Viking Cruises officially unveiled its “Expeditions” division and named two new ships at an event Tuesday evening at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills.
The Expeditions line will be a series of small-ship cruises to more extreme, less accessible destinations than are available on the Woodland Hills company’s traditional cruises. So far, Expeditions will take guests to Antarctica, the Arctic and North America’s Great Lakes.
“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,” said Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen in a statement. “In creating ‘the thinking person’s expedition,’ we are perfecting polar expedition cruising, and we will usher in a new era of comfortable exploration in the heart of North America.”
Guests at Tuesday’s event witnessed the naming of the first two ships in Viking’s Expeditions fleet – the Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis.
Each will host up to 378 guests in 189 staterooms and will feature panoramic auditoriums for educational lectures and research laboratory spaces for use by the company’s academic partners from Cambridge University. Both ships are currently under construction by Italian shipmaker Fincantieri and will be delivered in Norway in a few years.
The Octantis will begin sailing to Antarctica and the Great Lakes in January 2022, while the Polaris will debut for voyages to Antarctica and the Arctic in August 2022.
The launch ceremony also featured a performance by Sissel Kyrkjebø, one of the world’s leading crossover sopranos and “ceremonial godmother” to Viking Jupiter. Following her performance, Kyrkjebø officially named and blessed the ship for travel. Adventurers Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft, famous for their boundary-pushing Antarctic and Arctic ski expeditions in the mid-1990s and early 2000s, were also present, and named as ceremonial godmothers to the ships.
Separately, Viking said it has an additional seven river ships and six ocean ships on order, with options for four more ships. That could bring Viking’s ocean ship fleet to 16 ships by 2027.