Viking Neptune is the auspicious name for Viking’s 8th addition to its ocean-going fleet. Auspicious because the planet Neptune is the 8th planet from the sun and King Neptune presides over the sea according the ancient Greek Gods. How fitting it was to choose Nicole Stott to name this new vessel. Ms. Stott is both an astronaut and an aquanaut.
Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, was a banner day for Viking. Viking not only named its latest ship, it celebrated an extraordinary 25th Anniversary at the same time.
Aboard Viking Neptune, docked at the Los Angeles Cruise Terminal in San Pedro, Calif., Thorsten Hagen, Viking’s Founder, Chairman and Head Cheerleader, proudly pointed to Viking’s extraordinary achievements. Imagine! In just 25 years, Viking now has 89 ships sailing under its distinctive red logo. Visiting all 7 continents, this fleet crosses 5 oceans as they make their way to 418 ports in 88 countries. Viking’s Longships navigate 17 of the world’s rivers. Just last year Viking started plying the Mississippi in a game-changing riverboat, aptly called “Viking Mississippi.”
And finally, Viking entered Expedition Cruising with two identical vessels, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris that are built not only for polar voyage but to sail all five Great Lakes in summer. In just 25 years, Viking has entertained 3 million guests with its brand of “life-long learning” wrapped up a luxury cruise experience. Viking now employs over 10,000 people from 84 countries. Viking’s amazing growth hasn’t altered Viking’s reputation for being the best. Viking consistently ranks as the #1 Ocean Cruise line and the #1 River Cruise line among readers of both Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler!
Viking Neptune features a number of firsts.
Viking believes it has perfected the design of its river and ocean-going ships. Scandinavian to the core, these light-filled vessels are beloved by Viking’s devoted passengers—some 50 percent of whom are repeat guests. The concept allows these passengers to feel right at home the minute they board any of these sisters. However, there is one very important new difference: Viking Neptune is uniquely equipped with a small hydrogen fuel system, making it the cruise industry’s first ship to test the use of hydrogen power for on board operations. Viking is using the small system as a test to determine how hydrogen fuel could be used at a larger scale in the future. The other first is almost unheard of: The brand-new vessel has the distinction of undertaking a 138-day World Cruise as its maiden voyage. An 18-day cruise began December 23rd in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the ship left Los Angeles with Its 465 cabins home to 808 passengers for the voyage.
Nicole Stott, Viking Neptune’s Extraordinary Godmother.
It’s hard to imagine any one more appropriate. And Los Angeles was a particularly auspicious to name it. “Today is a proud day for the entire Viking family as we name our newest ocean ship in Los Angeles, the home of Viking’s U.S. office for more than 20 years,” Torstein Hagen reminded us. “Our newest Viking godmother” he continued “ has connections to space and the sea. We are grateful for her many contributions to the scientific community and are proud to have her as part of the Viking family.” Nicole Stott, a veteran NASA astronaut, experienced two spaceflights and 104 days spent living and working in space on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). She has performed one space walk and was the first person to fly the robotic arm to capture the free-flying HTV cargo vehicle, the last crew member to fly to and from their ISS mission on a Space Shuttle, and a member of the final flight crew of Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-133. Nicole Stott is also a veteran NASA aquanaut. She lived and worked on the Aquarius Undersea Habitat for 18 days. But that was hardly the end of Nicole Stott’s accomplishments. Both a writer and an artist, Nicole painted the first watercolor painting in space. She then co-founded the Space for Art Foundation. This organization unites a planetary community of children through the awe and wonder of space and the power of art. And she is also a published author. Nicole Stott’s book “Back to Earth: What Life in Space Taught Me About Our Home Planet–And Our Mission to Protect It” (Seal Press 2021) was a well-received gift to those of us who attended her naming of Viking Neptune.
Weilding a ceremonial broad axe, Nicole Stott christens Viking Neptune.
The traditional blessing of the ship was performed by Pastor Asmund Offernes of Norwegian’s Seaman’s Church in San Pedro. After the blessing, Sissel Kyrkjebo, handed the ceremonial and historic broad axe Nicole Stott. Sissel Kyrkjebo is one of the world’s leading sopranos and a legend in her native Norway. Poignantly, Sissel had used the same broad axe in her role as godmother of Viking Jupiter, which was also named in Los Angeles in January 2020.
Before completing her task, Nicole Stott said, “It is an honor and privilege to be the godmother of the new Viking Neptune. As someone who has been blessed to explore space, the ocean, and some of the other worldly places on our planet, I understand the importance of broadening one’s horizons through travel. I am very excited for all those who journey around the world on this elegant vessel,” said Nicole Stott. And then, most appropriately for a World Cruise, Sissel ended the presentation with a wonderful rendition of “What a Wonderful World.”
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