Viking® continues to mark new milestones for its expedition voyages, as the new purpose-built Viking Octantis® kicks off its inaugural season in the Great Lakes. Designed specifically to reach the Great Lakes region, the Viking Octantis recently completed a roundtrip through the Welland Canal—a key section of the St. Lawrence Seaway connecting Lake Ontario and Lake Erie—making it the largest passenger vessel ever to transit the canal. The ship will remain in the Great Lakes until early October 2022, sailing a variety of itineraries between Toronto and Duluth. A second expedition vessel, the Viking Polaris®, will debut later this year and will join the Viking Octantis in the Great Lakes for 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. “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.”
Viking’s arrival to the Great Lakes brings the newest and most modern vessels ever to explore this region of North America, as well as a significant commitment to local tourism and economic development for the states of Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio (beginning in 2023) and the Canadian province of Ontario.
To help develop the scientific enrichment program for its Great Lakes voyages, Viking has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL), which 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 communities. Viking’s expedition ships have also been designated official NOAA / U.S. National Weather Service weather balloon stations, from which regular launches are undertaken.
2022—2023 Great Lakes Voyages:
During Viking’s inaugural 2022 season, the company is operating four new itineraries in the Great Lakes. Highlights include:
- Undiscovered Great Lakes (8 days; Thunder Bay to Milwaukee) – Cross the width of Lake Superior between Duluth and the Soo Locks, exploring the Apostle Islands and Keweenaw Peninsula along the way. Hike along clifftop trails for sweeping views of the lake. Gain insight into the unique features and ecosystems of remote wilderness islands, and admire Kakabeka Falls, the “Niagara of the North.” Discover sea caves by kayak and step back in time as you stroll the quaint, car-free streets of Mackinac Island.
- Great Lakes Explorer (8 days; Milwaukee to Thunder Bay) – Discover the maze of granite islands that comprise Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve while hiking and kayaking through its tranquil beauty and admiring sweeping vistas. Experience Victorian charm on Mackinac Island and venture into the boreal forests of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park on Lake Superior’s northern shore. Explore coastal wetlands replete with birdlife, comb pristine beaches and get acquainted with native cultures of the northern Great Lakes.
- Niagara & The Great Lakes (8 days; Toronto to Milwaukee) – From urban skylines to uninhabited islands, discover North America’s wilderness alongside renowned cultural attractions while cruising the striking waterways of the Great Lakes. Immerse yourself in the lakes’ compelling shipping history, experience the power of thundering Niagara Falls and keep watch for scores of migratory birds at Point Pelee. Led by a team of experts, explore sheltered bays and woodlands to uncover complex ecosystems and hidden treasures.
- Canadian Discovery (13 days; New York to Toronto) – Unleash your inner explorer in the remote wilds of eastern Canada. Discover this region’s rich colonial past amid stunning natural settings. Admire the unparalleled beauty of the rugged coast of the Canadian Maritimes. Cruise along the wide expanse of the St. Lawrence River and marvel at the dramatic cliffs and wildlife of the Saguenay River Valley. Engaging shore excursions in each port allow you to better enjoy all this region has to offer.
In 2023, Viking will add a new, 15-day voyage:
- Great Lakes Collection (15 days; Toronto to Duluth) – Join Viking for a unique expedition across the historic waterways of all five of the majestic Great Lakes. Experience culture-rich urban centres and admire the awesome power of thundering Niagara Falls. Explore the granite islands and sheltered inlets of Georgian Bay and traverse the famous Soo Locks. Study the aquatic ecosystems of the lakes and venture into the dense boreal forests that line the shores of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.