Thrill, Chills, and Military Vehicles: Onboard Viking Octantis Headed to the Great Lakes | Travel Research Online


Thrill, Chills, and Military Vehicles: Onboard Viking Octantis Headed to the Great Lakes

Onboard Viking Octantis in the Caribbean Sea—There’s nothing quite like sailing a ship’s maiden voyage. Viking’s gorgeous new expedition ship still has that new car leather smell, with an overlay of wood.

On the sold-out repositioning voyage heading from winter in Antarctica to summer in the Great Lakes, I joined a cadre of Viking fanatics and a couple dozen press this week as we checked her out. And while there may have been a glitch or two, everyone seemed to agree she is beautiful and roomy—and the toys on board are just out of this world.

In the Viking definition of all-inclusive, guests do not pay extra for at least one shore excursion a day or for the use of the zodiacs, the submarine, or the Special Operations vehicle used by the Norwegian navy—all of which lie in wait for us in The Hangar beneath the ship. A tip though: make your reservations the minute you can, as the vagaries of waves and weather often cause cancellations, and the waiting list grows long quickly.

But I was quick and lucky when I snagged a seat on the Special Ops vehicle and the sub, and sent my hubbie to photograph the semi-submersible.

And what a ride they were! We raced across and slid under the waves of the Caribbean—and in my mind I pictured how much fun it would be to do this in the Great Lakes. What a fun and different and Instagrammable summer vacation this would make!



The ship itself largely resembles the Viking Ocean product, though modified to meet the demands of sailing in Antarctica. The pools have been moved indoors; there are three small infinity pools with a retractable door that open to the outside and one in the spa (also, no extra charge) with beautiful vistas of the passing scenery.

Also designed for the cold weather, the rooms have no balconies, though many have veranda windows that open half-way down (think Celebrity Apex). In our Nordic Junior Suite, the space that might otherwise be a balcony has been added to the room, adding another eight or nine feet of sitting and work space that makes the room look huge. Overall, in fact, the ship feels large and roomy, with just 380 guests across a ship whose length is similar to that of Viking’s ocean ships.





The service is great on this first voyage, and the food and wine are plentiful and upscale. Like on a river ship, the choices are more limited than a big ship might offer, but of better quality, for this relatively small crowd. Don’t miss the grill at the back of the buffet, where giant tomahawk steaks and lobster are available every night.

I’m off right now to snag that spot on the submarine I was so lucky to get. (Yesterday there were 11 outings planned, with six guests on each, but nine had to be cancelled due to rocky seas. Fingers crossed things are calm today.) We are to bring our life vests, wear dark clothing so as to not interfere with the view through the windows, meet in The Hangar, and board the zodiacs that will take us out to where the subs are parked. I’ll write more next week!

Wish you were here,



Cheryl’s 40-year career in journalism is bookended by roles in the travel industry, including Executive Editor of Business Travel News in the 1990s, and recently, Editor in Chief of Travel Market Report and admin of Cheryl Rosen’s Group for Travel Professionals, a news and support group on Facebook.

As an independent contractor since retiring from the 9-to-5 to travel more, she has written regular articles about the life and business of travel agents for Luxury Travel Advisor, Travel Agent and Insider Travel Report. She also writes and edits for professional publications in the financial services, business and technology sectors.

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