How the Viking Octantis Will Offer Sustainable Expedition Cruising

Viking Octantis (Photo: Ovanes Agaryan)

The 378-passenger Viking Octantis, delivered by Fincantieri’s VARD in Norway last month, is scheduled to set sail for the first time in early 2022.

The Octantis has a Polar Class 6 hull that can sail in 75 centimeters of ice thickness.

According to Viking’s New Build Project Manager Luc Martin, the Octantis is at least 36 percent better than the requirements set by the International Maritime Organization.

“That's what we call EEDI – the energy efficiency design index – which can be summarized as the impact to the environment (divided by) benefit for society,” Martin said in a Viking TV video series.

Martin added that the Octantis has been designed to be ready for zero emissions.

“We also concentrated on the appendices like the bow thrusters, the stabilizers and the pods. The pods has been designed to offer enhanced maneuvering at port and in the fjords, the Arctic or Antarctica. It's also helping us reduce fuel consumption,” Martin noted, adding that today Viking can reduce fuel consumption by about 4 percent when compared to traditional propulsion.

The Octantis is also using seawater and freshwater to cool down the engines. The heat that is generated by the engines is also not lost.

“We are going to use that heat to either create steam or help the hot water system onboard the ship,” Martin said. “We are also recovering the heat from the exhaust. That heat is also used either for creating steam or hot water.”

Kinder to Wildlife

“We have worked together with IAATO to advocate for a whale-safe speed. Within the geofenced area, we will lower our speed to minimize the risk of colliding with wildlife,” said Viking’s Director for Expedition Operations, Jørn Henriksen.

“The Viking expedition ships will also have a SILENT-E notation within our classification society, meaning that we have a certificate saying exactly how much noise emission we have in the water. And when we go into whale-safe speeds in Antarctica, we can also guarantee that we emit a low noise signature to wildlife in the ocean. Combined with whale-safe speeds, this is a very good way to minimize the impact on marine wildlife,” Henriksen added.

Viking’s Head of Science and Sustainability, Damon Stanwell-Smith, said that the cruise line has worked with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to reduce the likelihood of harming birds.

“It is always a risk with all expedition ships sailing in remote areas when sailing in places where birds are nesting. In foggy and dark conditions, birds can be attracted to the lights of the ship sailing by and therefore strike the ship accidentally. To reduce this, we've worked with our partner, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, to design a bridge control system that we call Bird Safe Lighting Mode, which reduces the external lights as much as we can to still be safe and reduce the chances of bird strikes,” Stanwell-Smith said.

Kinder to Environment

Additionally, according to Stanwell-Smith, to protect the delicate benthic areas on the seabed underneath the ship while doing off-ship activities, Viking uses dynamic positioning.

According to Stanwell-Smith, one of the two special operations boats on both the Octantis and its upcoming sistership Polaris has been designated a survey vessel.

“It has been built with a state-of-the-art multibeam sonar system. This enables us to scan the seabed, do bathymetric surveys, look at the glacial geomorphology and related research, as well as understand the places that we visit in remote locations better,” Stanwell-Smith said. “This means it has been installed with a state-of-the-art multibeam sonar system. This enables us to scan the seabed, do bathymetric surveys, look at the glacial geomorphology and related research, as well as understand the places that we visit in remote locations better.” 

Before we do our first landing in Antarctica, we go through a sequence of cleansing of velcros on people's gear. We vacuum clean people’s backpacks that they use in other areas of the world, we sanitize the boots and make sure that we minimize the risk of bringing foreign materials with diseases and viruses into the Antarctic food web,” explained Henriksen.

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