As cruise lines contend with the coronavirus outbreak, Viking River Cruises has announced it is suspending its river and ocean cruise operations.
The cruise line released a statement on its website Wednesday saying the suspension of service will affect all cruises that were scheduled to depart through April 30. The company plans to resume cruises on May 1.
Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen explained the company’s decision in an open letter to customers.
“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, which could diminish the travel experiences for which our guests have been planning," Hagen stated in part. “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.
“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."
The cruise industry has been hit particularly hard by the outbreak as the State Department is warning Americans against cruise travel and some ports are closing off entry to incoming cruise ships.
Following Viking’s decision, Princess Cruises also announced a temporary suspension of its 18-ship fleet as public health officials work to contain the spread of the infectious disease.
Viking guests whose travel plans were disrupted by the move will get a voucher for a future cruise that’s good for two years. Those unable to use their vouchers will receive a refund once the voucher expires.