We've had Viking ships arrive to Lake Superior before … some perhaps even when there were actual Vikings, so the speculation goes. But the latest invasion of Vikings will be warmly welcomed if the cruise company by that name makes it all the way to Houghton, Bayfield, Duluth and Thunder Bay for one of its 2022 Great Lakes cruises.
Viking cruises will launch its Viking Expeditions that year with the yet-to-be built Viking Octantis, a 665-foot-long, 77-foot-wide boutique Polar Class 6 cruise ship able to accommodate 378 guests with 189 staterooms. The ship is scheduled to be launched by 2022.
"Viking’s arrival to the Great Lakes will bring the newest and most modern vessels ever to explore this region of North America and will mark a major commitment to local tourism and economic development for the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as the Canadian province of Ontario," the company promised in its press release.
This is long awaited good news for Big Lake ports, which have been wooing various cruise lines to actually traverse Lake Superior instead of just hull-dipping into the lake after locking through at the Soo. This special class of ship Viking has commissioned will be built to handle icy conditions in the Antarctic, which is where Octantis will spend its time when not on the Great Lakes.
Viking Expedition cruises partner the company with various scientific and research groups, offering presentations on topics from birding to history to climate change. In announcing the new focus, Viking also announced two women explorers, Liv Arnesen, a native Norwegian, the first woman to ski solo and unsupported to the South Pole in 1994, and Minnesotan Ann Bancroft, the first woman to successfully ski to both poles, as ceremonial "godmothers" (respectively) to the Viking Octantis and its sister ship Viking Polaris.
Already online, Viking is booking the Milwaukee-Thunder Bay cruises, 14 eight-day adventures with seven Great Lakes Explorer trips between May 21 and Sept. 10 (starting at $6,495) that on Lake Superior skip directly from the Sault to T-Bay and seven Undiscovered Great Lakes tours between May 28 and Sept. 17 (starting at $6,695) that boast stops in Houghton, Bayfield and Duluth before arriving in Thunder Bay. Both tour options stop at Mackinac Island. If you book before Feb. 21, by the by, Viking throws in the $500 roundtrip airfare free. The online pages also outline the amenities and what the rooms will look like. We liked that this Nordic Junior Suite photographic artist rendering snuck Shovel Point in the background.