(11:30 a.m. EDT) -- Viking Cruises has added Malta as an international homeport for its summer "Welcome Back" voyages and also increased the number of sailings from Iceland and Bermuda.
All cruises will require passengers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The Malta cruises will homeport in Valletta and sail two different 11-day itineraries in the Mediterranean on Viking Sea and the line's newest ship, Viking Venus. The sailings will take place between July and early October 2021.
One itinerary will sail to Montenegro and Croatia, stopping in Kotor, Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Sibenik and Gozo in the Maltese archipelago. The second one will visit Kalamata, Athens, Santorini, Rhodes and Souda Bay in Greece, before returning to Valletta.
"We thank the government of Malta for its support and enthusiasm as we continue restarting operations," Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen said in a news release. "Malta is a fantastic destination, with ancient history, rich culture and a central location in the Mediterranean. We began calling in Malta in 2016 and look forward to welcoming guests back to some of the most historically significant and naturally beautiful areas of the Med."
In its release, Viking cited strong demand as the reason for adding more Iceland and Bermuda sailings -- and said more international Welcome Back voyages could be announced soon. The line is restarting after the COVID-19 pause this month with a series of round-U.K. voyages.
"The company is actively working on developing additional Welcome Back itineraries in a variety of other destinations, with the goal of announcing further 2021 sailings as soon as government approvals are given," according to the release.
In addition to the COVID-19 vaccination requirement, passengers onboard Viking will be asked to take a non-invasive PCR saliva test daily, with results read in the ships' new onboard laboratory. Additional health and safety protocols, such as social distancing and masks in public places might be required. The line has installed new air purification technology on its ships as well.