“Fortunately, there are many Norse gods to take our names from,” Viking Cruises’ CEO Torstein Hagen joked during the gala naming ceremony of no less than sixteen of its new longships class of river boats at Avignon, France today. The ceremony was held aboard the VIKING HEIMDAL, which was tied up alongside the VIKING BURI, both berthed immediately forward of the VIKING HERMOD, all named for Norse mythological figures.
A pantheon of godmothers were gathered on the sun deck of VIKING HEIMDAL as champagne and canapes were served to a group of international media and dignitaries, including the Meyer brothers from the Meyer Werft and Neptune shipyards and Bjorn Storbraaten of Yran and Storbraaten, the design firm that conceived the airy, Scandinavian longship interiors. Among the godmothers was French chanteuse Mirielle Matthieu, who was naming the VIKING BURI.
All in all, eighteen vessels were christened in a two day period. The event in Avignon took place the day after nine longships were christened in Amsterdam. In addition to the trio of ships being named in Avignon, four more in Rostock were done by “remote” from the VIKING HEIMDAL. On March 21, two more riverboats in Porto, Portugal, will be named, bringing the total to eighteen vessels in five days.
Viking has beat the Guiness Book of Records adjudicator it earned last year for christening no less than ten new ships in one day with sixteen named in a 24-hour period.
Following the ceremony at Avignon, a grand celebration was held at Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct in Provence. Dignitaries were treated to speeches by Torstein Hagen and Meyer Werft’s Bernard Meyer as well as musical performances that included an ovation-generating set by Mirielle Matthieu, who is nicknamed “Marianne de France” and has sold millions of records during a fifty year career.
A surprise light show was held at Pont du Gard before the event concluded. A full Sea Treks report and images of the new Viking Longships will follow in due course.
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."