Viking Octantis To Cruise The Upper Great Lakes – Other Cruise News: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Eyed For A Joint Venture – Two Ladies To Join Cruise & Maritime
by Kevin Griffin
This week we look at Viking’s first two expedition ships and the new itineraries that will be offered by the Viking Octantis starting in 2022. From Germany come reports that Royal Caribbean Cruises may take a half share in Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, in a similar manner to its 50% share it owns in TUI Cruises. And finally today, we look at the two lady names that have been chosen by CMV for its next two ships. Virgin will not be the only cruise line to have ladies in its fleet.
THIS WEEK’S STORY
Viking Octantis To Cruise The Upper Great Lakes
Swiss-based Viking, which began life as Viking River Cruises, will expand to North America in 2022 with several new itineraries on the Great Lakes.
The announcement was made in Beverly Hills, when Viking founder and chairman Torstein Hagen rollled out the details of Viking’s new expedition voyages. As well as voyages to the polar regions in Antarctica and the Arctic, new itineraries will include the Great Lakes.
Viking is now in the process of building two large expedition ships.
The first, Viking Octantis, is scheduled to make its maiden voyage in January 2022. She will be assigned to the Great Lakes and Antarctica, while sister ship Viking Polaris is scheduled to enter service in August 2022. Polaris will sail the polar regions and elsewhere.
Each ship has a capacity for 378 passengers in 189 staterooms. The vessels are designed to be small enough to navigate remote polar areas as well as the Gulf and River St Lawrence, but big enough also to handle potentially rough waters without sacrificing passenger comfort.
Viking is planning four types of Great Lakes cruises for 2022:
The “Undiscovered Great Lakes” is an 8-day voyage from Thunder Bay, Ontario, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with passage between Lake Superior and Lake Huron via the Soo Locks. Passengers will visit the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin and Michigan’s internal-combustion-free Mackinac Island. Trips run between May and September and start at $6,695 per person.
The “Great Lakes Explorer” departs Milwaukee for Thunder Bay, again over 8 days. It has some of the same ports as “Undiscovered Great Lakes” but also includes Canada’s Georgian Bay, often referred to as the sixth Great Lake. Passengers can opt to kayak around the bay’s 30,000 Islands and the North Channel. Sailing dates are between May and September and start at $6,495.
”Niagara & the Great Lakes” is another 8-day voyage, this one taking in Niagara Falls en route between Toronto and Milwaukee. Other stops include Detroit and Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes. It’s offered in April, May, June, July and September with prices from $5,995.
The longest voyage is “Canadian Discovery”, a13-day excursion that starts in New York and meanders along Canada’s east coast to the St Lawrence River. Passengers explore whale country at the Saguenay Fjord and can go salmon fishing, once the sport of prime ministers, in Quebec’s Moisie River.
This trip also ventures into one of the Lower Great Lakes: Lake Ontario, where the voyage finishes in Canada’s largest city, Toronto. Sailing dates are in April and October, with a lead-on fare of $8,995. Prices include shore excursions, meals, some alcoholic beverages, Wi-Fi and port fees.
The inaugural fares listed above are valid through the end of February on 2022 and 2023 voyages. During the introductory booking period, Viking is including free round-trip airfare to and from major gateways in North America.
Unlike many expedition ships, Viking Octantis and Polaris are being built with soaring windows to maximize views. A retractable glass dome will cover an area with three different temperature pools. Each of the 665-foot-long ships has multiple dining venues, a spa and a fitness centre.
Modern, Scandinavian-style staterooms range in size from 222 square feet to a sprawling 1,223-square-foot in the owner’s suite, with a large private garden.
All of the cabins have king-size beds, heated bathroom floors and a Nordic balcony, where the top portion of the floor-to-ceiling glass wall can be lowered to elbow level to mimic a traditional balcony.
The expedition vessels, are under construction in Norway and will feature an enclosed marina dubbed The Hangar, where guests can board and disembark smaller, high-speed excursion boats from a stable surface protected from the elements.
In a glass-covered mezzanine above The Hangar, Viking’s team of “resident scientists” will be conducting environmental research during the voyages. Passengers can visit the lab to learn more about the work and even lend a hand.
For the Great Lakes trips, Viking has partnered with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), whose scientists will join expeditions to study changes in the region’s weather, climate and ecosystems.
Each ship will be equipped with two submarines that can seat six guests for underwater exploration.
OTHER CRUISE NEWS
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises Eyed For A Joint Venture
TUI Group announced last week that it is looking into “capital light” growth options for its luxury cruises subsidiary Hapag-Lloyd, including a possible joint venture with an international partner.
According to sources in Germany, Royal Caribbean Cruises is poised to buy into the ultra-luxury German cruise line through TUI Cruises, its existing joint venture with TUI Group that operates the “Mein Schiff” fleet. Negotiations are apparently well advanced and a deal could be sealed in February.
However, there are still various uncertainties. TUI declined to comment on the speculation. Royal Caribbean (RCL), the world’s second-biggest cruise company with 63 ships,would be a logical partner for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises given TUI’s successful cooperation with the US company in TUI Cruises, which was set up in 2008. For RCL, whose brands include Celebrity Cruises and Azamara, it would be a further move into the luxury market following the acquisition of Silversea Cruises in 2018.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises reportedly makes a profit around €50 million on turnover of €320 million, and could have a value of over €1 billion. A sale of a 50% stake could thus bring in a sizeable sum to boost TUI Group’s future plans.
Two Ladies To Join Cruise & Maritime
Two more P&O Australia ships, already announced by Cruise & Maritime Voyages, will soon join the CMV fleet.
The Pacific Dawn will be renamed for Amy Johnson, a pioneering English pilot who was the first woman to fly solo from London to Australia.
In 1931, aged just 27, Johnson set off from Croydon to Darwin, Northern Territory. She went on to set many records including; the first woman to fly from London to Moscow in one day and setting record flying times from Britain to Japan and Cape Town.
She was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Aero Club. During World War 2, Johnson served in the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).
The name was subject to a vote, with Johnson backed by 41% Other options had included Gertrude Bell, Isabella Bird, Mary Kingsley and Lady Hester Stanhope.
The Pacific Aria, which will move to CMV’s TransOcean brand for the German market will be renamed Ida Pfeiffer. Ida Pfeiffer (1797-1858) was an Austrian explorer, travel writer, and ethnographer.
Aged 45, Pfeiffer set off on her own to the Holy Land with the aim of completing a pilgrimage.
Future trips were funded through her writings. She set off on “A Lady’s Voyage Round the World” in 1846, travelling to South America, China, the South Sea Islands, India, Persia, Russia, Turkey, Greece and Italy.
The first journey, and its book, was such a success Pfeiffer undertook “A Lady’s Second Journey Round the World” in 1851 returning in 1855.
The slightly larger Amy Johnson will take over from Columbus as the fleet’s new flagship.
(Kevin Griffin is managing director of The Cruise People Ltd and a director of specialist cruise operator Culture Cruises Ltd, both of London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)