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Cruise line Viking suspends operations worldwide due to coronavirus

March 12, 2020
4 min read
Cruise line Viking suspends operations worldwide due to coronavirus
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Cruise giant Viking is suspending operations around the world, effective immediately.

Citing the growing spread of the new coronavirus, the line late Wednesday said its entire fleet of more than 70 river ships and six ocean ships would stop operating as current sailings come to an end.

All sailings scheduled to start tomorrow through April 30 have been canceled.

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"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," the company's chairman and founder, Torstein Hagen, said in a letter sent to passengers booked on upcoming sailings.

Hagen said the company would resume operations on May 1.

"Since we started Viking nearly 23 years ago, we have always cared first and foremost about our guests and our employees," Hagen said. "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."

Viking carries about 500,000 travelers a year on its vessels and has 10,000 employees.

Viking is the first cruise line to suspend operations during the outbreak of the new coronavirus, known as COVID-19. The line's announcement came just two hours after President Donald Trump announced restrictions on travel between the U.S. and Europe, where Viking operates many of its vessels.

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Related: The extreme measures cruise lines are taking as coronavirus spreads

President Trump's announcement could have implications for the near-term future of European cruising. But even before the president's announcement, the ability of lines to continue on with cruises in Europe was becoming more difficult.

"I am sure you recognize that COVID-19 has made travel exceedingly complicated," Hagen said in his letter to customers. "An increasing number of ports, including Venice, Monte Carlo and Bergen, have temporarily closed to cruise ships; major attractions such as the Vatican and other museums have been closed; and some countries are imposing restrictions on public gatherings and visitors."

Related: As coronavirus spreads, more ports turns away cruise ships

Hagen also noted Viking in recent days was facing a situation where a river cruise customer on a Southeast Asia sailing was exposed to COVID-19 while in transit on an international airline. While the passenger is not exhibiting symptoms, she and 28 other passengers on the vessel had to be placed in a quarantine.

The experience contributed to the line's decision to suspend operations, he suggested.

"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 known," Hagen said.

Visit TPG’s guide to all coronavirus news and updates

Passengers on canceled sailings can choose between a full refund or a credit voucher good toward a future cruise. The credit voucher will be valued at 125% of the amount passengers paid for the canceled sailing and be good for 24 months.

The credit can be used on any Viking river, ocean or expedition cruise.

For additional flexibility, Viking said passengers who are unable to use the credit voucher will automatically get a full refund equal to the original amount paid to Viking after the voucher expires. The vouchers also will be fully transferable.

Hagen added, "We will stand by our guests, employees and partners in these challenging times and hope that they in turn will stand by us."

Additional resources for traveling during the coronavirus outbreak:

Featured image by TNS via Getty Images

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more