As per the numerous postings on the board, Viking was aware & had knowledge of the strike well before the ship even left Budapest and did not announce it until the day we arrived in Nuremberg. (I wish I would have been aware of these message boards beforehand.)
We docked in Nuremberg for 4 days by a bus terminal construction site with large & very visible waste bins. (Photos are available). We experienced this view, dust & noise for a 4-day period. The upper deck was also unavailable for at least 50% of our time here.
Unfortunately, Nuremberg (a beautiful city) could only be reached by a 20-30 minute ride. And after 2 tours of Nuremberg, we felt that our only choice was to take longer & longer bus rides (up to 3 hours for our last tour) on each of the successive days.
The bus rides were uncomfortable for us with long waits at gas stations for bathroom breaks.
Lunch was often hastily delivered en masse in over-crowded & over-heated restaurants. The quality of the food & dining experience was unimaginably sub-standard compared to our first 7 days, which was world-class. (The on board experience for the first seven days was first rate).
Upon returning from these long bus rides, we were overly exhausted from our day trips to fully enjoy our evening meal. In fact, on some days we arrived back onto the ship only 30 minutes before dinner.
On the fourth evening, the captain announced that we would travel non-stop for the next day on the Rhine-Main-Danube canal to get past the lock strikers. We covered the RMD Canal during the day with only a small & overcrowded outdoor lounge available to us. The area that we cruised is considered non-scenic as Viking normally covers this portion at night.
To add insult to injury, we were forced to disembark two days early and bused to Cologne and then on to Amsterdam only to find out that Skadi was docked in Holland at Kinderdijk on Saturday. Many passengers wanted to stay on the Skadi instead of facing two very difficult and long days on prolonged bus trips.
After long bus trips on these two days, we were offered a sub-standard buffet-style meal. On the last night, the hotel staff was closing down the buffet shortly after we arrived after approximately 8 hours on an uncomfortable bus ride.
We paid for a 14-day luxury river cruise and wound up with a 7-day river cruise and a 7-day bus ordeal. We did not pay thousands of dollars to take a poorly organized & uncomfortable bus tour.
We received an email (dated July 31) upon our return home offering a 25% voucher for future travel.
It took a long time to be able to take this trip and we felt their offer was very inadequate considering that our experience was quite different than what Viking depicts in their marketing materials. In fact, we believed the pamphlets and slick commercials that said that Viking would “take care of us”.
It was clear that we were not making progress with their customer relations staff so we asked for the name of their VP, Customer Relations to escalate this matter with Viking’s management.
We were shocked when Viking stated that they would not share this information with us. After receiving this surprising response to our request, it took a couple of minutes via Google to find out that the executive for Customer Relations is Joost Ouendag and to get his contact details.
We emailed Joost Ouendag 3 times in the course of the next 14 days without any acknowledgement of receipt from him.
Ultimately, one of Viking's customer service reps finally reached us via email and then phone and said that nothing could be done except for the 25% future credit.
It would seem that we would be throwing away good money after bad.
Also, Viking’s offer looks very stingy considering posts on this site that claimed “the June cruise received FULL refund of their cost even though they had been on the ship more than a week and a 75% voucher for future travel”.
In our email to Joost Ouendag back on August 14th, we stated that our satisfaction and future business seemed unimportant to Viking.
Sadly, we still feel that way since our experience with Viking has been extremely frustrating.