LOS ANGELES – Less than one year ago, Viking Ocean Cruises launched its first ship, Viking Star, and marked the arrival of the travel industry’s first entirely new cruise line in a decade. Today in London the company officially welcomed its second ship, Viking Sea, to its fleet during a celebration on the Thames River in Greenwich.
Though Viking’s ocean ships are classified as “small ships” by Cruise Critic, the 930-guest, 47,800-ton Viking Sea is the largest ship ever launched in London. After passing through the Thames Barrier this morning, the ship received a warm welcome by 28 able sea men, who manned the yardarms of the Cutty Sark – the iconic 19th Century British clipper ship – and saluted Viking Sea as she arrived in Greenwich.
“Today is a proud day for our Viking family. London is one of my favorite cities, and Greenwich is a significant port for Viking. We look forward to bringing more guests here this spring and in future years,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. “Our ships are built for exploration; they are vessels that help our guests spend more time immersed in and surrounded by their destination. With the arrival of our second ship – and with four more sister ships on the way – we are focused on introducing travelers to the Viking way of destination-centered cruising, a unique style that was inspired by our success on the rivers.”
After arriving today in Greenwich, Viking Sea was positioned in the Thames River with decorated pontoons nearby to welcome guests for various shore excursions around the city. This evening onboard, as part of the ship’s christening – or naming – ceremony, guests were treated to a concert from Norwegian soprano Sissel and The Olav’s Choir. Guests also enjoyed a talk by Stein Olav Henrichsen, the director of Oslo’s Munch Museum – as part of the official launch of Viking’s exclusive new partnership with the museum that is designed to celebrate the life and artwork of Norway’s most famous artist, Edvard Munch, with daily “Munch Moments,” staged for guests each day in the ship’s Atrium.
During Viking Sea’s christening ceremony, Karine Hagen, Viking’s senior vice president and daughter of Torstein Hagen, served as ceremonial godmother and offered a blessing of good fortune and safe sailing for Viking Sea – a naval tradition that dates back thousands of years. Widely recognized as the face of the brand in Viking’s television ads and online cultural enrichment videos (www.exploringmore.com), Karine is responsible for infusing the company’s itineraries with extraordinary experiences. She is also the author of the children’s books, “The World of Finse”, an educational series that showcases the adventures of Karine’s yellow Labrador, Finse. The series is set largely along the global destinations and routes of Viking’s cruises, and the books are sold onboard Viking’s ships. As a response to guest requests, Finse also took part in today’s christening events.
Several elements of the christening ceremony paid homage to the company’s Norwegian heritage. Instead of champagne for the traditional bottle-breaking, Viking Sea was christened with a bottle of Gammel Opland aquavit, which hails from the same town in Norway where Torstein’s mother and Karine’s grandmother, Ragnhild – also lovingly known as “Mamsen” – was born. “Mamsen’s,” the Norwegian deli onboard Viking Sea, was also named after Ragnhild, and Gammel Opland was her favorite brand of aquavit. Additionally, in honor of the original Vikings who once explored the British Isles, a Viking battle axe was used to cut the cord for the aquavit christening. The particular broad axe used is a replica of an 11th-century Viking axe discovered in the 1920s when it was dredged from the bottom of the Thames River near the London Bridge. Following the christening and a fireworks show held in the middle of the Thames River, Viking Sea will set sail tomorrow for Bergen, and from there she will continue on to Oslo, Copenhagen, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm on the popular 15-day Viking Homelands itinerary.
Viking Sea’s christening was the culmination of a maiden voyage that began April 3 when the ship set sail in the Mediterranean. Over the last month, she made stops in what will be regular ports, including Athens, Santorini, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Venice, Rome and Barcelona. Viking Sea will spend the summer sailing itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic; she will call on Greenwich again in June as part of Viking’s new Into the Midnight Sun itinerary that sails between London and Bergen and explores the northernmost reaches of Scandinavia and sails across the Arctic Circle.
Viking’s ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boast 465 cabins and accommodate 930 passengers. Viking Sea is the second of six ocean cruise ships currently planned for the fleet. The third and fourth ships, Viking Sky and Viking Sun are under construction and will be delivered in early 2017 and late 2017, respectively. The two remaining yet-to-be-named ships will be delivered in 2018 and 2020. Viking’s ocean fleet features understated elegance and modern Scandinavian design. Highlights include:
- All Veranda Staterooms: Guests can choose from five stateroom categories, starting from a 270 sq. ft. Veranda Stateroom, all with private verandas and premium amenities that include king-size beds with luxury linens, large showers, luxury toiletries, heated bathroom floors and large interactive flat-screen LCD TVs with movies-on-demand.
- Explorer Suites: The ships feature 14 Explorer Suites, which are two-room suites ranging from 757 to 1,163 sq. ft. that offer sweeping views from wraparound private verandas as well as the most amenities and privileges of any category onboard.
- Two Pool Choices: In addition to the Main Pool with a retractable roof permitting any-season swimming, the ships feature a first-of-its-kind glass-backed Infinity Pool cantilevered off the stern, allowing guests to swim surrounded by their destination.
- LivNordic Spa: In keeping with Viking’s Nordic heritage, The Spa onboard is designed with the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind – from the centuries-old tradition of the sauna to a Snow Grotto where snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air. Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016 named it one of the “5 best cruise ship spas.”
- Explorers’ Lounge and Mamsen’s: Share a cocktail with friends. Linger over a Norwegian breakfast and a nautical history book. The Explorers’ Lounge and Mamsen’s gourmet deli are thoughtful spaces located at the bow and designed in the Scandinavian spirit, for complete relaxation and for marveling at sweeping views through double-height windows.
- The Wintergarden: Guests looking for serenity will find it in the Wintergarden. In this elegant space under a canopy of Scandinavian trellised wood, guests can indulge in afternoon tea service.
- Dining Choices: Viking’s ships offer multiple restaurant locations and food choices – from fine dining in The Restaurant, which serves three full meals and the widest choice of culinary options, and the World Cafe, which serves international fare and regional specialties – to intimate dining experiences at The Chef’s Table, which offers a multi-course tasting menu complete with wine parings, and Manfredi’s, which features freshly prepared pastas and Italian favorites. Additionally, The Kitchen Table focuses on regional dishes from market to table; the Pool Grill specializes in gourmet burgers; afternoon tea and scones are available in the Wintergarden; and Mamsen’s serves Norwegian deli-style fare. Furthermore, with multiple choices for outdoor seating during meals, Viking Star offers the most al fresco dining at sea.
- Enriching Entertainment: Connecting guests to their destinations through authentic experiences is central to Viking in creating “the thinking person’s cruise.” Instead of casinos and water slides, guests are offered Viking’s Culture Curriculum including: world-class lectures on history and art; tasting of vintage wines from their destinations; restaurant menus inspired by local cuisine; informative port talks; enriching Destination Performances featuring folkloric shows and musicians playing regional and classical music; an onboard cooking school allowing guests to learn how to prepare local specialties.
- Sustainable Features: Designed with the environment in mind, Viking’s ships feature energy-efficient hybrid engines, hydro-dynamically optimized streamlined hull and bow for maximum fuel efficiency and equipment that minimizes exhaust pollution and meets the strictest environmental regulations.