For those who know me and ask my opinion about which river cruise line to choose when sailing through some of the European rivers, I’m quick to say “avoid Viking”. I know, many of you have had wonderful experiences on Viking and when things go right, then they have many satisfied passengers.
The problem in my mind is when things do not go right, how does each river cruise line handle it. After all, high water or low water affects all the cruise lines and they handle these problems differently.
Last year when there was low water on the Danube and a few other rivers, most of the cruise lines let their passengers know ahead of time. Some of their passengers had “cancel for any reason” travel insurance and they were able to cancel their trips rather than be docked for most of their river cruise and be bussed to their ports. These passengers said that they paid for a river cruise, not a bus trip. From my understanding after reading all the different threads on Cruise Critic – River Cruising thread, is that Viking did not alert their passengers to the potential that they would have a bus trip or have to switch ships halfway through their journey.
Another reason, particularly when the rivers are low, that I do not like Viking is that their ships have a lower draft to them and therefore are deeper in the water. Last summer when their was low water levels in the Danube, Avalon, AMA Waterways, Uniworld and other lines were able to complete the majority of their cruises without interruption but not Viking.
Viking is the largest provider of river cruises in Europe and you will hear more negative reports about them. It seems that some of the common themes is lack of communication to their passengers alerting them to a problem or the potential of a problem. Having high water (like currently in Europe) or low water (like last summer) is nothing new and all the cruise lines should have some notion of what to do and have alternate plans in place. They generally do a good job except for Viking.
Found this article about the high water that is affecting many of the central European rivers. Which which cruise line is having to make alternative itineraries and which ones are not.
I have cruised both Avalon (Rhine River) and AMA Waterways (Danube and shortly the Rhone) and I feel that they are both excellent cruise lines with very good reputations.
Have you done a river cruise and which cruise line did you sail on? What was your experience? Were you sailing during a “normal time” or one when there were problems with the water levels? I’d love to hear your opinion.