May 2015 - Viking Skirnir to Europe
Tulips and Windmills
My wife and I have been inveterate travelers for the last forty years and have been to many countries and have used many travel and tour companies. So I write this letter with some degree of travel experience. We just completed the Tulips and Windmill cruise (May 2-11). This was our second Viking cruise, the first being the Paris to Normandy cruise, last summer ( which was excellent ). I wish I could say the same for the Amsterdam cruise. While the service was excellent and most of the itinerary was satisfactory, we have several serious issues with the cruise. First and foremost was the food. While most of my meal selections were satisfactory (not great), my wife was not able to enjoy any of her dinners. The fish dishes were grossly over or undercooked, the prawns were served cold and tasteless, the scallops were like hockey pucks. In other words, the dinners on this cruise could not compare to the wonderful meals we enjoyed on the Paris cruise ( one of the main reasons we chose to cruise again with Viking). Second, the dockage at Amsterdam, both times, was atrocious. We docked far outside the city center and needed to be bused for 30 minutes to get into town. This made visits to the center cumbersome and time consuming and is counter to the Viking sales image of vessels always docking in the heart of the city or town being visited. To compound our problems with this cruise, the WiFi service was atrocious. We ran into a similar problem, although not as serious, on the Paris cruise but was told then that the ship was one of the older ones and that WiFi/ internet service in the new ships would be greatly improved (another reason we chose the Amsterdam cruise since the Skinir was one of your newest ships). Well, the service was not improved at all and was actually considerably worse. The tour director tried to explain that while cruising the ship often was in poor internet reception areas. If they think this is a valid position then they either need a new IT consultant or are unaware of present day internet technologies. I fly very often and I can get perfect wifi internet connections at 30,000 ft traveling at 600mph. On cruise ships I can get great reception hundreds of miles out to sea. Why can't you get a decent signal gently cruising down a river in one of the most densely populated places in Europe? Finally, my biggest concern was the issue of Rotterdam. This city is clearly indicated on the itinerary as a port of call and "time for independent visits" to the city are clearly stated in the itinerary. Instead we arrived in the early evening and stayed for three hours, in an out of the way dockage with no supplied transportation into the city center. Even if shuttles were provided there was no time for a visit. To us this was a completely misleading part of the itinerary. In closing, I can't think of a more disappointing experience. Not because the cruise was so bad. It was however far below what we expected and I think below the standards of Viking River Cruises. I might expect these issues with cut rate or discount tour companies but not with Viking. We will certainly be taking other river cruises but I think we will be considering taking those cruises with other companies.