Viking named its eighth identical ocean ship, the 930-passenger Viking Neptune, in a ceremony Jan. 8 at the World Cruise Center at the Port of Los Angeles.
Ceremonial godmother was Nicole Stott, a retired NASA astronaut, aquanaut and artist - she spent 104 days on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station and also lived for 18 days on the Aquarius undersea habitat, located 62 feet below water near the Florida Keys.
As is tradition, Stott offered a blessing of good fortune and safe sailing for the ship.
The 48,000-gross-ton Viking Neptune arrived in Los Angeles early in the morning on Jan. 8 and departed for Honolulu following the ceremony as part of its 138-day World Cruise.
The naming comes at a time of record sales for Viking, which celebrated the highest number of bookings in one week in the company's history on Jan. 1. Viking also is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
"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," Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen said. "The Viking Neptune is a ship named for both the furthest planet in our solar system and the god of the sea - and our newest Viking godmother, Nicole Stott, as a NASA astronaut and aquanaut, also 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."
During the ceremony, Stott used a historic Viking axe to cut a ribbon that allowed a bottle of Norwegian aquavit to hit on the ship's hull - the bottle didn't break immediately, but the crew broke it later.
Prior to the ribbon-cutting, the axe was presented to Stott by Sissel Kyrkjebø, a crossover soprano and godmother of the Viking Jupiter. Guests also saw performances from Sissel and Norwegian violinist Tor Jaran Apold.
Although identical to Viking's other ocean ships, the Viking Neptune is equipped with a small hydrogen fuel system to test the use of hydrogen power for onboard operations. Viking is using the small system as a test to determine how hydrogen fuel could be used at a larger scale in future newbuilds.
Viking is offering a 25th Anniversary Sale through Jan. 31, 2023, with a $25 deposit, savings, and up to free international airfare on river, ocean and expedition voyages.
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