Viking has set out its most stringent health checks yet, including setting up its own PCR testing labs, new air filtration and more.
The PCR test, which involves an easy non-invasive saliva sample, will be processed in a Viking dedicated laboratory – on board for ocean vessels and onshore for river ships – which will have the results available within four hours.
Viking chairman Torstein Hagen yesterday: “We believe a robust and adaptable testing program is key in preventing the virus from entering a ship and mitigating community spread among guests and crew. Quick and easy non-invasive PCR tests, via simple saliva sample, will be conducted daily throughout your itinerary, in the privacy of your stateroom.”
Viking will also introduce new air purification technology across its fleet of ocean and river ships to ensure that passengers will have fresh air in their stateroom, which will have independent air handling units that do not share air with other areas of the ship.
Viking has extended the suspension of both its ocean and river cruises until March 31 next year. It was the first line to suspend its operations in March at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is also the first line to install a full-scale PCR laboratory at sea with each of its ocean ships equipped with a PCR laboratory to carry out daily tests of all guests and crew if necessary.
Viking will have a strong network of dedicated shoreside labs with the same high-quality testing available for its river ships.
The line will introduce daily deep cleanings of all surfaces on its ocean ships using sanitisation robots that utilise UV-C light to treat surfaces in guest and crew public areas.
This is an “industry first,” Viking said.
Passengers can also expect to have more spacious, al fresco dining with spaced seating and self-serve dining will be replaced with table service.
Shore excursions numbers will be limited with passengers provided with audio headsets to allow for social distancing. All excursions coaches will be fully sanitised with spaced seating.
When moving about the ship, guests must social distance and may have to use face masks.
Here is the comprehensive list of Viking’s new health and sanitisation protocols:
- All guests must complete a health questionnaire prior to travel
- Viking Air will work with airline partners to ensure strict health and safety protocols so that they have the safest possible journey.
- Guests who arrange their flights with Viking Air will receive complimentary airport transfers and enjoy smaller group transfers to and from your ship on sanitized motor coaches that have been set up with physical spacing between occupied seats.
- To avoid a congested embarkation, guests will be assigned boarding times based on their flight arrivals. Upon arrival at your ship, check-in counters will be spread out to ensure proper distancing and sanitized between every guest; a touch-free online check-in option will also be available. In cooperation with local partners, all cruise port terminals will be sanitized prior to guest arrivals.
- As part of your check-in process, you will receive a temperature check via a touchless thermometer and complete a Health Questionnaire. Developed by scientific and medical advisors, Viking’s new Health Questionnaire verifies your wellness for travel prior to boarding your ship.
- You will receive a quick and easy non-invasive PCR test as part of the embarkation process—conducted via simple saliva sample in a plastic tube and processed in a full-scale Viking-dedicated laboratory Depending on local regulations and your travel itinerary, you will be asked to wait for your test result (an estimated maximum of four hours) in your pre-cruise hotel or in a designated waiting area.
- Enjoy fresh air in your stateroom, knowing that all staterooms on Viking ocean and river ships feature independent air handling units that do not share air with other areas of the ship. Also take comfort in knowing that the air in the public areas of your ship has also been purified with new short-wavelength ultraviolet (UV-C) lights and high-density filters, which kill 99.99% of all airborne viruses and bacteria
- Each ocean vessel will be equipped with a PCR laboratory, providing Viking with the capability to test all guests and crew every day if necessary. A strong network of Viking-dedicated shoreside labs will bring the same high-quality, high-accuracy molecular testing regimen to our river ships.
- Each of our ocean vessels has always had a state-of-the-art Medical Center; those facilities have now been upgraded with more specialised equipment. We have also launched a new 24/7 hotline staffed by doctors, specifically for our river cruises.
- Regular health monitoring will verify the complete wellness of all guests and crew during your sailing. Short Health Questionnaires will be completed daily, and temperature checks will be conducted effortlessly with automated thermal cameras.
- Surfaces on your ship will be cleaned and sanitised continuously with daily scheduled deep cleanings. You will notice more hand sanitisation stations throughout your ship. And on our ocean ships, we are using new sanitisation robots that utilise UV-C light to treat surfaces in guest and crew public areas—an industry first.
- More options for spaced seating in all dining venues will allow for physical distancing; self-serve dining stations will be replaced with staff service; there will be additional table service at all bars and lounges; and new capabilities will allow you to watch more live events and enriching content through your in-room entertainment system.
- Public health experts agree that proper physical distancing and the use of face masks are effective in helping slow the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses. Similar to many local guidelines currently in place, physical distancing measures are in place in public areas on board, and face masks may be required for all guests and crew while moving about Viking ships, depending on conditions at time of sailing. Face masks will not be required for guests when seated in dining venues, bars and lounges.
- On ocean cruises, The Spa will remain open to all guests by appointment only to ensure proper distancing and all spa staff will wear face masks during treatments. The Fitness Center will also remain open with its own dedicated sanitisation staff to ensure all equipment and surfaces are cleaned in between each guest use.
- We have redesigned our land program to monitor destinations for the prevalence of COVID-19 and further limit group sizes. To minimise potential risk, only Viking shore excursions will be offered while in port. Each shore excursion will utilise audio headsets to allow for physical distancing among your group, and all excursion motor coaches will be fully sanitised with spaced seating. As you head ashore, complimentary face masks will be provided for excursions where proper physical distancing may not be possible, or if required by local guidelines.
- Upon your return to the ship from your shore excursion, proceed back on board as you always have. Your temperature will be checked quickly and seamlessly using automated thermal cameras when you re-embark the ship.
Here Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen here: https://www.vikingcruises.com.au/oceans/my-trip/health-and-safety/health-and-safety-program.html