(4:30 p.m. EST) -- Viking Cruises announced Monday it has completed the installation of the world's first seagoing full-scale PCR laboratory at sea aboard Viking's 930-passenger Viking Star.
Viking's new onboard facility -- an industry first -- allows for COVID-19 PCR tests to be conducted for all crew members and passengers utilizing a non-invasive saliva test.
The shipboard lab on Viking Star has the capacity to offer daily testing for every crew member and passenger onboard, providing the flexibility to respond to COVID-19 prevalence and requirements around the world.
The facility, which was announced just days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlined sweeping guidelines for the cruise industry to adhere to in order to restart operations, will be demonstrated when Viking Star arrives in Oslo, Norway in mid-November.
"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, Vice President of Maritime Operations for Viking.
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"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," said Grimes. "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."
The move could put Viking one step closer to sailing when the time is right, and could pave the way for similar laboratories to be added to cruise ships going forward as a way of reducing burden on shoreside facilities, something that the CDC has been critical of since the pandemic shut down the cruise industry in March.
Viking has currently canceled all cruises until January 1, 2021.