Viking River Cruises broke a Guinness World Record christening 16, 190-passenger Longships within a 24-hour period in ceremonies in Amsterdam, France, and Germany. The line will name two more ships representing a new 106-passenger class in Portugal on Friday.
With so many ships launching, the company needed to get creative.
Nine ships were christened in Amsterdam. Another three were named in ceremonies in Avignon, France (in festivities attended by guests including Porthole), and four ships got the champagne-smashing treatment at the Neptune shipyard in Rostock, Germany, where they are under construction. (The event was attended by hundreds of shipyard workers in blue hard hats and was streamed in Avignon via a satellite feed.)
An adjudicator from Guinness declared the record for “The Most Ships Inaugurated in One Day by One Company.” Viking established the first such record christening 10 ships on the same day last year.
Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen told guests attending a lavish celebratory dinner, concert, and light show at the Pont du Gard, the 2,000-year-old aqueduct and UNESCO site outside of Avignon, that the company would not break the record again next year.
In 2015, Viking will bring out only 10 Longships and two smaller ships. “That’s the bad news,” Hagen joked.
The Big Kahuna of river cruising has added 30 of the contemporary Longships in three years. Hagen said Viking now has a 48 percent share of the river cruise market.
The company will also debut its first ocean ship, the 930-passenger Viking Star, in May 2015.
All the new river ships will be deployed in Europe including in Bordeaux, where the line is launching a new route, as well as on the Rhine and Danube.
North American travel agents, a British TV baker, some British and French food writers, representatives from the line’s banks, and noted French singer Mireille Mathieu (who performed at the christening celebration) were among the godmothers of the 16 ships.
The Longships are all named for Nordic gods and heroes and have such cutting-edge features as the all-weather Aquavit Terrace for indoor/outdoor dining, cabins and two-room suites with balconies, and two Explorer Suites that Viking says are the largest in the industry.
Done up in modern Scandinavia décor, the ships also have “green” features including an organic herb garden and solar panels that help power the hybrid engines.
The new ships in warm-weather Portugal will be slightly shorter, but maintain many of the same features as the Longships, with the additional feature of a whirlpool.