Los Angeles: Viking has announced it will expand its destination-focused travel experiences with the launch of Viking Expeditions.

“In creating ‘the thinking person’s expedition,’ we are perfecting polar expedition cruising, and we will usher in a new era of comfortable exploration,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking.

“Our guests are curious explorers,” he added.  ”They want to continue travelling with us to familiar and iconic destinations, but they would also like to travel further.

”We began as Viking River Cruises; then we evolved into Viking Cruises with the addition of ocean cruises; today we stand singularly as Viking, offering destination-focused voyages on more than 20 rivers and five oceans, visiting more than 500 ports in 100 countries and on all seven continents.”

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Viking Expeditions will begin sailing in January 2022 with its first vessel, Viking Octantis, embarking on voyages to Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes.

A second expedition vessel, Viking Polaris, will debut in August 2022, sailing to Antarctica and the Arctic. Viking’s arrival to the Great Lakes will bring the newest and most modern vessels ever to explore this region of North America and will mark a major commitment to local tourism and economic development for the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as the Canadian province of Ontario.

Starting today, 16 January, all expedition voyages – including the new Great Lakes itineraries – are available to the public for booking.

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The Explorers’ Lounge on board Viking Octantis

To develop the new expedition voyages, Viking has partnered with some of the world’s most prestigious scientific institutions, including Cambridge University’s Scott Polar Research Institute.

This relationship is underpinned by a major Viking endowment for scientific research into the polar regions, The Viking Chair of Polar Marine Geoscience, a Cambridge University full professorship based at the Scott Polar Research Institute, as well as a sponsorship fund supporting the Institute’s graduate students.

As part of this endowment, the Institute’s scientists will undertake fieldwork on board Viking expedition vessels and join voyages to share their expertise with guests.

Viking has also partnered with The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a globally recognised bird research facility, whose ornithologists will regularly be on board the expedition ships, providing expert advice and interaction with guests.

Additionally, Viking has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), whose scientists will join expeditions in the Great Lakes to conduct research focused on changes in the region’s weather, climate and ecosystems.

NOAA scientists may also offer lectures about the Great Lakes’ unique environment to Viking guests during these voyages.

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One of the expedition ship’s suite

Details of Viking’s plans were unveiled by Chairman Hagen on the evening of 15 January during a celebratory launch event in Beverly Hills, California.

During the launch event, attendees were treated to a performance by Sissel Kyrkjebø, one of the world’s leading crossover sopranos and ceremonial godmother to Viking Jupiter, the newest ship in Viking’s ocean fleet.

Before her performance, Sissel officially “named” Viking Jupiter as the ship sailed between the Falkland Islands and Cape Horn.

Today’s announcement is the most recent development as Viking continues to increase its award-winning presence in the travel industry; in the last eight years alone, the company has introduced more than 60 new river cruise ships and six ocean cruise ships to become the largest small ship cruise line with a current fleet of 79 river and ocean vessels around the world.

In 2020, Viking will launch seven new river ships. Six more ocean sister ships are on order, with options for four additional ships. These options could bring Viking’s total ocean fleet to 16 ships by 2027.

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The Aquavit Terrace and Infinity Pool

To find out more about travelling with the cruise line, read our Viking Eastern Danube cruise review or Viking Northern Lights review.