Viking today announced its newest ocean ship – the 930-guest Viking Mars – was “floated out,” marking a major construction milestone and the first time the ship has touched water. Viking also announced that Viking Mars, which is scheduled to debut in early 2022, will officially be named by her ceremonial godmother, Lady Fiona Carnarvon, the eighth Countess of Carnarvon. The ship will spend her maiden season sailing itineraries in the Mediterranean and in Northern Europe before embarking on voyages in Asia and Australia.
“The day that a new ship meets water for the first time is always a special moment in time, and today is especially meaningful because for the second time, my dear friend Lady Carnarvon will honor us by serving as godmother to a new Viking ship,” said Karine Hagen, Executive Vice President of Viking. “The last year and a half has been a period of uncertainty for all of us, and it is in those times that you know your true friends. Lady Carnarvon has done so much to help Viking, including opening her home almost weekly for our guests to experience life ‘At Home at Highclere’ on Viking.TV. She is truly a like the sister I never had. We are delighted to celebrate this important milestone, and we look forward to welcoming Viking Mars to our award-winning ocean fleet next year.”
“I am both honored and privileged to be chosen as godmother to the Viking Mars, the latest addition to Viking’s beautiful cruise ships. I’ve no doubt she will delight the many guests who travel with her across the seas and oceans,” said Lady Carnarvon.
The traditional float out ceremony took place at Fincantieri’s Ancona shipyard and is significant because it denotes a ship moving into its final stage of construction. The float out of Viking Mars began at approximately 11:00 a.m. local time when a member of the Viking team cut a cord that signaled water to begin flowing into the ship’s building dock. Following a two-day process that will set Viking Mars afloat, she will then be moved to a nearby outfitting dock for final construction and interior build-out.
Viking and Highclere Castle
Today’s announcement that Lady Carnarvon will serve as the godmother to Viking Mars builds on the longstanding relationship between Viking and the Carnarvon family. Since 2013, Viking has offered guests a variety of ways to experience life at Highclere Castle, the home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, and known as the filming location of Downton Abbey. Privileged Access® Pre/Post Cruise extensions co-created by Karine Hagen and the Carnarvon family include Oxford & Highclere Castle—Viking’s highest rated Pre/Post cruise extension—and Great Homes, Gardens & Gin, both of which are available for guests on select river and ocean itineraries. Also, for guests on the popular Pharaohs & Pyramids Nile River cruise itinerary, Viking offers the five-day British Collections of Ancient Egypt Pre-Cruise Extension, which gives guests an introduction to Egyptian antiquities in preparation for their Nile experience, and includes retracing the steps of the world’s most famous Egyptologist, Howard Carter, and his benefactor, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Guests experience Privileged Access to archives and museum exhibits not normally accessible to the public, and at Highclere Castle, have the opportunity view the earl’s magnificent private collection of Egyptian artifacts.
For more than a year, Lady Carnarvon has welcomed viewers to Highclere Castle on Viking’s award-winning enrichment channel, Viking.TV (www.viking.tv). In her ongoing series, At Home at Highclere, a segment airing on select Fridays, Lady Carnarvon offers virtual Privileged Access to the historic home and its grounds. She has also made other appearances on Viking.TV, including interviewing iconic British broadcast journalist and godmother to Viking Venus® Anne Diamond. Additionally, Lady Carnarvon has served as godmother to a Viking Longship, Viking Skadi, and her bestselling books are sold on board Viking’s fleet of river and ocean ships. Later this month, during the week of July 26, Viking will celebrate its partnership with the Carnarvon family with a week of content on Viking.TV, dedicated to Highclere Castle and stories from the great estate.
Classified by Cruise Critic as “small ships,” Viking’s ocean vessels have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, with 465 staterooms that can host 930 guests.