Marking a landmark year of innovation and expansion, Viking River Cruises yesterday proudly christened the first four of its new Viking Longships at a spectacular event in Amsterdam. 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," joined the celebration as the ceremonial "godmothers" for the Viking Freya and Viking Odin. Renowned Harvard physicist Dr. Lisa Randall and Viking's most traveled passenger, Gail Wiswedel, served as godmothers for Viking Idun and Viking Njord."As we celebrate our 15th anniversary in 2012, we're proud to say this is the biggest day in our company's history. The christening of four new Viking Longships is the first step toward an exciting new horizon in our future," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking River Cruises. "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."
The christening of the four new Viking Longships represents the first time in modern history that four cruise ships have been christened at once, with Viking Odin and Viking Idun christened in Amsterdam and Viking Njord and Viking Freya christened via satellite from the Neptun shipyard in Germany.
Guests at the christening ceremony enjoyed remarks by each godmother and presentations by Hagen and Yran & Storbraaten, the celebrated maritime architects and Viking Longship designers. The ceremony concluded with an onboard dinner and maiden voyage cruise around the Amsterdam harbor.
Each of the four Viking Longships was appointed a godmother who represents a key pillar of Viking River Cruises' heritage: Eaton represents culture and heritage; Lumley represents inspiration; Randall represents discovery; and Wiswedel represents journeying.
Emmy, Peabody and Golden Globe winner and Academy Award-nominee, Rebecca Eaton, has been the executive producer for "Masterpiece" for 25 years. Under her influence, the series has presented some of its most popular and enduring dramas, including "Prime Suspect," "Bleak House," "Sherlock" and the Emmy-award winning "Downton Abbey." Eaton's commitment to enriching, high-quality programming perfectly complements Viking River Cruises' cultural offerings. Eaton was listed in 2011's "TIME 100," TIME Magazine's list of the year's most influential people, and was profiled in the January 2012 issue of Vanity Fair. "As executive producer for 'Masterpiece,' I'm proud to have Viking River Cruises as our sponsor," said Eaton. "And what an honor to be asked to participate in the christening of the new Viking Longships."
Actress Joanna Lumley is best known for her work on the BBC hit comedy "Absolutely Fabulous," which was recently re-introduced to the air. She has also fronted several television travel documentaries, starred in multiple theatre productions, and has written several books. Lumley's creativity, humor and skill have made her an icon, and reflect the value placed on inspiration in all Viking cruises. Awarded an OBE in 1995, Lumley is also recognized for her human rights activism and charity, and she has campaigned on the behalf many important causes. "What an honor to serve as godmother to a ship that will sail through the heart of Europe on its most historic waterways," said Lumley. "I've always been inspired by experiencing new destinations, and what better way to do so than on a modern cruise ship named for a Viking god!"
Dr. Lisa Randall is a professor of physics at Harvard University, a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is one of the most influential and highly cited theoretical physicists. Revered as a leading expert on particle physics and cosmology, Randall is the author of two bestselling books on the nature of the universe, including the recent "Knocking on Heaven's Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World." She has received numerous awards and honors for her contributions, including being named one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. "River cruising is about observation and inquiry—learning about places from the inside out. As a particle physicist, these are goals that very much resonate with me. I'm delighted to be associated with this launch, and the appreciation of physics expressed by all involved," said Randall.
Gail Wiswedel, of Saugatuck, Michigan, is a longtime honorary member of the Viking River Cruises family. As Viking's most-traveled guest, Wiswedel is an invaluable source of insight and inspiration. When asked for her reaction to being named godmother, Gail exclaimed, "I'm so honored. I honestly feel like the Viking staff are part of my family…they care; they truly care." In addition to serving as a Viking godmother, Wiswedel already has two Viking cruises planned for later this year.
New Viking Longships
Viking Longships integrate patent-pending* design and cutting-edge technology with comfortable amenities that reflect guest preferences and current travel trends, such as:
Two Explorer Suites, which will be the largest river cruise suites in Europe at 445 square feet, each featuring a separate living room, bedroom and private wraparound veranda, offering 270-degree views.
Seven two-room Veranda Suites with a full-size veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom.
Thirty-nine Veranda Staterooms with full-size verandas.
Twenty-two French Balcony Staterooms.
A revolutionary 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.
New premium in-cabin amenities that include heated bathroom floors and mirrors, Sony HD TV's and premium bath products.
Sustainability upgrades, such as solar panels, an onboard organic herb garden and energy-efficient hybrid engines that reduce vibrations for a remarkably smooth ride.
Accommodating 190 passengers, the ships are scheduled to sail four of Viking's most popular European itineraries, including the 10-day Tulips & Windmills, 8-day Romantic Danube, 15-day Grand European Tour and 8-day Danube Waltz. Each of the new Viking Longships will be 443 feet (135 meters) long and feature 95 staterooms per ship.