Snagging a Guinness World Record Isn’t Easy

March 21, 2013 | By | No Comments

With a naming ceremony introducing eight new ships in just one day, Viking River Cruises joins an illustrious collection of Guinness World Records’ competitions that includes the fastest half marathon pushing a pram, the highest reverse bungee jump, the largest collection of (air) sick bags – and – the heaviest weight lifted by tongue.
As we reported yesterday, Viking River, at a naming event in Amsterdam, celebrated the launching of eight new Longships. The only other cruise line to introduce new ships on such a massive scale was, come to think of it, the same cruise line, in 2012. A year ago Viking River held a naming ceremony for the first four of its Longships, all on the same day. It seemed a big deal then. Wednesday’s eight: Even more impressive. Viking earned the record for christening the most ships by the same company in the same day.

If at times some of the world-record stunts attempted seem a bit more silly than substantial (and let’s just say right now that we put Viking’s accomplishment in the heavy lifting category), I had no idea, until yesterday, how seriously Guinness takes these efforts.
When Viking River’s U.K. public relations team figured the Guinness effort was worth a try, it reached out to the company and worked through a series of steps to get the process underway. There was never a guarantee, until the ships were officially named, that Guinness would actually bestow the record-breaking honor (though few insiders had any serious doubts about success). And there were rules to follow. Viking might have been billing yesterday’s event as the naming of 10 ships. But because two — Viking Embla and Viking Aegir — actually launched last summer, without a christening ritual, Guinness decided they did not qualify.
Present at yesterday’s ceremony was Guinness in-house judge Fortuna Burke, expressing officialdom with her World Records clipboard and a mysterious air, to see the effort with her own eyes. And hers weren’t the only ones that mattered. She was also required to drum up two other witnesses, who could not be affiliated with the cruise line and must be well-known experts in the field, which in this case was cruise travel. Cruise Critic and Berlitz Guide to Cruising were chosen. After filling out voluminous forms indicating our ethical impartiality to the contest, Douglas Ward, my Berlitz counterpart, and I were offered the best perch in port, right up on the edge of the dock (literally two steps from falling into the harbor, which would have been brutally uncomfortable on this frigid first-day-of-spring).
Viking River, as we reported yesterday, indeed qualified for admission to Guinness World Records, and our work was done. And says Guinness’ Burke, who seemed as pleased as we all were about the accomplishment, it’s not always such a seamless slam dunk. One recent record-breaking effort didn’t come to such a happy conclusion. Seems that an effort to enter world-record status by gathering the most people ever to simultaneously get a spray tan, held on a cold day at London’s ExCel, didn’t quite pan out.
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