Viking unveiled new details about its upcoming “Welcome Back” voyages in the Mediterranean that launch in July 2021. Over the course of summer and early fall, Viking will homeport three sister ships—Viking Star, Viking Sea and the company’s newest ship Viking Venus—for three different 11-day itineraries that explore the Mediterranean, round-trip from the Maltese capital city of Valletta, a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site. Viking also said it has partnered with Lufthansa to offer non-stop flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to Malta exclusively for Viking guests.
Viking’s announcement comes as the Maltese government has eased rules for the arrival of international travelers, including Americans. Like many countries, Malta has developed a traffic light system for arriving travelers. Beginning June 17, Malta has added most U.S. states and territories—covering the vast majority of the population—to its “Amber List.” Travelers from the Amber List must arrive in Malta with proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test having been conducted at least 72 hours prior to arrival.
Full details of Malta’s Traffic Light System for travelers can be found on Visit Malta’s website here. On June 16, the European Union recommended that its member countries begin lifting restrictions on American travelers, with a formal announcement expected today. Additionally, on June 7, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it has eased travel recommendations for 110 countries and territories. As part of the new recommendations, the CDC specifically ranked Malta as “Level 1” or the lowest for risk of COVID-19.
“Now that we have successfully restarted operations, welcoming guests back on board in England and in Bermuda, we look forward to launching our new voyages from Malta,” said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking. “We applaud the government of Malta for being such a supportive destination partner and for making the arrival and embarkation process even easier for our guests. With its rich history and stunning natural beauty, Malta is truly a gem in the Mediterranean that many American travelers have yet to discover. With our new Welcome Back voyages, combined with Lufthansa flights from Newark exclusively for Viking guests, there has never been a better opportunity to explore the Mediterranean from Malta.”
Viking successfully restarted operations in May and has been sailing in England with British guests since May 22. Nearly 100 percent of guests on these sailings have rated their experience as “excellent” or “very good.” On June 16, the company welcomed its first American guests back on board in Bermuda for the first of eight sailings of Bermuda Escape. Later this month, Viking will launch Welcome Back sailings around Iceland. With space selling fast, there are limited dates still available in summer and early fall 2021 for Viking’s Welcome Back voyages in the Mediterranean, which include:
Malta & Adriatic Jewels: This 11-day cruise sails round-trip Valletta to Valletta, visiting Croatia, Montenegro & Malta. Discover Malta’s millennia of history and visit ancient UNESCO sites. Explore Croatia’s captivating coastline and some of the great iconic cities of antiquity. Stroll the majestic city walls of Dubrovnik and visit Diocletian’s Palace in Split. Or immerse yourself in nature and the great outdoors during a visit to Krka National Park. There are multiple sailing dates July through October 2021.
Malta & the Western Mediterranean: This 11-day cruise sails round-trip Valletta to Valletta, visiting Italy, Spain & Malta. Guests traverse the historic and heritage-rich waters of the Western Mediterranean during a 10-night roundtrip voyage from Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They can discover the Amalfi Coast from Naples, the gateway to Pompeii, and visit Messina, Sicily’s cultural crossroad. See the storied sites of ancient Rome and immerse in Tuscan Florence and Catalonian Barcelona’s art and architecture during an unforgettable journey. There are multiple sailing dates in September and October 2021.
Malta & Greek Isles Discovery: This 11-day cruise sails round-trip Valletta to Valletta, visiting Greece & Malta. Guests are immersed in the ancient world as they discover the early empires of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. They visit historic UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Maltese capital of Valletta and Rhodes’ Palace of the Grand Masters. Enjoy dramatic views of the Parthenon in Athens, uncover the mysteries of the Minoans on Crete, and admire the white facades and azure domes of the clifftop villages of Santorini during this enchanting voyage through the centuries. There are multiple sailing dates from July through September 2021.
Those guests who sail Welcome Back voyages can also experience Viking’s health and safety program. Grounded in scientific research, the Viking Health & Safety Program was developed in partnership with an international team of medical advisors, including Raquel Bono, M.D., Viking’s chief health officer. Dr. Bono is a board-certified trauma surgeon and retired Vice-Admiral of the United States Navy Medical Corps—and most recently led Washington State’s medical and healthcare systems response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using a full-scale laboratory installed on every Viking ocean ship—and a strong network of dedicated shoreside labs for Viking river ships in Europe—all guests and crew will receive frequent quick and easy non-invasive saliva PCR tests. New air purification technology has also been installed on all Viking ships, which have always featured independent air handling units for all guest staterooms. Additional health checks, sanitization, and physical distancing measures will provide further protection for Viking guests and crew at all points of the journey. A complete overview of the Viking Health & Safety Program can be found at www.viking.com/health-safety.
By James Shillinglaw