Here’s How Viking’s Onboard PCR Labs Work

Viking PCR Lab

Viking was the first cruise line to have full-scale PCR labs onboard its ocean and expedition ships, according to a press release. All guests and crew are being tested for coronavirus daily, and the company’s medical team is able to get the results quickly.

According to the press release, each PCR lab contains chemicals and equipment needed to conduct test analysis. The PCR testing solution is based on scientific research and implemented with sensor technology from a Norwegian technology company, Raa Labs.

Raa Labs – which is part of the Wilhelmsen Group – gathers all data from wireless sensors onboard through its digital system called RaaEdge and makes it available for real-time monitoring onboard and onshore.

The onboard and onshore personnel have dashboards showing temperatures and humidity, including a live view of the condition of refrigerators and freezers.

Viking PCR Lab

“The cost of chemicals in each lab amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Our technology keeps track of all refrigerators on all six vessels where there are labs. Our technology gives the crew all the real-time info and overview they need to ensure chemicals are kept at the right temperatures and correct humidity,” the CEO of Raa Labs, Ari Marjamaa, said.

“This puts reliable data at the heart of passenger safety onboard Viking vessels,” he added.

According to the press release, Raa Labs set up a 24/7 monitoring solution providing the crew on each vessel with dashboards to keep track. The crew will be alerted if, for example, a refrigerator starts to lose its cooling ability or the temperature is outside the required levels. If a refrigerator or freezer breaks down, the chemicals will not work as expected, and the tests they perform will not be reliable.

The Viking Health & Safety Program was developed in partnership with an international team of medical advisors, including Viking’s Chief Health Officer, Raquel C. Bono.

Bono is a board-certified trauma surgeon and retired Vice Admiral of the United States Navy Medical Corps. He most recently led Washington State’s medical and healthcare systems response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Viking, safeguarding passengers is “paramount and a necessity to be operating under the constant threat of the pandemic,” according to the press release. The wireless sensors and the RaaEdge setup provide a “cost-efficient way of ensuring transparency, compliance and mitigating actions if required.”

Raa Labs sensor 2

“Without onboard PCR laboratories, there is no way to screen the samples and determine the results while on the move at sea,” wrote Raa Labs.

Moreover, the vessel steel is thick and challenging to pass through for most wireless signals, Raa Labs said. According to the company, its infrastructure makes it possible to retrieve signals from around the vessel “despite physical challenges,” and organize everything in the cloud, giving Viking access to information regarding what is happening on its assets in real time.

Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen said that the cruise line’s guests have been saying that onboard is “the safest they’ve felt during the pandemic.”

“There are two things from our health and safety program that stand out to most guests. The first is that a Viking ship is a fully vaccinated environment: all guests and crew are vaccinated. The second is that we conduct daily non-invasive saliva-based PCR testing on all guests and crew. Our guests are relaxed and comfortable because of our enhanced protocols, and we're seeing many return home eager to plan their next trip. In fact, many booked back-to-back itineraries while onboard to extend their time away from home,” Hagen said.

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