Viking has confirmed a launch date of January 2022 for the first ship of its new expedition division, with voyages planned for Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes. Viking Octantis will embark on explorations in the US states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada, ahead of the second ship, Viking Polaris, which will offer voyages to Antarctica and the Arctic from August 2022.
Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking, said that with the creation of ‘the thinking person’s expedition,’ the cruise company is perfecting polar expedition cruising.
“[Viking Expeditions] will usher in a new era of comfortable exploration in the heart of North America,” Hagen, said.
“Our guests are curious explorers. They want to continue travelling with us to familiar and iconic destinations, but they would also like to travel further. We began as Viking River Cruises; then we evolved into Viking Cruises with the addition of ocean cruises; today we stand singularly as Viking, offering destination-focused voyages on more than 20 rivers and five oceans, visiting 403 ports in 95 countries and on all seven continents.”
Viking has partnered with the University of Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute, which will see the institute’s scientists undertake fieldwork on board Viking expedition vessels and join voyages to share their expertise with guests.
Viking has also partnered with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a globally recognised bird research facility, whose ornithologists will regularly be on board the expedition ships, providing guest advice and interaction.
Additionally, Viking has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), whose scientists will join expeditions in the Great Lakes to conduct research focused on changes in the region’s weather, climate and ecosystems.
About Viking Expedition Ships
The new Polar Class 6 Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will host 378 guests in 189 staterooms; both ships are currently under construction and will be delivered in Norway by Fincantieri’s VARD. The ships are optimally sized and built for expeditions – small enough to navigate remote polar regions and the St. Lawrence River, while large enough to provide superior handling and stability in the roughest seas.
Straight bows, longer hulls and state-of-the-art fin stabilisers will allow the ships to glide over the waves for the calmest possible journey; ice-strengthened Polar Class 6 hulls will provide the safest way to explore and U-tank stabilisers will decrease rolling by up to 50% when the ships are stationary.
The ships will feature public spaces that are familiar to Viking’s ocean cruise guests but that have been reimagined, as well as new public spaces created specifically for expeditions. Modern Scandinavian design will feature throughout, with elegant touches, intimate spaces and attention to detail, including panoramic views from any location on the ship.
The Hangar: An industry first, The Hangar is an enclosed, in-ship marina allows the launch of small excursion craft through the ship’s multiple shell doors, providing easy, comfortable and safe access to the water. The Hangar’s most innovative feature is an 26 metre slipway that allows guests to embark on RIBs from a flat, stable surface inside the ship, shielded from wind and waves. Once onboard, the RIB glides into the water.
Expedition Equipment: Viking will offer a variety of ways for guests to experience their destination, according to their interests and activity level, at no extra charge. With a robust program of complimentary experiences, expedition equipment available for guests on Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will include two six-guest U-Boat Worx submarines that feature revolving seats and 270-degree spherical windows for an incomparable undersea experience; a fleet of military pro zodiacs designed for professional use in the harshest of environments; a fleet of two-seater Arctic-tested kayaks and two 12-seater convertible RIBs. A Viking Expedition Kit will contain items like boots, binoculars and waterproof pants; each excursion will carry a full range of safety equipment, such as satellite phones, VHF radios, ropes, life jackets and a comprehensive shore survival kit; and all guests will receive complimentary use of Viking Excursion Gear, which includes specialty items like trekking poles, snowshoes and skis.
The Laboratory: While hosting guests, the ships will also function as working research vessels with an onboard team of Viking Resident Scientists working on a variety of studies. Developed in consultation with Cambridge University and Viking’s other academic partners, The Laboratory is designed to support a broad range of research activities and is equipped with wet and dry laboratory facilities, a sample processing area, fume cupboard, freezer and cool storage, comprehensive microscope optics and extensive bench space for analysis-specific instruments. Here guests will be able to participate with scientists undertaking primary research, an experience unique to Viking.
The Aula & Finse Terrace: Viking has created the world’s most advanced venue for learning at sea with The Aula, a stunning panoramic auditorium at the stern. Inspired by the University of Oslo’s famed ceremonial hall where the Nobel Peace Prize was historically awarded, The Aula will offer a dynamic venue for lectures and entertainment, with floor-to-ceiling windows and 270-degree views.
Adjacent to The Aula through sliding glass walls is the Finse Terrace, an outdoor lounge area with comfortable couches and warming lava rock “firepits” – offering panoramic views of the surroundings. Together the two spaces can be combined to create an unmatched indoor-outdoor alfresco experience for guests to be immersed in nature.
