Editor’s notice: TPG’s Gene Sloan accepted a free journey from Viking to attend a preview occasion this week for Viking Polaris. The opinions expressed under are solely his and weren’t topic to assessment by the road.
On Friday, fast-growing Viking doubled down on its transfer into adventurous expedition cruising with the revealing of a second vessel particularly designed to discover far-off locations like Antarctica and the Arctic.
With dozens of Viking executives, enterprise companions and media trying on, the corporate formally welcomed the 378-passenger ship, Viking Polaris, with a brief however upbeat naming ceremony alongside the waterfront of Amsterdam.
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Ann Bancroft, the primary girl to ski solo to the North Pole, served the standard function of ship’s godmother through the ceremony, utilizing a ceremonial Norwegian spade to chop a purple ribbon. The ribbon chopping triggered the breaking of a bottle of Aquavit in opposition to the ship’s hull.
Using a bottle of Aquavit, a Scandinavian spirit, as a substitute of a bottle of Champagne to call Viking Polaris was a nod to Viking’s Norwegian heritage. Viking founder and chairman Torstein Hagen is Norwegian.
“Have you ever ever seen something like this? I’ve by no means seen something like this,” a clearly proud Hagen mentioned on the afternoon occasion, which began within the ship’s glass-walled Aula lounge with a chat by Hagen and completed with the bottle breaking on its bow.
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Amsterdam is a serious hub for Viking river ships that sail on the Rhine River and is usually visited by its ocean ships, too. It is also the place Hagen was when he based Viking 25 years in the past.
Friday’s celebration for the arrival of Viking Polaris, which included a quick efficiency by Norwegian crossover soprano Sissel, doubled as a celebration of the corporate’s twenty fifth anniversary.
Viking Polaris is a sister vessel to Viking’s first expedition ship, the 378-passenger Viking Octantis, which debuted earlier this yr in Antarctica.
At the moment crusing within the Nice Lakes, Viking Octantis additionally was formally named at Friday’s occasion by way of a reside video feed. The ship’s ceremonial godmother, explorer Liv Arnesen, was on stage on the occasion in Amsterdam and directed the bottle breaking on Viking Octantis by way of the video hyperlink.
Each Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis are particularly designed to take vacationers to probably the most distant components of the world and function within the hardest situations.
As is typical for expedition ships, these are hardy vessels, with bolstered bows that permit them bump by ice in polar areas and additional tanks for gasoline and meals.
Every of the vessels additionally has its personal touchdown craft on board to carry folks ashore in distant places, in addition to kayaks and even submarines for exploring. (The latter is the new new factor for expedition ships — upscale cruise manufacturers Scenic Luxurious Cruises & Excursions and Seabourn have been including them to expedition ships, too.)
Like different expedition ships, each Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis are designed to function with a big and seasoned “expedition staff” that features biologists, botanists, geologists, glaciologists and ornithologists who lecture usually.
Nonetheless, every of the vessels has a number of new and weird options, too. Most notable is The Hangar, an enclosed marina that permits passengers to switch to 12-seat tour craft whereas nonetheless within the protected inside of the ship. It’s a primary for an expedition cruise ship.
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In one other first for a polar expedition cruise vessel, each cabin on every vessel has floor-to-ceiling glass partitions that slide partially open from the highest to create a balcony-like really feel.
Each Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis are designed to be upscale. Like all Viking vessels, they boast a sublime Scandinavian design. The eating places on each vessels embody a model of Viking’s signature Italian spot, Manfredi’s, and the Scandinavian-inspired Mamsen’s outlet.
One other function of each ships that will likely be acquainted to common Viking clients is a top-of-the-ship, glass-walled Explorers’ Lounge providing beautiful views of passing surroundings.
Not like some cruise manufacturers, Viking continued to increase its fleet quickly through the COVID-19-related trade downturn. Viking Polaris is certainly one of 16 new vessels that not too long ago joined or will quickly be part of the Viking fleet.
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Along with expedition vessels, Viking now operates 80 river ships around the globe in addition to seven conventional ocean ships. Three extra river ships and 4 extra ocean ships for the road are below building, Hagen mentioned on the occasion.
“Unhealthy occasions are the occasions when you must make investments,” Hagen mentioned. “We attempt to take the alternatives after we see them.”
Hagen based Viking in 1997 with simply 4 river vessels. As not too long ago as 2012, the corporate operated simply 29 ships. The privately owned model, which now has 10,000 workers, has been one of many fastest-growing cruise operators in historical past since then. It has roughly doubled in measurement each three years since 2012 and now carries 500,000 passengers a yr.
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In case you are curious, Viking Polaris is called after the present “north star” that hovers over the North Pole. Viking Octantis is called after Sigma Octantis, the present “south star” that hovers over the South Pole (it is often known as Polaris Australis).
The names are a nod to the polar areas the place these expedition ships probably will spend a lot of their careers.
Viking Polaris will spend the approaching winter crusing in Antarctica earlier than repositioning to the Nice Lakes for the summer season of 2023.
Fares for 12-night Antarctica journeys begin at $13,995 per individual, not together with taxes and costs. Nice Lakes sailings begin at $5,995 per individual, not together with taxes and costs.
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