Marking a significant milestone in the arrival of the travel industry's first entirely new cruise line in a decade, Viking Ocean Cruises® (www.vikingoceancruises.com) yesterday christened its first ship, the 930-passenger Viking Star. The ceremony – which took place inBergen, Norway – occurred in conjunction with a citywide celebration for Norwegian Constitution Day and featured parades, parties and a public concert in the harbor that was attended by approximately 20,000 local residents and visitors.
In addition to the public fanfare, Viking Star's arrival in Bergen is noteworthy because it marks the first time in 10 years that a Norwegian-flagged passenger cruise ship has chosen Norway's second-largest city as its homeport. Furthermore, the mayor of Bergen, Trude Drevland, served as ceremonial godmother and offered a blessing of good fortune and safe sailing for Viking Star – a naval tradition that dates back thousands of years.
"We believe the arrival of Viking Star signals a new era in destination-focused cruising, and I could not be more proud that she will call my favorite city in the world 'home,'" said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. "This is a ship that was built for exploration and designed with our Scandinavian heritage in mind, and our guests will experience it from the moment they step onboard."
Viking Star's christening was the culmination of a maiden voyage that began April 11 when the ship set sail from Istanbul. Over the last five weeks, she made stops in what will be regular ports across the Mediterranean and Western Europe, including Athens, Santorini, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Venice, Barcelona, Seville(Cadiz), Gibraltar, Lisbon, Paris (Rouen) and London. Yesterday in Bergen, Viking Star was positioned in the harbor to serve as the backdrop for a first-of-its kind floating concert. As thousands of attendees gathered along the waterfront last night, they were treated to performances by world-renowned artists and musicians – all of whom have a personal connection to Bergen – including Norwegian soprano Sissel, actor Bjarte Hjelmeland, singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche, acclaimed violinist Charlie Siem and comedy duo Ylvis. Following the concert, christening ceremony, and a fireworks show, Viking Star set sail on a special journey to Oslo and from there will continue on to Copenhagen, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm. more...