With the introduction of Viking Octantis, Viking Cruises has firmly planted its flag in the expedition cruising world. Octantis is the cruise line's first ship dedicated to adventure cruising, and it is simply excellent. Viking has built a reputation on its river and ocean cruise ships for considering every detail, and on Viking Octantis, the company has taken this to the next level. The Viking Octantis deck plans are smartly designed, with flow that keeps the 378-passenger ship from feeling busy, even when at capacity.
The restaurants on Viking Octantis are all included in the price, and they offer high-quality dishes with excellent variety, and demonstrate a real commitment to guests who have allergies and other dietary restrictions. The ship's public spaces, including its dynamic Aula lecture center and serene outdoor Finse Terrace, were built with expedition cruising in mind.
For those familiar with Viking, the ship will feel familiar, thanks to its classic, modern Scandinavian design, immaculate and efficient cabins and high-level service. Viking knows its audience well, and Viking Octantis combines luxury and adventure on an expedition ship that will make wildlife and nature exploration more accessible to everyone.
The Viking Octantis deck plan is simple yet delightful, offering spaces that are easy to navigate and loaded with surprises that will have passengers learning about nature while also observing it right from the ship.
Viking Octantis was built for views and viewings, and that starts at the top of the ship, Deck 6, which offers a beautiful, open seating area where guests can gather to chat or watch wildlife. Because the ship will visit the world's polar regions, these outdoor spaces offer heating elements and warm blankets.
Deck 5 has a promenade, where guests can get in steps or gaze at nature, as well as an excellent outdoor space at the aft, called the Aquavit Terrace. Deck 4 features outdoor seating near the ship's Explorers' Lounge, and Deck 3 has the wide-open Bow, all the way forward (at the front of the ship). The Bow can accommodate many people, and it's close enough to the water for guests to see passing whales or seals. Just behind The Bow is The Shelter, a covered area to escape the elements while you await sightings of more creatures or scenic landscapes.
The best spot for viewing, though, might be the Finse Terrace, taking up a large portion of Deck 2, aft. An expedition ship should have many options for outdoor viewing, and Viking Octantis delivers.
The interior of the ship is likewise well-equipped with everything you would need on an expedition cruise, with a huge facility, The Hangar, that houses boats, kayaks, Zodiacs and the ship's two yellow submarines. There's also The Lab, where passengers can get hands-on and actually contribute to the ship's scientific research endeavors. And you'll find a chance to learn more at Expedition Central, another research and enrichment area, as well as The Aula, which hosts various lectures and movies.
No matter which cabin category you choose, Viking Octantis staterooms are spacious and come with at least a Nordic balcony, essentially, floor-to-ceiling windows, in which the top half opens down into the lower half, providing a railing and open air but no actual space to step out. These are a bit controversial among cruisers: Some people love the additional interior space you get because of the configuration; others miss having a true traditional balcony. Regardless, the choice was intentional, as, according to Viking, people sailing in the Arctic and Antarctica don't want a balcony and instead will use the big viewing spaces. Only the highest-level suites include full balconies.
The most-popular cabins are the Deluxe Nordic Balcony cabins, which offer good space and some nice perks over the standard Nordic Balcony stateroom.
Because expedition cruises can get rough, especially through the Drake Passage en route to Antarctica, the cabins to avoid are located at the very front or back, as they will see more movement when compared with cabins closer to the middle.
Technically, there are only four restaurants on Viking Octantis, but it feels like a lot more, thanks to the re-imagined World Cafe buffet. This spot feels a lot more like a food hall than a buffet, thanks to The Grill, where you can order a la minute burgers, steaks and seafood, and the Sushi Bar. The options are excellent, as is the quality, making the World Cafe a place you will choose for dinner, rather than your only option if you can't dine anywhere else.
World Cafe isn't the only spot to get great food on Viking Octantis. Manfredi's, a fan favorite on Viking's ocean vessels, is serving up delicious pastas and aged bisteccas on Viking Octantis. Likewise, The Restaurant, the ship's main dining room, is the busiest spot onboard at dinnertime, with a menu loaded with new items and traditional Norwegian dishes, as well.
Perhaps the most-talked-about features on the ship are the submarines. Each sub on Viking Octantis seats six guests and brings people far below the ocean's surface, allowing everyone to see the world from a whole new perspective. For expeditions booked after April 1, 2023, sub rides are classified as optional excursions, costing $499 per person, beginning on voyages starting June 1. (Anyone who booked their cruise March 31, 2023 or before will not be charged).
For the most up-to-date testing, masking and vaccination requirements aboard Viking Octantis, please refer to the guidelines on Viking Cruises. Viking Octantis offers an onboard medical lab, where COVID tests can be analyzed, and daily onboard testing of its guests via saliva was part of the cruise line's restart plan. Visit Cruise Critic's guide to health requirements to find out the latest policies.
All food at all restaurants
Access to the thermal spa
At least one shore excursion in every port
Rides on the ship's Zodiacs and the Special Operations Boats
Use of kayaks
All lectures and hands-on learning at The Science Lab
Wine, beer and soft drinks at mealtimes
On-demand movies and TV shows
Group fitness classes
On-demand fitness classes
Most daily activities, unless otherwise noted
Gratuities on spa treatments
Spirits, cocktails, premium wines and drinks outside of lunch and dinner
Premium shore excursions
Laundry, dry cleaning and pressing services (except for specific cabin levels)
Most passengers on Viking Octantis hail from the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia, though it's not unusual to see groups of Chinese passengers traveling together, as well, as Viking has strongly marketed to that part of the world. English is the language spoken onboard.
Passengers are often retirees, traveling as couples or with friends. Only those 18 and older can sail on the ship. Guests are well off, with money to spend on bucket-list type adventures. They are curious, still enjoy learning and love traveling with like-minded passengers.
Viking Octantis offers two accessible cabins, both Junior Suites located on Deck 4. Elevators are located throughout the ship. It's worth noting that all cabins feature lower thresholds between spaces. (Thresholds, though low, do exist in bathrooms and in the shower, so guests who require zero entry will need to book the accessible suites.)
The ship's Special Operations Boats are designed to easily load in the ship's Hangar, and expedition guides tell us they can safely get almost anyone ashore in most destinations, so long as guests listen to directions and work with the expedition team.
The cruise that everyone wants to take, but few do.