Viking will suspend its river and ocean cruise operations until May 1, 2020 in response to concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen made the announcement in a message to guests on Wednesday night, writing that ”I am sure you recognize that COVID-19 has made travel exceedingly complicated,” particularly with the number of ports that have closed temporarily to cruise ships, including Italian ports, and restrictions on public gatherings.
All guests will receive a 125% future cruise credit, which they’ll be able to use over the next 24 months on any of Viking’s cruise products. The credit is also fully transferable. If a guest doesn’t use the voucher, Viking will send a refund equal to the amount paid to Viking after it expires.
One recent Viking guest, Hagen wrote, was quarantined in transit back from a cruise in Southeast Asia despite not showing symptoms, which forced the quarantine of 28 other guests.
Hagen wrote that “operating as a travel company involves significant risks of quarantines or medical detentions, which could diminish the travel experiences for which our guests have been planning.”
“Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend operations of our river and ocean vessels embarking from March 12 to April 30, 2020 – at which time we believe Viking will be in a better place to provide the experiences our guests expect and deserve. This is a decision we made with a heavy heart, but with present circumstances what they are, we are unable to deliver the high-quality Viking experience for which we are known.”
Viking’s planned expansions, both into North America’s Great Lakes and Antarctica and the Arctic, will not be disturbed by the news, according to Hagen.