Update on July 16: Viking Sky was forced to cancel the last three port stops on the cruise. Viking received permission from Iceland Public Health to visit the ports but there was confusion and lack of communication between them and the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard ordered the ship to return to Reykjavik. The cruise ship is scheduled to arrive in Reykjavik today at approximately 4:30 pm local time, around 12 hours earlier than originally scheduled.
Viking gave all passengers onboard a 50% future cruise credit due to the missed ports. All other passengers and crew members have continued to test negative each day of the cruise. The ship has been cleared for passengers to disembark in the morning and tomorrow’s cruise will sail as scheduled.
Original Article: I am currently on Viking’s third sailing around Iceland since they resumed cruises in the region just a couple weeks ago. The cruise is one of the cruise line’s “Welcome Back to the World” sailings and will visit six ports around Iceland on the cruise.
Ever since the volcano in Iceland began erupting this past March, I’ve watched the livestream on YouTube every day wishing I could visit. When Viking reached out inviting me on this sailing on Viking Sky, I just had to say yes.
This is my second cruise since cruises opened back up to Americans just a month ago. Even though the ship is operating at around 80% occupancy, Viking is taking safety to another level with far more safety precautions than my previous cruise just a few weeks ago (on another cruise line).
Just today we learned that a passenger onboard Viking Sky tested positive for COVID-19. The passenger is asymptomatic and is currently in isolation. They will remain in isolation through the end of the cruise where they will disembark and stay in a hotel for quarantine.
All other passengers on the ship tested negative this morning.
We were unable to disembark at our port stop today (Seydisfjordur) but the cruise is expected to make the remaining port visits.
Here are the different ways that Viking is keeping guests safe on their ocean ships even when a passenger tests positive for COVID-19.
100% Vaccinated Cruises – All crew members have been vaccinated for COVID-19 as well as all guests. This is possible since Viking does not allow guests under the age of 18 to sail on their ships. Every single person on board is vaccinated.
Daily COVID-19 Tests – Testing! Testing! Testing! Every passenger was tested soon after boarding and are also testing every single morning. Testing is done through “spit tubes” so you don’t have to have a swab rammed up your nose every day. Each morning you simply spit in a tube and your room steward collects it so it can be tested in the lab on the ship.
It’s extremely simple and doesn’t take any time away from your cruise. Viking is the only cruise line to have a full scale PCR laboratory set up on their cruise ships. This allows them to test everyone on the ship every single day.
Since Viking is conducting daily testing, they expect to have positive cases from time to time. The protocols listed in this article are designed to stop a potential chain of transmission.
Daily Temperature Checks – At the entrance to the World Cafe, The Restaurant, and at guest services, there are tablets set up that take your temperature. You scan your key card, the tablet takes a photo of your face, and then displays your body temperature. They are asking all passengers to do this at least once a day.
UV Cleaning Robots – At night, UV cleaning robots clean the public areas of the ship.
Contact Tracing – All guests are required to carry with them a contact tracer. Don’t worry, this device does not track you around the ship. Here is what it does.
If you positive for COVID-19 during one of the daily tests, the ship can then see who you were in contact with so they can be quarantined and tested again. The goal is to keep an outbreak from spreading on the ship and this is a good way to isolate any potential infected passengers.
After the passenger on board tested positive on my cruise, contact tracing was activated and the ship was able to test everyone who was in close contact with them. (They all tested negative)
Masks Required – Masks are required anytime you aren’t in your room or when you’re not eating/drinking. Masks also don’t have to be worn while in the pools, hot tubs, fitness center, or in the spa.
All guests are also required to wear masks on shore excursions. Viking is taking a cautious approach to resuming cruises.
All crew members wear a mask at all times.
Social Distancing – Many loungers and chairs are closed to allow for social distancing. In addition, reservations are required to use the fitness center and the amazing complimentary thermal suite. This keeps these areas from getting crowded and to allow for proper social distancing (since masks are not used there).
No Self-Serve Buffet – The World Cafe, the buffet on board Viking Ocean ships, is open but the crew plates the food for you. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Daily Health Survey – Each day, all passengers complete a short health survey on the app. The questions ask if you have any flu symptoms, a fever etc.
These protocols allow Viking to operate at a higher capacity than other cruise lines. While some may feel like Viking is going a bit overboard with all of these health protocols, they are erroring on the side of caution.
These protocols from Viking are proving to work after the news of the positive case on our ship today. All other passengers have tested negative on each day of the cruise.
As I stated earlier, Viking expects to have a positive case here and there since they test everyone daily. These protocols are put in place to keep cases from spreading and so everyone else can keep on enjoying their cruise.
What is life like on board the ship now that we have had a COVID-19 case? While we are still docked in port (no one is allowed to get off), we are having a “day at sea”. Life around the ship is pretty much what you would expect on any other day.
The mood on board the ship is upbeat and everyone seems to be enjoying our day on the ship. Guests are playing UNO, reading books, enjoying time in the pools and hot tubs, and even catching a nap on this port extensive itinerary. Some are even out on the decks with umbrellas enjoying the incredible view of the fjord on this rainy day.
I will update this article if any more information becomes available for this cruise. We have two more port stops and as of right now, we are still planning on visiting them.
Viking is working with Iceland Public Health to keep guests safe on the ship as well as those in the communities that we visit.