New 930-Guest Viking Venus Welcomed to Fleet with Celebration at Sea in the English Channel
Viking® (www.viking.com) today named its newest ocean ship, Viking Venus®, with a celebration at sea in the English Channel as the ship set sail for her inaugural voyage. As part of the intimate event, the ship’s ceremonial godmother, revered British journalist and broadcaster Anne Diamond, offered a blessing of good fortune and safe sailing for the ship—a naval tradition that dates back thousands of years.
In addition to commemorating Viking Venus as the company’s newest ocean ship, today’s event was also an important milestone as Viking returns to service following 14 months of paused operations. This Saturday, May 22, guests will embark Viking Venus in Portsmouth for the first of five roundtrip sailings of the England’s Scenic Shores itinerary in May and June. Part of Viking’s Welcome Back collection, the eight-day voyages also call in Liverpool, the Isles of Scilly, Falmouth and Portland. Anne Diamond will also join guests for the first three sailings of England’s Scenic Shores and will serve as a guest lecturer with her presentation about the untold story of British radar inventors, including her father, during World War II. Anne’s presentation will also be featured on Viking.TV in the future. Following her time in England, Viking Venus will then sail to Malta, where she will homeport for new Welcome Back voyages in the Mediterranean this summer and fall.
Delivered in April 2021 at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Ancona, Italy, Viking Venus is the newest vessel to join Viking’s ocean fleet of identical sister ships, which also includes Viking Star®, Viking Sea®, Viking Sky®, Viking Orion® and Viking Jupiter®. Classified by Cruise Critic as “small ships,” Viking’s ocean vessels have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons and with 465 all veranda staterooms that accommodate 930 guests, the ships feature clean, minimalist Scandinavian design, airy public spaces filled with natural light and abundant al fresco dining options.
“Today is one of the proudest days in Viking’s nearly 24-year history. When we became the first cruise line to suspend operations in March 2020, we certainly did not know it would be 14 months before guests would be welcomed back on board. Now, we are among the first to set sail again—and with our industry-leading health and safety protocols in place, we believe there is no safer way to travel the world than on a Viking voyage,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “On behalf of the entire Viking family, we are delighted to celebrate the naming of our newest ship in England. We are also grateful to her godmother, Anne Diamond, for her many journalistic and selfless contributions—as well as for her tireless efforts fostering a community on Viking.TV each week for more than a year.”
“It is a huge honor to be chosen as godmother to Viking Venus and to be officially part of the Viking family. Over my many years as a journalist I have reported and been part of many historic events, but I never dreamt I would be godmother to an ocean ship or that I would be celebrating the occasion with my family and friends on board the beautiful Viking Venus on the very first day that we are able to cruise again in the UK,” said Anne Diamond. “It is an unforgettable experience, especially as it marks Viking’s global restart. I am looking forward to many more voyages with Viking, including the upcoming sailings of the England’s Scenic Shores itinerary. I am also looking forward to another year interviewing some of the world’s most fascinating people on Viking.TV.”
Anne continued: “I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the whole Viking family, to thank Torstein and Karine Hagen. They have worked tirelessly over the past 14 months to ensure that hope has stayed on the horizon and to keep their guests and crew connected and entertained. I find it both reassuring and inspirational to see the lengths to which Viking has gone to ensure that we can all start exploring the world again safely. Welcome back to everyone at Viking—here’s to brighter days ahead. As they say at sea, ‘I wish you, your guests and crew fair winds and following seas as you return to service.’”
During the naming ceremony festivities this evening, the group of invited guests on board Viking Venus enjoyed scenic sailing along the coast of England, and exclusively recorded concerts from artists that included Sissel Kyrkjebø, one of the world’s leading crossover sopranos and godmother of Viking Jupiter; violinist Tor Jaran Apold; and acclaimed English boys choir LIBERA. In keeping with the naming custom, Anne assisted in breaking a bottle of Norwegian aquavit on the ship’s hull—using an historic Viking broad axe to cut a ribbon that symbolically held the bottle in place. The event also honored today, May 17, as Norwegian Constitution Day and paid tribute to the Nordic spirit of exploration. Additionally, after speeches by Chairman Hagen and Anne, guests were treated to the unveiling of a custom “Air Fountain” by artist Daniel Wurtzel, which was specifically designed and installed in the ship’s Atrium for the event. Best known for his kinetic sculptures and installations using air and lightweight materials that fly, Wurtzel has shown his artworks at the Musée Rodin, the Grand Palais in Paris, the Tate Modern Turbine Hall and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.
Anne Diamond, Godmother of Viking Venus
Anne Diamond is best known for her pioneering work on morning shows in the United Kingdom during the 1980s—along with a legendary career in frontline television that has lasted for more than 40 years. From the fall of the Berlin Wall, Australia’s bicentenary and the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, to interviews with Bette Davis, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh—Anne’s impressive journalistic journey has made her a household name. She has also been an inspirational campaigner, having pioneered the 1991 UK cot death campaign, following the death of her own son, Sebastian. The campaign saved over 20,000 babies’ lives and has inspired other life-saving campaigns worldwide. She is the only non-medic ever to hold the Medal of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
For more than a year, Anne has been a key figure on Viking’s award-winning enrichment channel, Viking.TV (www.viking.tv). Viking.TV went live in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic, and was conceived as a way to build community, stay connected and share positive experiences while people are staying home, rather than traveling. Every Thursday since the launch of Viking.TV, Anne has interviewed a wide spectrum of significant figures with relationships to Viking, including world-renowned cellist and humanitarian Yo-Yo Ma; Xander Parish, principal ballet dancer at the Mariinsky Theatre; the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon; the Duke of Devonshire; explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison, OBE; former PBS MASTERPIECE Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton, OBE; Downton Abbey’s “Mrs. Patmore,” actress Lesley Nicol; polar explorers Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft; NASA astronauts Dr. Anna Fisher, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan and Dr. Richard Michael Linnehan; classical musicians Alma and Helen Deutscher; legendary British actor, broadcaster and writer Sir Michael Palin; celebrity chefs Eric Ripert, Andreas Viestad and Ainsley Harriot, MBE; bestselling authors Jeffrey Archer, Claire Cook, Robert Harris and Paul Schneider; and Kyle MacLachlan, Sofia Helin and Alexander Eik, the lead actors and the creator of the new PBS MASTERPIECE series, Atlantic Crossing.
Welcome Back Voyages
Today’s milestone follows Viking’s recent announcements about how it is restarting operations with Welcome Back ocean voyages exclusively for vaccinated guests in England, Iceland, Bermuda and Malta. The company is actively working on developing additional Welcome Back itineraries in a variety of other destinations, with the goal of announcing further 2021 sailings as soon as government approvals are given.
Those who sail these new voyages will also experience Viking’s industry-leading health and safety program. Grounded in scientific research, the Viking Health & Safety Program was developed in partnership with an international team of medical advisors, including Raquel C. Bono, M.D., Viking’s Chief Health Officer. Dr. Bono is a board-certified trauma surgeon and retired Vice Admiral of the United States Navy Medical Corps—and most recently led Washington State’s medical and healthcare systems response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Utilizing a full-scale laboratory installed on every Viking ocean ship, all guests and crew will receive frequent quick and easy non-invasive saliva PCR tests. New air purification technology has also been installed on all Viking ships, which have always featured independent air handling units for all guest staterooms. And additional health checks, sanitization and physical distancing measures will provide further protection for Viking guests and crew at all points of the journey. A complete overview of the Viking Health & Safety Program can be found at: www.viking.com/health-safety.
Text: PM Viking Cruises