Viking Cruises rarely do things by halves.
Viking is poised to launch, not one but eight Longships from Paris next week with all the pomp and pageantry the line is known for.
On the famous Seine, France’s third longest river which has long been the subject of many famous impressionist paintings such as Monet’s Bathers at La Grenouillere and Renoir’s Seine River at Asnieres, Viking will unveil four new, 168-passenger river ships at Port de Grenelle – with the Eiffel Tower and the City of Light shimmering in the background. Simultaneously, another four ships will be named via satellite from Amsterdam.
The four in Paris, the Viking Fjorgyn, Viking Radgrid, Viking Skaga and Viking Kari, have all been purpose-built for the Seine River and will permanently sail there.
The four from Amsterdam, the Viking Gymir, Viking Egdir, Viking Hervor and Viking Gersemi, will sail the Rhine, Main and Danube, offering a wider choice of itineraries.
If the names of the new river ships sound strangely Nordic and hard to pronounce, that’s because they come from Norse mythology. For instance,
Fjorgyn is the mother of the Thunder God, Thor while Ragrid means Truce of Counsel.
Hence two naming sites.
What sets a Viking naming ceremony apart from other river lines is the tradition of naming all of its new ships at one grand event. The ceremonies are then broadcast to attending guests simultaneously in different locations. Each ship’s designated godmother will preside over their ship and recite: ”May your passengers and crew always be safe and may you always have a hands-worth of water beneath your keel.”
After delivering the “blessing”, the godmother will then press a red button that releases a contraption that breaks open a bottle of aquavit, a Scandinavian spirit, which means “water of life”, over the bow of the river ship – instead of a bottle of champagne that traditionally marks other ship christenings.
Founder and Chairman Torstein Hagen and daughter Karine Hagen who is Viking Cruises’ senior vice-president, will officiate at the naming ceremony which will be followed by a gala dinner.
The next day, Viking will play host to invited guests and media from Australia, US and the UK on one of its new river ships for a mini, three-day cruise from Paris to Vernon.