Viking Line is to operate the ropax ‘Gabriella’ on cruises from Helsinki to the Åland Islands (Mariehamn) three days a week beginning 1st July.
The line has daily services to Åland using six vessels. The range of routes available is now being expanded by offering Finnish residents a safe travel option.
“Our company has its roots in Åland, and the genuine love of the sea and nature that the company’s founders grew up with still shapes operations today. People are always surrounded by the Baltic Sea here. We are pleased to welcome our Finnish passengers to our own summer paradise,” said Jan Hanses, Viking Line President and CEO.
The shipping industry has agreed on a number of common safety procedures to enable safe travel. They have been presented to authorities in the different countries, and the procedures have been adapted based on the shipping companies’ own safety systems, vessels, terminals and current travel routes.
The following measures have been taken:
- Accepting almost half as many passengers per departure as normal. As a result, social distancing between all passengers can be maintained.
- Limit and control passenger flows in the terminals and during boarding and disembarking of the vessels.
- Expanded and intensified cleaning procedures and provide hand sanitisers to all passengers.
- Provide regular reminders about maintaining social distancing and about the importance of washing hands often and in the correct way.
- Limit the number of guests in restaurants and shops. Guests can also buy take aways or order room service in their cabins.
- Selection of activities on board will be adapted to the present situation. Programmes are offered for both adults and children, but the ball pit will not be in operation for hygiene reasons. Spa treatments will be offered, but sauna facilities are closed.
- Check-in counters, information desks and cash stations will be equipped with plexiglass screens.
- Payment by card is recommended, to reduce the handling of cash.
‘Mariella’ and ‘Cinderella’ are to return to service on 2nd July. ‘Mariella’ will sail the Helsinki/Tallinn route until 9th August, while ‘Cinderella’ will return to the Stockholm/Mariehamn route, as well as operating special cruises from Stockholm to Visby.
With these vessels return to service, all of Viking Line’s vessels will be operating on passenger services.
In addition, Viking Line has became the world’s first shipping company to be verified by class society DNV GL in accordance with its ‘My Care’ methodology (see Genting Cruise Line Interview).
This verification, which covers all seven Viking Line vessels and operations in six terminals, affirms the company’s capability to manage and prevent infection risks, including Covid-19.
With DNV GL’s My Care verification, Viking Line’s infection risk prevention work during the pandemic is quality-assured and inspected by a third party.
“The safety of our passengers and employees is always Viking Line’s top priority, and that is also the case during this pandemic. Everyone must be able to travel safely with us. We have long carried out infection risk preventive work and have now chosen to be assessed by a third party to quality-assure our work in conjunction with Covid-19. Our employees’ considerable efforts are impressive. We have achieved this thanks to their skills and engagement,” Hanses said.
Viking Line’s ability to operate in the Baltic Sea is determined by decisions made by the authorities in Sweden, Finland and Estonia. A key component of the company’s safety work is health directives and infectious disease control manuals that are continuously used and updated. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this work has now been intensified and expanded.
These measures begin in the terminals before boarding and end with passengers disembarking. Land-based employees and the vessels’ crews are kept informed on a continuous basis about guidelines in effect and what working methods and protective equipment are to be used for a given period.
“We would like to congratulate Viking Line on its My Care verification. The application of My Care creates trust since the focus is to prevent infectious diseases. It also demonstrates Viking Line’s strong engagement in further developing its HSE (Health, Security & Environment) processes. A third-party assessment provides assurance that the right measures have been taken to protect people, work transparently and increase the trust of passengers and other stakeholders,” said Luca Crisciotti, DNV GL- Business Assurance CEO.