Viking welcomed seven new ships to its river cruise fleet this week with a "naming celebration" on the Rhine River in Basel, Switzerland. Six of these new vessels are Viking Longships—Viking Einar, Viking Sigrun, Viking Sigyn, Viking Tir, Viking Ullur and Viking Vali.
They're now being deployed on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. The seventh ship, Viking Helgrimi, is a bit smaller (with a design inspired by the Longships). It will sail on Portugal's Douro River, becoming the line's fourth ship there.
“We began hosting guests on the rivers of Russia 22 years ago, and we have always done things differently," said Torstein Hagen, Viking's chairman. Touting "the Viking Difference," he said, the line focuses 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."
Hagen also noted the importance of recognizing those who've helped the line achieve success along its growth journey. "This year, I am especially proud to honor members of the Viking family as godmothers of our newest river ships,” he said.
Viking Naming Ceremony
In keeping with a maritime tradition that dates back thousands of years, 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 Sigrun were docked in Basel and named by in-person by their godmothers.
The other five ships were “virtually” named by their godmothers: Viking Sigynand Viking Ullur in Rostock, Germany; Viking Tir and Viking Vali in Brunsbüttel, Germany; and Viking Helgrim in Porto, Portugal.
In keeping with 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.
Following the naming event, guests 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."
Guests were also treated to a performance by Alma Deutscher, the 14-year-old English composer, pianist, violinist and child prodigy—who is a favorite of Hagen’s.
The Viking Longships
Travel Agent talked with several travel agency executives about why the Longships have been so successful and what they offer for cruisers.
"Viking's growth is exciting," says Margie Jordan, owner, Jordan Executive Travel Service of Jacksonville,FL. Describing the Longships as "gorgeous," she likes those vessels' understated yet elegant design as well as their suites.
In addition, "clients enjoy sitting on the indoor/outdoor terrace," says Jordan. "It's an opportunity to grab a meal quickly while watching the world go by. And with Viking's included shore trips, she also believes they offer "good opportunities to take a deep dive into the culture."
Amber Blecker, senior manager of sales, Dreamlines of Fort Lauderdale, FL, isn't surprised by the Longship's popularity because "these ships give Viking River Cruises a very fresh and open concept to which ocean cruisers and new cruisers alike easily adapt."
She cites huge windows in public areas, extensive open-air viewing and activity areas and numerous al fresco dining options—giving travelers a sense of connection to the region in which they're sailing. She also likes the multiple cabin categories, many with balconies.
"These features remove the barrier between ship and shore," Blecker notes. Also, since the Longships are nearly identical to one another, "uniformity removes uncertainty in the product." She says agents can sell with confidence and travelers can book time and time again.
Bottom line? Blecker says: "Agents don't have to learn a variety of configurations and all guests need to do is to decide what area they want to next explore."