In the upcoming spring season, the Great Lakes will be graced by the presence of the Viking Polaris, which is the identical twin of the massive Viking Octantis cruise ship. This behemoth of a ship made its debut in Detroit on May 3, 2022, during the 2023 cruising season, and it holds the distinction of being the biggest cruise ship to ever sail through the Great Lakes. It’s an exciting new ship to put Great Lakes Cruising on a global level.
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More Great Lakes Cruising Options
Viking’s announced their arrival to the Great Lakes with a fresh new ship starting in 2022. Viking joins other high-end Great Lakes cruise lines currently trekking along the shorelines of Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, as well as the Canadian province of Ontario. The cruise line opened the itineraries last January for booking as part of a preview of new Viking Expeditions.
Viking expects to have one of their newest ships set sail on the Great Lakes — the Viking Octantis. The ship is 665 feet long with a beam of 77 feet wide and a guest capacity of 378. As is the trend in today’s cruising, the Octantis will offer various rooms and suites, as well as comfortable amenities and a nod to environmental sustainability. According to Viking, the ship is a Polar Class 6 ship with an ice-strengthened hull that allows it to operate in the Arctic during summer and autumn among medium first-year ice.
Anticipated Cruise Tours in the Great Lakes
We found the three 2023 Great Lakes Cruises of particular interest. They will stop at some of the most unique and sought-after destinations for private cruising in the Great Lakes.
Toronto to Duluth
Embark on an exhilarating adventure across the historic waterways of all five Great Lakes, basking in their awe-inspiring beauty. Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of urban centers and witness the breathtaking power of Niagara Falls. Discover the picturesque granite islands and hidden inlets of Georgian Bay, while navigating through the iconic Soo Locks. Delve into the mesmerizing aquatic ecosystems of the lakes, and explore the lush boreal forests that adorn the shores of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.
Undiscovered Great Lakes
This cruise passes between Lake Superior and Lake Huron via the Soo Locks. If you’re a student of history, you may agree that this route partially mirrors the routes taken by French and English fur traders in the 1600s. The cruise is for 8 days starting in Thunder Bay, Ontario to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Great Lakes Explorer
This 2023 Great Lakes Cruise island-hops from Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve while hiking and kayaking through its northern quiet beauty and sweeping vistas. Take a stop in Mackinac Island and enjoy the car-free island featured in the movie Somewhere in Time. The 8-day journey starts in Milwaukee and ends on Lake Superior’s north shore in Thunder Bay.
Niagara & The Great Lakes
From Toronto’s urban skylines to uninhabited islands. This voyage travels the well-traveled route by circling the entire Michigan peninsula. This 8-day cruise starts in Toronto, past Niagara Falls, and Welland Canal with port stops in Point Pelee Detroit, Alpena, Mackinac Island, and Traverse City. The trip ends in Milwaukee.
A Unique Feature of the Octantis
One of the truly unique aspects of the Viking ships as a Great Lakes cruise line is called the “The Hangar”. This enclosed, in-ship marina permits the launch of a small excursion craft through the ship’s multiple shell doors. The Hangar’s most innovative feature is an 85 ft. slipway that allows guests to embark on RIBs. The Hanger is a flat, stable surface inside the ship, shielded from wind and waves.
Additionally, Viking has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Scientists are expected to join expeditions in the Great Lakes. They will research the Great Lakes cruise ship studying changes in the region’s weather, climate, and ecosystems. The current record water levels of the Great Lakes should challenge these scientists.
The Viking Octantis and its sister ship Polaris will begin regular service on the Great Lakes in the spring of 2023.
Video: Great Lakes Cruising In 2023 – Great Lakes – Viking Octantis Ship Review
Related Cruising and Sailing Stories
There was a time when traveling by ship was the only way to quickly and safely travel from Detroit to Chicago. Ship travel also helped to create the term “going up north” for summer tourism. We examine luxurious ship travel in Michigan in the 1800s for a great look.
There are several cruise lines currently operating in the Great Lakes in 2020. It’s a growing interest and ships can get into ports that were once only accessible to private yachts and sailboats. Cruising the Great Lakes is a neat article to check out if you’re interested in a unique experience on the Great Lakes.
If you want a small cruising experience for only a few hours. Take a look at the Charity Island dinner cruise for a Saginaw Bay experience.