“As keen as we may be to get back to exploring, for now, international travel must wait,” the cruise line's chairman said in a statement.

By Alison Fox
August 13, 2020
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The Viking Sea and Viking Star cruise ships in Santorini
| Credit: Courtesy of Viking Cruises

Viking Cruises has canceled all sailings until at least 2021, the company announced on Wednesday, becoming the latest cruise line to push sailings amid the continuing battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

Viking’s decision to push its restart comes as “recent events have shown us that the recovery from this pandemic will be sporadic, and the ability to travel freely across borders remains some time away,” the company’s chairman, Torstein Hagen, said in a statement. The company first paused operations on March 11.

“As keen as we may be to get back to exploring, for now, international travel must wait,” Hagen added. “I have said before that we will only sail again when it is safe to do so. We are a private, closely-held company, which means we do not have to rush the decision to return to service.”

Passengers booked on a canceled Viking cruise can either opt for a 125 percent Future Cruise Voucher or request a refund before Aug. 24.

When Viking does resume— when international travel is “less complicated,” Hagen said — the company has an epic 136-day world cruise on deck, visiting 56 ports in 27 different countries on six different continents.

Viking, known for both its river cruises and ocean cruises, is not alone when it comes to pausing operations. Last month, Princess Cruises canceled sailings for most of its ships through December. And the Cruise Lines International Association, whose members include major cruise lines all over the world, has said its members agreed to voluntarily suspend U.S. sailings through at least Oct. 31.

Some cruise lines have resumed sailing again with mixed results. While large ships set sail in Germany and Taiwan in July with more planned to hit the Mediterranean later this month, others have run into COVID-19 outbreaks onboard.

Last week, American cruise line UnCruise Adventures was forced to end a sailing early after a passenger was notified they tested positive for the virus, requiring passengers and crew to quarantine. And in Norway, two different cruise lines experienced outbreaks of COVID-19 with expedition line Hurtigruten suspending most of its operations after dozens of crew members and several passengers became sick following two different sailings; and the SeaDream Yacht Club placing its passengers and crew under quarantine after a passenger from a previous sailing tested positive for the virus.