After announcing a May restart as well as its first three ocean sailings for UK travellers earlier this week, cruise line Viking says it has seen an “overwhelming response” from potential guests.
“Due to the overwhelming response we received from guests who pre-registered as soon as we made the announcement, we have started taking bookings from past passengers earlier than planned,” a Viking spokesperson tells Yahoo UK.
“We have also received a significant number of enquiries from travellers who are new to Viking and are keen to join the UK sailings. Reservations will be available to all UK residents in due course.”
With self-catered stays set to resume in England from 12 April and international travel slated to return from 17 May, Viking has announced three sailings along the coast of England with departures on 22 May, 29 May and 5 June.
Guests on these eight-day voyages will be among the first to sail on Viking’s newest ocean ship, Viking Venus.
The aptly-named “England’s Scenic Shores” voyages will depart from Portsmouth and stop in at Liverpool, Tresco in the Isles of Scilly, Falmouth and Portland – the price for the voyage is yet to be announced.
All other previously scheduled Viking sailings through to 31 May this year remain cancelled.
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Cruise liners were hit hard when the pandemic spread in early 2020 and Viking were among the first to suspend operations.
Last November, Viking announced it had become the first cruise line to complete the installation of a full-scale polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing area at sea to help detect the spread of coronavirus.
This PCR testing area will be on all of the three planned voyages and has the capacity to test every crew member and guest daily for COVID-19.
As well as daily PCR tests, Viking has implemented new air purification technology on its ships and there will be additional health checks, sanitisation and social distancing measures in place too.
Viking chairman Torstein Hagen said in a statement: “We welcome the UK government’s support for the return of safe domestic cruises as an important component in the travel industry’s recovery. In recognition of this support, and to celebrate the fact we have a British godmother—the esteemed broadcaster and journalist Anne Diamond —we have chosen to name our new ship, Viking Venus, in the UK on May 17.
“We are in a position to restart operations quickly and to start sailing again in May because we have kept our ships crewed during warm lay-up throughout the past 12 months.
"We have been implementing our additional protocols, including daily quick and easy non-invasive saliva PCR tests for our crew, for almost six months now.
"With our new protocol enhancements in place, we feel strongly there will be no safer way to travel the world than on a Viking voyage and we look forward to welcoming UK guests back on board very soon.”
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