Viking River Cruises marked 20 years of innovation and growth this week by welcoming two new additions to its fleet of Viking Longships®. During a celebration that took place at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers in Koblenz, Germany, Viking Hild® and Viking Herja®, were officially christened by ceremonial godmothers and now join Viking's award-winning, state-of-the-art fleet of more than 60 river vessels sailing the world's waterways. Viking Hild will sail the Rhine River this spring on Viking's new Paris to the Swiss Alps itinerary, and later this year both new ships will sail Viking's popular Danube Waltz and Rhine Getaway itineraries.
"Two decades ago when we started this company, modern river cruising was still unknown to most travelers. Now 20 years later, we are pleased that most travelers know river cruising, and they know Viking as a household name," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "The naming of a new ship by a ceremonial godmother is a sacred maritime tradition. We are honored that the godmothers of our two new Longships are also important partners who will help us deliver thoughtful and enriching experiences for Viking guests this year."
In keeping with a maritime tradition that dates back thousands of years, Viking invited two prominent women to serve as honorary godmothers to the new ships. Both godmothers represent key aspects of The Viking Difference: destination-focused food and wine experiences and cultural enrichment.
Godmother to Viking Hild, Dr. Princess Stephanie Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg is the CEO of Weingut Fürst Löwenstein, a family-owned and top-rated winery in Lower Franconia. Along with her father-in-law, Prince Alois-Konstantin, Princess Stephanie serves as a steward for Schloss Löwenstein in Kleinheubach, the family's ancestral home that was built in 1725. Viking Longships on the Main River sail past Schloss Löwenstein, and in conjunction with Prince Alois-Konstantin and Princess Stephanie, Viking created a Privileged Access excursion for guests to tour the estate and winery. Fürst Löwenstein wine is also offered to guests on Viking river and ocean cruises.
Godmother to Viking Herja, Debbie Wiseman MBE is an award-winning British composer and conductor with more than 200 credits including recognizable compositions from both the small and big screen. She is also currently Classic FM Live's Composer in Residence. To commemorate the company's 20th anniversary, Viking commissioned Debbie to compose a new signature piece of music, which will be recorded at Abbey Road Studios and will premiere on Classic FM Live at the Royal Albert Hall on April 18, 2017.
The christening of two new Longships marks another year of impressive growth for Viking. The company launched its third ocean ship, Viking Sky®, in February and will add a fourth ocean ship, Viking Sun®, in November. By 2019, Viking will have a fleet of six ocean ships and will be the largest small ship ocean cruise line.