Viking announced today that it will restart limited operations in May 2021, with three special sailings along the coast of England, all of which will sail from Portsmouth. Available exclusively for UK residents, the new eight‐day ocean itinerary, England’s Scenic Shores, will depart 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.
Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking said: “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.
"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.”
Portsmouth International Port has led the way in Covid-19 readiness, being the first port in the UK to be recognised by independent assessors DNV for its protocols to manage and reduce the risk of Covid-19 infections.
Along with a thermal imaging scanner to check the temperature of staff and available for customers too, the terminal has also been reconfigured into a one-way flow system with reduced capacity and space for social distancing. Face coverings are mandatory for anyone travelling through the terminal, and cleaning practices have been enhanced through investments in the latest technologies.
Mike Sellers, director of Portsmouth International Port said: "I'm delighted that we will be welcoming Viking back to the port for these very special cruises, as they restart their operations. I'd also like to thank them for choosing Portsmouth for the call of Viking Venus, who will make a superb addition to their fleet of elegant ocean going vessels.
"The whole port has worked together throughout the pandemic to make sure we can continue operations with the highest level of care. Our aim has been to give passengers confidence that the preventative measures we have put into place are of the highest standard. We can't wait to safely welcome cruise passengers back to the port."
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.