Viking has officially taken delivery of Viking Octantis®, the company’s first of two new purpose-built expedition ships. The delivery ceremony took place yesterday morning at Fincantieri’s VARD shipyard in Søviknes, Norway. Viking Octantis hosts 378 guests and will now set sail 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, the 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.
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. More detail on the design and features of the ships can also be found in a new virtual video tour, Discover Our Expedition Ships, now available on Viking’s website and narrated by Viking Executive Vice President Karine Hagen.
Viking Expedition Ships
The new Polar Class Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris host 378 guests in 189 staterooms. Designed by the same experienced interior designers, nautical architects and engineers that designed Viking’s Longships and ocean ships, the new ships are purpose-built for expeditions, at an ideal size for safety, comfort and onboard amenities in remote destinations. An integrated bow creates a longer waterline for the ships; state-of-the-art fin stabilisers allow the ships to glide over the waves for the calmest possible journey; ice-strengthened Polar Class hulls provide the safest way to explore; and U-tank stabilisers significantly decrease rolling by up to 50 percent when the ships are stationary. The new ships feature the company’s signature Scandinavian design, with public areas that are favourites 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 true 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. There is also a FerryBox, a set of instruments continuously collecting and displaying data on water quality, oxygen content, plankton composition and more.
- 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.
- 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 stunning 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 dynamic 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 on board Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris feature a Nordic Balcony, a sunroom that converts into an al fresco viewing platform. The Nordic Balcony’s floor-to-ceiling, distortion-free glass lets guests take the views in, while keeping the elements out. 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 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: 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 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 and shoeshine services, 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, which at 1,223 sq. ft, is twice the size of the Explorer Suites. With the most exclusive accommodations and amenities on board, it features two separate rooms – a living room with six-seat dining table and a bedroom – as well as a 792 sq. ft. private garden with a traditional Norwegian badestamp (wood-sided hot tub) and outdoor dining table.
- Aquavit Terrace & The Pools: Located at the stern and featuring a retractable glass dome, this indoor-outdoor heated sanctuary allows 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 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 Centre 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.
- Dining Choices: Viking’s expedition ships offer an array of dining options that build on the venues from Viking’s ocean ships. The Restaurant offers fine dining featuring regional cuisine and always-available classics; the casual World Café offers live cooking, an open kitchen, bakery, grill and premium seafood and sushi choices, as well as a wide range of international flavours; Mamsen’s, named for the Hagen family matriarch, serves Scandinavian-inspired fare; Manfredi’s offers the best of Italian cuisine; and 24-hour room service is complimentary for all guests as on Viking’s ocean voyages.
- 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). On board, 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, minimising underwater noise pollution.
Viking Health & Safety Program
Guests on Viking’s new expedition voyages will also experience the company’s industry-leading health and 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. Dr. Bono is a board-certified trauma surgeon and retired Vice Admiral of the United States Navy Medical Corps—and in 2020, led Washington State’s medical and healthcare systems response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 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. Utilising the PCR laboratories on board 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 UK. New air purification technology has also been installed on all Viking ships, which have always featured independent air handling units for all guest staterooms. And additional health checks, sanitisation and physical distancing measures provide further protection for Viking guests and crew at all points of the journey. A complete overview of the Viking Health & Safety Program can be found at: www.viking.com/health-safety.
VIking Octantis really sounds incredible and would be an amazing way to explore the World. What do you think? Let me know in the comments and across social media