Viking on Wednesday took delivery of its first expedition ship, the Viking Octanis.
The delivery took place in a ceremony at Fincantieri's Vard shipyard in Norway, which is building two purpose-built expedition ships for Viking. Its sister ship, the Viking Polaris, is scheduled to join the fleet in August.
The 378-passenger ship will head tomorrow toward South America to welcome its first passengers in January on the line's first Antarctica cruises. The Octantis will be officially named in April 2022 in New York City by its godmother, Liv Arnesen, the explorer and educator.
The ship will then head to the Great Lakes for a series of spring and summer sailings. The Polaris will follow with a series of itineraries to the Arctic and Antarctica.
"Today is a proud day for the entire Viking family as we welcome our first expedition ship to the fleet and usher in a new era of exploration," Viking chairman Torstein Hagen said in a statement, adding that Viking guests had asked for the line "to take them further, and that is just what we have done.
"With the arrival of Viking Octantis, Viking is now exploring all seven continents, and we look forward to welcoming her first guests on board in the coming weeks."
Viking's expedition ships feature the Hangar, an industry-first enclosed marina that permits the launch of small excursion craft through the ship's multiple shell doors. Its 85-foot slipway will allow guests to launch exploration boats from a flat, stable surface inside the ship, shielded from wind and waves.
The ships will also feature the Science Lab, developed in partnership with the University of Cambridge and Akvaplan-Niva, a Norwegian water research group. The 380-square-foot lab will support a broad range of research activities and is equipped with wet and dry laboratory facilities, a sample processing area, fume cupboard, freezer and cool storage, comprehensive microscope optics and extensive bench space for analysis-specific instruments.
Guests will have supervised access to the Science Lab to learn from and participate with scientists undertaking primary research.