Viking River Cruises welcomes two more of its innovative Longships in a gala ceremony at the historic port of Koblenz today.
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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2017 unless otherwise noted.
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
VIKING HERJA (rear) and VIKING HILD (fore) at Koblenz prior to christening.
As the weather veered from stormy to pleasant and back again, Viking River Cruises’ latest pair of Longships were gathered on the Rhine alongside the picturesque Deutsches Eck monument at Koblenz. The new vessels, the VIKING HILD and the VIKING HERJA, are the 47th and 48th Longships to be completed for the rapidly expanding line, which now has 64 river ships and 3 (with a 4th due later this year and 2 more on order) ocean-going ships.
Deutsches Eck and the VIKING HILD bell.
By incorporating a squared-off bow and cushioned diesel electric engines (that reduce vibration in the stern), the 443-foot Longships can carry more guests (190 versus 160) than typical river cruise ships (which are limited to the same dimensions to clear European locks and bridges). With their higher capacity, Viking Longships provide an experience equal to most of their river cruise competition at lower rates.
The VIKING HILD’s reception lobby, facing forward.
The award-winning Longships boast a sleek, airy Scandinavian interior look courtesy of Houston-based Rottet Studios with top quality, comfortable furnishings and light, airy color schemes that are enhanced with skylights and full length windows in all public spaces.
Viking Cruises chairman and founder, Torstein Hagen.
During a press conference held on board the VIKING HILD today, Viking Cruises chairman Torstein Hagen shared that while the line holds options for yet more Longships, plans for more to debut next year are not yet finalized. However, Viking has purchased an existing vessel that will be restyled into the VIKING RA for Nile service and Ukraine river cruises are also slated to restart after a hiatus following political tensions in the region. Further, Viking has negotiated the purchase of a ship for Chinese service that will have a Mandarin crew and cater only to Mandarin-speaking guests. In addition, Viking has just kicked off the maiden season of its VIKING SKY ocean ship and will be debuting the identical VIKING SUN later this year.
Viking chairman Torstein Hagen, both godmothers and both ships’ captains on stage prior to the christening.
The golden scissors.
Dr. Princess Stephanie Lowenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg, CEO of Weingut Fürst Löwenstein (a family-owned and top-rated winery in Lower Franconia), served as godmother of VIKING HILD and Debbi Wiseman, an award-winning British composer and conductor was the godmother of VIKING HERJA.
VIKING HERJA bottle break.
The ceremony went, for the most part, without hitch as both godmothers made short speeches and used a pair of gold-plated scissors to cut a line releasing a bottle of champagne into each ship’s bow.
VIKING HILD bottle break.
The VIKING HILD’s bottle did not smash properly on contact but was soon dispatched by a crew member.
Ceremonial pavilion, Viking style.
The ceremony was followed by a gala dinner and show in a specially built pavilion on the historic site at the convergence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers, ending in a spectacular display of fireworks.
Fireworks over Koblenz.
On Wednesday, March 8, the VIKING HILD will undertake a short version of her Rhine itinerary before disembarking media guests at Mainz on Saturday. Both ships will officially enter service on March 20.
Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea. With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications. Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India. He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
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