March 15 ------ Cruise line Viking has decided to temporarily suspend ocean and river cruise operations until May 1, 2020, in response to the coronavirus situation. As informed, embarkations scheduled to take place between March 12 and April 30 will be canceled. The announcement was made on March 11 in a video and a letter sent from Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen to currently booked guests.
“I am sure you recognize 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,” Hagen said. “In recent days we have had an experience where a river cruise guest in Southeast 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. I am writing today because the situation has now become such that operating as a travel company involves significant risks of quarantines or medical detentions,” he explained.
The move comes as the cruise industry is facing hard times caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Many cruise companies have canceled scheduled sailings and changed their policies due to coronavirus fears. Founded in 1997 with the purchase of four ships in Russia, Viking has a fleet of 79 vessels.