Viking Polaris Review and Specifications
Specifications of Viking Polaris
|Year built||2022 new ship|
|Builder||VARD shipyards (Tulcea Romania and Soviknes-Alesund Norway)|
|Class||ice-strengthened expedition ship (VARD-6)|
|Building cost||EUR 230 million (USD 255 million)|
|Operator||Viking Ocean via Viking Expeditions|
|Speed||18 kn / 33 kph / 21 mph|
|Length (LOA)||203 m / 666 ft|
|Beam (width)||24 m / 79 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||30150 gt|
|Decks with cabins||3|
|Christened by||Ann Bancroft|
Review of Viking Polaris
Viking Polaris cruise ship is a newbuild vessel part of Viking Expeditions fleet (division of Viking Ocean Cruises). Octantis and the sistership Viking Octantis are scheduled for inauguration in 2021-Q2 (Octantis) and 2022-Q2 (Polaris). As the "Viking Ocean" brand specializes in all-inclusive seagoing cruises, the two new ships are grouped in a separate fleet under the new luxury travel brand "Viking Expeditions".
Viking's new expedition ships are Norway-flagged (registered in Longyearbyen Spitsbergen), smaller-sized (GT 30150 tons) and with reduced passenger capacity (378 each, plus 260 crew/staff) in comparison to Viking Ocean's liners, each carrying 930 passengers (plus 465 crew/staff). Both vessels are constructed by the Norwegian shipbuilder VARD (subsidiary of the Italian company Fincantieri). Vessel's hull and superstructure are assembled t the shipyard in Tulcea Romania, then towed to VARD Soviknes Shipyard (Alesund Norway) for outfitting.
Fincantieri's VARD shipbuilding company specializes in marine engineering, design and construction of small-capacity (200-400 pax) luxury passenger ships delivered to premium brands like Ponant and Hapag-Lloyd. More details on Viking's newbuilds as to their design (VARD-6 series), deck plans, staterooms, facilities, amenities and services will be officially announced on January 16, 2020, when Viking Expeditions cruises officially go on sale.
Traditionally for an expedition cruise ship, Viking Polaris has its own fleet of inflatable Zodiacs (speedboats used for passenger tendering and shoreside cruising), RIBs / rigid-hulled inflatable boats (large-capacity unsinkable boat with a rigid bottom) and sea-kayaks. The ship design features several spacious open-deck areas, including Promenade Deck and bow-located Observation Deck (forward on Lounge Deck).
Signature ship facilities available on each Viking Expeditions boat include Explorers Lounge (2-deck, observatory-type), Aquavit Terrace (indoor-outdoor sundeck / bar lounge covered by a retractable glass roof), The Living Room (lounge), The Library (lounge), The Hide, The Shelter and The Bow (indoor-outdoor wildlife viewing areas), The Laboratory, The Blue Room, Aula Auditorium (Theater / Cinema / Conference Room), Finse Terrace, Expedition Central (Photography Studio / Photo Gallery / Coffee Bar), Shop, Nordic Spa Badestamp (Hot Tub Room), wellness complex (Hydrotherapy Pool, Salon (Spa Lounge), Gym, Saunas, Massage Rooms), Promenade Deck (full-circle), Observation Deck (top-deck), Medical Centre (Infirmary), The Hangar (indoor marina for watercraft). Four Atrium Lifts (glass-walled elevators) connect all decks. A 5th Lift (aft) is wheelchair-accessible and interconnects decks 2 through 5. Staircases (inside and outside stairs) interconnect all decks.
Explorers Lounge (Decks 5-6) is a bow-facing, 2-deck high, circular-shaped, glass-covered and walled indoor observation lounge (observatory-type, with wraparound windows). In the evenings, Explorers Lounge hosts live performances by resident musicians (pianist, guitarist, classical trio). The lounge is served by its own bar (Explorers Bar is on Deck 5) and has a small terrace (open-air seating area). Explorers Lounge also doubles as Reading Lounge, having a selection of best-seller books, quiet atmosphere, comfortable seating, beverage service. The decor is highlighted by maritime artefacts. At night, the 2-story high wraparound windows are light up with the constellations.
