Viking Polaris cruise ship assessment: A snug ship for adventurous cruising

Viking Polaris is the ship that bucket checklist desires are manufactured from.

The sturdy, 378-passenger ship within the Viking fleet is rated Polar Class 6, so it will possibly take you to the ends of the Earth, no downside. It is tricked out with Zodiacs, two submersibles, kayaks and a pace boat, so distant islands and slender bays will not hold you from shut encounters with wildlife and nature.

Checking off worldwide wish-list locations like Antarctica, the Arctic and the Nice Lakes additionally comes with model. The ship boasts 4 onboard eating places and a wide ranging spa that is open to all. Cabins are cozy and spacious with seating nooks by floor-to-ceiling home windows, giant (for a ship) loos with heated flooring and considerate touches for the proper journey, like a drying closet and two units of binoculars.

Public lounge areas are so inviting, with comfy seating and light-filled areas because of tons of home windows, that you will be glad to relax with a e book, a puzzle or a drink after an unbelievable expertise ashore. And the crew members do all they’ll to make you are feeling proper at residence, remembering your title and greeting you warmly at any time when they see you.

Viking may be impressed by Nordic sailors of yore, who explored the world of their bare-bones longships — or the rugged Twentieth-century explorers whose portraits line the partitions of the ship — however Viking Polaris’ creature comforts would make all these hardy women and men rethink their journey decisions. You will not remorse yours should you select to make this beautiful little ship your private home base for trip journey.

Overview of Viking Polaris

At 30,158 tons, Viking Polaris is small by ocean ship requirements. The largest megaships are eight occasions bigger. But it surely’s really the most important vessel within the adventure-focused subset of ocean ships often called expedition ships, and it holds an unusually giant variety of passengers for such a vessel: 378 unfold throughout 189 cabins and suites.

Which means whilst you’ll benefit from the intimacy and customized service of a small ship once you’re on board, to not point out the extra onboard venues the additional house permits, you will want to attend your flip when going ashore in some locations equivalent to Antarctica, the place solely 100 persons are allowed onshore at every touchdown website at a time.

As well as, the ship is for adults solely; you have to be 18 years or older to sail. Not that you need to anticipate a bunch of partying 20-somethings on board. Viking caters to a 55+ crowd, and the vast majority of its friends are retirees of their 60s and 70s. The cruise line additionally has an enormous fan membership. Greater than half the friends on my Antarctica cruise had been repeat passengers who adore Viking’s ocean and river cruises, and you will find that to be true on most sailings.

Associated: Viking Explorer Society cruise loyalty program: Every thing you’ll want to know

Every day E-newsletter

Reward your inbox with the TPG Every day publication

Be a part of over 700,000 readers for breaking information, in-depth guides and unique offers from TPG’s consultants

Viking positions its expedition vessels between the over-the-top, fully all-inclusive luxurious ships that go to off-the-beaten-path locations equivalent to Antarctica and the hardier, no-frills traditional expedition ships. It focuses on a snug onboard setting with accessible journey choices.

The ship is upscale, however not ornate or stuffy, and its public areas are inviting reasonably than spectacular. Consider the ship as the lounge designed by your buddy with good style as an alternative of the formal sitting space the place you are afraid to the touch the costly decorations.

Many facilities are included within the fare — Wi-Fi; all eating, wine and beer with lunch and dinner; a stunning thermal suite with a pool and cold and hot therapies; kayak and particular operations boat excursions; two-layer jackets to maintain; and boots and waterproof pants to borrow in polar cruise areas — however you’ll nonetheless have to pay additional for cocktails (both a la carte or with a beverage bundle), gratuities, spa remedies and submarine rides.

Of the 250-plus crew members on board, 20-plus are expedition employees: scientists, specialists (biologists, geologists, naturalists, and so forth.), mountain guides and kayak guides. They’re on board to scout and arrange touchdown websites, lead kayak excursions, conduct science experiments from the ship, spot wildlife, and provides lectures concerning the flora, fauna and geography of the realm. They’re typically useful people, glad to reply your questions and take photographs of each friends and wildlife to share.

The ship has seven passenger decks, with the bottom, Deck A, the Zodiac and particular operations boat loading zone, and the very best, Deck 6, being an open deck. (The best Deck 7 is off limits besides through the climate balloon launch social gathering.) The ship is small and it does not take lengthy to get wherever, although it does take a couple of days to get the hold of the place issues are on board and how you can get from level A to level B. In contrast to on many ocean cruise ships, you may have to stroll down passenger corridors to succeed in sure lounges.

The ship is uncommon in that it has an operational science lab on board the place the ship’s analysis scientists acquire knowledge to share with its world companions (equivalent to NOAA and the College of Western Australia). Along with the Zodiacs and kayaks widespread on expedition ships, Viking Polaris additionally carries two six-passenger yellow submersibles (playfully named George and Ringo — get it?) and a Particular Operations Boat (a 12-seater pace boat with surprisingly comfy seats and straightforward boarding).

All these vessels are saved in The Hangar, a water-level storage space that hurries up the deployment time of all of the ship’s watercraft. Right here, too, the cruise line has created a spacious and cozy boarding space that capabilities with out gangways and with the most recent biosecurity know-how, equivalent to a boot washer. The setup makes it simpler to each get on and off ships and hold Antarctica clear.

