Viking named its fifth ocean ship, Viking Orion, late last week during a spectacular celebration in Livorno, Italy.
The ship was delivered to Viking early June 2018 and was sailing a maiden voyage with her ceremonial godmother, American chemist and retired NASA astronaut Dr. Anna Fisher.
New ship features include a planetarium-like immersive theatre, an “Explorations in Space” collection conceived as a photographic journal through space, with a broad range of vintage photographs, including astronaut portraits and documents of complex mission activities, produced by NASA and captured by National Geographic photographers.
Named after the prominent constellation and in honour of Dr. Fisher’s work on NASA’s Orion exploration vehicle project, the 930-guest 47,800-ton Viking Orion arrived in Livorno early Friday morning. The ship will continue her maiden season sailing itineraries in the Western and Eastern Mediterranean this summer before heading east to sail Viking’s newest itineraries in Asia, Australia and Alaska.
“Today is a proud day for the entire Viking family. Just three years ago we launched our first ocean ship, and now we are welcoming our fifth ship, whose name was selected to honour both the original Viking explorers who used the constellations for long-distance navigation, as well as the great space explorers of our time,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking.
“We are grateful for Dr. Fisher’s many contributions to the scientific community, and we are humbled that she is godmother to Viking Orion. The spirit of exploration is at the heart of the Viking way of travel, and we look forward to welcoming guests onboard our newest ship, which has been designed to offer opportunities for learning about the great history of space exploration.”
Livorno – with its Fortezza Vecchia – was chosen specifically for Viking Orion’s naming ceremony because of its connections to scientific studies and exploration. During the day, Viking Orion guests and international dignitaries were treated to an interactive exhibit inside the Fortezza Vecchia that tells the stories of exploration technology throughout history – from the Vikings’ solar compass to Galileo’s gravitational and projectile motion experiments. The exhibit was designed and built specifically for Viking Orion’s naming ceremony.
During the naming ceremony, guests enjoyed a high-tech show and musical concert that paid tribute to Nordic mythology and the spirit of exploration. In keeping with the naming custom, Dr. Fisher used a historic Viking broad axe to cut a ribbon that allowed a bottle of Norwegian aquavit to break on the ship’s hull.
In keeping with the inspiration for the ship’s name, Viking Orion features several onboard experiences that pay tribute to space exploration:
- The Explorers’ Dome – Located in the upper level of the Explorers’ Lounge on Deck 8, “The Explorers’ Dome” is a planetarium-like theatre where guests can view special panoramic films about exploration, such as “Journey to Space” and “Life Under the Arctic Sky” in a fully immersive environment.
- Explorations in Space Collection – The interiors and art of Viking’s ships honour early explorers, and on Viking Orion, the “Explorations in Space” collection is an homage to humankind’s exploration beyond the confines of planet Earth. The onboard collection is conceived as a photographic journal through space, with a broad range of vintage photographs, including astronaut portraits and documents of complex mission activities, produced by NASA and captured by National Geographic photographers and the Apollo and Gemini astronauts themselves.
- Viking Resident Astronomer – Building on the success of the Viking Resident Historian program, Viking Orion is the first ship in the fleet to feature a Viking Resident Astronomer. Howard Parkin, a Royal Astronomical Society Fellow and founding member of the IOM Astronomical Society, will lead lectures and stargazing sessions onboard Viking Orion during her maiden season throughout 2018.
With the arrival of Viking Jupiter in 2019, Viking will be the largest small ship ocean cruise line. Ten additional ships are also planned for delivery starting in 2021, which could bring Viking’s ocean fleet to 16 ships by 2027.