The Return of Viking Cruises to Antarctica

Viking Cruises announces the commencement of its third Antarctic expedition cruise season aboard the Viking Octantis and its sister ship, the Viking Polaris.

Both ships will spend the southern summer in Antarctica before returning to the Great Lakes of North America for voyages in spring, summer, and early autumn.

To meet the strong demand for Antarctic travel, Viking has opened reservations for the 2025-2026 season, including a new 87-day expedition cruise departing in September 2025. The itinerary starts from Nuuk, Greenland, and concludes in Ushuaia, Argentina, allowing guests to explore the natural beauty and historical waterways of the Canadian High Arctic. They will then sail along the eastern coasts of North and South America, stopping in Caribbean ports and Peru, exploring Chilean glaciers before heading to Antarctica.

As we welcome guests for the third season in Antarctica, we are pleased to introduce even more opportunities for curious travelers to experience this phenomenal region in the comfort of Viking,” said Torstein Hagen, President of Viking. “By creating expeditions for our ideal traveler, whom we call ‘The Thinking Person,’ our guests can explore some of the Earth’s most pristine destinations in the most responsible way possible, also participating in significant scientific discoveries. During my journey to Antarctica, I witnessed firsthand the incredible landscapes and wildlife that this fascinating continent has to offer. In my opinion, everyone should make a trip to Antarctica at least once in their lifetime.”

Hagen recently met with the award-winning British photographer Alastair Miller, engaging in a pleasant conversation about his journey in the “White Continent” aboard the Viking Polaris. They discussed the intriguing story of how Hagen’s passion for travel and interest in remote destinations began during his childhood when he sent a letter to Ushuaia from his home in Norway.

The arrival of Viking expedition ships in Antarctica also marks the completion of two inaugural cruises circumnavigating the globe from North to South: the 71-day Longitudinal World Cruise II from Duluth to Ushuaia and the 70-day Longitudinal World Cruise III from Milwaukee to Ushuaia.

These highly acclaimed Grand Voyages offer guests a variety of destinations in a single itinerary, sailing from the heart of North America through engineering marvels like the Welland and Panama Canals, to the fjords of Chile, and finally to Antarctica. Following the upcoming third season of Viking in the Great Lakes, the Viking Polaris will embark on the Longitudinal World Cruise IV from Milwaukee to Ushuaia in October 2024, and the Viking Octantis will embark on another itinerary of Longitudinal World Cruise II.

Viking, a global leader in scientific enrichment on expeditions, collaborates with prestigious academic institutions such as the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Researchers visiting from partner institutions are part of the Viking Expedition Team, comprising 36 experts who guide guests through significant scientific work, providing explanations during land excursions, as well as world-class lectures onboard.

In early 2023, the Viking Expedition Team published the company’s first scientific article following observations of the rarely encountered giant phantom jellyfish (Stygiomedusa gigantea). Sightings took place during submarine dives in the coastal waters of the Antarctic Peninsula in early 2022. Written by two of Viking’s leading scientists, the article was published in Polar Research, the scientific journal of the Norwegian Polar Institute.

Viking Expedition Ships

The vessels of the Polar Class, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, accommodate 378 guests in 189 cabins. Specifically designed for expeditions, they boast ideal dimensions for safety, ensuring comfort even in remote destinations. With more internal and external observation areas than other expedition ships, guests are as close as possible to Earth’s most magnificent landscapes.

Highlights of these two ships include The Aula, a splendid panoramic auditorium inspired by the famous ceremonial hall at the University of Oslo, formerly the venue for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Used for lectures, daily briefings, documentaries, and films, this spectacular venue features a retractable 4K laser-projected screen that unveils floor-to-ceiling windows and 270° views.

The Finse Terrace is an outdoor lounge just above sea level with recessed seating, designed to provide guests with the same comfort as inside the ship while enjoying the spectacular scenery. Named after the Finse plateau in Norway, where some of the greatest polar explorers, including Nansen and Amundsen, trained for their expeditions to the North and South Poles.

The Hangar is an innovative docking point, the first of its kind, facilitating the embarkation and disembarkation of boats for special operations and other equipment, keeping guests and crew protected from marine elements.

The Bow is a significant platform at the bow with a view, while in inclement weather, The Shelter is a comfortable, partially enclosed space where guests can warm up with a hot beverage before returning outdoors.

Onboard, there is also The Science Lab, a large space developed in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and Akvaplan-Niva. It is designed to support a wide range of research activities and is equipped with wet and dry laboratory facilities. Guests have access to the Science Lab to experiment and learn with scientists how to undertake meaningful research.

Expedition Central is the place where the expedition team can consult with guests on expedition activities and share knowledge about destinations, using 3D-printed maps, digital screens, and an advanced cartographic table for spatial data visualization.

Speaking of dining, the Dining Choices restaurant offers refined cuisine with typical regional dishes and classics always available, while the casual World Café offers an open kitchen, a bakery, premium fish grilling, and sushi, along with a wide range of international flavors. Mamsen’s, named after the matriarch of the Hagen family, is the restaurant serving Scandinavian-inspired dishes, while Manfredi’s offers the best of Italian cuisine.

After a day of exploration, The Nordic Spa offers guests the opportunity to experience the latest healthy Nordic traditions, with a heated indoor pool with large windows and a badestamp, the typical outdoor hot tub.

The Explorers’ Lounge is located on the highest deck of the ship, with floor-to-ceiling windows: from here, you can admire the magnificent scenery, share discoveries with fellow travelers, or enjoy a drink.

The Living Room on the Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris is the ideal lounge to admire the view, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. Here, you will also find the library, which, like on all Viking ships, is curated by the acclaimed Heywood Hill bookstore in London and the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge.

The Nordic Balcony is a novelty for this class of Viking expedition ships: all cabins are equipped with a Nordic Balcony, a veranda that transforms into an outdoor panoramic platform with an elbow-height observation shelf to stabilize binoculars or a camera.

Guests can choose from six cabin categories, ranging in size from 20 sqm to 114 sqm; all these cabins feature a Nordic balcony, a king-size bed, and a spacious bathroom with a glass shower, heated floor, and anti-fog mirror. Each cabin also has an exclusive drying closet where warm air circulates to dry clothing and expedition equipment.

The Expedition Ship Suites, namely the 30 sqm Nordic Junior Suite and the 54 sqm Explorer Suite on the Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, are similar to the other suites in the Viking fleet. They have wooden details and amenities that include larger spaces and additional seating, an expanded bathroom with a large shower and double sinks, welcome champagne, a well-stocked minibar replenished daily, free laundry, restaurant priority reservations, and more.

The Explorer Suites have two separate rooms, a Nordic Balcony, and an external veranda. Additionally, each ship has an Owner’s Suite of 114 sqm consisting of three rooms: a living room, a dining/meeting room, and a bedroom, as well as a private balcony of 73 sqm where the traditional Norwegian badestamp, i.e., the hot tub, is located.

Viking expedition ships have set a new standard for responsible travel, with a high-energy efficiency design exceeding the Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEDI) requirements by almost 38%. In addition to an integrated bow creating a longer waterline, engines with heat recovery systems, and Azipod electric propulsion, the Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris have received one of the industry’s first SILENT-E certifications: the highest level of certification for silent ship propulsion, minimizing underwater noise pollution.

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Saskia Pacifico