We booked the three 7-day itineraries currently offered in the Great Lakes (21 days total). It was our first Viking cruise but will definitely not be the last! We have cruised extensively on other cruise lines (several of which were high end), and have to say that hands down Viking beat them all! We were made to feel like family each and every day.
We LOVED Octantis! Even though she is a small ship, there were ample public spaces that we never felt cramped. The food was wonderful, and each day in the World Cafe the head chef came out of the kitchen to talk to the guests. (Usually we never saw the head chef on other cruise lines AT ALL).
The Nordic "flavor" of the ship was stunning....everything from the simple lines of furniture with plenty of woolen throws, walls and floors done in earth tones to the nature-themed artwork by Norwegian artists and pictorial history of polar explorers. No flashy, startling decorating on this ship! We found it very calming.
Stateroom was tastefully decorated. The exterior wall was a complete wall of glass, with the upper half of the window lowering with the push of a button. There was a shelf which extended all the way across that was convenient for resting elbows on with binoculars. Viking calls it a "Nordic Balcony". Several guests told me they were disappointed they did not have a verandah, but the ship spends half of the year in Antarctica...enough said! There was also an electrically-operated blackout shade which blocked out all outside light for good sleeping.
There was a unique drying closet (in addition to regular closets) which circulated warm air at the push of a button...perfect for drying damp clothing and swimsuits. The bathroom had an anti-fog mirror and heated floor, nice added touches.