Viking Star

(8 a.m. EDT) -- Beginning this month, a resident historian will join the staff of all Viking Ocean Cruises ships to lead a variety of in-depth enrichment activities on all sailings.

The historian's duties will include overview lectures in The Theater, as well as in-depth roundtable discussions on more detailed topics like the Elgin Marbles or Venetian naval power, history-themed dinner talks, and office hours where passengers can go and ask questions in a one-on-one setting.

Viking Ocean Cruises is planning to film the lectures -- which will be standardized so passengers will receive the same quality, no matter which sailing they are on -- and make them available for passengers to view on the in-room entertainment system, the company said in a release.

Viking's senior vice president, Karine Hagen, hinted at the program earlier this month during the christening of Viking Hild, one of the company's river Longships. She said that the resident historians would not replace the guest lecturers already onboard.

Instead, the Resident Historians will provide context to events, dates and issues that are important to the region. For example, the historian for an itinerary that stops in St. Petersburg might offer a lecture on the Romanov dynasty, she noted.

"We have 15 historians ready to go," she said.

Having a similar historian program on the much smaller Viking river cruise vessels would be difficult, Hagen said. But the line is expanding its enrichment offerings there too; the company will also put the filmed historian lectures on the in-cabin entertainment systems on river cruises by early 2018.

The first three resident historians for spring 2017 are as follows:

  • Dr. Mark Callaghan holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of London, an M.A. in Art History from Oxford University and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Manchester. He specializes in 20th-century European art and culture and will sail on Viking Sky.
  • Lt. Colonel Tony Coutts-Britton is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst and served with the British Army in Europe and Asia -- and later with NATO in the Partnership for Peace program. Coutts-Britton lectures on the social and political aspects of European military history and will be on Viking Sea.
  • Dr. Fenella Bazin holds a Ph.D. from the University of Liverpool, is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and is a Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool's Center for Manx Studies. Bazin specializes in the Age of the Vikings and modern Norway and will be on Viking Star.

--By Chris Gray Faust, Senior Editor