Viking Cruises has suspended all sailings through the end of April in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, telling customers that it hopes to “be in a better place to provide the experiences our guests expect and deserve” come May 1.
"I am sure you recognize that COVID-19 has made travel exceedingly complicated," Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen said in an open letter posted to the cruise line’s website, adding that the decision to cancel all sailings through April 30 was made after a passenger on a river cruise in Southeast Asia “was exposed to COVID-19 while in transit on an international airline.” The woman, who was not said to be exhibiting symptoms, was placed in quarantine. The remaining 28 passengers will too be quarantined, Hagen said.
“As a private company with strong finances, we do not have to worry about quarterly profit expectations – and that flexibility allows us the ability to do what is best for our guests and our employees, as we have always done,” Hagen wrote. “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.”
Passengers with plans to sail between March 12 and April 30 are eligible for a refund, or, if they prefer, a voucher toward a future cruise worth 125 percent of the original fare, for use within the next 24 months.
“We will stand by our guests, employees and partners in these challenging times and hope that they in turn will stand by us,” the letter concluded.
The pause will impact voyages departing March 12 to May 10, Princess Cruise Line said in a press release.
Previously, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recommended that cruise passengers postpone travel when sick and self-isolate if feeling ill while onboard. For those still on ships, it is advised to wash your hands with soap and water consistently, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth and limit interactions with those believed to be sick.
Fox News' Alexandra Deabler contributed to this report.