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Viking to Launch Expedition Voyages Starting in January 2022

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Viking, the company with 79 river and ocean cruise ships and more on the way, will launch a new expedition division in January 2022 with a 378-passenger polar-class vessel. A sister vessel also is under construction in Norway by Fincantieri’s VARD for delivery in August 2022.

The first ship, Viking Octantis, is scheduled to operate voyages to Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes. The second expedition vessel, Viking Polaris, will sail to Antarctica and the Arctic.

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The 30,150-gross-ton ships will be long and narrow, allowing them to nose into narrow inlets but also sail through the Welland Canal that connects Lakes Ontario and Erie around the Niagara Falls.

The first Antarctic season of six departures sold out in a few months when presented to past guests, Chairman Torstein Hagen said. All expedition voyages are now available to the public for booking.

“Our guests are curious explorers. They want to continue traveling with us to familiar and iconic destinations, but they would also like to travel further,” Hagen said. “We began as Viking River Cruises; then we evolved into Viking Cruises with the addition of ocean cruises; today we stand singularly as Viking, offering destination-focused voyages on more than 20 rivers, five oceans and five Great Lakes, visiting 403 ports in 95 countries and on all seven continents.” He later described Viking as “the company that covers the most water systems on earth.”

Hagen announced the new expedition voyages at a celebratory dinner event at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. At the function, the Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø officially and virtually named the Viking Jupiter – the company’s sixth ocean ship – as it sailed between the Falkland Islands and Cape Horn.

The Great Lakes program will include eight- to 13-night voyages between Milwaukee, Wis., and Thunder Bay, Ontario; Toronto and Milwaukee; and New York and Toronto. “We haven’t been able to find arrangements to come to Chicago yet, but that may happen,” Hagen said.

He said the Great Lakes “should be a very interesting place … I think it has been underserved by substandard ships.” Later, in a press conference, he said 88 percent of Viking’s customers are from North America, and that “some are reluctant to travel long distances” and want to visit places they’ve heard about but haven’t visited such as the Great Lakes.

The new Polar Class 6 expedition vessels were described as small enough to navigate remote polar regions and the St. Lawrence River, while large enough to provide stability in rough polar seas. The straight bow is designed to reduce fuel consumption, while a dynamic positioning system lets the ship hover over the seabed without anchoring, preventing damage to pristine environments.

The ships also will carry military Zodiac vessels designed for use in harsh environments; a fleet of two-seater Arctic-tested kayaks; and two rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) that offer covered seating. Each ship will also feature two six-guest yellow submarines – Hagen admits to being a Beatles fan – that feature revolving seats and 270-degree spherical windows; at this point, plans are to have the submersible rides available with no additional fees.

Viking Expedition Ship The Hangar
The Hangar will allow passengers to board smaller boats protected from the elements. (photo courtesy Viking Cruises)

Of note are plans for an enclosed, in-ship marina called The Hangar, which will smoothly launch small excursion craft through the ship’s shell doors. It will have an 85-foot slipway that allows guests to embark on RIBs from a flat, stable surface inside the ship, shielded from wind and waves.

The Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris also will be research vessels with an onboard team of scientists working on a variety of studies. Developed in consultation with Cambridge University and Viking’s other academic partners, The Laboratory is designed to support a broad range of research activities. Guests will have supervised access to The Laboratory.

Viking Expedition Ship Nordic Balcony in Junior Suite
Viking Expedition Ship Nordic Balcony in Junior Suite (photo courtesy Viking Cruises)

Additionally, all accommodations will feature a Nordic Balcony, a sunroom that converts into an alfresco viewing platform.

The top of the floor-to-ceiling glass can be lowered to transform the stateroom into a sheltered lookout, with an observation shelf at elbow level to stabilize binoculars or a camera.

For additional information, call 800-2-VIKING or visit www.viking.com.

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Cruises

US Citizens Advised Against Taking Asian Cruises For Now

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Amidst the quarantines and concerns over the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak, tourists have been seeking confirmation whether traveling by cruise is safe or not. Recently, the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns U.S. citizens against traveling by cruise to or within Asia.

According to the CDC, it is recommended “that travelers reconsider cruise ship voyages to or within Asia. For most travelers, cruise ship travel is voluntary and should be rescheduled for a future date.”

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

The advice stems from the numerous quarantines and restrictions due to the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak, including the two cruise ship quarantines and a ship not allowed to disembark for several days earlier this month. Most cruise lines that sell to U.S. residents have already redeployed their ships that had been sailing in Asia.

The State Department said the outbreak is “a dynamic situation and U.S. citizens traveling by ship may be impacted by travel restrictions affecting their itineraries or ability to disembark or may be subject to quarantine procedures implemented by the local authorities.”

The State Department also went on to say that, despite the U.S. government evacuating hundreds of its citizens from Asia over the previous weeks, “repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities.”

While it is encouraged for cruise-goers to avoid traveling Asian itineraries, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that cruising in other areas of the world is a “manageable risk.

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