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A photographer's favorite moments from aboard Viking's Great Lakes cruise ship Octantis

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Passengers watch after a weather balloon was released from the Viking Octantis in Frazer Bay in Ontario, Canada. Viking has a partnership with NOAA and the National Weather Service has sanctioned an official launch station on each of the Viking expedition ships. They launched a weather balloon around 7 a.m. and it surprised me how many people gathered to watch the launch. This photo reminds me of the time in 2017 when I photographed the partial solar eclipse during my internship in Grand Rapids. Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

Photographer Nic Antaya spent seven days aboard the Viking Octantis with Detroit News writer Francis X. Donnelly to take in the sights and experiences of the cruise line's Great Lakes Explorer cruise, a seven-day journey from Milwaukee to Thunder Bay.

The ship stopped at and passed through such locales as Mackinac Island, Lake Huron's Georgian Bay, and the Soo Locks, providing a unique way to see Northern Michigan, Ontario and the upper Great Lakes.

These are Nic's favorite moments from that trip.

The view from the island

The view from the island

Viking Octantis is pictured in the distance from Mackinac Island, Michigan, on June 19, 2022. 

My goal for the trip was to make at least one solid photo showing the scale of Viking Octantis. We were just about finished with our horse-drawn carriage tour with the last stop at Fort Mackinac and were about to go back to the downtown area. Instead of taking the carriage, I decided to walk back and had this nice view of the water and ship. It is quite a bizarre sight to see such a large ship on the Great Lakes.
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

My goal for the trip was to make at least one solid photo showing the scale of Viking Octantis. We were just about finished with our horse-drawn carriage tour, with the last stop at Fort Mackinac, and were about to go back to the downtown area. Instead of taking the carriage, I decided to walk back and found this nice view of the water and ship. It is quite a bizarre sight to see such a large ship on the Great Lakes.

Kayaks ply Silver Islet

Kayaks ply Silver Islet

Kayakers paddle by the Sea Lion of Silver Islet in Ontario, Canada.

This photo is one of those moments that editor Andy Morrison and I said – you can't plan for it. I was on the trail hike excursion hoping to make some nice scenic photos of Silver Islet. It just so happened that when our hike finally made its way to the Sea Lion that the kayak excursion from the ship was also passing by the rock structure. It would have been a pretty photo without the kayakers, but, it really is elevated by showing what the cruise line offers to passengers both on the hike and if you were to take out the kayaks.
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

This photo is one of those moments that Detroit News assistant photo editor Andy Morrison and I agreed you just can't plan for. I was on the trail hike excursion hoping to make some nice scenic photos of Silver Islet. It just so happened that when our hike made its way to the Sea Lion rock that the kayak excursion from the ship was also passing by the rock structure. It would have been a pretty photo without the kayakers, but it really is elevated by showing what the cruise line offers to passengers both on the hike and the kayak excursion.

Impromptu celebration

Impromptu celebration

Third officer Nikola Marinovic, left,  beverage manager Tammy Marshall and crew member Darrell Ganoria  raise champagne glasses in Silver Islet in Ontario, Canada, on June 24, 2022. The Special Operations Boat saw a Zodiac boat in the distance that looked stranded, and crew members surprised the passengers with glasses of champagne. 

This morning was a very cold morning in Silver Islet. We were finishing up our excursion on the S.O.B. (Special Operations Boat) and about to get back on the cruise ship. All of a sudden, we saw a Zodiac boat stranded and made our way over to help them. There were a few crew members in there and it seemed like their engines cut out. As we got closer, I noticed the blue milk crate and was very puzzled. Within moments, we were surprised with glasses of champagne! It was a nice surprise that led to some good laughs.
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

This morning was a very cold morning in Silver Islet. We were finishing up our excursion on the Special Operations Boat and about to get back on the cruise ship. All of a sudden, we saw a Zodiac boat stranded and made our way over to help them. There were a few crew members on board, and it appeared that their engines had cut out.

As we got closer, I noticed a blue milk crate and was very puzzled by it. Within moments, we were surprised with glasses of champagne from Third Officer Nikola Marinovic, left, beverage manager Tammy Marshall and crew member Darrell Ganoria. It was a nice surprise that led to some good laughs.

The Zodiac

The Zodiac

Alex Dsouza of Goa, India, operates a Zodiac boat while outside of Killarney in the Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada, on June 21, 2022. 