Associated: The three varieties of Viking ships, defined

What I liked about Viking Polaris

The Nordic Spa


You do not anticipate a full-blown beautiful spa once you’re adventuring to Antarctica, however Viking Polaris supplies not solely a good looking facility but additionally one which brings the vacation spot in. Flooring-to-ceiling home windows within the salon and thermal suite space mean you can look ahead to whales or seals as you take pleasure in a pedicure or soak in a scorching tub.

Even higher, the thermal suite is free for anybody to make use of, so should you get chilled on a moist kayak experience, you may heat up once more within the heated pool or pamper drained muscle groups with a mixture of cold and hot therapies. (In the event you’ve by no means dumped a bucket of chilly water in your head after quarter-hour in a dry sauna or rubbed snow in your physique in a steam room, I extremely advocate attempting it.)

The 2-room health middle can be bigger than I anticipated for an expedition ship and enabled me to maintain up my exercise routine each morning.

Huge kudos go to the spa employees, who’re tremendous candy and useful. Igor tailor-made my private coaching session to my particular necessities and physique wants, reasonably than giving me some normal plan. Joksim led a surprisingly intense (for a cruise ship) yoga session after which gave me an unbelievable therapeutic massage a couple of days later, understanding each knot from my neck to my ft.

If nothing else, cease by the spa reception desk each day to seize an inspirational quote — nearly like a fortune cookie — from the bowl of coloured playing cards. It’ll set the tone in your day.

Security protocols

Security briefing on Viking Polaris. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

I admit I used to be a tad nervous concerning the considered crusing to a spot as distant as Antarctica. What if we acquired stranded ashore throughout a touchdown? What if the Zodiac broke down midway again to the ship?

Whereas any expedition cruise includes a sure diploma of danger, the Viking crew members put me relaxed with the information that they’ve ready for each risk. Two of the expedition guides even led a briefing concerning the ship’s security protocols. We discovered that the workforce brings ashore a ton of survival gear at each touchdown, together with tents, thermal blankets, meals and water rations, a desalination machine, a satellite tv for pc telephone, crevasse extraction tools and even a conveyable bathroom. (The latter is barely used for true emergencies, so use your cabin lavatory earlier than you head off the ship.)

Zodiac, SOB and submarine drivers are all the time in radio contact with one another and the ship, and so they keep distant from marine animals and icebergs (which might probably tip over and trigger hassle). The crew provides friends clear directions about how you can get out and in of the ship’s boats and somebody is all the time there to provide a hand.

All cruise ships in Antarctica observe the Worldwide Affiliation of Antarctica Tour Operators’ guidelines for secure and environmentally accountable tourism. Viking Polaris’s crew takes IAATO protocols significantly and works diligently to maintain Antarctica pristine.

They sanitize boots going to and from shore, in addition to the strolling poles they supply, and advise friends in opposition to bringing something pointless (snacks, tissues, and so forth.) to shore so nothing unsanitary ever touches the bottom on landings. They even checked and vacuumed all of the expedition gear we introduced from residence, together with hats, gloves, goggles and digital camera baggage.

The ship itself is constructed with every kind of redundant techniques, water-tight doorways, and fire-detecting and -fighting tools. It additionally carries “ice cubes,” giant floating containers stuffed with group survival gear for as much as 5 days ought to the ship must be deserted.

It is unlikely that one thing will go unsuitable in your cruise, nevertheless it’s comforting to know that the ship and crew are completely ready for almost any emergency.

The crew

Chef on the World Cafe on Viking Polaris. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Each cruise line will inform you its crew is the most effective, however the friendliness and helpfulness of Viking Polaris’ crew are palpable from the second you step on board. Crew members you by no means met someway know your title and say good day each time you go them on board. My cabin stewards all the time come out after we stroll down the hallway and ask us about our day. They did not even bat an eye fixed when my journey companion and I needed to attempt on 5 expedition jacket sizes to search out the correct match.

The eating employees goes above and past; Santosh requested us what meals we favored on the primary day, and had our Indian chickpea curry ready for us the very subsequent day. One member of the eating workforce not solely fetched a particular taste of ice cream from the galley for my buddy however introduced her a second bowl the next day with out being requested. The restaurant supervisor personally reached out and despatched me a plate of desserts the day I used to be sick and holed up in my cabin.

Each time there are lots of people wildlife watching on the outer decks, a crew member all the time appears to show up with cocktails or spiked heat drinks. What appeared like the complete housekeeping workforce confirmed as much as the cruise’s dance social gathering one night and unabashedly boogied all the way down to get friends on the dance ground.

The expedition workforce members are all the time glad to reply questions, take your picture or lend a serving to hand, and their lectures are all the time humorous and fascinating, even when the subject is dry. I used to be additionally impressed on the approach they set expectations and guidelines for the friends in a lighthearted, digestible approach with out getting preachy or patronizing.

The crew completely set the tone for a pleasant onboard atmosphere and it makes the lengthy journey that rather more pleasant.

What I did not love about Viking Polaris

Lack of bulletins

I have been on sufficient high-end cruises to know that the nicer ships do not prefer to pipe bulletins into your cabin. Nonetheless, I might love a bit extra communication from the bridge on Viking Polaris.

