Viking have announced today that it will restart limited operations in May 2021 with three special sailings along the coast of England. Available exclusively for UK residents, the new eight-day ocean itinerary—England’s Scenic Shores—will sail roundtrip from Portsmouth, with departures on 22 May, 29 May and 5 June 2021. Guests on the England’s Scenic Shores itinerary will be among the first to sail on board Viking’s newest ocean ship, Viking Venus®, which will be delivered in April. Pre-registration for England’s Scenic Shores is currently open only to Viking’s loyal past guests; more details about the voyages will be released—and reservations will be available to all UK residents—in due course.
Viking was the first cruise line to suspend operations at the beginning of the pandemic, and today’s update about the official restart was triggered because the UK Government recently signalled that it will allow the resumption of domestic cruises beginning in May 2021. All other previously scheduled Viking sailings through to 31 May 2021 remain cancelled.
“We welcome the UK Government’s support for the return of safe domestic cruises as an important component in the travel industry’s recovery. In recognition of this support, and to celebrate the fact we have a British godmother—the esteemed broadcaster and journalist Anne Diamond—we have chosen to name our new ship, Viking Venus, in the UK on 17 May,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “We are in a position to restart operations quickly and to start sailing again in May because we have kept our ships crewed during warm lay-up throughout the past 12 months. We have been implementing our additional protocols, including daily quick and easy non-invasive saliva PCR tests for our crew, for almost six months now. With our new protocol enhancements in place, we believe there will be no safer way to travel the world than on a Viking voyage and we look forward to welcoming UK guests back on board very soon.”
Those who sail these new voyages will also experience Viking’s industry-leading health and safety programme. Grounded in scientific research, the Viking Health & Safety Programme was developed in partnership with an international team of medical advisors, including Raquel C. Bono, M.D., Viking’s Chief Health Officer. Dr. Bono is a board-certified trauma surgeon and retired Vice Admiral of the United States Navy Medical Corps—and most recently led Washington State’s medical and healthcare systems response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Utilising a full-scale laboratory installed on every Viking ocean ship, all guests and crew will receive daily quick and easy non-invasive saliva PCR tests. New air purification technology has also been installed on all Viking ships, which have always featured independent air handling units for all guest staterooms. Additional health checks, sanitisation and physical distancing measures will provide further protection for Viking guests and crew at all points of the journey. A complete overview of the Viking Health & Safety Programme can be found at: www.viking.com/health-safety.
In addition, in relation to a vaccine requirements on board, a Viking spokesperson said:
“The safety and wellbeing of our guests, our crew, and the communities we visit, is always our top priority. We encourage all of our guests to get their vaccination when it is their time.
With the implementation of our Viking Health & Safety Program, which includes daily PCR testing for all guests and crew, among many other protocol enhancements, Viking will not require vaccinations for these three domestic UK sailings. However, Viking’s medical team will continue to monitor vaccination rates and adjust our protocol and policies as needed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our guests and crew.”
So, what do you think to the restart of UK-cruising in May? Let me know in the comments and on social media.