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Viking Cruises not sailing to Panama City anytime soon

Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 8:40 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Viking Cruises is unsure when they’ll resume sailing out of U.S. ports, including plans for Panama City to become a port of call.

You may remember Viking Cruise line had planned a trial period for the Panama City stop during the first quarter of this year. This stop would be a part of the “Gulf Coast Getaway” itinerary.

“Bringing a boutique cruise line like Viking to our area will allow a lot of new tourism traffic,” Panama City Commissioner Josh Street said.

A lot of traffic that won’t be seen, at least for now, in St. Andrews Bay where Street said Viking was supposed to anchor.

“The pandemic has created dramatic uncertainties throughout the cruise industry,” Port Authority Director Alex King said.

King said these uncertainties caused Viking to put the brakes on the plans for now.

“There’s not a timeline to restart,” said King.

This comes after the CDC lowered its travel warning for cruise ships from very high to high, Thursday. The CDC said the chance of getting COVID is still high on a cruise ship because the virus spreads easier in close quarters.

While we won’t be seeing any cruise ships in St. Andrews Bay anytime soon, both are optimistic tourism in our area will be just fine until the plans resume.

“I do still feel that we have a lot of positive momentum on all fronts here in Panama City, Panama City Beach, and Bay County and I do believe in a brighter future in all aspects for our region,” said King.

A brighter future, that will cruise into our community when the time is right again.

“I think our Port Director, Mr. King, as well as Port Authority, they’re ready to receive them whenever they’re ready to come,” said Street.

When they’re ready to come, both said the city will welcome them with open arms and open waters.

Once anchored in St. Andrews Bay, King said they would ferry passengers to Grand Lagoon, St. Andrews Marina, and Downtown Panama City. The Viking Cruise along the Gulf Coast was to be a seven-day trip departing from Tampa, carrying 930 passengers and 465 crew members.

King said Viking officials don’t know when they’ll proceed again with plans to set sail.

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