Viking Polaris is set to debut with sailings to the Arctic in summer 2022
Viking Cruises‘ second expedition ship, the 387-guest Viking Polaris, made its first contact with the water last month as it was floated out. The ship was then moved to an outfitting dock for further construction and interior build-out. After this, it will be delivered at Fincantieri’s VARD shipyard in Søviknes, Norway.
Viking Polaris is scheduled to debut in summer 2022 with a maiden voyage to the Arctic from Tromsø.
Viking’s first expedition ship, Viking Octantis – which is identical to Viking Polaris – 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 6 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 and Pools, the Nordic Spa and Fitness Centre and Explorers’ Lounge.
Esteemed explorers Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft will be named as godmothers to Viking Octantis and Viking 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.
Jane Archer reports on Silversea’s new ship which has finally entered service in Greece
Silver Moon – the first Silversea ship designed around the line’s new SALT food and culture programme – has finally been christened in Piraeus, Greece, by its godmother Gaia Gaja from the Italian Gaja winery.
Silver Moon was delivered in October 2020 but only entered service in mid-June this year, offering a summer series of cruises around the Greek Isles, as cruising started to reboot after 15 months on hold due to Covid-19.
In looks and feel (think: elegant hues of browns and creams topped off with eye-catching artworks), it’s a sister to Silver Muse, which launched in 2017, with the same 596-passenger count.
However, a lot of venues are new to cater for SALT (Sea and Land and Taste), an initiative that encourages passengers to learn about other cultures though their cuisine that was conceived by chief commercial officer Barbara Muckermann to cater for the ‘boomer’ generation of cruisers who want to tick off experiences rather than sights.
The SALT Kitchen (confusingly a restaurant) serves a different menu each day featuring dishes from countries being visited (chicken lakani and lamb stifado were among offerings on our cruise in Greece), while a SALT bar serves local and regional cocktails. It’s a popular venue but small, so passengers have to be quick to get in for a pre-dinner cocktail. “It’s a victim of its own success,” admitted Muckermann.
In the SALT Lab, which is actually the kitchen, up to 18 passengers at a time get to prepare local dishes, while learning their origins. There are two classes a day on sea days, one while in port, and it is complimentary with no plans to start charging.
Muckermann said initial feedback from SALT is “excellent”, with the SALT Kitchen quickly becoming the ship’s most popular restaurant, overtaking the more traditional Atlantide, the all-time favourite across the fleet.
Away from SALT, several venues that debuted on Silver Muse have been moved or redesigned. The Arts Café, a bright Art Deco-style coffee and light bites hangout has relocated to a larger space, while Dolce Vita, a large and impersonal lounge on Silver Muse, has been remodelled into a more intimate pre-dinner drinks haunt.
La Dame, an extra-cost fine-dining French restaurant tucked away inside Silver Muse, is in a new location with ocean views and is twice the size, with 66 covers instead of 33. The Connoisseurs Corner has gained an outdoor area with cushioned sofas and a faux fire where smokers can puff away in comfort.
Muckermann said Silver Dawn, which launches in November, will be identical to Silver Moon but hinted at a new spa experience called Otium that will take pampering to a “new level of indulgence”. Both Otium and SALT will also be on Silversea’s two new Evolution-class ships launching 2023 and 2024.