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29 March 2014

Viking River Cruises Christens 16 Longships in Avignon and Shatters World Record

Welcome to Avignon and the 2014 Viking River Cruises World-Record-breaking Christening of 16 Viking Longships! All photography unless noted is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Welcome to Avignon and the 2014 Viking River Cruises World-Record-breaking Christening of 16 Viking Longships! All photography unless noted is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

In 2012, there were six. In 2013, 10 more. And now in 2014, in an unprecedented, world-record breaking event that spanned two days but yet only 24 hours in Amsterdam; Avignon, France; and Rostock, Germany; Viking River Cruises christened 16 more Viking Longships for a grand total of 30 new ships in three years! With the recent explosion of the river cruising industry and with Viking's unrivaled marketing savvy, it comes as no surprise that this industry leader who currently enjoys 48 percent market share, fills these ships as quickly as they can build them. And the ceremony was later certified by Guinness World Records as the 'The Most Ships Inaugurated in One Day by One Company.' If you didn't know, Viking held the previous record for 10 ships launched in a single day in Amsterdam 2013. Let's celebrate in true Viking fashion, the events of the day followed by a show-stopping gala at the Pont du Gard later that evening—an unforgettable inaugural event for all!

Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen proudly displays his Guinness World Records certificate. Photo: Courtesy of Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen proudly displays his Guinness World Records certificate. Photo: Courtesy of Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Nine Viking Longships were christened in Amsterdam on March 17. Photo: Courtesy of Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Nine Viking Longships were christened in Amsterdam on March 17. Photo: Courtesy of Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Like I said above, this record-breaking event spanned 2 days but yet within one 24-hour period and it all started in Amsterdam with the christening of the first nine of the 16 new vessels. Gathered together on the platform and surrounded by nine award-winning Viking Longships, the godmothers, one by one, christened their ships, "I name you Viking ship name. May your passengers and crew always be safe and may you always have a hand's width of water under your keel." And with the final word of their dedication, came the ceremonial shattering of the Champagne bottles.

Just one of 16 Champagne bottles christening the Viking Longships. Photo: Courtesy of Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Just one of 16 Champagne bottles christening the Viking Longships. Photo: Courtesy of Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

And the excitement continued into the following day in Avignon, France, where seven more godmothers gathered together up on the Sun Deck to christen the three longships docked in Avignon. Simultaneously the last four were christened via satellite from Rostock, Germany. When the final bottle of Champagne broke against the hull of the last Viking vessel, cannons fired streamers into the air and we all raised a congratulatory toast to Viking Cruises for the successful launch of 16 new ships in a 24-hour period!

The view from the Sun Decks of the Viking Buri and the Viking Heimdal at the christening event in Avignon. Photo: Courtesy of Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
The view from the Sun Decks of the Viking Buri and the Viking Heimdal at the christening event in Avignon. Photo: Courtesy of Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen kicks off the christening event in Avignon, France.
Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen kicks off the christening event in Avignon, France.

In Tor's own words:

“Today we mark a new milestone for Viking and for modern river cruising. We are proud to celebrate the arrival of our newest ships, and it is an honor to have each one named by a prominent godmother,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. “River cruising is the fastest-growing segment of travel, and it is in large part because of the enthusiasm of our guests and travel trade partners that we have enjoyed such success.”

Live from Rostock, Germany, where four more Viking Longships were christened on March 18.
Live from Rostock, Germany, where four more Viking Longships were christened on March 18.

Although not included in Viking's record but worthy of an honorable mention nonetheless, more Viking Ships were christened in Porto, Portugal, a few days later when two new vessels, specifically built for the distinct features of the Douro River, were launched with two additional godmothers on hand.

The Viking Godmothers


Tor Hagen holds the Guiness World Records certificate high overhead all 16 godmothers at le Pont du Gard on March 18. Photo: Courtesy of Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Tor Hagen holds the Guiness World Records certificate high overhead all 16 godmothers at le Pont du Gard on March 18. Photo: Courtesy of Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Godmother Susie Barrie Christening our Viking Heimdal longship.
Godmother Susie Barrie Christening our Viking Heimdal longship.

