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  #1  
Old June 3rd, 2013, 01:55 PM
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Default Viking response to query about flooding

Dad and I are off on Viking doing Romantic Danube in two weeks. Seeing as Avalon are cancelling up to and including 10 June tours, and wanting to know where we would stand financially if Viking did likewise, I rang them this afternoon to ask for information. This is how the conversation went.

Me: Good afternoon, I am sorry to bother you as I am sure you have been inundated with calls, but I wonder if you can give me some advice. My dad and I will be sailing with you in 2 weeks time along the Danube. Do you have any idea of possible impact upon our cruise at the present time?

Viking Consultant: In two weeks time everything will be running perfectly and there will be no problems.

Me: Oh, erm ... okay, erm how do you know that

Viking Consultant: Because the river levels will have gone down to normal by then.

Me: Erm, ok ... what about if they havent?

Viking Consultant: Everything will be fine in 2 weeks.

Me: Ok, if it isnt, and you have to cancel the cruise, are you able to tell us when this might be? As we have a precruise extension in Prague for three days, and what might the refund situation be?

Viking Consultant: You dont need to worry about the cruise being cancelled as it won't be and there will be no need to refund any money to you.

Me: Erm, ok,

Viking Consultant: Thank you for calling Viking, goodbye.


Pretty much verbatim. Im not overly impressed. Not even the slightest acknowledgement that there is a huge problem at present, and that problem might still be impacting in 2 weeks time with say, hotel stays and coach trips instead of scheduled excursions (which will surely happen, as who in their right minds is going to take us to Passau when it's had the worst floods in the town's history?). Instead, a blanket 'it will all be fine, there is nothing else to say'

Normally, Viking are good at responding to these forums, and to Facebook. My post on there has gone unanswered, as have others who have raised this issue. Wonder if anyone has had similar experiences?
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  #2  
Old June 3rd, 2013, 03:43 PM
ingo_e ingo_e is offline
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When the levels start to drop, that will be (approx.) around 100cm a day. Depends on the weather and the tributaries. The German Danube reaches its peak tonight. So until the levels are back to "shipable" it will take another 3-6 days.. The next problem will be: Usually high waters affect just a short stretch on a river. At the moment the nearly the whole Rhine-Main-Danube system is blocked and ship traffic stalled since 28th - 30th of May. So even when the high water issue is solved, all cruise ships are in the wrong place (so to speak), around 8-14 days behind schedule and the city where they are supposed to dock (e.g. for disembarkation). For some cruises this might not be a big issue, for others it will be. I actually assume there will be a lot of ship swapping involved until everything is back to normal..
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 04:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phoebecat View Post


Pretty much verbatim. Im not overly impressed. Not even the slightest acknowledgement that there is a huge problem at present, and that problem might still be impacting in 2 weeks time with say, hotel stays and coach trips instead of scheduled excursions (which will surely happen, as who in their right minds is going to take us to Passau when it's had the worst floods in the town's history?). Instead, a blanket 'it will all be fine, there is nothing else to say'

Normally, Viking are good at responding to these forums, and to Facebook. My post on there has gone unanswered, as have others who have raised this issue. Wonder if anyone has had similar experiences?
Phoebecat,

I would email Viking immediately at Tellus@vikingrivercruises.com, since you are scheduled to do the Romantic Danube, most of these cities are currently under a state of emergency and I cannot understand how Viking will know the status in the cities in 2 weeks. What changes are going to be made to the itinerary? i.e., Passau is a scheduled stop as well as Melk, Regensberg and Prague which are also experiencing flooding.

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Old June 3rd, 2013, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by ingo_e View Post
When the levels start to drop, that will be (approx.) around 100cm a day. Depends on the weather and the tributaries. The German Danube reaches its peak tonight. So until the levels are back to "shipable" it will take another 3-6 days.. The next problem will be: Usually high waters affect just a short stretch on a river. At the moment the nearly the whole Rhine-Main-Danube system is blocked and ship traffic stalled since 28th - 30th of May. So even when the high water issue is solved, all cruise ships are in the wrong place (so to speak), around 8-14 days behind schedule and the city where they are supposed to dock (e.g. for disembarkation). For some cruises this might not be a big issue, for others it will be. I actually assume there will be a lot of ship swapping involved until everything is back to normal..
Great points.

It will likely also be a challenge for the boats to be re-provisioned if the surrounding port or the supplier was affected heavily by flooding.
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  #5  
Old June 3rd, 2013, 06:09 PM
Mark_T Mark_T is offline
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Originally Posted by pflorio994 View Post
... most of these cities are currently under a state of emergency and I cannot understand how Viking will know the status in the cities in 2 weeks.
I tend to agree with you, but I don't know what anyone expects Viking to say or do at the moment either?

