Arriving into Amsterdam on a bright, sunny morning, 21st March 2012 the first day of spring, I was on my way to the christening of four Viking longships that had been commissioned by Viking River Cruises.
OK. Two were still in the shipyard at Rostock and not yet completed but a simultaneous feed and two very large LCD screens that were perched on top of both new Viking ships, would display the shipyard’s ceremony and alleviate that problem. The naming was taking place at the Port of Amsterdam and I was staying on the Viking Odin, named after the Norse god Odin, God of Wisdom. Berthed next to her was the new Viking Idun, named (appropriately on this day) after the Norse Goddess of spring, rejunvenation and eternal youth. I have to say that having Joanna Lumley as the Godmother of our ship was a big PLUS in the scheme of things and I was looking forward to seeing her. The other thee godmothers were Rebecca Eaton, the producer of Masterpiece Theatre in the U.S., Dr Lisa Randall, an award winning author and professor of physics at Harvard University and lovely Gail Wiswedel, Viking River Cruises’ most travelled customer.
As champagne was being distributed to all the guests, the chairman of the company Torstein Hagen – arguably a Norseman himself – escorted the godmothers to a podium placed between the Viking Odin and Viking Idun. It was a lovely moment when those leading the ceremony in Amsterdam invited the folks in Rostock to take part via the simultaneous feed. There was even a bit of a Eurovision influence with all the ‘hellos’ and ‘how are yous’ going back and forth over the tanoy. The two ships, Viking Freya and Viking Njord, though in a separate location, were still named by their godmothers in Port of Amsterdam with the usual cutting of the ribbon and smashing of the bottles of champagne. As each ship was christened, a small fireworks display was let off and a tug boat in the harbour spun around nearby, all the while propelling arcs of water into the air from its firehoses.
Speeches followed, the customary exhanging of plaques to the ship’s captains and there was even a surprisingly inspiring video that showed the building of these, dare I say it, quite remarkable ships. Well done to Viking for an exceptional event. Can’t wait for the next two ships, six in total for this year, arrive so we have an excuse for another ceremony!