Aula Auditorium (Deck 2 aft) is a glass-walled auditorium (with tiered seating) hosting lectures, media presentations, itinerary-themed port talks, live entertainment programs. The lounge has floor-ceiling and wall-to-wall windows (providing 270-degree unobstructed views) and an outdoor deck seating (Finse Terrace). Aula Auditorium also doubles as Cinema, being fitted with a retractable screen (covering the entire window wall towards the stern) and latest sound and visual equipment. Aula Auditorium provides direct access to Finse Terrace, which makes it an indoor-outdoor observation lounge. Finse Terrace is an outdoor lounge (adjacent to Aula Auditorium) with comfortable seating (padded sofas) and heated by firepits (heated lava rocks). Finse Terrace also provides alfresco dining and drinking when weather permits.
Aft-located (at the stern) indoor-outdoor pool deck lounge (Aquavit Terrace) with 3 infinity pools - positioned side by side and covered by a retractable glass roof. Each of the swimming pools is at a different temperature. The mid-pool has indoor-outdoor swimming experience.
Dining venues include The Restaurant (fine dining, regional cuisine specialties, classic dishes), The World Cafe (market-style buffet restaurant with open kitchen, live cooking station, bakery, grill stations, seafood bar with premium sushi, international food choices), Mamsen's Restaurant (Deck 5, traditional Scandinavian dishes, Italian cuisine specialties) plus Room Service (24-hour, complimentary).
The Hangar is an aft-located indoor marina for launching the smaller-sized RIBs (rigid inflatable boats). The launch platform features a 26 m (85 ft) wide rollers-covered slipway (boat ramp) that allows safe and sheltered embarkation on the RIBs inside the cruise ship.
Ship's expedition equipment is provided complimentary and to all passengers (regardless of cabin category). It includes Zodiacs (military-type rigid inflatable high-speed boats used for landings and coastal cruising), 2-seater sea-kayaks, two RIB boats (12-seats each), two mini-submarines (with 6 revolving seats, spherical windows / 270-degree), Expedition Kit (cold-weather boots, waterproof pants, snowshoes, trekking poles, skis, binoculars). Each tour boat is fitted with latest Safety Equipment (satellite phone, VHF radio, ropes, life jackets, survival kits).
Exclusively for Viking Expeditions voyages, Viking Cruises partnered with Cambridge University's Scott Polar Research Institute (Polar Museum) that specializes in polar researches and glaciology. Via this exclusive partnership, on every voyage scientists from the Institute undertake on the ship and also share with the cruisers their expertise. Another exclusive partnership was signed with Cornell Lab of Ornithology (unit of Ithaca NY's Cornell University) which specializes in global bird research. Cornell Lab's ornithologists are also always present on the ship to interact with the passengers. Viking Cruises also partnered with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). NOAA scientists are present on all Great Lakes USA voyages to conduct researches (on local weather changes and ecosystems) and present lectures themed on the Great Lakes region.
Most Viking Polaris staterooms (184 out of 189 total) are with French balconies, excluding only Deck 6's Suites (OS-Owner, ES-Explorer). Cabin sizes vary between 21 m2 (Nordic Balcony / French Balcony) and 114 m2 (Owner Suite with 73-m2 Terrace Garden). Explorer Suites are with a shared balcony (Terrace Garden Lounge).
Viking Expeditions Viking Polaris staterooms offer the following complimentary amenities and services:
- King-size bed ("Viking Explorer", deluxe mattresses and linens, Cashmere blankets), optional twin beds configuration, bedside reading lamps (wall-mounted), Marius-pattern wool blankets
- En-suite bathroom (with heated floor and heated mirror), glass door shower, hairdryer, premium bath products and toiletries (by Freyja), deluxe bathrobes, slippers, towel warmers, plenty of storage space.
- Seating area with sofa, low table, vanity desk with chair, wardrobe, full-length mirror with mini lights (doubles as night light with bedside on/off button), floor-ceiling drying closet
- Satellite phone (direct-dial), LCD HDTV (3D, Infotainment system / Internet access, room service ordering, movies-on-demand, live webcams views, Viking Expeditions ship channel for news, schedules, itinerary and destination information, enrichment lectures, port talks), binoculars (in-cabin use only), electronic safe box (in the closet), individual climate control, 220V / 110V power outlets (European and US standard plugs), Coffee machine, mini-bar (bottled water, soft drinks, snacks).
- Cabin's key-card must be inserted into a slot (by the entry door) to power the room's electrical outlets and lights. All cabin categories receive complimentary movies on demand and 24-hour room service. Suite-categories receive free laundry, pressing, shoeshine, Welcome Champagne bottle.