Similar to my photo from Mackinac Island, I love how this shows the immaculate size of Viking Octantis. We had a morning excursion in Killarney in the Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada. We checked out some really amazing rock formations and did so from the Zodiac boat. I used a fill flash to make Alex pop.
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

Alex Dsouza of Goa, India, operates a Zodiac boat while outside of Killarney in the Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada. Similar to my photo from Mackinac Island, I love how this shows the immense size of Viking Octantis. On this day, we had a morning excursion in Killarney. We checked out some really amazing rock formations and did so from the Zodiac boat. I used a fill flash to make Alex pop.

At attention

At attention

Capt. Hakan Gustafsson, right, looks on while waiting for a group portrait aboard the Viking Octantis on Lake Michigan on June 18, 2022. 

I like this photo a lot because it was the first day on the ship before departing for our journey. I didn't think much of it when I was told there was a group photo happening on the front of the boat because the light wasn't great and a big group photo wouldn't help my vision. But I figured I'd still check it out and was very pleased that I did. The situation made for some nice photos showing the crews all together in one place. In particular, this photo stood out when I first met Capt. Hakan Gustafsson. I used a strobe camera left to fill in the shadows
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

Capt. Hakan Gustafsson, right, looks on while waiting for a group portrait aboard the Viking Octantis on Lake Michigan. I like this photo a lot because it was the first day on the ship before departing for our journey.

I didn't think much of it when I was told there was a group photo happening on the front of the boat because the light wasn't great and a big group photo wouldn't help my vision. But I figured I'd still check it out and I was very pleased that I did. The situation made for some nice photos showing the crews together in one place. I used a strobe camera on the left to fill in the shadows for this image.

Solitude on the ship

Solitude on the ship

Mackinac Island is pictured while aboard the Viking Octantis on Lake Huron on June 19, 2022. The ship was stationed at Mackinac Island, Michigan. 

I like the simplicity and design of this image from when we reached our first destination: Mackinac Island. The color palette feels really nice here. Because of the size and relatively small amount of people on the boat, it often felt empty like this, where you felt like you had it to yourself.
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

I like the simplicity and design of this image, taken when we reached our first destination, Mackinac Island on June 19. The color palette feels really nice here. Because of the size and relatively small amount of people on the boat, it often felt empty like this, giving a sense that you had it all to yourself.

Billionaire CEO like one of the crew

Billionaire CEO like one of the crew

CEO of Viking Cruises Torstein Hagen poses for a portrait aboard the Viking Octantis on Lake Michigan.

Photographing Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen was a treat. I had never made a portrait of a billionaire before and I didn't expect one to be as easygoing as he was. He was very lighthearted and goofy. I had him pose on the couch and asked him to move over to the right a little bit and he just leaned over with this big smile on his face. He showed us a photo on his phone that he took after asking to borrow one of the passenger's T-shirts that featured the Great Lakes. It sounded like most passengers he interacted with had a very similar experience where they were surprised at just how down-to-earth he is.
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

Photographing Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen was a treat. I had never made a portrait of a billionaire before and I didn't expect one to be as easygoing as he was. He was very lighthearted and goofy. I had him pose on the couch and asked him to move over to the right a little bit and he just leaned over with this big smile on his face.

He showed us a photo on his phone that he took after asking to borrow one of the passenger's T-shirts that featured the Great Lakes. It sounded like most passengers he interacted with had a very similar experience where they were surprised at just how down-to-earth he is.

Wined and dined

Wined and dined

Server Hafiz Ariffin of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, cuts a lobster tail for passengers Terry Martinson, left, of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Jean David of The Villages, Florida, and Marcia Martinson of Plymouth, Massachusetts, at Manfredi's Italian Restaurant aboard the Viking Octantis while en route to Silver Islet in Ontario, Canada.

I like this photo because I feel it shows the level of service that each restaurant (and the cruise in general) has for making their guests feel well treated. Each table has two different servers waiting at their table. Absolutely no glass of wine goes empty!
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

Server Hafiz Ariffin of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, cuts a lobster tail for passengers Terry Martinson, left, of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Jean David of The Villages, Florida, and Marcia Martinson of Plymouth, Massachusetts, at Manfredi's Italian Restaurant aboard the Viking Octantis while en route to Silver Islet in Ontario, Canada.

I like this photo because it shows the level of service that each restaurant (and the cruise in general) has for making their guests feel well treated. Each table has two different servers waiting at their table. Absolutely no glass of wine goes empty.

Raising the bar

Raising the bar

Bartender Emrah Ercelik of Ephesus, Turkey, flips a bottle of Bacardi aboard the Viking Octantis en route to Silver Islet in Ontario, Canada, on June 23, 2022. 

