The keel has officially been laid for the eighth Viking Mars ship.

With the first cut of steel, the laying of the keel is one of the first signs that the construction of a brand new ship is in full swing. The momentous event took place Thursday at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Ancona, Italy.

Viking Mars keel installation (Photo courtesy of Viking)

While little is known about the differences between the Viking Mars and its sisters, it is known that it will be the same size: 47,800 gross tons and room for 930 passengers in 465 cabins.

Fincantieri’s partnership with Viking began in 2012, when the shipping company unveiled its first deep-sea vessel, the Viking Star. Since then, the company has built all other ocean-going vessels in the series.

Viking Venus cruise line’s seventh ship will debut this year. Viking Mars is expected to join the fleet in 2022.

And Viking is well on its way to an ocean fleet comparable in size to many of the major cruise lines. Nine more ships will follow between 2022 and 2027.

Viking Mars keel installation (Photo courtesy of Viking)

Other Viking news

In December, the very first Viking expedition ship, the Viking Octantis, was launched at Fincantieri’s VARD shipyard in Norway. This means that the vessel is now in the final stages of construction and has been transferred to a suitable dock for interior finishing and completion.

The 278-passenger ship is expected to enter service early next year and spend its first season in Antarctica and the Great Lakes. A second similar expedition ship, called the Viking Polaris, will make its debut next summer.

Viking octopus swimming (Photo courtesy of Viking)

In another example of how Viking is expanding its reach, the company announced early last year that it would enter the U.S. river cruise market in 2022 with the launch of its largest river ship to date, the Viking Mississippi.

As the name suggests, the ship will sail on the Mississippi between New Orleans, Louisiana and St. Louis. St. Paul, Minnesota. The 386-passenger riverboat is expected to debut in August 2022.

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