We missed the captain’s one each day announcement nearly each night as a result of we had been inside our room and could not hear it. It is solely when one in all us would say, “Is somebody speaking within the hallway? Oh, wait, it is the captain!” that we’d make a mad sprint throughout the room to open the door to catch the final 15 seconds of no matter he was saying concerning the climate and the sail forward.

I might love a bell or some type of alert to open our door, even when the announcement itself is not piped into the room.

I used to be additionally shocked to notice that Viking crew members nearly by no means make the “whales off the starboard bow” bulletins to alert passengers to wildlife viewing alternatives. I used to be chagrined once I discovered that I had missed some energetic whales as a result of I used to be attending an indoor briefing and had no concept that something attention-grabbing was taking place outside.

Schedule function within the app

I really like cruise ship app; it makes navigating a ship and the each day schedule really easy. Viking’s app has many helpful options, together with your ship’s deck plans, the each day exercise schedule, the power to make reservations and even a photograph obtain part.

Nonetheless, I heard the identical grievance again and again about one facet of the app: There isn’t any schedule view that permits you to superimpose your reservations (spa, dinner, landings, boat rides) with the onboard actions.

That may not look like a giant deal, however expedition cruises are surprisingly busy. On any day, I may need scheduled a touchdown and a kayaking tour, however do not need to miss the science lecture again on the ship. I used to be always flipping backwards and forwards between the 2 separate schedules, attempting to time my bookings accurately.

Different cruise line apps have a “favourite” function, the place you may choose the onboard actions you do not need to miss and add them to a private calendar that additionally accommodates your bookings and reservations. I might like to see Viking add this as a function to its app.

Viking Polaris cabins and suites

Deluxe Balcony Cabin on Viking Polaris. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

On Viking Polaris, you may both keep in a balcony cabin or a set. Common and deluxe balcony cabins are basically an identical, besides that the deluxe model is on decks 3 and 4 and comes with further precedence reservations, whereas the common model is on the decrease Deck 2.

Decrease-category suites (junior suites and penthouses) are additionally on Deck 4, whereas the top-tier suites, Explorer Suites and the one Proprietor’s Suite, are on Deck 6.

The ship solely has two People with Disabilities Act-compliant/wheelchair-accessible cabins; each are junior suites on Deck 4.

In the event you’re accustomed to ocean cruising, you may discover that the balconies on Viking Polaris should not your normal verandah exterior to the ship. As a substitute, they’re a mode employed by many river ships (and a few new Royal Caribbean, Superstar Cruises and Atlas Ocean Voyages ships), the place the complete exterior wall of your cabin is made up of two glass window panes. With the contact of a button, the highest pane slides down (like a automotive window) and your room turns into the balcony, with recent air wafting in. You possibly can even lean on the lip of the underside pane of glass, or relaxation your espresso cup on it, as if it had been a balcony railing.

Blackout shades may come down on the contact of a button, however should you simply want to dam the solar a bit, a gauzy curtain may be drawn throughout manually.

This model of room works properly in chilly polar areas the place you’re unlikely to take a seat out on a balcony for lengthy, however do need to herald recent air infrequently or take a photograph with out a window in the way in which.

I used to be a giant fan of our 215-square-foot Deluxe Balcony cabin as a result of it felt cozy with out being cramped. In Viking model, its design has Scandinavian influences with blond woods, pretty minimalist furnishings and a homey (reasonably than hotel-like) really feel.

My favourite facet of the cabin was the small L-shaped leather-based sofa, tucked right into a nook behind the shelving unit that separates the sleeping space from the sitting/desk space. As a substitute of feeling just like the sitting space is smaller than those discovered on different ships, it turns into an inviting nook the place you may curl up with a e book whereas admiring the view. The espresso desk is useful once you order room service.

The desk/self-importance throughout from it seems to be like a easy tabletop however has two secrets and techniques. One is, the highest lifts to disclose a storage space for jewellery and different small gadgets, and two is that its X-shaped legs are helpful for eradicating stuck-on expedition boots (transfer the chair so you may stick your foot by way of the highest of the X and use it as leverage to drag the tight boot off).

The sitting space is smaller than you may anticipate as a result of more room is well dedicated to the dressing space on the opposite aspect of your mattress. Right here, you may discover an L-shaped wardrobe with two hanging racks, two giant drawers, two small drawers, a high shelf, two small cabinets, a cubby for footwear and the secure. A hair dryer, bathrobes and slippers are supplied in your onboard use.

The 2 sides of the closet open from the center and may be tough to drag open. One cruiser reported draping hand towels excessive to maintain the doorways barely ajar to make them simpler to open together with her arthritic fingers.

The wardrobe is spacious, however my journey companion and I introduced a lot additional gear for our two-week Antarctica cruise (extra medication than I normally deliver, lengthy underwear and thick wool socks, and so forth.) that we maxed out the drawer house within the cabin and would have been proud of a further drawer or two. For instance, I stored all my warm-weather equipment (hats, gloves, goggles, and so forth.) in a bag on the closet ground as a result of I did not have a drawer to retailer them.

Subsequent to the wardrobe is an excellent addition on Viking’s half — a drying closet. Cruisers on Viking Polaris hold all of their Viking-provided out of doors gear (boots, waterproof pants, two-layer jackets) of their cabins. In the event that they, or different gadgets, get moist on outings, you hold them up within the drying closet and push a button to activate the warmth, and so they dry out earlier than your subsequent journey ashore.

