They’re knot messing around.
Switzerland-based cruise line Viking has completed construction of the first-ever “full-scale” PCR testing laboratory on a cruise ship, designed to allow for daily COVID-19 testing of all passengers and crew members on the Viking Star.
“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,” said Matt Grimes, the vice president of maritime operations for Viking, in an announcement shared this week.
“The recently announced CDC guidelines are clearly aligned with our public health research, and we welcome the agency’s push toward testing, as we believe this is the only way to safely operate,” Grimes added. “In our view, continuous PCR testing, along with our extensive onboard hygiene protocols, will lead to making Viking ships a safe place to get away to and explore the world.”
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The Viking Star, meanwhile, is just one of several ocean-going vessels operated by Viking, in addition to dozens of smaller ships used for its river cruises.
The ship’s lab is said to be able to accommodate daily testing of all crew members and passengers on the 930-guest vessel. The diagnostic tests performed at the lab will be PCR tests, or polymerase chain reaction tests, that will detect the virus’ genetic material via saliva.
Viking is scheduled to preview the facilities in mid-November when the Star stops in Oslo, Norway.
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Viking, meanwhile, has suspended all of its operations – river and ocean-going cruises – through at least January 2021. The Viking Star’s next scheduled voyage is set to sail Jan. 9.
Viking’s announcement comes amid large-scale efforts from the cruise industry to enact health and safety measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down sailings in much of the world.
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On Tuesday, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which counts Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Lines and dozens of others as members, announced the further suspension of U.S. cruise operations through Dec. 31.
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The CLIA had previously announced new protocols for upcoming cruises at the beginning of October – notably, that all passengers and crew on vessels carrying 250 people or more would need to undergo COVID testing before boarding.