With a cool breeze and sunny skies along the Rhine River in Basel, Switzerland. It was perfect weather for a naming ceremony and celebration. Cruise Addicts was honored to be in attendance to witness this ceremony and celebration as Viking welcomed the seven new ships to its river fleet. Of the seven ships, six are Viking Longships – Viking Einar, Viking Sigrun, Viking Sigyn, Viking Tir, Viking Ullur and Viking Vali – which will be deployed on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. The seventh new ship – Viking Helgrim – was inspired by the Longships design and built for the Douro River. With the additional new ships it will bring Vikings total count of river ships to an amazing 72.
“We began hosting guests on the rivers of Russia 22 years ago, we have always done things differently. We focus on the destination, and we provide travel experiences that allow our guests to learn, to enrich their lives and to explore the world in comfort. It is ‘The Viking Difference’ that has made us the leading river cruise line in the world – and has helped river cruising become one of the fastest-growing segments of travel,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “As the leader, it is also important that we recognize those who have helped us achieve success. This year I am especially proud to honor members of the Viking family as godmothers of our newest river ships.”
With Swiss Alpine Horns playing, the naming ceremony began. Traditional ship naming and launching ceremonies date back to the 3rd millennium BC with the purpose to bring good fortune and safety to the new ship, its crew and the passengers she will carry. Early Egyptians were known for calling on gods to the protect ships and other nationalities spilled blood as a sacrifice. During the medieval age, they offered wine as a substitute for the blood. The tradition continues today with women replacing the religious men of the past. Viking invited seven long-serving employees and important members of the company’s family to serve as honorary godmothers of the new ships.
- Leah Talactac, Godmother of Viking Einar
- Natalia Hofmann, Godmother of Viking Helgrim
- Wendy Atkin-Smith, Godmother of Viking Sigrun
- Rikke Semb Pertile, Godmother of Viking Sigyn
- Gisela Rückert, Godmother of Viking Tir
- Linh Banh, Godmother of Viking Ullur
- Minxuan Zhao, Godmother of Viking Vali
The naming event was executed by connecting the new ships via satellite across four European cities. Viking Einar and Viking Sigrunwere docked in Basel and named by in-person by their godmothers. The other five ships were “virtually” named by their godmothers: Viking Sigyn and Viking Ullur in Rostock, Germany; Viking Tir and Viking Vali in Brunsbüttel, Germany; and Viking Helgrim in Porto, Portugal. In keeping with another maritime tradition, a bottle of Gammel Opland aquavit was broken on the bow of each new ship. Gammel Opland hails from the same county in Norway where Chairman Hagen’s mother, Ragnhild—also lovingly known as “Mamsen”—was born and was her favorite brand of aquavit.
After the ceremony those in attendance enjoyed dinner at Basel’s Fondation Beyeler museum, set amidst the museum’s newest and most ambitious exhibition: The Young Picasso. Blue and Rose Periods. It features priceless artworks. It was an amazing treat to watch a performance by Alma Deutscher, the 14-year-old English composer, pianist, violinist, and child prodigy—who is a favorite of Chairman Hagen’s. Her performance made the evening extra special.
Since starting with river cruises in Russia over twenty-two years ago, Viking Cruises has grown up and become what Chairman Hagen calls, “A real company”. With over 9,000 employees, generating 3 billion in revenue I would call that an understatement. They have created an award-winning product on the rivers and oceans year after year. They dominate the river cruise market with an almost fifty percent share. Since introducing ocean cruise vessels in 2015 with the Viking Star, their ocean cruise products growth has soared. The Viking culture on the rivers and now oceans has made this phenomenon possible. Guests enjoy the unique offerings and also what Viking doesn’t offer. The inclusiveness of their cruises lets passengers know what is and is not included up front. Further, Viking chooses to not “nickel and dime” it’s guests. This allows guests to relax and a not worry about what extra costs may lurk around their next excursion.
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For more information visit VikingCruises.com or Call Viking toll free at 1-855-8-VIKING (1-855-884-5464) or contact a travel agent.
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