Nordic Balcony: A first for polar expedition cruise vessels, all staterooms on board Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris feature a Nordic Balcony, a sunroom that converts into an alfresco viewing platform. The Nordic Balcony’s floor-to-ceiling glass at the very edge of the ship lets guests take the views in, with no veranda impeding on views and no intrusion to living space, while keeping the elements out. Should guests wish to feel even closer to nature, the top of the panoramic glass lowers to transform the stateroom into a sheltered lookout.
Guests can choose from six stateroom categories that range from 67.6 square metres to 373 square metres: Nordic Balcony, Deluxe Nordic Balcony, Nordic Penthouse, Nordic Junior Suite, Explorer Suite and Owner’s Suite.
All staterooms feature a Nordic Balcony, as well as a king-size bed and large bathroom with spacious glass-enclosed shower, heated bathroom floor and anti-fog mirror. Every stateroom is also equipped with a unique floor-to-ceiling drying closet that circulates warm air to dry and store clothing and expedition gear.
Expedition Ship Suites: Nordic Junior Suites and Explorer Suites on Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris rival those on Viking’s fleet of ocean ships, with abundant wood detailing and amenities that include additional storage and seating, an expanded bathroom with extended shower and double sinks, welcome champagne, a fully stocked mini-bar replenished daily, complimentary laundry and shoeshine services, priority restaurant reservations and more.
Explorer Suites feature two separate rooms, a Nordic Balcony and a full outdoor veranda. Additionally, each ship features one Owner’s Suite, which is twice the size of the Explorer Suites. With the most exclusive accommodations and amenities on board, it features two separate rooms – a living room with six-seat dining table and a bedroom – as well as a 241-square-metre private garden with a traditional Norwegian badestamp (wood-sided hot tub) and outdoor dining table.
Aquavit Terrace & Pools: Located at the stern and featuring a retractable glass dome, this indoor-outdoor heated sanctuary will allow guests to be surrounded by their destination as they swim and lounge in three different temperature-controlled pools, including an ‘inside-out’ swimming experience.
The Nordic Spa & Fitness Center: The Nordic Spa on board is designed with the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind – with a thermal suite that features a Sauna, Snow Grotto and chaise lounges, as well as a warm hydrotherapy pool and badestamp (hot tub), surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows. A state-of-the-art Fitness Center will also provide the latest equipment and workout gear.
Dining Choices: The Restaurant will offer fine dining featuring regional cuisine and always-available classics; the casual World Café will be a new “market” concept that offers live cooking, an open kitchen, bakery, grill and premium seafood and sushi choices, as well as a wide range of international flavours; Mamsen’s (pictured), named for “Mamsen,” the Hagen family matriarch, serves Scandinavian-inspired fare; Manfredi’s offers the best of Italian cuisine; and 24-hour room service will be complimentary for all guests.
Hagen announced that famed adventurers and educators Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft will be honoured as ceremonial godmothers to Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, respectively. Arnesen, a native Norwegian, became the first woman to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole in 1994. Bancroft is the first woman to successfully finish a number of arduous expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. Arnesen and Bancroft also became the first women to ski across Antarctica in 2001.
2022-2023 Viking Expedition Inaugural Voyages
Antarctic Explorer (13 days; Buenos Aires to Ushuaia)
Multiple sailing dates in January, February, November and December 2022; January and February 2023. Inaugural pricing starts at AU$20,995 per person, twin share (ppts).
Antarctic & South America Discovery (19 days; Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro)
Multiple sailing dates in March, October and November 2022. Inaugural pricing starts at AU$27,995 ppts.
Arctic Adventure (13 days; Roundtrip Tromsø)
Multiple sailing dates in August and September 2022. Inaugural pricing starts at AU$18,495 ppts.
From the Arctic to the Antarctic (44 days; Tromsø to Ushuaia)
Sailing date: 21 September 2022. Inaugural pricing starts at AU$47,995 ppts.
Undiscovered Great Lakes (8 days; Thunder Bay, Ontario to Milwaukee)
Multiple sailing dates between May and September 2022. Inaugural pricing starts at AU$9,395 ppts.
Great Lakes Explorer (8 days; Milwaukee to Thunder Bay, Ontario)
Multiple sailing dates between May and September 2022. Inaugural pricing starts at AU$9,095 ppts.
Niagara & The Great Lakes (8 days; Toronto to Milwaukee)
Multiple sailing dates in April, May, June, July and September 2022. Inaugural pricing starts at AU$8,395 ppts.
Canadian Discovery (13 days; New York to Toronto)
Sailing dates in April and October 2022. Inaugural pricing starts at AU$12,495 ppts.
Book before 31 March 2020 and save up to $2,000 per couple with Viking’s Inaugural Offer on 2022 & 2023 Viking Expedition itineraries. Conditions apply.
More at vikingcruises.com.au/expeditions