Viking Ocean Cruises just christened its second ship, Viking Sea, in a ceremony in London on the Thames River in Greenwich.
With a capacity of 930 guests, the ship is the largest ever to e launched in London. After passing through the Thames Barrier, the ship received a welcome by 28 sea men, who manned the yardarms of the Cutty Sark – the iconic 19th Century British clipper ship – and saluted Viking Sea as it arrived in Greenwich.
After arriving in Greenwich, Viking Sea was positioned in the Thames River with decorated pontoons nearby to welcome guests for various shore excursions around the city. That evening onboard, as part of the ship’s christening 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. Hagen is also the author of the children’s books, “The World of Finse” (www.finse.me), 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 the 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, 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 set sail for Bergen. From there, it will continue on to Oslo, Copenhagen, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm on the 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, it 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; it 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 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.
Designed by the same team responsible for Viking's fleet of Viking Longships, the ship incorporates details that pay homage to its Nordic heritage. A glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern offers unobstructed views; indoor-outdoor spaces offer options for al fresco dining; huge windows and skylights let in light; and a wrap-around promenade deck is available for strolling.
While onboard, guests enjoy talks from local experts and carefully selected lecturers in The Theater. Dining options range from the World Café, which features global cuisine with live cooking and open kitchens; to Mamsen's Norwegian-style deli. The Chef's Table celebrates cuisines from around the world with multi-course tasting menus and wine parings; and Manfredi's Italian Restaurant serves Tuscan and Roman cuisine. With the Kitchen Table experience, guests have an opportunity to shop, cook and eat with the Executive Chef.
Every cruise fare includes a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; premium dining reservations; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry; access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service.
From now through May 31, Viking is offering U.S. residents a 2016 Special Savings Discount with free air from 150 cities, plus up to $1,000 off per couple.