Viking Sea Power LossToday, I received a message that the Viking Sea was in Barcelona, Spain waiting for repairs to fix an unidentified engine problem.

I received this message: “Don’t know have you been informed about Viking Sea being stuck in Barcelona for more than 10 days, while all guests were disembark, almost same thing like Star last year in Talin . . . ”

Online AIS shows the Viking ship at the port in Barcelona today after leaving the port of Barcelona last night heading (apparently toward its next port of call, Toulon) but then turning around and sailing back to Barcelona.

Viking has informed its guests that they are free to stay on the cruise ship until January 8, 2017.  The company is apparently assisting the passengers with excursions. The guests can leave the ship and catch earlier flights home although many seem inclined to enjoy their unexpected time in Barcelona.

In August of this year, the Viking Sea lost power in Malta.

In August of 2015, the Viking Star lost power in an engine after leaving Tallinn and resulted in the cancellation of the cruise.

There is no indication whether future cruises will be affected nor is there any word regarding compensation to guests for the canceled cruise.

 

Viking FreyaA number of German newspapers are reporting that the Viking Freya struck a rail bridge, last night, crushing the wheelhouse and killing two officers who were navigating the ship. The ship came to rest under the rail bridge and a pedestrian bridge which paralleled the rail bridge.

The river cruise ship had just left the town of Erlangen on its way to the Hungarian capital of Budapest, and was operating on the main Danube Canal at night when the accident occurred. The accident reportedly occurred at 1:30 A.M.

The dead officers were a 49-year-old who was at the helm of the vessel and a 33-year-old man. 

Photographs taken after the accident show that the wheelhouse was completely obliterated in the impact with the bridge.

The Blick ama Abend newspaper indicates that that the two crew members who were killed were Hungarians. The ship is operated by Viking River Cruises AG.

The wheelhouse can be lowered when the Viking Freya encounters low bridges, as seen in this YouTube video, and then raised after it goes under the bridge.

There were reportedly 181 passengers and 47 other crew members on the ship at the time. No other injuries or casualties were reported.

Photo credits: Top © Nicolas Armer/dpa via Stern; Bottom UPI via Blick am a Bend.

Viking Freya

A number of people contacted me after I wrote about the editors at Cruise Critic picking the Viking Star (Viking’s first ocean-going cruise ship) as the "Best New Cruise Ship" for 2015.

Cruise passengers and crew members brought to my attention that there have been problems with the Viking Star from day one. They mentioned "technical" issues like the failure of the propulsion systems only five months in service. Apparently, no one from shore-side management from the home office appeared in Tallinn following the fiasco.

A major issue faced the cruise ship this summer when glass shower doors, that has been installed wrong, began exploding while in use, leaving passengers bleeding.  

There has reporedly been a significant turnover of ship employees. Many crew members were not provided with written contracts until later and the financial terms were allegedly lower than verbally promised.

The new ship apparently did not have employment or technical manuals. Many crew members were told to bring manuals and procedures from their former cruise ship. There were inconsistent procedures from a mishmash of cruise line protocols. Some people even allegedly started to put Viking logos over the former logos just to have procedures.

Many crew members were frustrated that there seemed to be a general lack of experience of operating ships at sea rather than in a river. One person sent us a video of an anchoring mid fjord when the Viking Star almost ran aground. 

Another reader talked about the scandal surrounding the Godmother for the new cruise ship, Trude Drevland, the mayor of Bergen City in Norway. She is recently under police investigation due to allegations of bribery by the ship owner.  You can read an article here (it is Norwegian, so you will need to translate it). Among other things, Godmother Drevland is accused of being flown in a private jet, to Venice in June to participate in the launch of Viking Star. The air travel and stay at a luxury hotel were allegedly paid by the chairman and chief executive officer Torstein Hagen. You can read more details here.

In an industry which relies on marketing images and rave reviews, it appears that there is dirt behind the scenes that neither Cruise Critic nor the Viking Star owners want you to know.   

 

Viking StarThe Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards selected the “best new cruise ship” to be the Viking Ocean Cruises’ Viking Star.

I first heard of the Viking Star two months ago when the new cruise ship lost power in Tallinn, Estonia. After a great deal of confusion, the cruise was canceled amidst a storm of controversy. I received a lot of comments from passengers and crew members alike, critical of Viking, on both this website and on our Facebook page.

But it doesn’t seem that any of the Cruise Critic judges were on the Viking Star back in August when its power failed. The judges wrote that the ill-fated ship was a “state of the art cruise liner that has earned rave reviews.” The judges described the cruise ship as having the “charm of a boutique hotel – homely and comfortable after a long day exploring in port. In fact, the ship is so beautifully designed – with terrific afredo restaurants, beautiful pool area, a superb spa and the two-level Explorer’s observation lounge – you will be tempted not to go ashore.” 

Gobbledygook like this drives me crazy. It seems far more relevant to me if the cruise ship has a history of power failure, or fires, and how the company handles an emergency. How are the crew members treated? Cruise Critic is silent on these basic issues.

TripAdvisor, a unit of Expedia, owns Cruise Critic. So hype like this is to be expected, I suppose. The Cruise Critic community is the largest group of cruisers in the world. And they are probably the most fanatical in their love for cruising; however, a discussion of a controversial issue on the CC message boards often turns turns into an ugly brawl. The editors and moderators at Cruise Critic act like cruise industry cheerleaders. Criticize a cruise line? Chances are that your comments will be deleted.

 

Photo Credit: “MS Viking Star passing the O2 dome” by NFH Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons – Wikipedia

A newspaper in Sweden is reporting that police officers in Finland have questioned eight Swedish men about the allegations of a passenger that she was "gang raped" on a Viking Line ferry in Finnish waters over the weekend.

The alleged sexual attack took place on the Amorella, which is described as an overnight ferry sailing from Stockholm to the Finnish port of Turku on Saturday. 

The eight male passengers are accused of sexually assaulting the woman, age 45.  

Many passengers were intoxicated and unruly on the ferry during the crossing. One passenger is quoted saying that she saw the victim half dressed and sitting in a corridor "in a shocked state."

Other witnesses "were critical of the way guards took care of the woman, suggesting that they didn’t respond quickly enough or appear to show enough care or concern for her."

Amorella

Photo Credit: Jonas Bergsten – via Wikimedia Commons.

Bloomberg News reports that Viking Line’s M/S Amorella passenger ferry lost power and ran aground in the Aaland archipelago southwest of Finland.

According to the ferry company’s website, the ship carried 1,945 (with capacity of 2,400) but no one was injured and the passengers will remain on the vessel which will continue its voyage to Mariehamn. 

M/S Amorella was en route to Stockholm from Turku, when it hit rocks at Julgrund, outside of Foegloe, at 12:40 p.m. today.

The vessel was built 25 years ago in 1988 in Split, Croatia. 

Viking Line Amorella

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Jonas Bergsten