Viking welcomes eight new river ships to its European river fleet  - Cruise International

Viking welcomes eight new river ships to its European river fleet 

By Claire Benktander | 17 Mar 2022

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Credit: Viking

Viking has expanded its European river fleet with the naming of eight new ships during a celebration in Paris

Marking the beginning of the 2022 river season, Viking has further expanded its offerings on the Seine, Rhine, Main and Danube rivers with the new longships.

The naming of the new river ships comes as Viking continues its milestone 25th anniversary and a year of significant expansion. In January 2022, the company launched Viking Expeditions and its first Polar Class vessel, Viking Octantis.

By the end of the year, Viking will have also added a second expedition ship as well as two new identical ocean ships and new purpose-built vessels for the Nile, Mekong and Mississippi rivers.

Of the eight new Viking Longships, four ships – Viking Kari, Viking Radgrid, Viking Skaga and Viking Fjorgyn – are built specifically to navigate the Seine River and bring guests to the heart of Paris with an exclusive docking location at Port de Grenelle, just a short walk from the Eiffel Tower.

The four additional ships – Viking Gymir, Viking Egdir, Viking Hervor and Viking Gersemi – will sail Viking’s popular itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.

Speaking at the ceremony, Wendy Atkin-Smith, managing director of Viking UK, said: ‘It seems very fitting to be launching our eight new river ships in Paris in the Spring, a time for new beginnings, and the naming ceremony this week marks a major milestone for us a company.

“By June this year, Viking will have launched 16 new ships since the start of the pandemic, which I believe is an extraordinary achievement given the circumstances – especially as we were the first cruise line to suspend operations back in March 2020.  With more than 85 river, ocean and expedition ships currently in operation, we are also taking the opportunity to reflect on Viking’s growth since we started with four river ships 25 years ago.”

In keeping with maritime tradition, Viking invited eight cultural partners and members of the company’s extended family to serve as ceremonial godmothers of the new ships.

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Ghislaine Wood. Credit Piers Macdonald Photography Ltd

They included Ghislaine Wood, godmother of Viking Fjorgyn and the deputy director of the Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia.

Wood oversees the curation of major exhibitions, including the upcoming Visions of Ancient Egypt, which is sponsored by Viking. Opening in September 2022, the exhibit will honour the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Wood said: “I was honoured to be invited to become godmother to the new Viking Longship, Viking Fjorgyn, which will sail on the Seine. I have admired Viking’s ships for many years and was thrilled to work closely with Viking on my Ocean Liners: Speed and Style exhibition at the V&A, which they supported, and now we are working together on the upcoming ’Visions of Ancient Egypt’ exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre.

“Having worked extensively in France and curated exhibitions such as the V&A’s Art Deco show, it is fitting that Viking Fjorgyn will dock right in the heart of Paris – a city which is very close to my heart and somewhere I take great joy in exploring.”

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Credit: Viking

The naming event was executed by connecting the new ships via satellite across Paris and Amsterdam. The Viking Kari, Viking Radgrid, Viking Skaga and Viking Fjorgyn were docked in Paris at the Port de Grenelle and were named by their godmothers.

 

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Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking, said: “As we mark 25 years of sailing the iconic waterways of the world, it is always a proud day when we welcome new ships to our fleet and offer more opportunities for curious travellers to explore the world in comfort.”

“Today we are especially pleased to honour eight talented and accomplished individuals as godmothers to our newest river ships, and we look forward to the start of another season of European river voyages.”

The other four ships were docked in Amsterdam and named “virtually” by their godmothers. 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 Chairman Hagen’s mother, Ragnhild – also known as “Mamsen” – was born and it was her favourite brand of aquavit.

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Credit: Viking

Building on Viking’s offerings in Paris and the four new Viking Longships sailing the Seine River, the company has announced a new post-trip extension entitled Paris: A Culinary Experience that will explore the cuisine of the French capital.

Available beginning in 2023 for guests sailing on the eight-day Paris & the Heart of Normandy itinerary, the new extension allows guests to immerse themselves in the culinary history of Paris and taste the gastronomic delights the city has to offer.

Additionally, Viking has announced a new Christmas sailing, the eight-day Christmas on the Seine, sailing roundtrip from Paris. Available during the festive season beginning in 2022, guests will sail through Normandy’s snow-covered countryside while enjoying the festive Christmas markets.

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