Viking® today named its fifth ocean ship, Viking Orion® during a spectacular celebration in Livorno, Italy. The ship was delivered to Viking last week and is currently sailing a maiden voyage with her ceremonial godmother, American chemist, emergency room physician and retired NASA astronaut Dr. Anna Fisher, along with dozens of Dr. Fisher’s friends, family, academics, explorers and fellow astronauts. Named after the prominent constellation and in honor of Dr. Fisher’s work on NASA’s Orion exploration vehicle project, the 930-guest 47,800-ton Viking Orion arrived in Livorno early this 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.
Following her arrival this morning, Viking Orion was positioned alongside the city’s historic Medici-built Fortezza Vecchia (Old Fortress). Livorno is known as a gateway to Tuscany, a region reached by the original Viking explorers. Nearby, Pisa is also known for its native Galileo Galilei – “The Father of Science” – whose gravitational theories and invention of the Galilean telescope have been central to advancements in oceanic navigation. It was at the Fortezza Vecchia that in 1662 students of Galileo held an experiment to test his projectile motion theory. Livorno – with its Fortezza Vecchia – was chosen specifically for Viking Orion’s naming ceremony because of those connections to scientific studies and exploration. During the day today, 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 this evening, guests enjoyed a high-tech show and musical concert that paid tribute to Nordic mythology and the spirit of exploration. Legendary British explorer Sir Ranulph “Ran” Fiennes served as the narrator for the event, which also included musical performances from Italian tenor Antonio Corianò, Norwegian bukkehorn musician Sissel Morken Gullord and Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø, who is widely considered one of the world’s top crossover sopranos and who will also be godmother to Viking Jupiter®, which debuts in early 2019.
Dr. Anna Fisher served as ceremonial godmother and offered a blessing of good fortune and safe sailing for Viking Orion – a naval tradition that dates back thousands of years. In keeping with the naming custom, Dr. Fisher also used an historic Viking broad axe to cut a ribbon that allowed a bottle of Norwegian aquavit to break on the ship’s hull. The ship was officially blessed by Monsignor Liberio Andreatta. Mons. Liberio Andreatta has led Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, an office of the Vicariate of Rome, an organ of the Holy See, reporting directly to the Cardinal Vicar of the Pope – and is the largest operator of pilgrim travel in the world. Staying true to shipbuilding tradition, Viking Orion has also been blessed by Father Dino Cecconi, the Chaplain of the Port of Ancona, at her float out ceremony in September 2017.
In addition to the naming ceremony, released today was “Finse Explores the Universe,” the 14th book in the educational children’s book series, “The World of Finse” (www.finse.me), which showcases the adventures of Viking Senior Vice President Karine Hagen’s yellow Labrador, Finse. This newest book was written and published to coincide with the launch of Viking Orion to help inform children of our terrestrial world and beyond –and will be available for purchase on all Viking ships.
Dr. Anna Fisher, Godmother to Viking Orion
Born in New York City and raised in Southern California, Dr. Fisher holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry, as well as a Doctor of Medicine degree, from the University of California, Los Angeles. Selected as an astronaut in January 1978, Dr. Fisher was one of the “original six” women accepted into NASA’s Astronaut Training Program. Dr. Fisher became the first mother in space when she served as a mission specialist on STS-51A aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, which launched on November 8, 1984. During her NASA career, which spanned more than three decades, Dr. Fisher contributed to three major initiatives: the Space Shuttle program, the International Space Station and Orion, NASA’s new crew-rated exploration spacecraft. Prior to her retirement in April 2017, Dr. Fisher was also the oldest active American astronaut. In celebration of her retirement, Dr. Fisher sailed on Viking’s Rhine Getaway itinerary in July 2017.
Viking’s ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, have 465 staterooms and host 930 guests. Classified by Cruise Critic® as a “small ship,” the all-veranda Viking Orion is the newest addition to Viking’s award-winning ocean fleet, which also includes Viking Star®, Viking Sea®, Viking Sky®, and Viking Sun®.
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 theater 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 honor early explorers, and on Viking Orion, the “Explorations in Space” collection is a 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.
The Viking Difference
Designed for discerning travelers with interests in history, art, music and cuisine, Chairman Torstein Hagen often says Viking offers guests “the thinking person’s cruise” as an alternative to mainstream cruises. Ships are small to get guests closer to their destination, with more time in port and more overnights. On board, guests find serene Scandinavian spaces, where every room is both beautiful and functional, quiet and filled with light. With the most al fresco dining opportunities at sea, featuring regional cuisines and always-available American classics, Viking’s guests can truly dine in their destination. A focus on cultural enrichment brings immersive experiences ashore and on board. And only The Viking Way of Exploration provides guests with itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.
In addition, Viking offers the best value at sea, with each cruise fare including much more than what competitors offer—an included value of more than $200 per person per day for an average cruise. Every cruise fare includes a veranda stateroom, a complimentary shore excursion in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Guests also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; alternative restaurant dining; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry; access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa; and 24-hour room service.