Editor’s word: TPG’s Gene Sloan accepted a free journey from Viking to attend a preview occasion this week for Viking Polaris. The opinions expressed beneath are totally his personal and haven’t been reviewed by the road.
Speedy progress viking On Friday, it doubled down on adventurous expedition cruising with the revealing of a second ship specifically designed to discover faraway locations like Antarctica and the Arctic.
Together with greater than 100 Viking executives, enterprise companions, passengers and media, the corporate formally welcomed the 378-passenger ship, Viking Polaris, with a brief however upbeat christening ceremony alongside Amsterdam’s waterfront.
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Ann Bancroft, the primary lady to ski solo to the North Pole, took on the standard function of ship’s godmother throughout the ceremony, utilizing a ceremonial Norwegian shovel to chop a pink ribbon. The reducing of the ribbon brought on a bottle of Aquavit to interrupt towards the ship’s hull.
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The usage of a bottle of Aquavit, a Scandinavian spirit, as an alternative of a bottle of champagne to call Viking Polaris was a nod to Norwegian Viking heritage. Viking’s founder and president, 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 throughout the afternoon occasion, which started within the Aula lounge on the partitions of glass of the ship with a lecture by Hagen and ended with the breaking of the bottle on its bow.
Amsterdam is a significant hub for Viking river ships that sail the Rhine and can also be usually visited by its ocean-going ships. That is additionally 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 ship to Viking’s first expedition ship, the 378-passenger Viking Octantis, which debuted earlier this 12 months in Antarctica.
Presently crusing the Nice Lakes, Viking Octantis was additionally formally named at Friday’s occasion through dwell video stream. The ship’s ceremonial godmother, Explorer Liv Arnesen, was on stage on the occasion in Amsterdam and performed the bottle smash on Viking Octantis through the video hyperlink.
Each Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis are purpose-built to take vacationers to essentially the most distant components of the world and function within the harshest circumstances.
As is often the case with expedition ships, they’re sturdy vessels, with bolstered bows that enable them to cross ice in polar areas, and additional tanks for gas and meals.
Every of the ships additionally has its personal touchdown craft on board to get individuals ashore in distant places, in addition to kayaks and even submarines for exploration. (The latter is the brand new factor for Expedition Vessels — upscale cruise manufacturers Scenic Luxurious Cruises & Excursions and Seabourn have additionally added them to Expedition Vessels.)
Like different expedition vessels, Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis are designed to function with a big and skilled “expedition workforce” that features biologists, botanists, geologists, glaciologists and ornithologists who frequently give conferences.
Nevertheless, every of the ships additionally options a number of new and weird options. Most notable is The Hangar, an enclosed marina that permits passengers to switch to a 12-seater tour craft whereas remaining throughout the protected inside of the vessel. It is a first for an expedition cruise ship.
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In one other first for a polar expedition cruise ship, every stateroom on every ship options floor-to-ceiling glass partitions that partially open on the high to create a balcony really feel.
Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis are each designed to be high of the road. Like all Viking ships, they sport a sublime Scandinavian design. Eating places on each ships embrace a model of Viking’s signature Italian spot, Manfredi’s, and the Scandinavian-inspired Mamsen outlet.
One other function of each ships that shall be acquainted to common Viking visitors is a glass-walled Explorers Lounge on the roof of the ship with sweeping views of the passing surroundings.
In contrast to some cruise manufacturers, Viking has continued to quickly increase its fleet throughout the trade downturn associated to COVID-19. Viking Polaris is one among 16 new ships that lately joined or will quickly be a part of the Viking fleet.
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Along with expedition vessels, Viking now operates 80 river vessels around the globe in addition to seven conventional ocean vessels. Three extra river vessels and 4 extra ocean vessels for the road are below building, Hagen mentioned on the occasion.
“Dangerous occasions are when try to be investing,” Hagen mentioned. “We attempt to seize alternatives after we see them.”
Hagen based Viking in 1997 with simply 4 riverboats. As of 2012, the corporate operated simply 29 vessels. The non-public label, which now has 10,000 workers, has since been one of many quickest rising cruise operators in historical past. It has virtually doubled in dimension each three years since 2012 and now carries 500,000 passengers a 12 months.
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In case you are curious, Viking Polaris takes its title from the present-day “north star” that hovers above the North Pole. Viking Octantis is called after Sigma Octantis, the present “southern star” that hovers above the South Pole (it’s also often called Polaris Australis).
The names are a nod to the polar areas the place these expedition ships will probably spend a lot of their careers.
Viking Polaris will spend subsequent winter crusing in Antarctica earlier than repositioning to the Nice Lakes for the summer season of 2023.
Fares for 12-night Antarctica voyages begin at $13,995 per individual, excluding taxes and costs. Nice Lakes cruises begin at $5,995 per individual, excluding taxes and costs.
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