To help travel agents reassure client concerns about the Coronavirus, TICO has issued a special Registrar Bulletin that includes relevant tips and information.
TORONTO — All Viking river and ocean cruises have been temporarily suspended until May 1, 2020 following news that a recent passenger was exposed to coronavirus.
The suspension applies to all embarkations taking place between March 12 to April 30, 2020; normal operations will resume on May 1.
Passengers whose cruises fall within this window will be offered the choice of a Future Cruise Voucher valued at 125% of all monies paid to Viking, or a refund equal to the amount paid.
Guests will have 24 months to use their voucher to make a new reservation on any river, ocean or expedition cruise. Those who opt for a refund are encouraged to contact Viking or their travel agent by March 25, 2020.
For additional flexibility, if they are unable to use their voucher, Viking will automatically send them a refund equal to the original amount paid to Viking after the voucher expires. These Future Cruise Vouchers will also be fully transferable.
When itinerary changes are required, guests and travel agents will be notified directly by Viking Customer Relations.
Noting how an increasing number of ports like Venice and Monte Carlo have temporarily closed to cruise ships, Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking River Cruises said that the decision was made due to an increasing number of risks in light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, which was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11.
“The situation has now become such that operating as a travel company involves significant risks of quarantines or medical detentions, which could diminish the travel experiences for which our guests have been planning,” he wrote in an official statement. “As a private company with strong finances, we do not have to worry about quarterly profit expectations, and that flexibility allows us the ability to do what is best for our guests and our employees, as we have always done.”
The female passenger, who was a recent river cruise guest in Southeast Asia, was exposed to the virus while in transit on an international airline. According to Hagen, while she is not exhibiting symptoms, she has been placed in quarantine. Separately, the remaining 28 guests will also be quarantined.
“Since we started Viking nearly 23 years ago, we have always cared first and foremost about our guests and our employees,” added Hagen. “I feel we have become one large Viking family of 500,000 guests each year and 10,000 employees. Since day one, it has been our mission to create experiences for our guests that focus on the destination and allow them to explore the world in comfort. This has always been Viking’s ambition and will remain so.”
Hagen added that the decision to suspend operations was not made lightly. “This is a decision we made with a heavy heart, but with present circumstances what they are, we are unable to deliver the high-quality Viking experience for which we are know.”
Once operations resume, Hagen is looking forward to new developments in the pipeline, including the launch of expedition journeys to the Arctic, Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes in early 2022, as well as the debut of new river voyages in the United States at the beginning of April 2020.
For more information on Viking’s updated policy, call 1-877-523-0579 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.