July 2015 - Viking Odin to Europe
Our very expensive Cities of Light Cruise proved to a huge disappointment. The service crew was stellar - God bless them every one. But the boat crew not-so-much. There were a number of problems that were never addressed - some that began on Day One!
o On our final night, we docked in a dismal industrial basin with a view of rusting railroad cars, cranes, shipping containers and a grain elevator. Not what I expected nor what I feel that I paid for.
o On at least two occasions, our ship was rafted with another Viking ship. Our expensive balcony was just inches away from a cabin on the neighboring ship. There was no view possible, and for privacy we had to draw closed the heavy drapes making our cabin as dark as a cave. Once this was remedied within a few hours (a few too many), but on another night we had no view and no daylight from before sunset to after sunrise. The blocker was another Viking ship, so I feel strongly that Viking should have planned to avoid this.
o The boat rarely stayed in any location long enough for evening strolls through the towns. Often we were too far away from the towns anyway!
Air conditioning (or lack thereof)
o The thermostat in our cabin was programmed such that we simply could not get adequate cooling. When we reported this on the first day, we were told “we’re working on it.” But from start to end it was never repaired.
No internet access
o Access wasn't just spotty -it hardly existed at all. Nowhere on the ship was the wireless signal any better than 50% and most often it was a single bar that incessantly failed.
o I purchased my own router in Nuremburg and installed it in our cabin. This gave me a good feed into the wired network on the ship but the ship’s satellite link never worked at all well. It appeared that antennae at the rear of the ship could have been raised for a better signal, but to the best of my knowledge they never were.
o Another passenger also bought a router but the wired feed to his cabin failed altogether after two or three days.
Buses, buses, buses
o We spent far too much time riding in tour buses. Not just at the start and end of the cruise, which was expected, but there was constant bussing from poorly-situated moorings. The hope of taking an evening stroll through some quaint ‘old town’ was seldom realized.
o One afternoon - after a hot sweaty day on a tour bus! - I stood covered with soap in the shower for just under 10 minutes while the ship was docking. One expects that some interruptions might occur when switching between on-board and shore-delivered services, but one also expects to be forewarned.
o The food was OK, but the ship’s “banquet style” service let us down. Hot food was often tepid on arrival, and beef dishes were over-cooked.
The Sun Deck might well not have existed
o The sun deck was closed for about ¾’s of the trip with no explanation until we asked. Stairways were blocked with a chain labeled “closed temporarily” but really it was more like “open” was the temporary condition.
Different walks for different folks
o On two of the walking tours, “leisurely” walkers (elderly and handicapped) were mixed in with the fitter folk. This didn’t work well for anybody: the infirm felt rushed and the others were frustrated by the snail’s pace of travel.
On balance, I do not feel that I got fair value. There were so many easily-avoidable issues that it is difficult to believe that Viking gives a hoot.
I conducted an un-scientific survey of fellow passengers. Many shared my concerns but few were ready to publicly admit that they’d spent so much money for so little value. Their skewed public ratings may beguile prospective travelers so don 't get taken in.
I sent these complaints to Viking immediately upon our return to the States. I was assured that someone from customer dis-service would contact me to discuss my concerns, but of course they never have done. So much for Viking's customer service...
I must recommend you avoid taking a river cruise with Viking.