Viking Cruises has temporarily suspended river and ocean cruise operations until May, as the coronavirus crisis makes travel “exceedingly complicated”.
The announcement was made on Thursday (11 March) in a video and letter sent from owner and chairman Torstein Hagen to guests.
Hagen said Viking had made “the difficult decision” to halt operations for sailings embarking from 12 March to 30 April 2020, at which time he believed the company “will be in a better place to provide the experiences our guests expect and deserve”.
He said a Viking river cruise guest in south-east Asia was exposed to Covid-19 while transiting 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,” he explained, adding how in Europe, the virus had temporarily closed a number of major cruise ports, tourist attractions and large gatherings had been restricted.
“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,” Hagen added.
For those guests due to cruise within the suspension window, Viking is offering a choice of a future cruise credit valued at 125% of all monies paid or a refund equal to the amount paid.
Guests will have 24 months to use their credit to make a new reservation on any river, ocean or expedition cruise.
If they are unable to use their voucher, customers will automatically be sent a refund equal to the original amount paid to Viking after the voucher expires.
“We will stand by our guests, employees and partners in these challenging times and hope that they in turn will stand by us,” said Hagen.