Viking Cruises has officially entered the expedition cruise market with the launch of its new Viking Expeditions programme and two new purpose-built ships, Viking Octanis and Viking Polaris, which will commence sailings in 2022.
Octanis will make her debut in January 2022, embarking on voyages to Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes, while Polaris will begin voyages in August 2022, sailing to Antarctica and the Arctic. So, want to know what you can expect from Viking Cruises’ first expedition vessels? Read on for all the latest scoops.
What’s on board?
The new Polar Class 6 Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will host 378 guests in 189 staterooms.
Designed by the same nautical architects and engineers that designed Viking Cruises ocean ships, the vessels will be built specifically for expedition voyages – 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.
Public spaces will be similar in design to those found in Viking’s ocean vessels, but have been adapted specifically for expedition cruising.
Straight bows, longer hulls and state-of-the-art fin stabilisers will allow the ships to glide smoothly over the waves. Ice-strengthened Polar Class 6 hulls will provide the safest way to explore, while U-tank stabilisers will significantly decrease rolling by up to 50 per cent when the ships are stationary.
Exciting new additions on board include:
An industry first, this enclosed, in-ship marina will allow the launch of small excursion craft through the ship’s multiple shell doors. One of the Hangar’s most innovative features includes an 85 ft. slipway that allows guests to embark on RIBs from a flat, stable surface inside the ship so they don’t get wet.
Submarines, military pro zodiacs & more
Expedition cruise ships today are kitted with the latest gadgets and gizmos and Viking has spared no expense in ensuring it can compete with the industry. Expedition equipment available for guests on Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will include 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.
Each ship will also feature two six-guest yellow submarines (Viking chairman Torstein Hagen is a huge Beatles fan) that feature revolving seats and 270-degree spherical windows for a unique undersea experience.
Developed in consultation with Cambridge University and Viking’s other academic partners, The Laboratory, at 430 sq ft, 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.
Guests will have supervised access to The Laboratory to learn from and participate with scientists undertaking primary research.
The Aula & Finse Terrace
Viking has created an impressive venue for learning at sea with The Aula, a panoramic auditorium at the stern. The Aula can seat half the ship’s guests at one time and 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 complete with sofas and warming lava rock ‘firepits’, and offering panoramic views.
Sail in style and comfort
A first for polar expedition cruise vessels, all staterooms on board Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will feature a Nordic Balcony, a sunroom that converts into an al-fresco viewing platform. Should guests wish to feel even closer to nature, the top of the panoramic glass lowers to transform the stateroom into a sheltered lookout, with an observation shelf to stabilise binoculars or a camera.
Guests can choose from six stateroom categories, ranging from 222 sq ft to 1,223 sq ft: 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. Every stateroom is also equipped with a unique floor-to-ceiling drying closet that circulates warm air so guests can properly dry off their expedition gear.
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 Centre
Those of who have travelled with Viking on its ocean vessels will be familiar with its beautiful spa. In keeping with the cruise line’s Nordic heritage, the spa will include a sauna and snow grotto, as well as a warm hydrotherapy pool and badestamp (hot tub), surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows. Guests looking to work out during their voyage will also have full use of the state-of-the-art fitness centre.
Similar to Viking’s ocean ships, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris have a two-deck Explorers’ Lounge at the bow of the ship, offering the perfect spot for taking in stunning scenery through double-height windows.
Viking’s expedition ships promise an array of dining options, including The Restaurant, which will offer fine dining featuring regional cuisine and always-available classics; the casual World Café, which will have live cooking, an open kitchen, bakery, and seafood and sushi choices; Mamsen’s, which serves Scandinavian-inspired fare; Italian restaurant Manfredi’s; and complimentary 24-hour room service.
Enrichment and sustainability
The on-board expedition programme is designed to prepare guests for their onshore experiences, with more than 25 experts accompanying each journey – the Viking Expedition Team and Viking Resident Scientists.
When aboard, guests can enjoy daily briefings and world-class lectures about their destination. Meanwhile, ashore, guests can assist in fieldwork or interact through experiential activities, such as monitoring birds to help identify migratory patterns, or getting a professional photography lesson to learn how best to capture scenic landscapes.
In terms of sustainability, Viking’s expedition ships promise to minimise environmental impact. The straight bow on the ships has been designed to reduce fuel consumption, and a dynamic positioning system enables the ship to hover over the seabed without anchoring, allowing access to pristine environments without damage.
Get On Board
The three exciting itineraries include:
Antarctic & South America Discovery (19 days; Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro)
This journey of extremes takes passengers from Antarctica to Rio, exploring the ice-covered and wildlife-rich Antarctic Peninsula, as well as the cultural treasures of Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Paranaguá, all in one incredible voyage. Multiple sailing dates in March, October and November 2022. Prices start from £15,995 per person.
Arctic Adventure (13 days; Roundtrip Tromsø)
This summer expedition to the Arctic will allow guests to capture dramatic landscapes far north of the Arctic Circle, discovering for polar bears and seals from a RIB as they go. Multiple sailing dates in August and September 2022. Prices start from £10,995 per person.
Niagara & The Great Lakes (8 days; Toronto to Milwaukee)
From urban skylines to uninhabited islands, this diverse voyage will combine the wilderness of North America with the world-class cultural attractions in Detroit, Toronto and Milwaukee. Multiple sailing dates in April, May, June, July and September 2022. Prices start from £6,295 per person.
Visit vikingcruises.co.uk for more information.