least 6 days- I wish I had checked the levels before we left... We refused to go. We heard that Viking knew about the river levels 3 weeks before we left the US (so that's early July, late June) & did not say a word to any of the 120+ passengers who arrived in Amsterdam expecting a fabulous cruise. So.... Viking has known about the low water for over 3 months and is STILL booking reservations 3 weeks out? It seems reasonable that it will take months of downpours at this point to restore normal river levels in some places. I understand that unforeseen water levels, low or high, must be dealt with by cruise line & passengers... nature happens... but when the water level has been so low for so long, how can a cruise line keep selling tickets 2-3 weeks out without informing the passengers that they will be transported by bus to point A, B, & C, then taken by boat to D, E, & F? Only my opinion.
As I alluded to in an earlier posting, we sailed the 17-day Eastern European Odyssey along the Danube from Vienna to the Black Sea and back to Vienna, with an embarkation date of June 24th and disembarkation July 11th--exactly the time frame you mention in your positing. We were fortunate in that although it had not rained for several days--perhaps even weeks--our cruise itinerary was not altered except for one detour of about 100 miles somewhere along the way. However, we met people from at least three other cruiselines (Grand Circle, Deilmann, and a European-based line whose name I can't recall), and their itineraries had needed substantial changes because of the river level.
Here's my question: Should Viking have cancelled its cruise because other cruiselines were having trouble with water levels? I don't think so. The thrust of any particular boat could make a difference on whether or not it can get through a shallow area. A difference of an hour or two can determine success or failure to get through a particular section of the Danube, the Elbe, and other European rivers.
I’m glad your cruise went as planned. We were not as fortunate. We left in late July from Amsterdam to Vienna & Viking knew a week before we left the US that they had big trouble. Our ship was “stuck” by shallow water on day 6 of the prior cruise… Viking disembarked all those passengers (who were not happy) and put them on a bus to Amsterdam. When we arrived our ship was still “stuck” 6 days out and Viking’s plan was to bus us our first 6 days to meet the ship where it was.
Under the circumstances, I think Viking did have an obligation to contact the passengers on our trip, explain the situation and offer to book another date or offer a refund or a drastically reduced fare.
Again, on our particular cruise, Viking knew they were already busing the prior cruise passengers from the same ship we were to embark. They knew they would have to do the same with us in the opposite direction. I think they should have told us. This was not a case of “oops” too little water; let’s take a 100 mile detour. This was a case of KNOWING the ship was 6 days away and not contacting a single passenger.
Just returned last night. Sad to say that Viking is continuing same pattern of deceit and poor substitutions with added bad crew attitude. My story is unfortunately similar to others here on this thread and another thread I just replied to. We booked back to back cruises. Showed up in Amsterdam and no boat. Bused to Vienna on first cruise to find no boat in Vienna either and we never did get an answer of where to meet up with the next incoming group of cruisers to continue on second cruise without a boat. We could not imagine continuing anyway, so did not. On the second cruise, Vienna-Black Sea-Vienna, we were told that the substitute boat Viking Europe was stuck below the pontoon bridge at Novi Sad, Serbia. The Serbs only open that bridge on Tuesday and Saturday. Yet, no Viking employee could tell us how long the Europe had been stuck below Novi Sad, what had been done with its passengers or when, and while in Vienna Friday through Wednesday on the first non-cruise (so 2 bridge opening days) we never learned if Europe got past the bridge for the cruise to start on Weds.
There are no “easy answers” here only hard ones. We are not on a cruise message board to discuss the hardships that extreme weather conditions impose on travel industry, tourism, or employees of those industries. We can all accept those facts as givens. No cruisers here expect miracles, no one expects TA’s or Viking and its employees to control water levels in rivers, but one should be able to expect to be treated with respect, dignity, honesty, prior notification which is possible when dealing with long-term weather conditions such as drought and substitutions of equal quality and value cheerfully delivered when things go wrong. Regarding current water levels, see latest Danube news story online at http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/1002/p07s02-woeu.html
Sorry about getting back to you late, I've spent several days in the hospital for some previously scheduled surgery (nothing related to our Viking trip, thank God!) We did receive an answer machine message on Thursday, Sept. 25, that our Rhine cruise itinerary was being changed due to low water level (Our schedule flight to Basel, Switz., was Sept. 28) Also in the message was that Viking would extend to us a 25% credit on a cruise for 2004.
I called back to get further details about the itinerary change. They then faxed me the changes and also stated (on the phone, not in writing) that we would get a 50% credit on a 2004 cruise.
As it turned out, most of the itinerary changes (first 3 days of the cruise) never happened as shown in the change schedule. Upon boarding the ship, considerably downstream from our original embarkation point, we were informed that the cruise schedule would be "day-to-day" due to the low water level conditions.
I have received nothing further from Viking regarding credits, refunds, etc. but intend to persue this with them shortly.
<<Category C – will you let me know about rooms and noise and locations? Don’t know if it will be noisy under the lounge. >>
We were in a Cat. B in midship on the portside and it was a great location. Quiet and window high enough that when docked portside we were not looking at a concrete wall. However, we met some people on our cruise who were in the location that you describe and they were sleep-deprived. The noise was from the side thrusters. We sailed a lot at night and early mornings, pre-dawn or docked just pre-dawn and they said that they were awake anything that we went through a lock or docked or the thrusters were used for any reason. You could hear/feel it all over the boat if you are sensitive to noise and vibration and I can imagine that they were suffering from being awoken every night in their cabin since it was so close to them. Just something to consider if you have a choice about your cabin location.