Viking selected prominent women from the travel, food, wine, entertainment, banking and shipping industries to represent all of their ships. Present in a Avignon were: Susie Barrie, Godmother of the Viking Heimdal—the ship I stayed on, is a Master of Wine—one of only 312 in the world—who appears in Viking's latest video highlighting their newest itinerary, "Chateaus, Rivers and Wine." Among her many talents: award-winning author, broadcaster and wine personality; world-renowned singer Mireille Mathieu, Godmother of the Viking Buri; Anne Willan, Godmother of the Viking Hermod, a leading authority on French cooking; Marion Krase, Godmother of the Viking Hlin, is an employee at the Neptun Werft shipyard where the Viking Longships are born; Regula Oderbolz, Godmother of the Viking Idi, is managing director at UBS AG Switzerland and heads Global Trade and Export Finance at the bank; Monica Petitpierre, Godmother of Viking Kvasir, is the wife of CIC Bank’s Cedric Petitpierre, a river-cruise-industry banker; and Laura Pfleumer, Godmother of Viking Kara, is an assistant at UBS AG Switzerland and is responsible for Viking's daily banking.

Here's a short video highlighting all three Viking Longships christenings:




A Night to Remember at le Pont du Gard


Viking River Cruises logo projected above an ancient grotto at le Pont du Gard.
Viking River Cruises logo projected above an ancient grotto at le Pont du Gard.

Topping off the excitement of the day was a magnificent evening gala staged at the base of the Pont du Gard, a 2000-year-old Roman aqueduct bridge that spans the Gardon river valley. Viking rolled out the red carpet for all those in attendance, and soon after we arrived, we were off exploring the ancient bridge. Inside the tent later that night, Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen was presented with the official Guinness World Record certificate, and we were treated to a performance by the legendary Mireille Mathieu. After dinner, we ventured outside for the real show-stopper, a light show projected on the Pont du Gard that transported us back in time to the moment when the Romans first constructed this engineering marvel and then we traveled forward—a most dazzling array of images and animation accompanied by music. The piece de resistance came with the pyrotechnic finale of blazing torches lighting up the bridge and nighttime sky. To say we were all awe-struck would be an understatement! This was over the top!

Le Pont du Gard at sunset.
Le Pont du Gard at sunset.

Viking Cruises rolled out the red carpets for all of us!
Viking Cruises rolled out the red carpets for all of us!

Inside the tent at le Pont du Gard for presentations, dinner and entertainment.
Inside the tent at le Pont du Gard for presentations, dinner and entertainment.

Viking Chairman Tor Hagen with the seven Avignon godmothers.
Viking Chairman Tor Hagen with the seven Avignon godmothers.

One moment during the epic light and projection show at le Pont du Gard.
One moment during the epic light and projection show at le Pont du Gard.

Moving Forward

Viking plans to launch even more ships next year, 10 Viking Longships for the rivers Rhine, Main and Danube; followed by two additional ships of slightly different designs for the Elbe River. With 12 in total, it won't be another record breaker but plans change as they've done in the past so who knows with Viking's streak of continued success and unprecedented growth!

Getting to know the Viking Longships


Viking Buri in Avignon, France, is festooned for the christening event.
Viking Buri in Avignon, France, is festooned for the christening event.

Steeped in Viking culture and craftsmanship, the state-of-the-art Viking Longships are award-winning vessels of patented design. Among the cutting-edge innovations are deck plans themselves in the way the cabins are arranged to allow for greater passenger capacity, energy-efficient hybrid engines, solar panels to harness the sun's energy, the indoor/outdoor Aquavit (Waters of Life) Lounge, and even an herb garden on the Sun Deck.

Each ship accommodates 190 passengers in 95 cabins that include two Explorer Suites aft (largest suites in the river cruise industry), seven Veranda Suites with a full-size veranda in the living room and French balcony in the bedroom, 39 Veranda Staterooms will full-size verandas, 22 French Balcony Staterooms and Standard rooms at the river's level. In all, you'll enjoy flat-panel TVs, mini refrigerator, both 110- and 220-volt outlets, plenty of storage, comfortable beds and L'Occitane bath products.

You’ll delight in the grandeur of the public spaces, intimate gathering spaces with light Scandinavian finishes throughout. To sum it all up, elegance and efficiency combined with Viking traditions and intimate settings lie at the heart of these magnificent longships!

