|Four Viking Longships godmothers: Joanna Lumley, Gail Wiswedel, Rebecca Eaton, Professor Lisa Randall // Photo courtesy Viking River Cruises|
Signaling a year of incredible growth, Viking River Cruises (www.vikingrivercruises) christened the first four of its new 190-passenger Viking Longships. Each vessel is 443 feet long and has 95 staterooms.
Godmothers for Viking Freya and Viking Odin were Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of the PBS series “Masterpiece,” which includes the hit show “Downton Abbey,” and Joanna Lumley, the British actress famous for her role as “Patsy Stone” on “Absolutely Fabulous.”
Harvard physicist Dr. Lisa Randall and Gail Wiswedel, Viking’s most traveled passenger, served as godmothers for Viking Idun and Viking Njord.
Each of the four Viking Longships had a godmother who represents a key pillar of Viking River Cruises’ heritage, the river line emphasized: Eaton for culture and heritage, Lumley for inspiration, Randall for discovery and Wiswedel for journeying.
“As we celebrate our 15th anniversary in 2012, we’re proud to say this is the biggest day in our company’s history," said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking River Cruises.
Just last week, Viking announced it has commissioned six additional Viking Longships for delivery in 2013. With the six additional vessels, Viking will have invested more than $400 million in its fleet development program over three years.
"By the end of 2013, we will have launched an unprecedented 12 new Viking Longships in two years, and today we are thrilled and honored to have had such an eminent and sophisticated group of women helping us christen the first four of those vessels," said Hagen.
Guests at the christening ceremony enjoyed remarks by each godmother and presentations by Hagen and Yran & Storbraaten, maritime architects and Viking Longship designers. The ceremony concluded with an onboard dinner and maiden voyage cruise around the Amsterdam harbor.
Viking said its new Viking Longships integrate patent-pending design and cutting-edge technology with comfortable amenities that reflect guest preferences and current travel trends.
Highlights? The vessels' two Explorer Suites are the largest river cruise suites in Europe at 445 square feet; each has a separate living room, bedroom and private wraparound veranda with 270-degree views.
Seven two-room Veranda Suites have a full-size veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom. Other accommodations include 39 Veranda Staterooms with full-size verandas or 22 French Balcony Staterooms.
New premium in-cabin amenities include heated bathroom floors and mirrors, Sony HD TV’s and premium bath products.
In addition, the Viking Longships feature a new all-weather indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace, which reinvents the onboard lounge experience by bringing the panoramic outdoor river scenery indoors with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors allowing guests to enjoy the scenery and dine al fresco.
The vessels also have sustainability features; these include solar panels, an onboard organic herb garden and energy-efficient hybrid engines that reduce vibrations for a smooth ride.
The four new Viking Longships are scheduled to sail four of Viking’s most popular European itineraries, including the 10-day Tulips & Windmills, eight-day Romantic Danube, 15-day Grand European Tour and eight-day Danube Waltz.