Viking expands river fleet by inaugurating seven new vessels

The godmothers with Viking chairman Torstein Hagen in Basel’s Fondation Beyeler museum amid its Picasso exhibition The godmothers with Viking chairman Torstein Hagen in Basel’s Fondation Beyeler museum amid its Picasso exhibition PHOTO: Viking Cruises

With Basel, Switzerland, serving as party central, Viking ushered in seven new river vessels in multi-city locations on Tuesday.

Six Viking Longships plus one for the Douro

Six are Viking Longships—Viking Einar, Viking Sigrun, Viking Sigyn, Viking Tir, Viking Ullur and Viking Vali—which will be deployed on Viking’s most popular itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. The seventh—Viking Helgrim—was inspired by the Longships design and built for the Douro River, bringing the company’s total number of sister ships in Portugal to four.

'We began hosting guests on the rivers of Russia 22 years ago, and 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,' Viking chairman Torstein Hagen said.

The godmothers

Seven long-serving employees and important members of the Viking family were invited to become godmothers for the vessels. They are Leah Talactac (Viking Einar), Natalia Hofmann (Viking Helgrim), Wendy Atkin-Smith (Viking Sigrun), Rikke Semb Pertile (Viking Sigyn), Gisela Rückert (Viking Tir), Linh Banh (Viking Ullur) and Minxuan Zhao (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 in-person by their godmothers. The other five vessels were 'virtually' named, with Viking Sigyn and Viking Ullur in Rostock, Germany; Viking Tir and Viking Vali in Brunsbüttel, Germany; and Viking Helgrim in Porto, Portugal.

Dinner with Picasso

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 Hagen’s mother, Ragnhild—known as 'Mamsen'—was born, and it was her favorite brand of aquavit. Following the naming event, guests dined in Basel’s Fondation Beyeler museum amid its newest and most ambitious exhibition, 'The Young Picasso. Blue and Rose Periods.'

The evening included a performance by Alma Deutscher, the 14-year-old English composer, pianist, violinist and child prodigy who is a favorite of Hagen’s.



Posted 19 March 2019

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review