Thanks for all the info from everyone. I’d love to upgrade from my C but paying the single supplement makes it too much and can’t think of any other way around that potential noise. Oh well, I’ll do the best I can. Thanks so much for that info!
Checked with Viking today re my Romantic Danube and the water issue. They said the ship that returned yesterday didn't start out in Nuremberg and people had to bus further on to meet the boat. I think at this point I'm ready to accept whatever happens since that’s life on those rivers right now. I remember years ago missing a whole day’s tour in Asia somewhere cuz the government shut down the airport to practice maneuvers and we had to sit in a very hot air port in Manila for a day with nothing to do or able to plan. And we didn't get somewhere else cuz there was fighting going on that day.
When I asked specific questions to Viking the woman answered and was helpful so that would be my recommendation to anyone calling . Also I mentioned specific dates and that helped too. Good cruising and good luck to all of us, Lynn
My husband and I are also booked on the Romantic Danube but in the third week of November. My travel agent at AAA called Viking and they won't provide her with any information what so ever regarding the water level. When are you leaving on your trip? Can you please e-mail me after you come back and let us know how your trip went? We are leaving on 11/23 from Vienna to Nurnberg. I looked at the extended weather forecast for Munich and Vienna and there are going to be showers next week. Hopefully, the water level will be somewhat up to par and your trip goes well.
I called Viking today and posed some of the questions being asked on this board.. I was told that the cruise of 10/5-10/12 went as scheduled itinerary wise (though no definite word on whether every port was reached by boat) and that all of the ships are at this moment SAILING from port to port. Since I'm not in Germany/Austria/Switzerland, I can't confirm this from first-hand knowledge...but that's what I was told.
I also asked about arrangements for early flights from Nuremberg back to the US, should water conditions prevent the ship from sailing into Nuremberg during your cruise. I was told that in the past guests have been put up overnight in Nuremberg hotel if they have had an early flight the next day, rather than being bussed back and forth. Again, I'm just the messenger.
I hope the water levels are perfect for your upcoming cruises and that the Christmas Markets are everything you've dreamed they'd be!
I am flying into Heathrow from LA on 11/22/03 meeting up with my husband ( We have split residence between UK/US) and catching BA to Vienna the same night. We are spending one night in Vienna. We are staying at a hotel that is very close to the airport which offers free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel and also into town. Is your group flying into Vienna early? Does anyone know where we are suppose to pick up our barge or bus for that matter if the water level is not up to par. My husband checked all the European websites and they predicted showers next week. We are keeping our fingers crossed!!!!
We're also spending one night in Vienna before our cruise. My husband and I will be flying out of LAX Nov 21 on Virgin Atlantic to Heathrow and then Nov 22 from Heathrow to Vienna on BA flight 704. I think we get into Vienna around 5:30pm. Everyone else in our party is flying in the day of embarkation. I know approximately where the ship is supposed to be docked. I'm guessing we should receive some contact information with our documents so we can call once we get there to verify if the ship is there or where to meet. Will you be spending any time in the U.K. afterwards? We're stopping over in London for a few days on our way home.
My wife, I and friends did a June Elbe non-cruise in August sitting on the bank of the river in Dresden for 6 nights. This is my first glance at the message board since our return. I can only say I am shocked and disappointed to see Shirley still using the same words she did with us as our TA and Viking playing the same evasive games they did then. Shame on you both. Shirley to your question, what can Viking do? For starters how about refunding the extra we paid for view cabins? The 50% coupon is a laugh. It is limited to which cruises it applies and can usually be equaled with diligent shopping. And Brennan you were right on with your comments.
We may actually see each other at LAX!!! I am flying on BA and my flight leaves at 5:30 p.m. on 11/21/03 arriving at Heathrow at 12:30 p.m on 11/22/03. We are leaving Heathrow at 6:30 p.m and we will be in Vienna late. What hotel are you staying at in Vienna? We can probably get acquainted at LAX and grab some coffee before we board our flight out!!! We won't be spending any time in London as we are taking the train from Nurnberg to Prague and we will be spending a week a Prague. My husband wanted to go to Prague before they joined the EU next year and everything is going to be twice as expensive. Let me know what time you and your husband are going to be at LAX so that we can meet up. Do you have your cabin number yet? I think we are in cabin # 229. Also...my travel agent called today and left me a lengthy voice mail message saying that she spoke with the customer service rep from General Tours - they also use Viking for their river cruises - the rep is saying that they had no problems last week with the river cruises as it had been raining the last few days. The reason why my travel agent called General instead of calling Viking directly is Viking won't give her any info. She told me to just sit tight as it is their rainy season over there now. So...we shall wait and see.
Thats right...BA is out of Bradley and Virgin is out of Terminal 2...scratch that idea! Did you send me an e-mail to my Yahoo address? I just check and I don't have it yet. Perhaps we may see each other at the luggage carousel at Heathrow then. We were hesistant to book an earlier flight from Heathrow to Vienna just in case my plane is delayed and we may miss our flight. Your BA flight from Heathrow must be the one at 2:30 or 3:30 p.m. Let's keep in touch..even though we cannot meet up at LAX, we maybe able to grab some coffee/tea at Heathrow and chat a bit.
I resent it to your yahoo address. I just noticed that when I click on your name, the address comes up as 'yaoo.com' instead of 'yahoo.com' so that's probably why it didn't go through the first time.
We're booked on the flight that leaves Heathrow at 2:10pm. I think the next flight (also the last flight) is at 6:30pm. In case our VS flight is delayed, hopefully they can re-accomodate us on the later flight.