And now, see for yourself:




Additional Reading:

Special thanks to Viking River Cruises for including me during their extraordinary record-breaking special event in France. Of course all opinions and thoughts reflected are mine and mine alone. Thank you Viking Cruises!

18 comments:

  1. Wow, that's quite a celebration! Looks awesome and such fun!

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    1. Hi there Marlys!! It was the best Viking Christening yet!! Thanks so much for stopping by my friend!

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  2. What a great experience to be able to attend the christening of these ships! It's amazing how fast the river cruising industry is growing - hopefully we will be able to go on one soon. And how cool it must be to act as the godmother of a cruise ship!!

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    1. Hi there Lisa and thank you so much for stopping by! I am truly honored that Viking asked me to attend this HUGE milestone for the company and to celebrate their phenomenal growth in the river cruise industry. They really pulled out the stops for this as you read above and I feel so lucky to be have been a part of it!! It was the best Christening yet!

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  3. This looks like a lot of fun, Jeff! You must have been pinching yourself the whole time -- I would have.
    When you said 'godmothers' I never expected you were talking about real people, real women (shows you how much I know about ships!). Mlle. Mireille Mathieu looks absolutely amazing, she has hardly aged.
    I think we Tweeters & Shouters should plan to meet on a Viking River Cruise. You've whetted my appetite enough, I'm ready to experience it.

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    1. Marcia, I simply couldn't believe every moment as each played out. By the minute, the entire experience got better and better and the finale at Pont du Gard ... sublime! How wonderful would it be for all of us to sail aboard a Viking cruise together! Most of us are in Viking's target, and it would be a grand time for us and for them in the moments during and after the cruise! What a great idea! Thank you so much for stopping by and glad you learned about the maritime tradition of women serving as godmothers for the ships. I only wish that perhaps a new tradition is born ... godfathers!! I would be first in line! ;)

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  4. Lucky you Jeff. It looks like quite the couple of days. And from your previous posts I think I'd actually really enjoy a Viking Cruise.
    I find it interesting that they call the women "godmothers" of the boats. I guess that means they will have a lifelong tie to them.

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    1. Hi there Leigh! The entire week was extraordinary!! Haven't you ever heard of the maritime tradition of ships being christened by their Godmothers? I would bet that ever ship sailing the Seven Seas has her own Godmother to protect her and her crew and passengers. Check it out sometime. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

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  5. What an amazing gala. This event looks like such a blast. How awesome you got to experience. Pont du Gard is a beautiful spot. I remember climbing on top and seeing the river valley down below. I never saw those spectacular lights though.

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    1. Hi there Ted! It was a fantastic time had by all my friend. You're the second person to tell me about the very top of le Pont du Gard! I will just have to go back and see it for myself. The nighttime light and show is something new and shown for special events hosted by the park. It was amazing. Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  6. I enjoyed following your trip through FB. What a great experience and opportunity for you, Jeff. They didn't hold back on the celebration. I would love to go on a Viking River cruise one of these days. Your past itineraries have been so awesome. I'm in for a T&S meet-up there on a Viking ship :)

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    1. Hi there Mary! Thanks so much for your kind words!! I am up for TweetUp cruise myself!! Let's do it!

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  7. What a fun experience. One of these days, I'll do a river cruise :)

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    1. Hey there Sophie and thanks so much for stopping by! The event was amazing! I have never attended a Christening like this. Viking pulled out all the stops to put on this amazing production. I am so honored to have been invited.

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  8. That is incredible! What an amazing time. It looks like Viking put on quite the show! I can't wait to someday go on a Viking river cruise!!!

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  9. Hi there Lauren and thank you so much for stopping by!! Definitely add a Viking river cruise to your bucket list!! It's a wonderful way to see and experience Europe!!

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  10. I can't imagine a better way to see Europe than by cruising scenic rivers. No wonder Viking River Cruises are so successful!

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    1. Lesley, river cruising is a great introduction to many places in Europe. The ports of call allow enough time to get acquainted so you can plan to return again someday soon. Thank you so much for stopping by to share your thoughts!!

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Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!