Drying closet on Viking Polaris. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Professional tip: Examine the drying closet repeatedly to ensure the heating component continues to be on. It does flip off finally, and you will have to hit the button once more in case your drenched belongings aren’t dry but.

Different good touches within the cabin embody a carafe of water, a minifridge with complimentary delicate drinks refilled each day, a Nespresso espresso machine, a corkscrew, small snacks (baggage of nuts and milk chocolate), two pairs of binoculars to be used through the cruise and some books themed to polar exploration. The room’s telephone is on the desk, as are Quiet Vox headsets to be used on excursions (these aren’t used a lot in Antarctica).

The dual beds may be pushed collectively right into a king, and the woolen throw blankets on the ends are a pleasant contact, particularly if you wish to snuggle on the sofa with the window open. The movable nightstands every have one drawer and an outlet with a 110-volt, 220-volt, USB and USB-C outlet, in addition to a wi-fi charging station. Both sides of the mattress has a studying mild and a bedside mild on the leather-based headboard.

The 55-inch interactive TV is held on the wall reverse the mattress. It has stay TV channels, in addition to free on-demand motion pictures, a Viking channel to observe lectures and briefings you missed, and details about your cruise, private schedule and onboard account. You may also make dinner, spa and shore tour reservations through the TV.

I might have liked a few metallic hooks on the wall, however you may deliver your personal as a result of the textured partitions are magnetic (however not the wooden veneers exterior the lavatory).

The toilet is gorgeous, each for the spacious bathe with an extended ledge for storing toiletries or propping up a foot when shaving and for its heated flooring (good for warming your toes and in addition for drying moist gloves). The glass cabinets are small, however two beneficiant drawers and shelf house under ought to accommodate all of your toiletries.

Viking supplies its personal Freya model of shampoo, conditioner, physique wash, hand cream and physique lotion in giant 2.7-ounce bottles, in addition to 30 SPF sunscreen, two sun-protection lip balms, bathe caps, self-importance kits and bar cleaning soap. Within the lavatory, you may additionally discover a shaver outlet, tissue field, cups and a toothbrush holder.

Associated: Viking cruise cabins and suites: A information to every part you need to know

Viking Polaris eating places and bars


Viking Polaris is a small ship with a giant urge for food; it options 4 distinct eating venues plus room service. Meals in any respect eating places on Viking Polaris are included in your cruise fare.

The eating places are impressed by the cruise line’s Norwegian heritage, so you may discover extra smoked fish and Scandinavian pastries than you’ll on most different cruise traces. For a real Norwegian eating expertise, you may need to spend time at Mamsen’s, the place you may nibble on Norwegian specialties, equivalent to waffles topped with brown cheese and scorching canines on flatbread.

Observe that whereas vegetarian dishes can be found at each meal on board, Polaris is unquestionably a ship that focuses on meat greater than greens and vegetarian proteins. Gluten-free diners seem like properly taken care of; the bakery even posts an inventory of all of the gluten-free bread merchandise out there (together with pancakes, waffles and pizza).

On Viking Polaris, beer, wine and delicate drinks at lunch and dinner are complimentary. Throughout particular occasions, equivalent to sailaway on embarkation day, or arrival at Antarctica, the crew may come round with trays of complimentary cocktails. You possibly can select to buy the Silver Spirits beverage bundle should you plan to order greater than a drink or two each day, or you may pay for particular person drinks a la carte.

Eating places


On expedition voyages, the World Cafe buffet venue is the preferred eatery. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is interesting for its number of meal decisions and its informal gown code. Whenever you’re out and in of cold-weather layers, typically you merely do not feel like dressing up for a proper meal.

Breakfast has every part you’ll want to gas up for the day, from wholesome choices like a made-to-order omelet station, yogurt, fruit and muesli to extra decadent decisions like pastries, breakfast bread pudding and pancakes. True to Viking’s Nordic custom, morning choices additionally embody a collection of smoked fish, deli meats and cheeses. Waiters will deliver you tea, scorching chocolate and juice; every desk is already arrange with espresso.

At lunch, you may discover a collection of scorching meals, normally together with a carving station with a featured protein, a soup, pasta and a few type of fish and vegetarian choice. The salad bar has a wide variety of fixin’s (although it is missing in protein) plus a couple of cheeses each day.

Carbo-load on the bakery, the place you may discover breads (together with delicate pretzels), pizza (attempt the Norwegian goat cheese model), each day scorching sandwiches, cookies and different desserts. Do not miss the gelato stations with toppings bar or the made-to-order counter with new dishes each day, equivalent to a fajita bar.

In the event you do not see what you are on the lookout for, do not hesitate to ask one of many eating employees both behind the buffet counter or strolling the seating space. Crew members introduced us plain grilled hen to high a salad, a vegetarian “meatball” when the meatless choices had been missing and coconut gelato when it did not seem on the ice cream bar.

Dinner is the same affair with scorching choices, pizza, a made-to-order counter (usually a noodle soup), a Caesar salad bar with further pre-prepared salads and desserts, together with a nightly heat choice (like peach crumble or bread pudding) and Coldstone-style mix-in ice cream rolls. The primary addition is a nightly sushi bar and seafood buffet (heaps and many crab legs) within the again by the Aquavit Terrace on the port aspect of the ship.