Nordic Balcony and Deluxe Nordic Balcony cabins are with lounge area (2 armchairs, coffee table, angle sofa). Penthouse and Junior suites are also with French Balcony (window) but larger-sized, more storage space (extra drawers), larger bathroom, upgraded services, guaranteed dinner reservations (at specialty restaurants), complimentary laundry, dry-cleaning, pressing, shoeshine.
The ship has only one Owner's Suite (category OS) - its largest accommodation (with 114 m2 indoor space plus 73 m2 terrace) and the only cabin with step-out private balcony. Owner Suite has living room (couch, coffee table, chairs, wet bar), separate dining area (6-seat table), walk-in closet, powder room (guest bathroom), separate bedroom (king bed, walk-in closet), master bathroom (double-sink vanity, power-shower), oceanview sauna room, large veranda (padded wooden loungers and chairs, 4-seat dining table, mini-bar, live plants, Jacuzzi / whirlpool hot tub). Owner Suite perks include custom-stocked minibar (alcoholic beverages), premium wine selection, media library, earliest check-in, guaranteed dinner and spa reservations, complimentary laundry, dry-cleaning, pressing, shoeshine.
Viking Expeditions cruise deals are all-inclusive, meaning they offer as complimentary (included in the fares):
- 1 complimentary excursion in each of the ports of call along the itinerary route
- complimentary drinks, including alcohol (beers and house wines at lunch and dinner). The selection of wines includes red and white, and occasionally rose,
- free Wi-Fi (shipwide coverage), free Internet (unlimited access)
- free of charge speciality restaurant dining (excepting only the lowest category Balcony cabins).
- Tipping/gratuities (recommended daily gratuity USD 14 pp) is automatically added to the passengers' onboard accounts. Adjustments can be made at the Reception Desk (Lobby area). Alcoholic drink purchases levy a 15% gratuity (automatic).
- All beverages served at the onboard lounges and bars cost extra. Prices are around $6 (cocktail), $4 (beer), $5-6 (wine by the glass). Viking Cruises "Silver Spirits" drink package costs $420 per cabin (for two passengers) and offers unlimited cocktails ($9 limit), beers and premium wines (by the glass), plus one bottle of sparkling wine, speciality coffees, unlimited soda (soft drinks).
The complimentary 24-hour Room Service menu includes pasta (3 sauces are offered - bolognese, pesto, Pomodoro), grilled salmon, cured Norwegian salmon (gravlax/gravadlax), grilled chicken, burgers (including veggie), chef salad, cheese plates. Breakfast options include hot/cold sandwiches, French toast, pancakes, oatmeal, eggs, fresh fruits.
Viking Expeditions itineraries
The inaugural cruise itineraries of both expedition vessels are 13-day polar voyages - one in Antarctica, the other in the European Arctic. Viking's Arctic cruises (to Svalbard Islands and Arctic Russia) are roundtrips from homeport Tromso Norway and priced from USD 14,000 per person (double-occupancy balcony cabin). Viking's Antarctic roundtrips are from homeport Ushuaia Argentina, with prices starting from USD 15,000 pp (fly-cruise packages from Buenos Aires with included overnight hotel stay prior departure and return flights to Europe-USA-Canada-Australia).
Exclusive promo deals for past customers and travel agents were opened for bookings made in the period October 10 - December 31, 2019. Next are listed all Viking Expeditions cruise itineraries by length and theme.
- 44-day "From the Arctic to Antarctica" (from Tromso to Ushuaia)
- 19-day "Antarctic and South America Discovery" (from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro)
- 18-day "South America and Antarctic Discovery" (from Rio de Janeiro to Ushuaia)
- 15-day and 13-day "Antarctic Adventure" (from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia)
- 15-day "Atlantic and Equator Sojourn" (from Cork to Rio de Janeiro)
- 13-day "Arctic Adventure" (roundtrip from Tromso Norway)
- 13-day "Viking's Northern Isles" (from Tromso to Cork)
- 13-day "Canadian Discovery"(from NYC New York City to Toronto)
- 10-day "Caribbean Connections" (from Bridgetown to NYC New York)
- 8-day "Niagara and the Great Lakes" (from Toronto to Milwaukee)
- 8-day "Undiscovered Great Lakes" (from Thunder Bay to Milwaukee)
- 8-day "Great Lakes Explorer" (from Milwaukee to Thunder Bay)
Viking's Great Lakes cruises visit Canada's Ontario state (Thunder Bay, Toronto, Welland Canal, Niagara Falls, Point Pelee) and USA's Minnesota-Michigan-Wisconsin states (Detroit MI, Alpena MI, Mackinac Island MI Lake Huron, Apostle Islands MI, Houghton MI, Traverse City MI, Milwaukee WI Lake Michigan, Duluth MN) and feature passing through Soo Locks (Lake Superior - Lake Huron).
