Viking, Travel + Leisure’s #1 Ocean Cruise Line, well-known for its destination-focused river and ocean cruising, is unveiling not only the new ships, but also new destinations.
Switzerland-based Viking, which built its name plying the rivers of Europe, is extending its reach into North America in 2022 with voyages exploring the largest surface of fresh water in the world.
The announcement was made Wednesday night at an event in Beverly Hills, California, where Viking founder and chairman Torstein Hagen rolled out details about the cruise line’s upcoming “expedition” voyages. These include trips to far-flung locales like Antarctica and the Arctic, as previously reported, as well as newly revealed itineraries in the closer-to-home Great Lakes — an increasingly popular cruise destination.
Cruise lines are always looking for ways to evolve in order to attract a wider audience of travelers. Viking, has expanded rapidly in recent years. Since 2012, the company has launched more than 60 new river ships and 6 new ocean cruise ships.
Viking’s move into the Great Lakes is yet another sign that the drumbeat for cruising in the heart of North America is getting louder. Some customers like the idea of sticking closer to home as they age, while veteran cruisers are simply hungry for fresh destinations.
Hagen and Cruise Critic’s former editor-in-chief Carolyn Spencer Brown spoke with The Daily Buzz.
“We began as Viking River Cruises; then we evolved into Viking Cruises with the addition of ocean cruises,” Hagen said in a written statement announcing the news. “Today we stand singularly as Viking, offering destination-focused voyages on more than 20 rivers, five oceans and five Great Lakes, visiting 403 ports in 95 countries and on all seven continents.”
“It’s a transformative experience. Very remote. My advice would be to do your research on these expeditions,” said Brown.
Viking has four types of Great Lakes cruises in 2022:
- Undiscovered Great Lakes is an eight-day voyage from Thunder Bay, Ontario, to Milwaukee, with a passage between Lake Superior and Lake Huron via the Soo Locks. Passengers visit the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin and Michigan’s car-free Mackinac Island, among other stops. Trips run between May and September. Pricing starts at $6,695 per person.
- Great Lakes Explorer travels from Milwaukee to Thunder Bay over eight days. It has some of the same ports as Undiscovered Great Lakes. But this one also spends time in Canada’s Georgian Bay, often referred to as the sixth Great Lake, where passengers can opt to kayak around some of the bay’s 30,000-plus islands. Sailing dates between May and September; starting at $6,495.
- Niagara & the Great Lakes is another eight-day voyage, this one hitting 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 of the bunch, Canadian Discovery is a 13-day excursion that starts in New York and meanders along Canada’s southeast coast to the St. Lawrence River. Passengers explore the marine-life rich Saguenay Fjord and can test their luck salmon fishing in Quebec’s Moisie River. This trip ventures into only one of the Great Lakes: Lake Ontario, where the voyage caps off in Canada’s biggest city, Toronto. Sailing dates are in April and October, with a minimum price tag of $8,995.
Prices include shore excursions, meals, some alcoholic beverages, Wi-Fi and port fees.
Travel + Leisure magazine last month named the Great Lakes, and Great Lakes cruising, as one of its 50 best places to travel in 2020.
Viking will use its new Octantis ship, currently under construction in Europe, on its new sailings. In addition to cruising in the Great Lakes, Octantis also will sail to Antarctica. A sister ship, the Viking Polaris, will debut in August 2022, sailing in the Arctic and to Antarctica.