Viking Cruises Launches New Expedition Fleet and Where It Sails May Surprise You
Where Will the Viking Cruise Ship Go This Time?
Last month, in the same room where the Golden Globes had taken place just the week before, Torstein Hagen took to the stage. Hagen, the force of nature behind the Viking cruise ship’s rise to the pinnacle of cruising, was about to announce its next major innovation. Joining the 73 River Cruise ships and their six ocean-going counterparts, Viking is taking the plunge into Expedition Cruising. But first, the gathering of travel writers and agents witnessed another first.
A Norwegian Soprano Names Viking’s Sixth Ocean-Going Vessel in 5 Years
Viking named its latest ocean-going ship, Viking Jupiter. While we dined royally in the Beverly Hilton Ballroom, almost 7,000 thousand miles away, Jupiter sailed between the Falkland Islands and Cape Horn.
In a live broadcast between the ship and the Beverly Hilton, the ship’s godmother, famed Norwegian soprano, Sissel Kyrkjebø, christened Jupiter. After the traditional blessing of good fortune and safe sailing, Ms. Kyrkjebo instructed the crew to break a bottle of Norwegian Aquavit against the ship’s hull.
The ship was delivered to Viking early last year and her naming was delayed until this day. Viking Jupiter’s location on this night was not lost on the audience.
Karine Hagen, daughter of Torstein and Executive Vice President of Viking explained, “Viking Jupiter’s location tonight, near Ushuaia, Argentina, is particularly significant. Ushuaia is the southernmost port our ocean ships currently visit, but with today’s announcement of Viking Expeditions, it will also serve as the launch port for our guests to explore the Antarctic region in Viking comfort.”
Viking Enters Expedition Cruising With 2 Remarkable Ships
So, Torstein Hagen introduced the latest Viking cruise ship additions to its fleet. Two new Expedition ships, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, will launch in 2022. With these revolutionary ships, Viking will enter one of the fastest-growing segments of cruising. Not less than 19 new Expedition ships are on order from cruise lines large and small.
These ships are designed to deliver a new cruising experience to an audience that is right up Viking’s alley. Viking cruises are populated with lifelong learners. Most are over 55 years old, affluent, curious, mostly North American and if the expression “been there, done that” applies to any group, it belongs to Viking’s loyal cadre of past passengers.
What’s In Store Aboard Viking’s Expedition Fleet
Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will carry 378 passengers and 260 crew. At 665 feet long and just 77 feet wide, the ships are rated polar class 6. While they are larger than most of their competitors, the ships are designed for great sailing no matter what weather they may encounter.
Like all Viking ships, they will be light-filled and Scandinavian in design. They will offer every passenger every conceivable amenity. Like Viking Ocean’s ships, every stateroom has a balcony, in this case a “Nordic balcony”. This is a floor to ceiling wall of glass that converts to an open-air viewing platform. Enhancing the chance of seeing wildlife, they will open the stateroom to views of the wilderness areas they will sail pass.
The suites extend the outdoors with private verandas. The Owner’s Suite is simply astonishing. It has an outdoor garden and its own “badestamp”, which is Norwegian for hot tub.
All bathroom floors are heated. There’s even a floor-to-ceiling “drying closet” that circulates warm air to dry the gear stowed there. Of course, Viking provides each passenger with an Expedition kit. This includes boots, waterproof pants and Nordic trekking poles and a souvenir Viking Expedition jacket, that all fit right into the drying closet.
Viking’s Resident Scientists Bring Their Unique Knowledge to Every Sail
While your stateroom is a private oasis, right outside its doors Viking will create unique experiences created to enhance every expedition.
Viking has teamed up with Cambridge University (U.K.), the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Scott Polar Research Institute. No cruise will sail with less than 25 experts on each adventure.
Each ship is designed as a working research vessel. Passengers are encouraged to join in research activities with the ship’s biologists, botanists, geologists, glaciologists and ornithologists onboard.
Named for the original venue where the Nobel Peace Prize was presented, the Aula is truly one of the most remarkable classrooms at sea. Two decks high, the glass-walled Aula is at the ships’ stern where lectures, daily briefings and science presentations take place.
Why Viking Is So Unique in the World of Cruises
The greatest comfort may be the in-ship hangar. This is a launching pad for a small navy of excursion craft, and it allows guests to embark on RIBS (rigid inflatable boats) from inside the ship.
Each Viking Expedition ship carries a fleet of military Pro Zodiacs, two-seater kayaks, two 12-seater Convertible RIBs and even two six-seater submarines for underwater exploration. Also, in the hanger is the ship’s glass-enclosed research laboratory. Guests are invited to participate in the on-board scientists’ on-going research.
Environmental Commitment Is of Utmost Importance
Needless to say, given Torstein Hagen’s statement, “We are the travel company that covers the most water on earth”, his stewardship of the earth’s waters comes as no surprise. He sought to minimize any environmental impact of his Expedition fleet. They are, of course, in compliance with every regulatory guideline for every destination where they will sail to. To do this, Hagen made some bold decisions.
While competing cruise lines have announced that their vessels use LNG (liquified natural gas) to power their ships, Hagen uncovered scientific evidence that LNG’s greenhouse gas emissions are almost as bad as coal. He also determined that the noise made by helicopters, originally planned for use on these ships, were far too disturbing to wildlife.
Guests on Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris will have submarines instead. The ship’s bow shape will reduce fuel consumption which will allow the ship to hover over the ocean floor without disturbing it in any way.
‘Journeys to the Ends of the Earth…and Closer to Home’
It’s no surprise that the Viking cruise ship will travel across both Arctic and Antarctic regions. You can even sail from the Arctic to Antarctica.
In 44 days, Viking Polaris sails from Tromso, north of the Arctic Circle, crosses the equator to Rio, Buenos Aires and on to Antarctica. But the most surprising itineraries may be where Viking will spend its summers. The 77-foot beam of Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris might have been one clue.
Viking is coming to the Great Lakes. To navigate the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Welland Canal, the maximum beam is 78 feet. Highly suitable to Viking’s Expedition fleet, North America’s Great Lakes are the largest freshwater ecosystem on planet earth. With 10,000 miles of coastline and a breadth of over 750 miles across, the Great Lakes are twice as large as the entire state of Pennsylvania. Like their Arctic and Antarctic sailings, Viking’s scientists will be aboard. Hailing from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), they will conduct research on weather, climate and ecosystems.
Between Canada’s largest city, Toronto, Viking will visit Niagara Falls, then traverse Lake Erie to a haven for migratory and butterflies. The city of Detroit is followed by visits to wilderness areas renowned for a virgin forest, abundant wildlife and historic monuments. It will go all the way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin on an eight-day expedition. From Milwaukee, Viking will set a course for another eight-day adventure. On the way to Thunder Bay, Ontario the ship will visit Georgian Bay, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, stop at frontier towns and explore Canada’s indigenous cultures. Even the submarines will be pressed into service to explore beneath the surface of the lakes.
Reservations for all Viking Expeditions are now being accepted at www.vikingcruises.com. To nobody’s particular surprise, many Viking cruise ship itineraries are already sold out. Thanks, no doubt, to the over 500,000 past passengers who do not think there is any other way to travel but on one of Viking’s extraordinary adventures.