DULUTH — Visit Duluth celebrated a milestone for a Great Lakes cruise line Friday, Jan. 8, when it issued a first look at one of the under-construction vessels already ticketed to dock in Duluth.
The Viking Octantis was shown in three images. The 378-guest ship was "floated out" in late 2020, highlighting the first time the ship met water.
The Octantis will debut in 2022, notably visiting Duluth as part of an eight-day itinerary exploring Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Other ports of call include Thunder Bay, Canada; the Apostle Islands; Houghton, Michigan; Mackinac Island and Milwaukee. The vessel will also sail voyages in Antarctica.
"Viking is a global industry leader in expedition cruising and investing in these ships demonstrates their commitment to Great Lakes Cruising,” said Anna Tanski, president of Visit Duluth. “Duluth provides an ideal port of call, rich with history, cultural experiences and outdoor exploration. We’ve been working with Viking for more than a year to develop enticing and unique itineraries for shore excursions their passengers won’t find anywhere else.”
Viking is also constructing a second and identical expedition ship, Viking Polaris, which will debut later in 2022. The Viking Star debuted in 2015.
The expedition vessels are small enough to navigate remote polar regions and the St. Lawrence River, while large enough to provide stability in rough seas. The Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris feature luxury amenities typical of a Viking cruise ship, but with a few elements unique to the expedition line, including The Hangar, which is an enclosed, in-ship marina that permits launch of small excursion craft, and The Laboratory, which will accommodate Viking resident scientists working on a variety of studies.
Until this week, images of the cruise vessels had only been seen in mock-ups.
On its website, Viking Expeditions lists Great Lakes cruises in 2022 beginning at $5,995.
In late 2020, the city of Duluth received preliminary notice it was in line to receive a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to build a terminal facility — possibly to be located behind the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
The Duluth Seaway Port Authority and the Duluth Economic Development Authority approved $40,000 late last year toward designing the terminal facility, which would welcome waterborne international travelers. DSGW Architects in Duluth is designing the terminal.