Viking Cruises named its fifth ocean ship, Viking Orion during a spectacular celebration in Livorno, Italy on June 14. 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 yesterday 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.
“Today is a proud day for the entire Viking family. Just three years ago we launched our first ocean ship, and now we are welcoming our fifth ship, whose name was selected to honor both the original Viking explorers who used the constellations for long-distance navigation, as well as the great space explorers of our time,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “We are grateful for Dr. Fisher’s many contributions to the scientific community, and we are humbled that she is godmother to Viking Orion. The spirit of exploration is at the heart of the Viking way of travel, and we look forward to welcoming guests onboard our newest ship, which has been designed to offer opportunities for learning about the great history of space exploration.”
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.