Travel

Viking Expedition Cruises Takes Delivery Of Its First Of Two New Expedition Ships

Photos Courtesy of Viking Cruises

Debuting in January 2022, the new Viking Octantis will explore Antarctica and the Great Lakes, as Viking announced it has taken delivery of Viking Octantis®, the company’s first of two new purpose-built expedition ships. The delivery ceremony took place on a recent December morning, 2021, at Fincantieri’s VARD shipyard in Søviknes, Norway. 

Viking Octantis will host 378 guests and sets sail immediately toward South America, to welcome guests in January 2022 for Viking’s first voyages to Antarctica. 

Viking Octantis will be officially named in April 2022 in New York City by her ceremonial godmother, Liv Arnesen, famed explorer and educator. The ship then makes her way to the Great Lakes, for a series of voyages during spring and summer. A second, identical sister ship, Viking Polaris®, joins the fleet in August 2022 for journeys to the Arctic and Antarctica.

RIB Boat Viking,, Exploring Antarctica

Viking’s new expedition ships were designed by Richard Riviere, Founding Principal of internationally acclaimed interior design firm Rottet Studio of Los Angeles, who also designed Viking’s award-winning Longships and ocean ships. SMC Design of London contributed with their expertise in the maritime sector. Together the two firms were recently awarded “Design Studio Team of the Year” in the 2021 Cruise Ship Interior Awards for their work on Viking’s expedition ships. The new Polar Class Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris host 378 guests in 189 staterooms. 

The new ships feature the company’s signature Scandinavian design, with public areas that are favorites on Viking’s ocean ships, as well as new spaces created specifically for expeditions. Highlights include:

The Hangar: An industry first, The Hangar is an enclosed, in-ship marina that brings comfort to expedition voyages with an innovative new way to embark and disembark excursion craft. The Hangar’s most innovative feature is an 85 ft. slipway that allows guests to embark and disembark excursion craft from a flat, stable surface inside the ship, shielded from wind and waves. 

The Science Lab: Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris are the first expedition ships with substantial onboard laboratories. 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, a sample processing area, fume cupboard, freezer and cool storage, comprehensive microscope optics and extensive bench space for analysis-specific instruments. Guests have supervised access to The Science Lab, which is located in a glass-enclosed mezzanine above The Hangar, to learn from and participate with scientists undertaking primary research, an experience unique to Viking.

Antarctic Rib and Zodiac Boats exploring away from Viking Shipe

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 includes a fleet of military pro zodiacs designed for professional use; a fleet of two-seater Arctic-tested kayaks; and two 12-seater convertible Special Operations Boats. Each ship also features two six-guest submarines with revolving seats and 270-degree spherical windows for an incomparable undersea experience. Everything guests need will be provided: a Viking Expedition Kit contains items like boots, binoculars and waterproof pants—and all guests will receive complimentary use of Viking Excursion Gear, which includes specialty items like trekking poles, snowshoes and skis.

The Aula & Finse Terrace: The world’s most advanced venue for learning at sea, The Aula, is a panoramic auditorium at the stern of the ship. Inspired by the University of Oslo’s famed ceremonial hall where the Nobel Peace Prize was historically awarded, The Aula is a venue for lectures and entertainment, with floor-to-ceiling windows and 270-degree views. Adjacent to The Aula is the Finse Terrace, an outdoor lounge area just above sea level with recessed couches and warming lava rock “firepits” – perfect for panoramic views of the surroundings.

Nordic Balcony: A first for polar expedition vessels, all staterooms onboard 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, distortion-free glass lets guests take the views in while keeping the elements out. 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.

The Nordic Spa & Fitness Center: In keeping with Viking’s Nordic heritage, 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 a traditional Norwegian badestamp (wood-sided hot tub), surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows. A state-of-the-art Fitness Center also provides the latest equipment and workout gear.

Explorers’ Lounge: Similar to Viking’s ocean ships, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris have a two-deck Explorers’ Lounge at the bow of the ship to take in the stunning scenery through double-height windows.

Viking Expedition Vessel

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—will match leading researchers and educators with each expedition. 

Thirty-six experts will 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). Onboard, guests will enjoy daily briefings and world-class lectures about their destination – and engage with working scientists from renowned academic institutions in The Science Lab or participate directly in citizen science programs. On shore, guests 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%—more than any other expedition ship. In addition to an integrated bow, 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.

Finally, Viking’s Health & Safety Program is important.  Viking is the first and only cruise line with full-scale PCR laboratories installed onboard its ocean and expedition ships. Utilizing the PCR laboratories onboard Viking ocean and expedition ships—and a strong network of dedicated shoreside labs for Viking river ships in Europe—all guests and crew receive frequent quick and easy non-invasive saliva PCR tests. The easy access to robust PCR testing also simplifies guests’ travel experience with a final COVID-19   test taken onboard that satisfies the requirement for pre-flight testing before arrival into the U.S.

“Today is a proud day for the entire Viking family as we welcome our first expedition ship to the fleet and usher in a new era of exploration.” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “We are now perfecting expedition voyages and offering curious travelers the opportunity to visit the world’s most pristine destinations in the most responsible way possible.” 

https://www.vikingcruises.com/expeditions 

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