I liked that should you’re lingering over a meal towards the top of service, a waiter will come by and warn you that the buffet is closing, so you may seize seconds or dessert earlier than it is too late.

On the far starboard aspect of the World Cafe is the Grill. It serves sandwiches by day (a number of varieties of burgers, veggie burgers, hen sandwiches and tuna steak) and cooked-to-order meats at evening (steak, brisket, burgers, swordfish). You possibly can ask for sides from onion rings and French fries at lunch to roasted potatoes and asparagus at evening, or forage for accompaniments from the remainder of the buffet.

We spoke to a couple diners who stated the default is to cook dinner the meats properly, so should you favor yours medium or uncommon, be very clear about that.

Viking Polaris’ two sit-down eating places are The Restaurant and Manfredi’s, each on Deck 1 and solely open for dinner. The Restaurant is a typical cruise ship predominant eating room with a menu break up into always-available classics and the each day dinner menu that adjustments every night. It is a three-course meal (although you can order extra) with starters, mains with sides and dessert.

The each day menu may embody leek and potato soup or beef tartare as a starter, seared sesame-crusted tuna or roasted veal medallion for a predominant, and peanut butter cheesecake for dessert. Observe that lots of the menu gadgets at The Restaurant can even be out there on the World Cafe upstairs.

All the time-available dishes embody Caesar salad and hen soup, beer-marinated hen and New York strip steak, an iced vanilla parfait and a cheese plate.

Manfredi’s on Viking Polaris. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Manfredi’s is the ship’s Italian restaurant and the most popular dinner reservation on board. It is much less accommodating of walk-ins so make your bookings early. When you’ve got an important day to have a good time, you may need to do it right here.

The menu is split into many sections and may be overwhelming at first, nevertheless it’s not as sophisticated because it seems to be. Starters embody antipasti, caprese salad, beef carpaccio and asparagus topped with a poached egg. You even have a alternative of two soups. The pasta choice is to not be missed, particularly the gnocchi in a gorgonzola cream sauce. You possibly can ask for half or full sizes and benefit from the handmade pasta as a starter or predominant.

Major dishes are available two varieties. Piatti unici come as full dinners with a protein and vegetable aspect, whereas secondi piatti are solely the protein and also you select your sides. For instance, I ordered the sliced grilled duck breast and it got here plated with a salad, but when I might ordered the Florentine steak or grilled tuna, I might need to additionally order some sauteed mushrooms or new potatoes with truffles and rosemary.

Don’t fret — you may order sides even should you select a pasta or pre-assembled dish as your predominant.

Desserts embody tiramisu, panna cotta and pistachio cake, in addition to a collection of gelato. I might advocate the pistachio cake with a scoop of vanilla gelato.

Most cruisers could make one reservation at every restaurant previous to the cruise, however suite friends could make two to 4 pre-cruise reservations per venue, relying on the suite class booked. Anybody could make further reservations on-line or attempt their luck with a walk-in if there’s house out there. We have heard it is simpler to get seats at The Restaurant than at Manfredi’s.

When you’ve got a big group, you may reserve the non-public eating room between The Restaurant and Manfredi’s. It seats 12 at one lengthy desk and is surrounded by racks housing the ship’s wines. It is best if you wish to have a rowdy group dinner with out disturbing different diners, nevertheless it’s a poor alternative should you benefit from the surroundings throughout dinner because the room has no home windows.

Open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks, Mamsen’s is a cute cafe serving Norwegian specialties impressed by the recipes of the mom of Viking’s founder. The celebs of the present listed below are the Norwegian waffles you may high with candy brown cheese, berry compote or chocolate sauce, scorching canines served on flatbread, pea soup and open-faced sandwiches.

Viking’s expedition ships don’t serve a flowery afternoon tea like its ocean ships do, however you could find scones with clotted cream and jam served right here within the afternoon.

As a particular deal with, the eating employees may host a barbecue lunch on the highest deck (6) on a day when the climate is sunny. It is a enjoyable, festive alfresco meal, however you will not get a lot discover and may need to regulate your touchdown occasions should you do not need to miss it.

Our barbecue was a meaty affair with hen wings and pork ribs as an appetizer and a alternative of steak or sea bass, with baked potatoes and cole slaw, as a predominant. We had been initially instructed there was no vegetarian choice, however the server got here again saying they may get a veggie burger from the grill. In the event you’re on the lookout for one thing lighter or extra vegetable-forward, the World Cafe stays open.

Room service is complimentary and out there across the clock. Your room steward will depart you a breakfast card to hold exterior in your door knob, for supply between 6 and 10 a.m. Decisions embody drinks, fruit, yogurt, cereal, pastries and bread, chilly cuts and cheeses, eggs, pancakes and breakfast meat.

Room service on Viking Polaris. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

The all-day menu is in a leather-based binder in your cabin’s espresso desk. It is a restricted menu, which incorporates salads, soups, mains (steak, poached salmon, southern fried hen), sandwiches (caprese, beef or veggie burger), spaghetti, a cheese plate and dessert (vanilla cheesecake or bourbon pecan brownie). You possibly can name your order in in your in-room telephone.

Everybody agrees that the fried hen and the hen noodle soup from the room service menu are to not be missed.