The situation will become rapidly clearer over the next week at which point they can start to make plans, right now I wouldn't expect them to cancel for commercial reasons and beyond that they really can't say anything more meaningful than 'wait and see' with things as they are.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_T View Post
I tend to agree with you, but I don't know what anyone expects Viking to say or do at the moment either?

The situation will become rapidly clearer over the next week at which point they can start to make plans, right now I wouldn't expect them to cancel for commercial reasons and beyond that they really can't say anything more meaningful than 'wait and see' with things as they are.
I agree with Mark T- Pardon the expression, but the situation is very fluid right now. What happens over the next few days will heavily influence what happens over the next few weeks. I think Viking is at least trying to be optimistic and hope that the water will recede quickly and they can get back on schedule.

phoebecat - I would just monitor the situation closely, and in a week or so the fate of your cruise should be clearer. I know this is not an easy situation for anyone who has been waiting many, many months for a wonderful river cruise and to have this happen, but a little patience here will help.
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  #7  
Old June 3rd, 2013, 07:26 PM
mathladyca mathladyca is offline
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[quote=phoebecat;38622977


Pretty much verbatim. Im not overly impressed. Not even the slightest acknowledgement that there is a huge problem at present, and that problem might still be impacting in 2 weeks time with say, hotel stays and coach trips instead of scheduled excursions (which will surely happen, as who in their right minds is going to take us to Passau when it's had the worst floods in the town's history?). Instead, a blanket 'it will all be fine, there is nothing else to say'

Normally, Viking are good at responding to these forums, and to Facebook. My post on there has gone unanswered, as have others who have raised this issue. Wonder if anyone has had similar experiences?[/quote]

People have died because of the flooding and travellers are worried because they can't get immediate info as to what will happen in 2 weeks!
Let's think about people whose homes. fields, dock, etc are underwater and hope that God takes care of them.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 07:44 PM
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We cruised with Viking on the Rhine from Basel to Amsterdam , June 2012. When we arrived at dock in Basel (taxi from hotel)the boat was not there. A rep from VIking had our taxi take us to airport. From there we bused to Breisch( our next day docking)with other cruisers. Viking paid for all our extra expenses. I still feel we should have been notified of the change of plans.It would have saved us riding to dock. We should have been taken directly to bus at airport.River was too high to reach Beisch by river boat. I asked our travel agent if the river was too high before we left USA for Basel. He said everything was fine.Not so.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mathladyca View Post
People have died because of the flooding and travellers are worried because they can't get immediate info as to what will happen in 2 weeks!
Let's think about people whose homes. fields, dock, etc are underwater and hope that God takes care of them.
I don't feel that the OP has no compassion with the people who are experiencing flooding. To put them down because they are trying to be pro-active with their own situation is unfair.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 08:38 PM
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While everyone is concerned about the loss of life and property of the people in the towns along the rivers, those of us who have put down a good piece of change for these river cruises are also concerned about what we are going to get for our money, whether it be tomorrow, two weeks or a month from now.

I for one, saved for a long time to pay for this cruise. If we don't go, I am not complaining, but I don't want to lose it all.

When a tour company is non-responsive regarding what they are doing or what their contingency plans are, it is very disconcerting.

My prayers are for those who are living through this disaster and I hope this resolves quickly first and foremost for the townsfolk so that they can get on with their lives.
Terri
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 08:58 PM
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I'm with you 100 percent, Terri. I think this flooding snuck up on everyone -- and that's just the way it is -- but at least let's get out there and tell the story of the moment. I don't think anyone expects perfection at this point. But silence? Not great.

Carolyn

Quote:
Originally Posted by tbrein View Post
While everyone is concerned about the loss of life and property of the people in the towns along the rivers, those of us who have put down a good piece of change for these river cruises are also concerned about what we are going to get for our money, whether it be tomorrow, two weeks or a month from now.

I for one, saved for a long time to pay for this cruise. If we don't go, I am not complaining, but I don't want to lose it all.

When a tour company is non-responsive regarding what they are doing or what their contingency plans are, it is very disconcerting.

My prayers are for those who are living through this disaster and I hope this resolves quickly first and foremost for the townsfolk so that they can get on with their lives.
Terri
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 09:30 PM
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I'm with you 100 percent, Terri. I think this flooding snuck up on everyone -- and that's just the way it is -- but at least let's get out there and tell the story of the moment. I don't think anyone expects perfection at this point. But silence? Not great.

