Building on the back of last year's ambitious successful attempt to name eight ships in one day -– indeed, a world record -– this time around the cruise line upped the ante. In a 24-hour period, spanning three countries, Viking named 16 identical, 190-passenger Longship-style river boats, shattering its own one-year record.
A Guinness World Records' staffer presented Torstein Hagen, Viking's founder and chairman, with an official certificate commemorating the achievement.
The central christening event took place on Tuesday in Avignon, France. Some 330 guests sprawled across the sundecks on Viking Buri, Heimdal and Hermod, all tied up together on the Rhone River. As well, a live video feed from Rostock, Germany -- location of Neptun Werft shipyard, which is building all the ships in the Longship class -- chronicled Champagne-smashing ceremonies on four more new boats. And on Monday, in Amsterdam, an additional seven Longships were christened.
If you're keeping count, two more will be named in Porto, on Portugal's Duoro River, later this week. These don't quality for the Guinness Record. At that point, all 18 of the Longships slated for debut in 2014 will have been named.
Since the introduction of the revolutionary Longships design in 2012, Viking River now has 30 of these 190-passenger vessels cruising on European rivers such as the Danube, Rhine, Rhone, Seine, Moselle, Gironde, Duoro, and others. What makes these ships, which Cruise Critic named as the best new design in the river market in 2012, unique are features such as the indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace and grill, environmentally friendly features such as solar panels, energy-efficient hybrid engines and organic herb gardens on sundecks.
Viking is also adapting the Longships' design to accommodate restrictions on size and capacity in rivers such as the Elbe and Porto; the two new vessels being named in Porto on Friday carry just 106 passengers, for example. Ultimately, Viking River plans to introduce more than 50 Longship-style vessels.
Each of the 18 ships named this week have godmothers, of course. Among the higher profile choices were legendary TV baker Mary Berry, star of the Great British Bakeoff (Viking Alsvin); Susi Barrie (Viking Heimdal), best known from BBC1's Saturday Kitchen; Mireille Mathieu, ( Viking Buri), one of France's most celebrated singers; and Anne Willan (Viking Hermod), founder of Paris' E?cole de Cuisine La Varenne and author of the memoir One Souffle at a Time: A Memoir with Recipes.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief