Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2022

7 4 of our guests and crew,” says AtkinSmith. “We were the first cruise line to suspend operations in March 2020 and we are the only cruise line to have installed full-scale PCR laboratories on our ocean and expedition ships.” Regular onboard testing and other health protocols continued to be overseen by the company’s chief health officer, Dr Raquel Bono. “The feedback from our guests has shown that our stringent health and safety measures don’t affect their overall experience – instead, they welcome it and we have received some of the highest ratings ever since we restarted operations in May 2021.” During the pandemic, when operations were suspended, the company focused on innovation. “In April 2020 we launched Viking.TV, a new digital platform offering daily live streams which are broadcast at the same time every day,” says AtkinSmith. “The aim was to keep everyone, including our guests and crew, connected and entertained during the various lockdowns we all experienced – as well as to help everyone explore the world from the comfort of their own homes. Even though we are back exploring the world now, Viking.TV is still going strong.” With so many newbuilds joining the fleet, it seems as though Viking is grasping the opportunity to lead from an environmental perspective. “The design of our ships is built to meet strict environmental standards,” says AtkinSmith. “Our Viking Longships are powered by true diesel-electric hybrid engines that meet stringent emission standards. Shore power is also used when available along the rivers. Additionally, the vessels feature onboard solar panels and organic herb gardens. “Our ocean ships have been designed with energy-efficient hull, propeller and rudder arrangements and engines with heat recovery systems. In addition, our ships are the first newbuilds in the world with a closed-loop exhaust cleaning system designed so that pollutants can be removed and disposed of safely.” Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris are amongst the first in the sector to have received a silent-e notation, which is the highest-level certification for quiet ship propulsion, minimising underwater noise pollution. AtkinSmith adds that the expedition vessels have set a new standard for responsible travel, thanks to their energy-efficient design that exceeds the Energy Efficiency Design Index requirements by nearly 36 per cent – more than any other expedition ship. CFR Viking’s new purpose-built expedition ship Viking Octantis sailed the brand’s first-ever voyage in Antarctica season in February 2022 INTERV IEW “ Viking now offers destination-focused voyages on more than 20 rivers, five oceans and five Great Lakes”