Viking (www.vikingcruises.co.uk) has celebrated a milestone with a float out ceremony for its first expedition ship.
The 378-passenger Viking Octantis met water for the first time at the Fincantieri Vard shipyard. The float out ceremony is significant in ship building as it denotes a vessel moving into its final stage of construction.
Marking a new departure for Viking, the expedition ship is scheduled to launch in early 2022 and will spend her maiden season sailing to Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes. A second identical expedition ship, Viking Polaris, is set to debut in summer 2022 and will sail to Antarctica and the Arctic.
Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking, said the line had forged a partnership with Fincantieri over the last eight years and he was delighted to celebrate the latest milestone with the construction of the company’s first expedition vessel.
“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. Viking Octantis and her sister ship, Viking Polaris, will allow our guests to explore further – to the ends of the earth as well as closer to home. I would like to thank our partners at Vard and everyone working at the yard for the hard work and dedication on the building of Viking Octantis. We look forward to welcoming her to our fleet in early 2022.”
Viking Octantis has now been moved to a nearby outfitting dock for further construction and interior fittings. On completion the vessel will be officially handed over at the shipyard in Soviknes, Norway.
Explorers Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft will be the ceremonial godmothers to Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, respectively. Arnesen, a native Norwegian, became the first woman in the world to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole in 1994. Bancroft is the first woman to successfully ski to both poles. Arnesen and Bancroft also became the first women to ski across Antarctica in 2001. Together they co-founded Bancroft Arnesen Explore/Access Water, an educational initiative for a sustainable future.
Established in 1997, Viking is the world’s largest river cruise and entered ocean cruising in 2015 with the 930-passenger Viking Star. One year later, Viking launched its second ocean ship, Viking Sea, which was joined by sister ships Viking Sky and Viking Sun in 2017, Viking Orion in 2018 and Viking Jupiter in 2019. Six more sister ships are on order, with options for four additional ships. These options could bring Viking’s total ocean fleet to 16 ships by 2027.
Known as the ‘River Cruise Queen’, Jeannine Williamson is an award-winning travel writer, cruise expert and our cruise correspondent, who has clocked up thousands of nautical miles.
Photographs courtesy of Viking