Viking® has marked the launch of its highly-anticipated expeditions as the new purpose-built Viking Octantis® started its first Antarctic season. The launch of Viking Expeditions is a significant milestone as the company begins its 25th anniversary year; by the end of the year, Viking will have welcomed a second identical expedition ship, as well as two new identical ocean ships, new Viking Longships® in Europe and new purpose-built vessels for the Nile, Mekong and Mississippi rivers.
With expeditions now underway, the first guests on Viking’s Antarctic Explorer itinerary have provided outstanding ratings and enthusiastic feedback, praising it as one of their best-ever travel experiences. Examples include:
- “The ship is amazing, inside and out. It has just been exceptional.” –Karen C.
- “Having been on Viking, I knew this would be first-class, first-rate…it has just been phenomenal; I have learned a lot.” –Patrick F.
- “It was nice to feel so confident and secure. The things we have been able to see up close and to step onto the real ‘White Continent’…being in the snow, being where you can hear the penguins and the birds…it is very special.” –Edna K.
- “Viking has done everything possible to make it safe for me to come on this remarkable, remarkable journey. What I have had with this ship has been an exceptional experience.” –Ramona F.
- “The Viking experience and the Viking people make this one of the best experiences of my life.” –Ken K.
The Viking Octantis will spend the Austral summer in Antarctica, before traveling north to be named in April 2022 in New York City by her ceremonial godmother, Liv Arnesen, the world-renowned Norwegian explorer and educator. Arnesen became the first woman in the world to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole in 1994. She sailed on board the Viking Octantis for the ship’s first two expeditions to Antarctica and recorded a special video message to welcome guests, which can be viewed here.
Following the ship’s naming in New York City, the Viking Octantis will make her way to the Great Lakes region, for a series of voyages throughout the spring and summer. A second, identical sister ship, the Viking Polaris®, will join the fleet later in 2022.
Viking Expedition Ships
The new Polar Class Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris host 378 guests in 189 staterooms. Designed for discovery by the same team that designed the award-winning Viking Longships® and ocean ships, the new vessels are purpose-built for expeditions, at an ideal size for safety and comfort in remote destinations. With more indoor and outdoor viewing areas than other expedition vessels, guests are as close as possible to the most magnificent scenery on earth. In addition to familiar ocean spaces such as the Explorers’ Lounge, The Living Room, Mamsen’s, Manfredi’s, the World Café, The Restaurant and The Nordic Spa, Viking’s new expedition ships feature new unique spaces, including:
- The Aula: A stunning panoramic auditorium inspired by the University of Oslo’s famed ceremonial hall, the former venue for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Used for lectures, daily briefings, documentaries and films, this spectacular venue features a 4k laser-projected screen that retracts to expose floor-to-ceiling windows and 270° views.
- Finse Terrace: An outdoor lounge area just above sea level with recessed, heated couches and lava rock “firepits,” the Finse Terrace was designed to allow guests the comforts of the ship al fresco while enjoying the dramatic scenery. Named after the Finse Plateau in Norway, where some of the greatest polar explorers, including Nansen and Amundsen, did their expedition training in preparation for their North and South Pole expeditions.
- The Hangar: A state-of-the-art, industry-first in-ship marina providing ease of embarkation and disembarkation of Special Operations Boats and other equipment while sheltered from the elements.
- The Science Lab: Developed in partnership with the University of Cambridge and Akvaplan-Niva, The Science Lab, at 380 sq. ft., is designed to support a broad range of research activities and is equipped with wet and dry laboratory facilities. Guests have supervised access to The Science Lab to learn from and participate with scientists undertaking meaningful research.
- The Bow: An important forward-viewing platform. And in the case of inclement weather, The Shelter is a comfortable, partially enclosed space for guests to warm up with a hot drink before going back out into the elements.
- Expedition Central: The hub for the expedition team to consult with guests on their expedition activities and share knowledge about the destinations on a one-on-one basis, with the aid of 3D printed maps, digital screens, and a state-of-the-art spatial data visualization chart table.
- The Pools: A sanctuary of three different temperature pools (caldarium, tepidarium, frigidarium), including an “inside-outside” pass-through pool experience from which guests can admire the surrounding scenery of vast wilderness—from polar ice fields to coniferous forests.
Additional highlights include:
- Nordic Balcony: A first for polar expedition vessels, all staterooms on board Viking’s expedition ships feature a Nordic Balcony, a sunroom that converts into an al fresco viewing platform with an observation shelf at elbow level to stabilize binoculars or a camera. Guests can choose from six stateroom categories that range from 222 sq. ft. to 1,223 sq. ft.—all with 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 (322 sq. ft.) and Explorer Suites (580 sq. ft.) on Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris are similar to those on Viking’s fleet of ocean ships, with 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, 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 (1,223 sq. ft.) that has three rooms –a living room, a board/dining room and a bedroom—as well as a 792 sq. ft. private deck with a traditional Norwegian badestamp (wood-sided hot tub) open to the invigorating outdoors.
- Expedition Equipment: Viking offers 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 included experiences, expedition equipment available for guests includes a fleet of military pro zodiacs designed for professional use; a fleet of two-seater polar-tested kayaks; two 12-seater convertible Special Operations Boats; and two six-guest submarines with revolving seats and 270-degree spherical windows.
- Enrichment On Board and On Shore: Viking has created the world’s leading enrichment environment in an expedition setting. Exclusive partnerships with the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—as well as other prestigious scientific institutions match leading researchers and educators with each expedition. Thirty-six experts accompany each journey as part of the Viking Expedition Team, including an Expedition Leader and support staff, photographer, field research scientists, general naturalists, mountain guides, kayak guides, submarine pilots and specialists (ornithology, geology, higher predator biology and history). On board, guests will enjoy daily briefings and world-class lectures about their destination. On shore, they can assist in fieldwork or interact through experiential activities during landings—such as monitoring birds to help identify migratory patterns; accompanying scientists to collect samples; or taking their cameras ashore alongside a professional photographer to learn how best to capture scenic landscapes.
- Environmentally Considerate: Viking’s expedition ships have set a new standard for responsible travel with an energy-efficient design that exceeds the Energy Efficiency Design Index* (EEDI) requirements by nearly 36%. In addition to an integrated bow that creates a longer waterline for the ships, engines with heat recovery systems and Azipod® Electric Propulsion, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris have received one of the industry’s first SILENT-E notations—the highest-level certification for quiet ship propulsion, minimizing underwater noise pollution.
Viking Health & Safety Program
Grounded in scientific research, the Viking Health & Safety Program was developed in partnership with an international team of medical advisors, including Raquel C. Bono, M.D., Viking’s Chief Health Officer. Viking requires all guests and crew to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Furthermore, Viking is the first and only cruise line with full-scale PCR laboratories installed on board its ocean and expedition ships. Utilizing these onboard PCR laboratories—and a strong network of dedicated shoreside labs for Viking river ships in Europe—all guests and crew receive up to daily quick and easy non-invasive saliva PCR tests. All Viking ships have always featured independent air handling units for each stateroom; new air purification technology has also been installed. Additional health checks, sanitization and physical distancing measures provide further protection for Viking guests and crew. For more details, visit: www.viking.com/health-safety.