Viking River Cruises Christens 12 New Ships in Amsterdam
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
After a morning of touring the beautiful Dutch city of Haarlem, guests returned to Viking River Cruises Viking Skirnir, where the red carpet had been rolled out at the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam for the big event: the christening of 12 brand-new vessels for Viking.
Of those 12, 10 are Viking Longships. The last two – Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla – are “Longship-esque” ships that have been designed specifically for the ultra-shallow Elbe River. To that end, the engineers at the Neptun-Werft yards in Rostock, Germany have performed a maritime hat-trick, creating vessels with just 0.8 metres of draft (hull below the waterline), powered by state-of-the-art pump jets in place of the more traditional propeller-drive propulsion systems.
I’ve thought long and hard what the takeaway from these christening ceremonies is. Despite the fact that this is my fourth go-round with Viking –and third here in Amsterdam – I still tear up when those bottles of champagne contact the hull of the Longships. It’s a very moving experience, and I feel as though I am part of the Viking family – as everyone here does, from the company’s travel agent partners to journalists, media, suppliers, and frequent guests.
This year, however, seemed even more special thanks to the line’s beautiful choice of Godmothers: longtime Viking employees, both shoreside and shipboard. Many of these women I have met and or sailed with several times now, including Sinemie Bakker (program director on my Viking Forseti voyage through Bordeaux) and Kornelia Pfeiffenberger, who was Hotel Manager onboard my Viking Freya Christmas Markets Cruise along the Danube back in the winter of 2012. Then, there’s Julie Rosoff – Viking’s fabulous and friendly Sr. Director of Marketing Services.
Personally, I feel that the appointment of these fantastic employees as Godmothers speaks so highly of Viking’s values as a company. Like their ships, Viking’s staff across all departments are warm, welcoming and friendly. If returning to a Longship is like coming home, the friendly crews never cease to amaze me with their kindness and professionalism.
The women honoured with the role of Godmother for the 2015 Viking Ships are:
- Donora Anderson – Sr. Director, Operations, Los Angeles office. Viking Skirnir.
- Claire Armitage – Operations Executive, UK Office. Viking Eir.
- Snemie Bakker – Program Director, Onboard Operations. Viking Astrild.
- Henrieta Balisova – Program Director, Onboard Operations. Viking Vili.
- Adriana Filkaszova – Chief Receptionist, Onboard Operations. Viking Beyla.
- Jana Hudakova – Chief Receptionist, Onboard Operations. Viking Mimir.
- Miriam Kajuchova – Housekeeper, Onboard Operations. Viking Ve.
- Karoline Landa – Controller & Hotel Manager, Onboard Operations. Viking Lofn.
- Kornelia Pfeiffenberger – Hotel Manager, Onboard Operations. Viking Vidar.
- Faye Pirie – Specialist Cruise Consultant, UK Office. Viking Modi.
- Julie Rosoff – Director, Marketing Services, Los Angeles Office. Viking Mani.
- Verona Thiele – Concierge, Onboard Operations. Viking Gefjon.
Earlier, Viking River Cruises’ founder Torstein Hagen was asked by one of the other journalists onboard what he thought about this momentous year. Surely, she said, this must be a major milestone for the man who has reinvented river cruising – not to mention cementing his place in the annals of cruising history as the man who once headed up the fabled Royal Viking Line, lost a fortune, started from scratch, created Viking, and made a second fortune.
Now, on the eve of another 12 new ships in Viking’s ever-growing fleet, and with Viking Star just around the corner, all of the journalists present – including yours truly – leaned in. We hoped for a passionate indictment of the line’s success; a true story of triumph in the face of adversity. We hoped for a thoughtful, reflective moment; perhaps, even a single tear shed in acknowledgement of a life of hard-won achievement. But, in true fashion, Tor Hagen once again surprised us all with his practical answer.
“I hate to disappoint you,” he said. “It’s just another year.”
Our Live Voyage Report from the 2015 Viking River Cruises Viking Longships Christening Ceremonies continues tomorrow from the beautiful city of Amsterdam! Be sure to follow along on twitter @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.