The 387-guest Polaris, which is Viking Cruises‘ second expedition ship, made its first contact with the water last week as it was floated out. The ship was then moved to an outfitting dock for further construction and interior build-out. After its final work, it will be delivered at Fincantieri’s VARD shipyard in Søviknes, Norway.
Polaris is scheduled to debut in summer 2022 and will spend its maiden sailing in the Arctic and Antarctica.
The ship follows the building of Viking’s first expedition ship, Octantis, which is identical to Polaris. Octantis is due for completion in early 2022 and will operate in Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes.
Chairman of Viking, Torstein Hagen, said: “We are now one step closer to our launch of ‘the thinking person’s expedition,’ with new voyages that will allow our guests to explore the ends of the world and closer to home—in comfort.
“We are grateful for our long-standing partnership with Fincantieri, who has helped us build the world’s most beautiful ocean ships and are now helping us perfect expedition cruising. We look forward to welcoming guests on board Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis next year.”
The new Polar Class ships will be able to accommodate 378 guests in 189 staterooms. They are small enough to navigate remote polar regions and the St Lawrence River, while large enough to provide stability in rough seas. The ships will include public spaces created specifically for expeditions; The Hangar, which permits the launch of small excursion craft; The Laboratory, where an onboard team of resident scientists will work on a mix of studies; and The Aula, a panoramic auditorium at the stern.
The ships will harbour a fleet of zodiacs for expeditions, plus two-seater kayaks, rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) and two six-guest submarines.
All staterooms will have a Nordic Balcony — a sunroom that can convert into an outdoor viewing platform. Elsewhere on the ships, there will be an Aquavit Terrace & Pools, the Nordic Spa & Fitness Centre and Explorers’ Lounge.
Esteemed explorers Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft will be named as godmothers to Octantis and Polaris, respectively, at the ships’ naming ceremonies. Arnesen became the first woman in the world to ski solo to the South Pole in 1994, while Bancroft was the first woman to ski to both poles. They both became the first women to ski across Antarctica in 2001 and co-founded Bancroft Arnesen Explore / Access Water, an initiative that helps engage and empower people to create a more sustainable future.