June 22, 2017
(1:50 p.m. EDT) -- In its third christening ceremony in three years, fast-growing Viking Ocean Cruises welcomed Viking Sky, its newest oceangoing cruise ship, into the fleet today in Tromso, Norway. The community-spirited event, a public concert featuring Norwegian performers and musicians, reflected the line's distinctly Norwegian heritage in all sorts of meaningful ways.
Godmother Marit Barstad, who offered the blessing, is the sister of Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen. Performing at the celebration, which attracted several thousand locals on an appropriately Arctic-frosty midsummer afternoon, were the Arctic Philharmonic, Lisa Stokke, Violet Road, Sara Marielle Gaup Beaska and Jørn Hoel.
From its inception, the cruise line has infused its own style and culture with Hagen's Norwegian heritage, from design and decor to the culinary arts and itinerary enrichment, and this simple but poignant ceremony offered other ties to traditions. Barstad christened the ship not with the usual Champagne but with a bottle of Gammel Opland aquavit, a traditional Scandinavian spirit made with caraway seeds or dill. To cut the cord that allowed the aquavit bottle to successfully smash against Viking Sky's hull, the godmother used a gilded Viking axe, a replica of an artifact discovered near Tromso.
In a statement, Hagen (his live remarks, in Norwegian, were not translated) noted that "this is a special time of year in Norway -- these are the days of the midnight sun and the perfect backdrop for a celebration. All of our ships proudly carry the Norwegian flag, and it is an especially proud day to officially welcome our new ship in Tromso, the arctic capital of the world. Vikings were explorers, and our ships are built with their spirit of exploration in mind."
Hagen, a cruise visionary who transformed Viking River Cruises into the biggest river line in the industry, launched coastal-oriented Viking Oceans in 2015 with Viking Star. Viking Sea, which is largely identical, followed in 2016, and now, Viking Sky has officially launched.
The fastest growing cruise line in the business, Viking Ocean, Hagen has told us, will ultimately grow to an eight-ship fleet. The nearly identical vessels (with a few tweaks here and there) measure 47,800 tons, have 465 cabins and carry 930 passengers apiece. Next up: Viking Sun will debut this September. Viking Spirit, also under construction, will come out in 2018, with others in 2019, 2021 and 2022.
Last year, Viking Sea and Viking Star took first and second place, respectively, in Cruise Critic's Cruisers' Choice Awards (best overall in the small-midship category).
--By Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief