Luxury cruise ships to stop sailing
As coronavirus cripples cruise lines, one of the world's most exclusive operators has made the unprecedented decision to suspend its ocean and river trips.
The suspension in response to the global coronavirus outbreak is effective as of today, March 12, and will be in place until April 30.
"We believe Viking will be in a better place to provide the experiences our guests expect and deserve after this time and plan to resume operations on May 1, 2020, continuing all further sailings as originally planned," a statement on the website reads.
The announcement was made in a letter from the company's chairman, Torstein Hagen, emailed to all currently booked guests.
"I am sure you recognise that COVID-19 has made travel exceedingly complicated. An increasing number of ports, including Venice, Monte Carlo and Bergen, have temporarily closed to cruise ships; major attractions such as the Vatican and other museums have been closed; and some countries are imposing restrictions on public gatherings and visitors," the letter reads.
"In recent days we have had an experience where a river cruise guest in South-East Asia was exposed to COVID-19 while in transit on an international airline. While this guest is not exhibiting symptoms, she has been placed in quarantine. Separately, the remaining 28 guests will also be quarantined."
The full letter is also now available on the Viking website.
The suspension applies to new embarkations until April 30, however, it is understood ships currently sailing will continue on their planned itineraries.
This comes after recent issues involving Viking's cruise ship, Viking Sun, which is currently mid-way through a 245-day Ultimate World Cruise, attempting to set the Guinness World Record for the world's longest continuous passenger cruise.
The ship was turned away from two ports on Indonesia's mainland, before finally being given the green light to dock in Bali earlier this week.
The ship is scheduled to sail into London on May 2.
Viking currently operates 79 ocean and river ships worldwide.
Viking says all guests impacted by the suspension will be notified directly, but are also being advised to log onto MyVikingJourney.com for details regarding specific voyages.
Viking are offering the choice of a Future Cruise Voucher (valued at 125 per cent of all payments maid to Viking) or a refund (equal to the amount paid). Guests will have 24 months to use their Future Cruise Voucher to make a new reservation.