25 years ago, Viking launched on the rivers of Europe. Since then, the cruise line has expanded to ocean-going and now, expedition ships capable of sailing to the farthest, polar regions of the planet.
On September 30, 2022, Viking celebrated in style, in a ceremony that named its two new expedition ships - and saw, for the first time ever, a convoy of the three classes of Viking ships: a river ship, an ocean ship and an expedition ship - all sailing together. Viking's newest expedition vessel, the Viking Polaris, met one of Viking's “Longships,” the Viking Mani, as well as the ocean ship the Viking Mars in Amsterdam and sailed in a special convoy to IJmuiden, Netherlands.
It was an historic day for a company with an almost meteoric rise in growth since it was founded in 1997 as a river cruise line.
"Today is historic for Viking—to celebrate our 25th anniversary, to have all classes of our ships sailing together for the first time, and to name our phenomenal new expedition vessels. We are very grateful to their godmothers, Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft, for honoring us. As renowned explorers who became the first women to ski across Antarctica, they are the perfect choice for ships that are designed for expeditions," said Torstein Hagen, the founder and Chairman of Viking.
During the Amsterdam event, Viking also named the Viking Polaris and her identical sister ship, the Viking Octantis, which is currently sailing her inaugural season in the Great Lakes. Both ships will spend the Austral summer in Antarctica, before traveling north to the Great Lakes for a series of voyages during spring and summer 2023.
The godmothers of both new expedition ships came together for the ceremony in Amsterdam, with Norwegian Arnesen offering her blessing remotely via video to the Viking Octantis in the Great Lakes. In keeping with ship naming traditions and Viking's unique twist, American Arnesen and Bancroft assisted in breaking a bottle of Norwegian aquavit on the ship's hull. (Pictured, top)
There were guests on board all three Viking ships in Amsterdam, and they were able to join in the naming ceremony for the two new expedition ships, as well as witness the historic convoy, from their ships' respective outdoor viewing areas.
Viking Expedition Ships
The new Polar Class Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris host 378 guests in 189 staterooms. The vessels are purpose-built for expeditions, with ice-class hulls and features that ensure guests both safety and comfort in remote destinations. According to Viking, there are more indoor and outdoor viewing areas on its expedition ships than other expedition vessels, allowing guests to be as close as possible to the extraordinary scenery you are sailing through.
- 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 seating and lava rock "firepits," the Finse Terrace was designed to allow guests the comforts of the ship al fresco while enjoying the dramatic scenery.
- 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 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.
- 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 in undertaking meaningful research with scientists.
- 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.
- Explorers' Lounge: Located high on the ship with floor-to-ceiling windows, the Explorers' Lounge provides guests an ideal space to take in the magnificent scenery, share discoveries with fellow travelers or to enjoy a drink.
- The Living Room: On the Viking Octantis and the Viking Polaris, The Living Room is located to maximize views of the surroundings through floor-to-ceiling windows and a library that informs even the best-read explorers. The Library is curated by acclaimed London bookshop Heywood Hill, as on all Viking vessels, as well as Cambridge University's Scott Polar Research Institute.
- The Restaurant offers fine dining featuring regional cuisine and always-available classics; the casual World Café offers an open kitchen, bakery, grill and premium seafood and sushi choices, as well as a wide range of international flavors; Mamsen's, named for the Hagen family matriarch, serves Scandinavian-inspired fare; and Manfredi's offers the best of Italian cuisine.
The Nordic Spa:
- Following a day of exploration, The Nordic Spa offers guests opportunities to experience the ultimate healthy Nordic traditions, with an indoor heated pool set against expansive windows and a badestamp (wood-sided hot tub) that is open to the outside.
- Nordic Balcony: In what Viking is calling 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 the Viking Octantis and the 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.
Enrichment On Board and On Shore:
- Viking has created a top scientific 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.
- Viking's expedition ships embrace responsible travel with an energy-efficient design that exceeds the 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 electric propulsion, the Viking Octantis and the 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.
A Year of Milestones
Viking's 25th anniversary celebration in Amsterdam is the most recent event during a milestone year in which the company has also welcomed to its fleet eight new Viking Longships on the rivers of Europe and new purpose-built vessels on the Mekong, Nile and Mississippi rivers.
Viking's founder and Chairman,Torstein Hagen, said at the ceremony in Amsterdam, “I am very proud of what we have accomplished in our first 25 years. And in our view, we are just getting started. Where do we go next? Onwards.”
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