Explorers’ Lounge on Viking Polaris. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

I am not a lot of a drinker, however the bars and lounges on Viking Polaris are so comfortable and alluring that I discovered myself wanting ahead to a pre-dinner cocktail or night hangout in one of many ship’s bars greater than I do on different cruise traces. Viking friends can both buy drinks a la carte or purchase the Silver Spirits beverage bundle. All passengers can order complimentary wine, beer and delicate drinks at lunch and dinner.

The cocktail menus on the bars are composed of ordinary drinks, however bartenders could make you your favorites off menu if they’ve the substances. We efficiently ordered Pimm’s Cups and Lemon Drops, however a Darkish n Stormy and Moscow Mule had been no-go’s as a result of the ship doesn’t carry ginger beer. (And right here I believed a Darkish n Stormy could be an ideal Drake Passage drink!)

My favourite bar for ambiance is The Cover on Deck 1. It looks like a speak-easy as a result of you may solely entry it from Deck 2’s ahead stairwell or elevator.


You open a heavy door that appears prefer it belongs on a submarine to enter a dimly lit house with slanted home windows on both aspect with views near the water line. The clusters of couches and straightforward chairs invite confidences with newfound associates, whereas the outsized cushion chairs by the home windows will tempt you into a day nap, lulled by the rocking of the ship. The big columns on the entrance of the house really home the anchor chains.

It additionally has a speakeasy-style bar, serving liquor-forward drinks (both your favourite liquor straight or on the rocks or with a light-weight mixer, like soda water). You will not discover wine, beer or daiquiris right here. The small bar is barely staffed for a restricted time every night after dinner.

For views, you may’t beat the two-deck Explorers’ Lounge on decks 4 and 5. Each ranges face the entrance of the ship with floor-to-ceiling home windows and wraparound views. Whenever you need to search for whales however do not need to courageous the wind, the Explorers’ Lounge is a good alternative. The bar is on the decrease degree, however each ranges supply cozy seating, each going through the home windows and in dialog nooks.

An equally cozy spot is The Residing Room on Deck 5. It has a bar however serves extra as a snug hangout house with a library, digital recreation tables, puzzles and a big TV exhibiting Viking channels.

As is widespread on this ship, glass home windows run the size of either side of the house so that you’re by no means removed from the scenic views. Occasions like workforce trivia happen right here. The Residing Room’s bar opens early, do you have to be on the lookout for espresso drinks from an espresso machine, and closes mid-evening.


The Aquavit Bar between the World Cafe and Aquavit Terrace serves diners on the buffet restaurant, in addition to friends enjoyable within the aft solarium house. It closes on the similar time that dinner shuts down.

The Viking Bar on Deck 1 is your pre-dinner drink spot when you’ve a reservation at The Restaurant or Manfredi’s. It is solely open throughout dinner hours, from 5:30 (half an hour between the eating places open) to 9 p.m.

In the event you want a fast cuppa or to refill your water bottle, self-service espresso/tea/water stations are situated across the ship. You may discover them on Deck 2 exterior The Aula and out of doors Expedition Central and within the World Cafe.

Viking Polaris actions and leisure


Because the crew likes to say on Viking Polaris, the ship has no official leisure employees as a result of the outside is offering the principle leisure on an expedition cruise. The ship’s Grand Central station for out of doors journey actions is The Hangar. That’s the place you’ll board the ship’s Particular Operations Boat or Zodiac boats (inflexible inflatable motorized rafts) for cruises, landings and to be taken to ready kayaks and submersibles (named Ringo and George as a result of the subs are yellow).

The Hangar is organized so it is as straightforward as attainable to board the Zodiacs. No gangways are employed. As a substitute, you step from an open door onto a step within the Zodiac after which into a ship, with at the very least two crew members aiding you out and in each time. The Hangar additionally employs a state-of-the-art boot brushing and sanitizing machine (think about strolling your ft by way of automotive wash bristles) to make it straightforward to wash boots on the way in which to and from polar landings.

Viking doesn’t schedule polar plunges for security causes (each yours and Antarctica’s), so you’ll not cross that exercise off your bucket checklist on a Polaris crusing.

Regardless that your focus can be on shore and sea excursions, you may nonetheless discover a lot to do on board.

Viking places an emphasis on enrichment and schooling, and you will find your self usually in The Aula, the theater primarily based on a well-known Norwegian lecture corridor. It has an enormous video display screen that may roll up like a storage door to uncover the massive home windows behind it. Heat throw blankets in each row are a comfy contact.

Right here, the expedition workforce will give each day briefings about climate situations and upcoming touchdown websites, give talks on the realm’s wildlife or tradition, and present documentaries and movies associated to the vacation spot.

Some talks (together with an entertaining one on nautical superstitions) are held within the Cover. Arrive early as a result of seats are restricted, and latecomers may need to face within the again or sit on the ground.

The ship additionally has a science lab, and friends can take part in actual experiments and knowledge assortment throughout their voyage. You could find an interactive map and infrequently an expedition workforce member to speak to at Expedition Central on Deck 2.

But it surely’s not all critical edutainment. A dance social gathering with some complimentary cocktails is held in The Residing Room one night and a music selection present takes place in The Aula.

On the extra enjoyable aspect, Viking Polaris has a world-class Nordic Spa with a stunning thermal suite. The thermal suite options quite a few cold and hot therapies (together with a snow room, sauna and a scorching tub with an open window to the polar breezes exterior), a therapeutic pool and gorgeous views by way of floor-to-ceiling home windows. It is the proper place to heat up after a chilly Zodiac experience or touchdown, so it will possibly get crowded within the afternoon.

