Next year, a cruise ship belonging to Viking Cruises called the Viking Star is scheduled to start a 136-day round trip, the cruise ship will be equipped with a Covid-19 testing laboratory.
“We have been working on this for a number of months, and today is important as it moves us one step closer to operating cruises again, without compromising the safety of our guests and crew,” Matt Grimes, Vice President of Maritime Operations for Viking, said in a statement Monday.
The laboratory will be able to perform daily non-invasive Covid-19 saliva tests for every crew member and every passenger on board a 930-passenger vessel. The existence of this facility allows flexibility for various levels of transmission around the world.
Viking Star is scheduled to depart in December 2021 for an epic 136-day voyage around the world, stopping at 56 different ports and 27 different countries. To ensure safety while guests spend half the year boarding and disembarking ships around the world, the new PCR lab will conduct regular Covid-19 tests while passengers are on board.
The facility will be the first full-scale PCR laboratory in the ocean, according to Viking .
Viking will demonstrate all the features of the PCR laboratory, as well as the new design and operating procedures for the ship, when it lands in Oslo, Norway later this month.
This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifted the Sailing Ban Order for cruises in United States (US) waters. CDC rules for sailing have been laid down in stages and will require cruise ships to meet testing and cleanliness standards.
“The recently announced CDC guidelines clearly align with our public health research, and we welcome that push toward testing, as we believe this is the only way to operate safely,” Grimes said in a statement.
“In our view, continuous PCR testing, together with our extensive onboard hygiene protocol, will make the Viking ship a safe place to go and explore the world,” he added.
Although the CDC will allow cruises to return to US waters this year, many major cruise lines have canceled their voyages until 2021.