Viking Cruises has cancelled all cruises for this year through to December 31 when international travel will be less complicated, said chairman Torstein Hagen.

“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. As keen as we may be to get back to exploring for now, international travel must wait,” Mr Hagen said.

He stressed that Viking 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.”

The extension of the global pause to its operations comes in the week Viking celebrated its 23rd anniversary.

Guests who have booked on the line’s ocean or river cruises this year will receive 125 per cent Future Cruise Voucher valid for two years. This will allow them to pick another cruise for travel in 2021 and 2022.

However, if passengers prefer a refund, they will have to lodge a request before August 24.

Mr Hagen said Viking is focused on the future.

“We are committed to maintaining the safest and healthiest fleet in the industry. We are fortunate to have a fleet of small, Norwegian-registered ocean ships with only 930 guests and Switzerland-registered river ships with only 190 guests. We believe that our smaller ships which feature spacious public areas and staterooms, provide a much safer environment than mega liners. We have always had the highest standards for health and cleanliness and we are currently finalising additional protocols to make Viking safer, in cooperation with leading international experts,” he said.

Viking will continue to expand its fleet with two new ships, Viking Venus and river vessel, Viking Saigon launching next year. The line’s expedition ships, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris exploring the Antarctica and Arctic will debut in 2022. Another ocean ship, Viking Mars and its first ship on an American river, Viking Mississippi will also launch in 2022.

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