Viking has announced details of its first expedition ships and put the inaugural 2022 itineraries on sale.
The cruise company, which already operates river and ocean cruises, announced the plans for Viking Expeditions at an event in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles.
The first Viking Expeditions ship, Viking Octantis, will be embarking on trips to Antarctica and also North America’s Great Lakes from January 2022, while a second ship, Viking Polaris, will follow in August 2022 offering voyages to Antarctica and the Arctic.
Viking chairman Torstein Hagen, who announced the new brand at the launch event in California, said: “We invented the concept of modern river cruising when we launched in 1997; then we reinvented ocean cruises in our first year of operation, as well as every year since then.
“Now, in creating the thinking person’s expedition, we are perfecting polar expedition cruising, and we will usher in a new era of comfortable exploration in the heart of North America.
“Our guests are curious explorers. They want to continue travelling with us to familiar and iconic destinations, but they would also like to travel further.”
Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, which are both being built by Italian shipyard Fincantieri, will have capacity for 378 passengers in 189 cabins.
The vessels, which have been designed by the same team of architects and engineers behind Viking’s ocean ships, will be “optimally sized and built” to navigate remote polar regions and the St Lawrence river, with ice-strengthened Polar Class 6 hulls.
Onboard innovations will include The Hangar, an in-ship marina, which can launch small-excursion craft through multiple shell doors and features 85-foot slipway to shield passengers from wind and waves.
The two ships will also be working research vessels during their voyages with a team of resident scientists working on a variety of studies, while The Aula will be a panoramic auditorium where passengers can learn at sea.
Viking Expeditions’ inaugural season voyages, including the Great Lakes itineraries, will go on sale on Thursday (16 January) with a 13-day Antarctic Explorer voyage from Buenos Aires starting at £12,995pp with multiple departures from January 2022.
Viking has been expanding rapidly in recent years and has added 60 new river vessels and six ocean ships over the past eight years.
The line currently has a fleet of 79 ships around the world with seven new river ships due to be introduced in 2020 and six ocean ships currently on order and options for another four ships, meaning that its ocean fleet could reach 16 ships by 2027.