PHOTO: Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen and Dr. Anna Fisher look up at Viking Orion. (photo courtesy of Viking Cruises)
Viking Cruises already reached for the cosmos with its appropriately named first ocean ship—the Viking Star—and the line is at it again.
Not only is the company now set to call its fifth seafaring ship the Viking Orion, but it is also planning a future hydrogen-powered vessel as well as additional riverboats for 2019.
The Viking Ocean Cruises brand welcomed the Viking Sky to New York for the first time this week and while in Manhattan, Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen announced the previously known Viking Spirit will instead be christened as the Viking Orion in July 2018.
The ship’s godmother will be American chemist, emergency room physician and recently retired NASA astronaut Dr. Anna Fisher. The new ship name is a reference to the constellation as well as in honor of her contributions to NASA’s titular exploratory vehicle project.
“Vikings were the original long-distance explorers and the first to use the stars and constellations as a way to navigate uncharted territory,” said Hagen, in a press release.
“The spirit of exploration is at the heart of everything we do, and so I am especially proud that an astronaut will be honored as godmother to our new ship. Dr. Fisher is a past Viking guest, a fellow scientist and a true explorer. As one of the first women in space, she has inspired generations of curious minds, and I look forward to welcoming guests onboard Viking Orion to learn more about her impressive career in space exploration.”
The 930-guest Viking Orion will be a sister-ship to the Viking Star, Viking Sea, Viking Sky and Viking Sun before her. The vessel celebrated its float out ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Ancona, Italy. Dr. Fisher was on hand as the ship touched water for the first time on September 28 to weld commemorative coins under the ship mast. Once launched, it will sail the Mediterranean before heading to Asia, Australia and Alaska.
“The idea of exploring new territories has always appealed to me, whether through science or by traveling the world,” said Dr. Fisher, in the release.
“I was 12 years old when I heard Alan Shepard’s voice on the radio during his sub orbital flight and at that moment, I knew that I also wanted to explore beyond earth’s atmosphere. I knew from that young age that I wanted to be an astronaut. I always wanted to be an explorer and I am proud and honored to be godmother to Viking Orion—a ship that was designed to help her guests see more of the world.”
READ MORE: Viking Ocean Cruises Expands Fleet
Also at the press conference, the company’s Viking River Cruises brand announced it will be inaugurating another seven riverboats in 2019, according to Cruise Critic. Six will follow the line’s signature Longship design and the remainder will be custom-built for the Douro River in Portugal.
No Longship launches are currently planned for 2018, but the redesigned Viking Ra is scheduled to come online in Egypt in March 2018.
By 2019, the new Viking Helgrim will sail the Duoro while the new Viking Einar, Viking Sigrun, Viking Sigyn, VikingTir, Viking Ullur and Viking Vali will navigate the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers.
Meanwhile, the company is looking to the future with ambitions to build an ocean vessel powered by zero-emission liquid hydrogen fuel, according to Marine Log. At the Norwegian Maritime Authority Safety at Sea conference, Serge Fossati, project manager at Viking Cruises, said the ship could be in line with the existing sister-ships, carrying more than 900 guests and 500 crew.
The piece quotes Hagen as saying, “At Viking, we have always endeavored to look forward and to be at the forefront with regard to green shipping. As a Norwegian and with Norwegian ships, we want to lead the way to zero-emission ships through fuel cell technology. The road to that point is still long, but here at Viking we want to be ahead of the game”
Viking’s current ship delivery schedule calls for a fleet of eight ocean ships by 2022. The company has options for another two orders beyond that and it’s very possible that a hydrogen-powered ship may be one of them.
This post first appeared on TravelPulse.