VESSEL REVIEW | Viking Octantis – Advanced boutique cruise ship for Great Lakes sailings

Photo: Viking Cruises

Fincantieri subsidiary Vard recently handed over the first in a series of two new expedition vessels to Viking Cruises.

The Norwegian-flagged Viking Octantis, as well as sister ship Viking Polaris (due to be delivered before the end of this year), was built by Vard at its facilities in Romania and Norway. The newbuild can host 378 guests in 189 cabins spread across three of the vessel’s seven decks. The guest cabins consist of all-balcony staterooms and suites in six categories. Among these is an owner’s suite with a private garden lounge and a separate dining area that can also function as a conference room.

Photo: Viking Cruises

The 30,150GT, 665- by 77-foot (205- by 23.5-metre) newbuild has Polar Class 6 certification for expeditions in the polar regions, allowing it to navigate safely in the Arctic, Antarctica, and its main area of operations within North America’s Great Lakes.

It can also sail at speeds of up to 16 knots in remote areas and the Saint Lawrence River and provide improved handling and stability in rough seas. Straight bows, longer hulls, and fin stabilisers will allow the ship to sail more smoothly while U-tank stabilisers will significantly decrease rolling by up to 50 per cent when stationary.

Photo: Viking Cruises

The ship features a diverse selection of amenities in line with Viking Cruises’ aim of making itineraries more aligned towards educating rather than entertaining the public. Notable facilities to that effect include a library, a science laboratory, lounges, an expedition centre, and a large auditorium with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a 270-degree view of the outside.

The other guest spaces meanwhile include indoor and al fresco restaurants, a cafe, a spa, a fitness centre, a salon, an observation area at the bow, outdoor viewing areas, pools, and a medical bay. Access to all decks is via staircases and four lifts while a fifth wheelchair-accessible lift serves decks two through five.

Photo: Viking Cruises

Hangar space is available for two 12-person rigid inflatable boats (RIBs), rubber expedition boats, fast tenders, and kayaks. These smaller craft are deployed and recovered via a rollers-covered boat ramp at the ship’s stern. Space will also be available on board for two miniature submarines that can each accommodate six guests and a pilot.

Photo: Viking Cruises

Viking Octantis is crewed by 260 personnel and is operated under the Viking Expeditions luxury brand. Viking Octantis and sister vessel Viking Polaris will be the only two ships to sail under this brand, which boasts smaller passenger and crew capacities compared to the seagoing liners in the company’s fleet.

Also, under existing partnerships with Cornell University’s Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Cambridge University’s Scott Polar Research Institute, the vessel will embark scientists on every voyage to support research activities related to various fields such as glaciology, aquatic bird species, weather changes, and ecosystems.

Click here to read other news stories, features, opinion articles, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s Passenger Vessel Week.

Viking Octantis
Type of vessel:Expedition cruise ship
Classification:Polar Class 6
Owner:Viking Cruises, USA
Operator:Viking Expeditions, USA
Designer:Vard, Norway
Length overall:665 feet (205 metres)
Beam:77 feet (23.5 metres)
Gross tonnage:30,150
Maximum speed:16 knots
Other equipment installed:Fin stabilisers; U-tank stabilisers; 5 x lifts; boat ramp
Accommodation:189 x cabins; library; laboratory; auditorium; expedition centre; restaurants; lounges; café; spa; fitness centre; salon; observation area; outdoor viewing areas; pools; medical bay
Operational area:Great Lakes; Arctic; Antarctica

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