We've enjoyed three Viking European river cruises, so when we heard the line was launching expedition boats in the Great Lakes, we decided it was time for an adventure afloat in our own country. We had to overcome a few hurdles: the ArriveCAN vaccination requirements, the VeriFly "ready to travel" standards for the airline and the 72-hour COVID-19 testing window to get on board (which applied only to visitors arriving by boat).
To its credit, Viking set up a document review tent for embarkation at dockside and even prepared customs forms for our later disembarkation. We'd had some difficulty getting through to guest relations by phone before the trip, but our questions were answered and conflicts resolved by the crack guest relations team on board.
Jumping through those hoops was well worth the effort. This 386-passenger vessel is a technical marvel and a hospitality gem. Given that this was the first season of operation in the lakes, just about everything went smoothly. Unlike the riverboats, the Octantis has two fine-dining restaurants, plus two buffet lines for breakfast, lunch and dinner, a grill, a bakery and small section serving Norwegian food. It has several bars with varying themes and quiet spots for reading and thought.
Our Deluxe Nordic Balcony stateroom was comfortable, clean and intelligently designed. The bathroom was roomy and the shower worked well. The picture-window sized port had a motorized sunshade and the top sash also opened and closed by pushing buttons. We were on the 4th deck and encountered no rolling, little vibration and almost now engine noise. The floor steward and his housekeeping crew did a terrific job.