Viking has claimed a new milestone for its expedition voyages.
The recently delivered purpose-built expedition ship, ’Viking Octantis’ has commenced her inaugural season in the Great Lakes.
Designed specifically to sail in the Great Lakes region, last month ‘Viking Octantis’ completed a roundtrip through the Welland Canal—a key section of the St Lawrence Seaway connecting Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, which bypasses the Niagara Falls.
She was claimed to be the largest passenger vessel to transit the canal. The ship will remain in the Great Lakes until early October, 2022, offering a variety of itineraries between Toronto and Duluth.
A second expedition vessel, ‘Viking Polaris’, will be delivered later this year and will join the ’Viking Octantis’ in the Great Lakes for the 2023 season.
“Our expedition ships were designed with the Great Lakes in mind. This region has been historically under served by cruise lines, and we are delighted by the warm and enthusiastic reception we have received from the local communities,” said Torstein Hagen, Viking Chairman. “With our first season now underway, we are pleased with the strong demand among our guests and look forward to introducing even more curious travellers to these fantastic destinations in 2023.”
To help develop the scientific enrichment programme for its Great Lakes voyages, Viking partnered with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL), which conducts research on the dynamic environments and ecosystems of the Great Lakes and coastal regions to provide information for resource use and management decisions that lead to safe and sustainable ecosystems, ecosystem services, and human communities.
Viking’s expedition ships have also been designated official NOAA/US National Weather Service weather balloon stations, from which regular launches are undertaken.
The new Polar class expedition ships have a capacity for 378 guests in 189 staterooms. Claiming to have more indoor and outdoor viewing areas than other expedition vessels, guests are as close as possible to the most magnificent scenery, the company said.
Vessel highlights include:
The Aula: A panoramic auditorium inspired by the University of Oslo’s ceremonial hall, the former venue for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Used for lectures, daily briefings, documentaries and films, this venue features a 4k laser-projected screen that retracts to expose floor-to-ceiling windows and 270 deg views.
Finse Terrace: An outdoor lounge area just above sea level with recessed, heated seating and lava rock ‘firepits.’ The Terrace was designed to allow guests the comforts of the ship al fresco while enjoying the dramatic scenery. It is named after the Finse Plateau in Norway, where some of the Polar explorers, including Nansen and Amundsen, did their expedition training in preparation for their North and South Pole expeditions.
The Hangar: An in-ship marina providing ease of embarkation and disembarkation of special operations boats and other equipment while sheltered from the elements.
The Bow: A forward-viewing platform. 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.
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 lab to learn from and participate with scientists in undertaking research.
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 spatial data visualisation chart table.
Explorers’ Lounge: Located high on the ship with floor-to-ceiling windows, the Explorers’ Lounge provides guests an ideal space to take in the scenery, share discoveries with fellow travellers or to enjoy a drink.
The Living Room: The Living Room is located to maximise views of the surroundings through floor-to-ceiling windows and a library, which is curated by London bookshop Heywood Hill, as on all Viking vessels, as well as Cambridge University’s Scott Polar Research Institute.
Nordic Balcony: Claimed to be a first for Polar expedition vessels, all staterooms on board Viking’s expedition ships feature a Nordic Balcony, a sun room that converts into an al fresco viewing platform with an observation shelf at elbow level to stabilise 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 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 open to the invigorating outdoors.
Environmentally Considerate: Viking’s expedition ships are designed to exceed the IMO’s Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) requirements by nearly 38%. 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, minimising underwater noise pollution.