E-book a mani-pedi or model session on the salon, and you will additionally be capable of take within the views whilst you’re pampered.

Spa remedies have a Nordic twist, however you may discover all of the massages, facials and physique remedies you can need. Attempt the Hygge therapeutic massage in a heat “sand” mattress — it is a Viking specialty. My Nordic stone therapeutic massage was top-of-the-line massages I’ve ever had, and my masseur, Joksim, knew what my stressed-out physique wanted and labored out all my knots. Girls ought to notice that lots of Viking’s spa therapists are males if that is one thing that makes you uncomfortable.

The 2-room health middle is small by big-ship requirements, nevertheless it nonetheless manages to suit three treadmills, two elliptical trainers, two stationary bikes, an erg, resistance machines and weight benches with free weights. Within the group train house, you may take lessons, use the yoga and bosu balls by yourself, or entry a spread of digital train lessons on the large-screen TV.

Health middle on Viking Polaris. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

The gymnasium is most crowded early within the morning earlier than the day’s briefings, lectures and expedition actions get going. If you wish to work out with the crew, time your exercise for prime dinner hours.

The ship has a number of out of doors spots for nature gazing and alfresco rest. The Bow on Deck 3 is a good forward-facing spot to search for whales or watch the ship’s arrival at a touchdown space. It is adjoining to the Shelter, a lined spot to take refuge from the wind or rain (and infrequently snag an Irish espresso on an important day).

The Finse Terrace on Deck 2 aft, exterior The Aula, has two fireplace pit areas for critical chilling.

The Aquavit Terrace on Deck 5 aft has a heat pool surrounded by lounge chairs and lined by a retractable glass roof. The glass window on the finish of the pool opens up, so you may swim out to an uncovered part of the pool. On both aspect are two out of doors tubs — one scorching, one cool. There’s nothing higher than soaking in a scorching tub on a sunny Antarctic day with snow-covered mountains and icebergs throughout you.

The promenade on Deck 5 is a stunning place to stroll, although you may must go all the way down to Deck 4 and again up once more on the entrance of the ship to finish the loop. Deck 6 is an open deck the place you may lounge on hotter itineraries or scan for wildlife on chilly ones.


If you wish to purchase beautiful Norwegian sweaters just like the expedition crew wears, lovable penguin beanies and the softest stuffed puppies, go to the Nordic Store on Deck 3 midship when it is open. It additionally sells gadgets you may need forgotten, equivalent to toothpaste or hand heaters. The most popular gadgets listed below are the Antarctica patches you may connect to your Viking-provided jacket. If you would like one, come when the store opens as they’ll promote out.

Visitor providers embody a medical middle on Deck A, a journey guide (to e book your subsequent Viking river, ocean or expedition cruise) on Deck 3 throughout from the store and visitor providers desks on Deck 1 exterior Manfredi’s.

Visitor launderettes on decks 3 and 4 have washers and dryers, irons and ironing boards, and detergent is supplied. Be sure you set a timer and take away your gadgets promptly. The launderettes are common on lengthy cruises.

Viking Polaris itineraries and pricing

Viking Polaris in Antarctica. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Viking Polaris at the moment spends the North American winter in Antarctica and the summer time within the Nice Lakes, transitting between the 2 within the spring and fall. The one-way repositioning voyages take passengers alongside the coast of Chile, by way of the Panama Canal, alongside the Japanese Seaboard of the U.S. and Canada then into the St. Lawrence Seaway.

In 2026, the ship will spend the summer time months crusing Iceland and Greenland cruises within the Arctic as an alternative of the Nice Lakes.

Viking expedition cruises are usually lengthy, and lots of itineraries are combos of a number of cruises that may very well be booked individually. Vacationers pressed for time can e book a seven-night Nice Lakes crusing, however the shortest Arctic and Antarctic cruises are at the very least 12 nights. Many itineraries are two weeks or longer. To sail between Milwaukee, Wisconsin, within the Nice Lakes to Ushuaia, Argentina, on the southern tip of South America takes simply over 60 days.

A 12-night Antarctic Explorer cruise begins at $11,995 per particular person within the lowest-tier Nordic balcony cabin. A weeklong Nice Lakes cruise begins at $5,995 per particular person. A 12-night Arctic crusing begins at $13,995. Fares go up for extra common sail dates and for bigger and higher-category cabins.

Associated: The 5 finest locations you may go to on a Viking ship

What to know earlier than you go

Required paperwork

Required paperwork will range relying in your cruise vacation spot, however you’ll positively want a passport.

In the event you’re touring to Antarctica or the Arctic, you will want a medical kind signed by a physician, clearing you to journey. Submit that at the very least 30 days previous to crusing. You could additionally fill out a kind pre-cruise to request the right dimension of jacket, pants and boots in your expedition.


Viking routinely provides a $17 gratuity per visitor, per day, to your onboard invoice. It’s shared among the many room stewards, waiters, galley employees and housekeeping. In the event you should change the quantity, you are able to do so at Visitor Companies; you are all the time welcome to go away further ideas in money or hand them to your favourite crew members.