Carolyn
I know people are worried about their trips coming in the next few weeks but lets take a minute to think. I am sure the cruise lines are very busy with finding accommodations and setting up logistics for people already on existing cruises. Looking at the pictures online I am sure communications are in pretty bad shape.
These cruise lines are big business and I am sure they will get everything straightened in a few days.
As a final thought, many people in the flooded area have lost their homes and at least 9 people have died. I am sure those people would gladly trade places with yyou.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 09:39 PM
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Just read Viking River's announcement. Sounds like they did an amazing job shuffling their riverboats around.
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Old June 3rd, 2013, 09:49 PM
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Dear phoebecat,

Please accept our apologies for the response you received to your inquiries. From your report it does not sound like we met our own customer service standards. We also wouldn’t want to give the impression that we aren’t taking these floods very seriously; we are. The safety of our guests and crew are always our top priority. We passed your message along to our UK office and asked that a Customer Service team member contact you again. Given the time difference, the call may not occur until Tuesday morning your time.

As for it taking us a bit of time to respond to inquiries here on the boards, we apologize for that, too. With 18 vessels in our fleet anticipated to be affected by the flooding, we spent the weekend and today strategizing and organizing contingency plans with our Swiss management team. In many instances, due to having the largest fleet in river cruising combined with our in-house nautical and operations team in Switzerland, we are able to continue operating our itineraries through careful planning and switching of sister ships. You can see the fleet update here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1856202 (we won’t post it again here since it’s so long). If your departure is not listed, then at this time we do not anticipate your cruise being altered.

We hope this helps to alleviate some of your concerns about your upcoming trip. If you’d like to contact us directly about this current situation with the floods, or anything at all, you can always do so at TellUs@vikingcruises.com.

Thank you for choosing to cruise with us – we look forward to seeing you on board.

Kindly,
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phoebecat View Post
Dad and I are off on Viking doing Romantic Danube in two weeks. Seeing as Avalon are cancelling up to and including 10 June tours, and wanting to know where we would stand financially if Viking did likewise, I rang them this afternoon to ask for information. This is how the conversation went.

Me: Good afternoon, I am sorry to bother you as I am sure you have been inundated with calls, but I wonder if you can give me some advice. My dad and I will be sailing with you in 2 weeks time along the Danube. Do you have any idea of possible impact upon our cruise at the present time?

Viking Consultant: In two weeks time everything will be running perfectly and there will be no problems.

Me: Oh, erm ... okay, erm how do you know that

Viking Consultant: Because the river levels will have gone down to normal by then.

Me: Erm, ok ... what about if they havent?

Viking Consultant: Everything will be fine in 2 weeks.

Me: Ok, if it isnt, and you have to cancel the cruise, are you able to tell us when this might be? As we have a precruise extension in Prague for three days, and what might the refund situation be?

Viking Consultant: You dont need to worry about the cruise being cancelled as it won't be and there will be no need to refund any money to you.

Me: Erm, ok,

Viking Consultant: Thank you for calling Viking, goodbye.


Pretty much verbatim. Im not overly impressed. Not even the slightest acknowledgement that there is a huge problem at present, and that problem might still be impacting in 2 weeks time with say, hotel stays and coach trips instead of scheduled excursions (which will surely happen, as who in their right minds is going to take us to Passau when it's had the worst floods in the town's history?). Instead, a blanket 'it will all be fine, there is nothing else to say'

Normally, Viking are good at responding to these forums, and to Facebook. My post on there has gone unanswered, as have others who have raised this issue. Wonder if anyone has had similar experiences?
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Old June 4th, 2013, 04:08 AM
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phoebecat phoebecat is offline
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Credit where Credit is due - thanks to Viking for the very comprehensive update, and personal reply above. Im happy to think my phone call to them this pm was one slip up, and it certainly appears as if they are moving heaven and earth (not to mention river boats!) to accommodate June 9th onwards sailings.

So Im a (restored) happy customer, reasonably relaxed in the knowledge that come the last week of June when Dad and I sail, we will be going somewhere (and on a boat too!).

However ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by mathladyca View Post
People have died because of the flooding and travellers are worried because they can't get immediate info as to what will happen in 2 weeks!
Let's think about people whose homes. fields, dock, etc are underwater and hope that God takes care of them.
Disappointed to read this. Mathladyca - if you took the time to read my other posts on this thread, and River Cruising generally, you would see that concern for those affected was and is at the forefront of our minds. There is nothing wrong in having a discussion with a river cruise company, and taking it online, here, about vacation contingency plans.

Meanwhile, a BIG Shout Out of thanks to all those 'on the ground' so to speak (or the river even!) who have been keeping us updated on this, and other threads. Your 'real time' reporting has been an absolute eye-opener.
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Old June 4th, 2013, 04:17 AM
Keith1010 Keith1010 is offline
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Thanks for sharing.

Keith
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