The Great Lakes might not be top of mind for most cruisers, but that could be changing thanks to the launch of Viking’s latest expedition ship which officially kicked off their inaugural season today.
Designed specifically to sail The Great Lakes region, the 378-passenger expedition ship Viking Octantis just completed her roundtrip voyage through the Welland Canal—a key section of the St. Lawrence Seaway connecting Lake Ontario and Lake Erie—making it the largest passenger vessel ever to transit the canal, the cruise lines said in a statement Thursday.
“Our expedition ships were designed with the Great Lakes in mind,’ Chairman of Viking Torstein Hagen said. “This region has been historically underserved by cruise lines, and we are delighted by the warm and enthusiastic reception we have received from the local communities.”
Viking Octanis will remain in the Great Lakes until early October 2022, sailing a variety of itineraries between Toronto and Duluth. A second expedition vessel, Viking Polaris, is slated to her make her Great Lakes debut later this year before joining Octantis for the 2023 season. Built for expeditions sailing, both Polar Class ships can hold a total of 378 passengers in 189 staterooms.
Among a few of the ship’s highlights are an outdoor lounge area just above sea level with recessed, heated seating and lava rock “firepits,” a Science Lab, Nordic Spa featuring a heated indoor pool and wood-sided hot tub open to the outside, and a Nordic Balcony in every stateroom.
During Viking’s inaugural 2022 season, the cruise line will be operating four new itineraries in the Great Lakes including:
- Undiscovered Great Lakes (8 days; Thunder Bay to Milwaukee)
- Great Lakes Explorer (8 days; Milwaukee to Thunder Bay)
- Niagara & The Great Lakes (8 days; Toronto to Milwaukee)
- Canadian Discovery (13 days; New York to Toronto)
In 2023, Viking will also be adding a new 15-day voyage called the Great Lakes Collection sailing from Toronto to Duluth.
“With our first season now underway, we are pleased with the strong demand among our guests and look forward to introducing even more curious travelers to these fantastic destinations in 2023,” Torstein said.