The second ship from Viking's first foray into expedition cruising, Viking Polaris is expected to launch in late 2022, about six months after sister ship Viking Octantis.
While the new Viking Expeditions brand will borrow many features from the company's ocean and river vessels, both of these new ships will be specifically geared for adventure cruises in polar destinations.
One of the most attractive aspects of Viking Polaris is the range of expedition equipment available for guests at no extra charge, including two yellow submarines with six revolving seats and 270-degree spherical windows for unparalleled viewing underwater; a fleet of military pro zodiacs; two 12-seater convertible RIBs; and several two-seater Arctic-tested kayaks. In particular, the inclusion of submarine rides in the fare gives Viking an impressive point of difference compared to other cruise lines which charge extra fees for this activity.
As an ice-strengthened Polar Class 6 vessel with a longer hull, straight bow and state-of-the-art fin stabilizers, Viking Polaris aims to provide the calmest possible journeys in remote regions.
Slightly smaller than Viking's existing oceangoing ships, which are 745 feet long and carry 930 passengers, Viking Polaris will have an overall length of 672 feet and capacity for only 378 passengers. and offer superior spaciousness. The ship's high passenger-to-space ratio of 79.76 is on par with many ultra-luxury cruise lines.
Served by 260 crewmembers, Viking Polaris will also offer a passenger-to-crew ratio of 1.66 to uphold the line's service standards. Viking will also bring over some other popular features from its existing oceangoing ships such as the forward-facing Explorers' Lounge, the Aquavit Bar, the Living Room and a dedicated library. The ship will also feature onboard swimming pools, a spa and fitness center, outdoor deck spaces and a bow viewing area.
Currently under construction in Norway by Fincantieri's VARD, Viking Polaris will debut in the Far Arctic, sailing expedition voyages from Tromso, Norway, to Arctic Svalbard and back beginning in the summer of 2022.
Viking Polaris will have four separate dining venues. These include the casual World Cafe buffet; The Restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner; the Italian-themed Manfredi's; and Mamsen's, featuring Nordic and Scandinavian dishes from the cookbook of Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen's mother.
Beverage policies will be in line with Viking's existing river and ocean vessels, which offer complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, and no additional fees to dine in Manfredi's.
Room service will be complimentary and available 24 hours.
Viking Polaris will feature 189 cabins, all of which offer ocean views and a private "Nordic balcony" -- a sunroom with a large window that can be opened to create an open-air space with the push of a button. Useful for expeditions in snowy and icy regions, rooms will have a drying closet with circulating warm air that dries your wet clothes. All cabins and suites also feature a king-sized bed, a mini-bar, binoculars to use throughout the voyage and a bathroom with spacious shower and heated floors, stocked with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, soap and towels.
Most of the accommodation will be Nordic Balcony and Deluxe Nordic Balcony cabins, each with 222 square feet of living space. There will be 20 Nordic Penthouse Suites featuring 269 square feet of living space, 26 Nordic Junior Suites measuring 322 square feet; four Explorer Suites, stretching 580 square feet; and one 1,223-square-foot Owner's Suite with a 792-square-foot private garden.
Suites and the Penthouse have extra perks such as alcoholic drinks in the mini-bar, replenished daily; a welcome bottle of Champagne; pressing and shoeshine services; coffee machine; and priority booking of activities and spa treatments.
Nordic Junior Suites have more storage and seating; a larger bathroom with extended shower and two sinks; and additional perks such as complimentary laundry and dry cleaning, and priority restaurant reservations. Explorer Suites have two separate rooms and an outdoor veranda, as well as the Nordic Balcony. Passengers in this class will have exclusive access to the shared Explorer Suites Garden on the top deck; they also receive a Silver Spirits beverage package.
The Owner's Suite has separate bedroom and living rooms, a six-seat dining table and the most luxurious amenities on the ship. In its private garden is another dining table, sun-lounges and a badestamp (a Norwegian-style outdoor bath).
Viking Polaris appears to be making great use of its open deck space with two terraces and three pools. The Aquavit Terrace, with a retractable glass dome, will have the three temperature-controlled pools, including one where you can swim between indoors and outdoors.
Finse Terrace, named after Viking's Executive Vice President Karine Hagen's dog, Finse, will have couches around warming lava rock faux "firepits" -- without real fire for safety reasons on a ship -- where guests can view the passing scenery.
Viking Polaris will feature daily onboard lectures and expedition briefings conducted by more than 25 onboard experts on each journey, including biologists, botanists, geologists, glaciologists, oceanographers, ornithologists, polar experts and researchers. The enrichment program will be developed with the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).
Viking Polaris will also have a large working space called The Laboratory, equipped with wet and dry lab facilities; a sample processing area; microscope optics; a fume cupboard, freezer, cold storage and bench space for instruments. Passengers will have supervised access to The Laboratory and can also help the scientists with primary research, from collecting samples on excursions to monitoring birds spotted on voyages.
The main lecture hall, The Aula, will be a panoramic room at the back of the ship that can seat half of the ship's guests at once, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering 270-degree views.
Viking Polaris will offer voyages to the Arctic from Tromso, Norway, from the summer of 2022, followed by Antarctic cruises.