I requested, and it’s acceptable to tip expedition employees, along with waiters, bartenders and room stewards. Spa remedies don’t routinely add a gratuity to your invoice, however you may depart a tip once you’re signing after your remedy.


Wi-Fi is included in the price of your cruise. Viking makes use of a VSAT satellite tv for pc terminal to offer the connection, and it was impressively good. I used to be capable of make a number of WhatsApp Wi-Fi video calls again residence from Antarctica, and although the picture wasn’t excellent, I might nonetheless present my youngsters penguins swimming off the aspect of the ship.

Carry-on drinks coverage

Viking has a beneficiant alcohol coverage. All passengers are allowed to deliver alcohol and different drinks on the ship with them, and so they will not be charged a corkage price, no matter whether or not they drink their beverage of their room or in a lounge or restaurant.

Smoking coverage

Viking Polaris is a nonsmoking ship, and you can not smoke indoors or on most out of doors decks. The one place you are allowed to smoke cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes is within the designated smoking space exterior on the starboard aspect of Deck 6.

In the event you’re cruising in polar areas, you also needs to remember that smoking shouldn’t be allowed ashore wherever in Antarctica or in Svalbard within the Arctic.


Viking Polaris has two self-serve launderettes on decks 3 and 4. Every options a number of washers and dryers you need to use freed from cost; detergent is supplied. Irons and ironing boards are additionally out there, however you may solely use them within the launderette.

Alternatively, you may ship out garments to be washed and dried, pressed or dry cleaned for a price. A bag is supplied in your room, and you may choose common two-day service or same-day service for a 50% surcharge. Costs are per merchandise, not per bag.

If it has been some time since you’ve got used communal laundry rooms, you will want to dig deep and bear in mind your faculty laundry etiquette. Set a timer in your cellphone so you may change your laundry promptly. Fail to take action and one other visitor is more likely to dump your moist laundry onto the ironing board.

We overheard a number of heated discussions about who had rights to which dryers and when. Do not wait till the final day of your journey to do your washing, as that is when the launderettes are the busiest.

Electrical shops

Viking Polaris is a Twenty first-century ship, so you may anticipate greater than only one outlet. Every nightstand contains a three-part energy strip with a U.S. 110-volt, European 220-volt, USB and USB-C outlet, in addition to a wi-fi charger, ought to your telephone have that functionality (mine didn’t). Observe that once you plug a charger into the 110-volt outlet, it blocks the common USB outlet, however not the USB-C.

The desk space has two 110V and two 220V sockets. There’s additionally a 220V outlet exterior the lavatory, do you have to want to plug in your personal nightlight, and a shaver outlet inside the lavatory.

Foreign money

The onboard foreign money is the U.S. greenback. You will not be paying for a lot — primarily souvenirs, drinks and spa remedies. You may be requested to offer a bank card, and your onboard invoice can be charged to that account.

Consuming age

The consuming age on board is 21, no matter the place Viking Polaris is on this planet.

Costume code

Expeditions are informal affairs. You can be so anxious about bringing the right polar gear that onboard apparel is nearly an afterthought.

Daytime apparel on the ship is a mixture of informal outfits primarily based on the climate (denims, slacks, sneakers, and so forth.) and journey apparel (leggings, fleece vests or jackets, athletic pants). One man on our Antarctica crusing was usually seen in a tropical shirt and shorts. The spa’s altering areas are small, so you may additionally see folks strolling the ship of their bathrobes or exercise put on on their solution to and from the Nordic Spa.

In the event you do not need to change for dinner, your informal daywear is suitable on the World Cafe within the night. Nobody will blink should you present up in a fleece jacket and climbing pants or athletic leggings and a high. Solely swimwear, PJs and true train apparel (like a sports activities bra with bike shorts) wouldn’t be acceptable. And, sure, we did witness a visitor being ever-so-politely inspired to go away the World Cafe when he confirmed up in his bathrobe.

Associated: Antarctica gear information: What you’ll want to pack for a visit to the White Continent

In the event you want to dine at The Restaurant or Manfredi’s, you’re purported to step it a notch. Viking considers night gown within the eating places “elegant informal” — aka, no denims. The instructed apparel is slacks and a collared shirt for males and good slacks, a skirt or gown for ladies. Nonetheless, we noticed diners dressed extra casually (fleece jackets and denims) in each eating places, and nobody stated a phrase.

Viking Polaris doesn’t have any formal evenings, so depart your cocktail clothes, fits and neckties at residence.

Backside line

If you wish to go to the ends of the earth with out giving up creature comforts, Viking Polaris is the proper ship for you. Its large-for-expedition dimension means the ship is loaded with sights, from a number of eating places and lounges to an expansive spa, spacious cabins and devoted areas for enrichment actions. Its state-of-the-art Hangar permits vacationers of all talents to entry off-ship journey and its expedition workforce to arrange water- and land-based actions as rapidly as attainable.

Nonetheless, if you wish to spend as a lot time as attainable off the ship in polar areas, you may do higher, particularly in Antarctica, with a ship that carries nearer to 100 passengers. The trade-off is that you simply may need to decide on a ship that has fewer frills and facilities than Viking Polaris.

Plus, it is unclear that any expedition ship has a crew as pleasant, educated and useful as the parents who work aboard Polaris. They make the journey extra particular than any ship designer or uncommon penguin might ever do.

Planning a cruise? Begin with these tales:

Related Articles

Back to top button