PortsToronto’s cruise ship season has officially begun, welcoming its first vessel on Friday (April 28) – the upscale, 378-guest Viking Octantis, Viking’s first expedition ship that debuted last year.
Octantis has launched a "record-breaking" cruise ship season in Toronto, which will welcome 54 ships between May and October, and more than 22,000 passengers.
Toronto has become a popular Great Lakes cruising destination. As one of the key ports of call, passengers aboard this and other cruise ships remain in Toronto for one to three days and support the local economy by enjoying local restaurants, attractions and shopping.
Cruising is also moving international travellers into the far reaches of the Great Lakes and into smaller towns and ports in Northern Ontario.
According to Cruise the Great Lakes, an initiative led by the Conference of Great Lakes Governors and Premiers, cruising in the Great Lakes generated an economic value of over $120 million USD to the region’s ports and communities in 2022.
“The Port of Toronto is a popular urban jumping off point for cruising adventures throughout the Great Lakes. From the cruise ship terminal, passengers are a quick five-kilometre drive to downtown, which has the shopping, theatre, sporting events and restaurants you would expect in a world-class city,” stated RJ Steenstra, president and CEO, PortsToronto, in a press release.
“With the growing trend of ‘exploration cruising’, the Great Lakes cruising sector has seen a steady increase in both the number of ships as well as the number of passengers choosing to visit our region, and we expect to see this growth continue.”
“Designed for discovery"
Octantis is about offering more indoor and outdoor viewing areas than other expedition vessels, bringing guests as close as possible to nature and scenery.
All 189 staterooms on board Viking’s expedition ships feature a Nordic Balcony, a sunroom that converts into an al fresco viewing platform with an observation shelf at elbow level to stabilize binoculars or a camera.
Scientists from renowned academic institutions have also been undertaking fieldwork on board Octantis, sharing their expertise with guests through lectures, opportunities to join in on field work, or by working alongside them in an onboard laboratory.
With spaces like “The Aula,” a panoramic auditorium, “The Hangar,” an in-ship marina, “The Science Lab,” where guests can interact with scientists, and “Expedition Central,” a hub for onboard experts to share their research and knowledge about destinations, Octantis was “designed for discovery,” as Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking Cruises, said in a statement last year.