I had heard from another crew member about Emrah's talent of throwing around bottles of vodka, so I went down to the bar to see it myself. It was pretty wild and I should have asked him if he had ever dropped one before.
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

Bartender Emrah Ercelik of Ephesus, Turkey, flips a bottle of Bacardi aboard the Viking Octantis. I had heard from another crew member about Emrah's talent of throwing around bottles of vodka, so I went down to the bar to see it myself. It was pretty wild and I should have asked him if he had ever dropped one before.

A demonstration of the demographics

A demonstration of the demographics

Passengers listen to a presentation in The Aula aboard the Viking Octantis on Lake Michigan on June 18, 2022.

I really like this photo because it shows a more full view of who was on the ship. Being in my 20s, I definitely stood out like a sore thumb. It was largely an older crowd.
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

Passengers listen to a presentation in The Aula aboard the Viking Octantis on Lake Michigan on June 18. I really like this photo because it shows a more full view of who was on the ship. Being in my 20s, I definitely stood out like a sore thumb. It was largely an older crowd.

Shipmates

Shipmates

Robin Daniel of DeQueen, Arkansas, right, assists Mary Lang of Raleigh, North Carolina, in hiking the Lighthouse Trail in Killarney in the Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada, on June 21, 2022.
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

Robin Daniel of DeQueen, Arkansas, right, assists Mary Lang of Raleigh, North Carolina, in hiking the Lighthouse Trail in Killarney in the Georgian Bay in Ontario

The gift of cruising

The gift of cruising

Doug Reid, left  and Beverly Reid of Austin, Texas, relax with their granddaughter Darian McMillen of Houston, Texas, on the Viking Octantis in Frazer Bay in Ontario, Canada. The Reids gifted their twin granddaughters the Viking trip for their graduation present.

This photo was from the first day of fairly warm weather where passengers could comfortably make use of the outside amenities. The twins had just graduated high school and this was their graduation gift. They just made the cut, as the minimum age to board the ship is 18!
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

Doug Reid, left and Beverly Reid of Austin, Texas, relax on the ship with their granddaughter Darian McMillen of Houston, Texas, in Frazer Bay in Ontario.

The Reids gifted their twin granddaughters the Viking trip for their graduation present. This photo was from the first day of fairly warm weather where passengers could comfortably make use of the outside amenities. The twins had just graduated high school and this was their graduation gift. They just made the cut, as the minimum age to board the ship is 18.

Undersea adventure

Undersea adventure

Judy Nye, left, and Mike Nye, both of of Vero Beach, Florida, and Mary Andringa of Pella, Iowa, wait to depart from the submarine during the stop in Killarney in the Georgian Bay in Ontario, Canada, on June 21, 2022. 

This was my first time ever being in a submarine, which was a really cool experience! There wasn't much life underwater, except for a mosquito in our submarine and a tiny little fish we saw at the bottom of the lake. The submarine itself was a very tight space where you were bumping elbows with the people next to you. We were waiting to get out of the submarine and I wanted to show the space off. The mixed expressions here show how it can be a fun yet also uncomfortable experience.
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

This was my first time being in a submarine, which was a really cool experience! There wasn't much life underwater, except for a mosquito in our submarine and a tiny little fish we saw at the bottom of the lake.

Here, Judy Nye, left, and Mike Nye, both of of Vero Beach, Florida, and Mary Andringa of Pella, Iowa, wait to depart from the submarine during the stop in Killarney in the Georgian Bay in Ontario.

The submarine itself was a very tight space where you were bumping elbows with the people next to you. We were waiting to get out of the submarine and I wanted to show the space off. The mixed expressions here show how it can be a fun yet also uncomfortable experience.

Portrait of good service

Portrait of good service

Waiter Swee Tan of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, poses for a portrait at The Restaurant aboard the Viking Octantis in Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada, on June 24, 2022. 

On the last day, I had gotten to know quite a few of the crew members of the ship and did portraits of a handful of them. Waiter Swee Tan of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was one of the few who really stood out. He was a super nice guy and so happy to serve others. I really enjoyed meeting these crew members from all over the world and they were genuinely interested to learn more about the passengers.
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

On June 24, the last day of the voyage, I had gotten to know quite a few of the crew members of the ship and did portraits of a handful of them. Waiter Swee Tan of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was one of the few who really stood out. He was a super nice guy and so happy to serve others. I really enjoyed meeting these crew members from all over the world and they were genuinely interested to learn more about the passengers.

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Photographer Nic Antaya spent 7 days aboard the Viking Octantis on the Great Lakes Explorer cruise. These are Nic's favorite moments from that trip.
More favorite moments, more from the voyage: Photo galleries

More favorite moments, more from the voyage: Photo galleries

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