July 2015 - Viking Beyla to Europe
One day before departure I received an email by Viking regarding the low water river conditions. I contacted Viking Customer Service and was told that there was a possibility that the cruising would begin on Wednesday based on the amount of rain and the release of water from Prague.
We had no choice but to take this cruise. Once we arrived in Prague, the Program Director, could not offer us any additional information. We were told that a decision whether to cruise would be made by the Captain of the Beyla on Tuesday. Regarding the weather conditions--It did rain Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, with an occasional downpour during the late evening hours. We were driven by bus to Dresden where the Beyla was dry docked and we stayed until Wednesday, July 29th. The day trips consisted of bus tours. Once Tuesday, July 28th came, we were told by the Captain that we would need to repack and move to the Viking Astrild. Something we all did not expect. It was the Captain of the Astrild who told us definitively that no cruising would take place.
Once in Wittenberg, we were subjected to disgusting and unbearable conditions. The Viking Astrild was dry docked, whereby the ship was surrounded by mounds of dirt, port-a-potties, rocks, rubble, etc. The smell made it difficult to open the cabin doors or to stay on deck. No human should be subjected to these conditions. The days continued with lengthy bus rides. In short, I paid for a river cruise, not a bus tour.
A group of 22 guests spent over two hours on the evening of Thursday, July 30th to report these conditions to Customer Service while on the ship and spoke to, a customer service case manager in the LA office. We were told that Viking would address each complaint individually post cruise.
Upon arrival home, I contacted Viking Customer Service to discuss my experience. He told me he was aware of what was happening, but offered no consolation.
Viking knew of the low water level conditions for months and did not run other cruises since mid-June. Making the decision to run this so-called “River Cruise” under false pretenses and not allowing guests the option to cancel with full reimbursement is poor and unethical business practice.
Offering vouchers for future Viking trips is not a solution. This cruise should have been cancelled from the onset.