Viking has confirmed the launch of two new expedition ships to enter service in two years’ time.

Viking Octantis will start sailing in January 2022 to Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes.

Second vessel Viking Polaris is to operate in Antarctica and the Arctic from August 2022.

The polar class vessels will carry 378 passengers and feature two mini submarines each capable of carrying six people.

The plans were unveiled last night in Los Angeles by Viking chairman Torstein Hagen in the latest expansion move by the fast-growing company.

Confirmation of the line’s entry into the expedition cruise sector came three months after the plans were first disclosed.

More: Viking Cruises to launch two expedition ships

Agents have commission ‘cut’ by Viking

Viking has introduced more than 60 river cruise vessels and six ocean cruise ships in the last eight years to create a 79-strong fleet.

The company aims to launch seven new river vessels this year and has six more ocean sister ships on order, with options for four more. These options could bring the total ocean fleet to 16 ships by 2027.

Hagen said: “We invented the concept of modern river cruising when we launched in 1997; then we reinvented ocean cruises.

“Now, in creating ‘the thinking person’s expedition,’ we are perfecting polar expedition cruising, and we will usher in a new era of comfortable exploration in the heart of North America.

“Our guests are curious explorers. They want to continue travelling with us to familiar and iconic destinations, but they would also like to travel further.

“We began as Viking River Cruises; then we evolved into Viking Cruises with the addition of ocean cruises; 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.”

The godmothers of the new expedition ships will be explorers Liv Arnesen, the first woman to ski solo to the South Pole, and Ann Bancroft, the first woman to ski to both poles.

Podcast: The Globes: Diva hosts, Smurfs and wardrobe malfunctions