Viking has extended the suspension of its ocean and river cruises until 1 February 2021.

The line has also cancelled some sailings further into 2021 because of “regional complexities.”

Viking was the first cruise line to temporarily suspend its ocean and river cruises in March at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As our chairman (Torstein Hagen) has said before, we will only sail again when it is safe for our guests, our crew and the communities we visit. It is in that spirit that we are extending our temporary fleetwide suspension of scheduled departures through January 31 2021. We are also cancelling additional sailings further into 2021 because of regional complexities,” said Michelle Black, managing director Viking Cruises in a letter to customers in Australia and New Zealand.

The line is seeing strong demand for its 136-day world cruise 2021-22 on Viking Star, selling out in record time.  Ms Black also said that there has been an increase in bookings for 2022 and 2023 itineraries across Viking’s ocean, river and expedition cruises.

She also noted a move among customers to book longer itineraries.

Viking has a fleet of small ocean ships which can accommodate only 930 guests and river ships which cater for only 190 passengers.

Viking is the first line to install a full-scale polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing laboratory on board Viking Star, capable of testing every crew member and guest. It is now in the process of installing the PCR testing laboratories to its remaining ocean fleet.

Regarding its river ships, Viking said it has a strong network of shoreside laboratories it can utilise.

Passengers who are booked on cancelled cruises will be offered a 125 per cent Future Cruise Voucher. This includes 100 per cent of monies paid to Viking plus an additional 25 per cent in value. The FCV is fully transferable and valid for 24 months.

However, if you rebook your cruise before November 30 this year, you will be entitled to Viking Rick-Free Guarantee where you can change your plans up to 24 hours prior to departure.

In 2022, the line will debut its expedition ships, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, as well as its river US ship, Viking Mississippi.