Viking River Cruises Makes History

Viking River Cruises Makes History

This week France Today had the honor of attending the Christening of the new Viking longships in Avignon. Hot on the heels of a Christening ceremony in Amsterdam where nine new ships were baptized in style, Viking River Cruises christened three vessels in Avignon (Viking Buri, Viking Hermod and Viking Heimdal) and four ships simultaneously in the Rostock shipyard (broadcast via satellite to the party in France). The sun broke out from behind the clouds, and the mistral calmed its gusts just for the occasion. (“Thanks be to the Norse gods!” exclaimed a few guests.) Docked side by side, the three longships were decorated with festive garlands of sailing flags and red and white balloons.

In orchestrating such an event, all within a single 24-hour period, Viking smashed the world record for the “Most Ships Inaugurated in One Day by One Company,” certified by a Guinness World Records adjudicator who was present.

Viking is growing in leaps and bounds, but it can still barely keep up with demand. In fact, all cruises are almost sold out for the year, even as the company expands by 50%. (Expansion will continue in 2015 with 12 more ships.)

In a long-time maritime tradition, Viking appointed prominent godmothers for the new ships, including legendary French singer Mireille Mathieu, aka the “Sparrow from Avignon,” who has sold more than 130 million albums during her career. The godmothers bless their ships, before breaking a bottle of champagne against the ship’s hull.

Viking pulled out all the stops to fete this momentous occasion. There was free flowing champagne, music and fireworks on the banks of the Rhône, before the party was moved to the Pont du Gard, the millennia-old Roman aqueduct that is now a popular UNESCO World Heritage site. Offering trays of wine glasses, waiters stood at attention on a red carpet leading to the tent, behind which the Pont du Gard glowed luminously as the sun set.

Diners were regaled with live music including traditional songs by a star Norwegian violinist and a passionate performance by Mireille Mathieu, whose mother was in the audience. Mathieu brought the audience to their feet with her spirited renditions of Edith Piaf’s songs like La Vie en Rose. A special moment indeed for a company that “started 17 years ago with no money and just a few mobile phones,” explained CEO Torstein Hagen.

Share to:  Facebook  Twitter   LinkedIn   Email

Previous Article Dispatch from Avignon: The Allure of River Cruising
Next Article Parisian Chic à Bas Prix

Related Articles

Based in Paris, Nicklin served as the digital editor of France Today from 2013-mid 2022. Currently she is the editor of Bonjour Paris, the site's sister publication. As a freelance journalist, she has contributed to publications like The Washington Post, Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, CNN Travel, Vinepair, Travel Agent Magazine, and Luxury Travel Advisor.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • Stephanie Garmon-Ritchie
    2014-03-26 16:58:04
    Stephanie Garmon-Ritchie
    This is no other cruise line in my book! My sister and I have sailed with them and are going again in October. My sister calls it 'our home away from home'. I recommend any of their trips to everyone I know.I wish I could figure out a way to work on one and just sail throughout the season...returning home to Texas during off season!