Viking's Canada cruises visit NYC New York, Halifax NS, Gulf of St Lawrence (scenic cruising, Cape Breton National Park), Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island), Magdalen Islands Quebec (scenic cruising), Cap-aux-Meules (Quebec), Sept-Iles Quebec, Saguenay Quebec (zodiac cruising through Saguenay Fjord), Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres Quebec, Montreal Quebec, Seaway Locks (transit to Lake Ontario), Toronto Ontario.
Viking's Antarctic cruises are inclusive of 2 domestic charter flights (between Buenos Aires-Ushuaia) and an overnight hotel (in Buenos Aires / pre-cruise). Signature destinations include Beagle Channel (Glacier Alley) and Drake Passage, Cape Horn, Half Moon Island, Deception Island (Whalers Bay), Brown Bluff, Wiencke Island (Damoy Point), Lemaire Channel, Petermann Island, Cuverville Island, Neko Harbor (Antarctic Peninsula),
Viking's Arctic cruises visit Tromso Norway, Svalbard Islands Norway, Polar Ice Cap (scenic cruising), Spitsbergen Island (Barentsburg, Smeerenburg, Barentsburg, Alicehamna/Alice Harbour, Hornsund, Nordfjorden, Liefdefjorden), Bjornoya (Bear Island), Barents Sea (cruising).
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Viking Polaris Wiki
The ship name "VIKING POLARIS" is a trademark owned by Viking River Cruises (Bermuda) Ltd and filed on May 9, 2019. Trademark's services include passengers and goods transportation, cruise shipping and travel agency services, travel tour operations (transport of passengers for guided and sightseeing tours), cruise and travel arrangements, transportation reservations (including cruise ship and land excursions), packaging and storage of goods, provision of information and advice (related to the aforesaid services).
On January 15, 2020, was announced the boat's Godmother - Ann Bancroft (1955-born US author, teacher, public speaker, adventurer, a participant in several Arctic and Antarctic expeditions). She is best known as the first woman to trek both Earth's polar ice caps to reach the North Pole (in 1986) and the South Pole (in 1993). During the "Antarctica 2001" expedition, she and Liv Arnesen (Viking Octantis ship's Godmother) became the first women to sail and ski across Antarctica. During this 94-day voyage, they trekked ~1717 mi (2747 km).
Vessel's ice-clas is PC6 (Polar Class 6) which allows safe navigation in multi-year sea ice conditions. The lowest ice-classes for passenger ships (PC6 and PC7) are equivalent to the highest classes of Finland (1A-Super) and Sweden (1A) that allow year-round navigation for cruiseferries in Baltic waters (first-year sea ice conditions).
Polar-Class passenger ships are required to have ice-strengthened hulls which are longitudinally divided into 4 sections - bow, bow intermediate (ballast water tanks), midship, stern (ballast water tanks). Excepting the bow, the other 3 lower hull sections are further divided (vertically) into 3 compartments - bottom, lower, icebelt, for each of which is calculated an ice load (based on dimensions and geometry) which is used to determine the hull as steel grades to be used for the construction of shell plates and hull frames (design and number) per location.
Polar-Class cruise ships are also designed with specific machinery and propulsion systems (thrusters, steering gear, navigation and control systems) for safe navigation in fresh-packed ice (ice-covered waters). Unlike regular boats, their ballast water should not be freezing. Cruise ship's combined propulsion power output should be enough to allow independent cruising (at a specified continuous speed) in thin-ice conditions, which actually defines the vessel as an icebreaking ship.
In February 2020, the shipbuilder VARD Group contracted Palfinger Marine (Salzburg Austria-based manufacturer of marine deck handling equipment) to produce, deliver and install Viking Expeditions ships' side shell doors, mooring platforms, provision loading systems, garbage lifts, davit systems (for the mini-submarines and the Zodiacs) and indoor marina's / The Hangar equipment (mini-subs internal transport systems, RIBs slipway systems). Each of the two submarine launch and recovery systems (1x portside, 1x starboard) has a winch with load capacity 13 tonnes plus a telescopic crane (load capacity 1 tonne).
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