Viking has announced a bold change to its cancellation policies to help passengers caught in the dilemma of whether or not to book a cruise because of COVID-19.

Passengers can postpone their cruise up until 24 hours before the planned departure, without incurring any cancellation fees, the line announced on their website today.

The move comes as many cruise lines are finding it hard to persuade clients to book far in advance because they run the risk of losing money if they are forced to cancel.

The move is likely to give Viking an edge over competitors. The policy is in contrast to that of Princess Cruises, which has faced some criticism for holding passengers to their bookings on the Diamond Princess, recently involved in an outbreak of coronavirus in Japan.

“This temporary exception to our standard cancellation policy is applicable for all guests who currently have a reservation with Viking and for all new reservations made through April 30, 2020,” says Viking’s website.

Guests will be issued a voucher for future travel valid for 24 months, which can be used on any Viking product, river, ocean or expedition.

“Our guests are experienced travellers. We know that for you, travel is a way of life. Our temporary policy exception is designed to give you peace of mind and the certainty to continue planning your travels,” said Michelle Black, Viking’s Managing Director ANZ.

“Right now, there are incredible offers across a huge selection of our cruises, and we hope this temporary exception to our cancellation policy will put your mind at ease so you can book with confidence”

The temporary exception to our cancellation policy is as follows:

  • Notification of your intent to postpone your current cruise must be received as follows:
    • If you have flights arranged by Viking, it must be received at least 24 hours prior to the time of flight’s departure.
    • If you have arranged your own flights, it must be received at least 24 hours prior to the time of embarkation of the cruise or your hotel check-in, whichever is first.
  • Cancelled reservations will be reimbursed in the form of a Future Cruise Voucher in the amount of 100% of all funds paid to Viking.
  • Future Cruise Vouchers may be used toward any future river, ocean or expedition cruise with Viking and will be valid for 24 months from issuance.

“As you undoubtedly know, the coronavirus COVID-19 is causing concern in the general public and among those of us engaged in travel. At Viking, the safety and security of our guests and employees has always been our top priority,“ says the line on the website.

“This is a situation that can change from day to day, and we can well understand that the decision of whether or not to travel may be weighing on your mind – particularly for those with imminent departures.”

“We have implemented enhanced health screening procedures for all guests and staff before boarding our vessels and everyone is required to complete a health care questionnaire before embarkation. We continue to reiterate the importance of individual hygiene, sanitising and washing of hands,” says the line.

“We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely including the travel advisories issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) in Australia and Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (MFAT) in New Zealand and the World Health Organization in Switzerland.”

Here are all Viking itineraries that have been affected so far:

Viking River

Viking has cancelled all itineraries that feature a Yangtze River sailing during the months of March – June, 2020.

Viking Ocean

Viking Sun is currently sailing a modified itinerary on its way to London/Greenwich, England. Viking Orion will be redeployed to Alaska, where the ship was scheduled to begin sailing in late spring.

Embarkation policy on all sailings

Guests who have traveled from or through mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau within 14 days of beginning their trip with Viking, will not be permitted to embark any Viking ship.

Should additional modifications become necessary to any upcoming sailing, guests and travel agents will be notified directly by Viking Customer Relations.