As the newly purpose-built Viking Octantis® begins its maiden journey in the Great Lakes, Viking® continues to establish new benchmarks for its expedition cruises. The Viking Octantis finally completed a roundtrip through the Welland Canal, which is an important section of the St. Lawrence Seaway connecting Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. As a result, it is now the largest passenger vessel that has ever travelled through the Welland Canal.
The Viking Octantis was designed specifically to reach the Great Lakes region. The vessel is scheduled to remain in the Great Lakes until the beginning of October 2022, during which time it will sail a number of different routes between Toronto and Duluth. The Viking Polaris®, a second exploration vessel, will make its debut later this year and will sail the Great Lakes together with the Viking Octantis beginning in the 2023 season.
“Our expedition ships were designed with the Great Lakes in mind. This region has been historically underserved by cruise lines, and we are delighted by the warm and enthusiastic reception we have received from the local communities,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. He added, “With our first season now underway, we are pleased with the strong demand among our guests and look forward to introducing even more curious travellers to these fantastic destinations in 2023.”
The arrival of Viking to the Great Lakes brings with it the newest and most modern vessels that have ever explored this part of North America. Additionally, Viking has made a significant commitment to the local tourism industry as well as the economic development of the states of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ohio (beginning in 2023) as well as the province of Ontario in Canada.
Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducts innovative research on the dynamic environments and ecosystems of the Great Lakes and coastal regions to provide information for resource use and management decisions that lead to safe and sustainable ecosystems, ecosystem services, and human health.
Viking has partnered with the GLERL to help develop the scientific enrichment programme for its Great Lakes voyages. The expedition ships used by Viking have also been given the formal status of weather balloon stations by NOAA and the US National Weather Service. From these ships, regular launches of weather balloons are carried out.