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You know there’s something lovely happening when a red carpet rolls out. And in Paris this week, red carpets were dusted off—after two long years—and rolled out to welcome guests from around the world to celebrate Viking’s christening of eight new river cruise ships. With the Eiffel Tower in view and the sounds of Paris all around us, Viking welcomed eight new Viking Longships in Paris and Amsterdam.

The stunning ships include four—Viking Fjorgyn, Viking Kari, Viking Radgrid and Viking Skaga—that were built specifically to navigate the Seine River and offer an exclusive booking location at the Port de Grenelle, a short walk from the Eiffel Tower. They are “mini” Longships with capacity for 168 guests (versus 190 guests on the traditional Longships).

As Viking’s chairman Torstein Hagen noted during a pre-celebration press conference, “It took a lot of effort and seven years to get to Port de Grenelle,” that’s why Viking built these four new ships. Le Pecq, where the ships used to dock, “is not as central as this port. We now have a 16-year exclusive contract at Port de Grenelle.”

The four additional ships—Viking Egdir, Viking Gersemi, Viking Gymir and Viking Hervor—will sail Viking’s itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.

Left to right: Kari Garmann, godmother of Kari; Karryn Christopher, godmother of Gersemi; Helen Deutscher, godmother of Egdir; Brenda Hunsberger, godmother of Hervor; and Muriel Wilson, godmother of Skaga.

The eight stunning ships were christened by eight impressive godmothers, among them 14-year-old Helen Deutscher, an accomplished musician who is the youngest of Viking’s godmothers. Her sister, Helen, and mother, Dr. Janie Deutscher, were among the other godmothers.

“It’s remarkable where we are now,” said Hagen, noting that “during the pandemic, we have taken delivery of 16 ships. We are bouncing back very nicely.” This year, Viking will have 80 river ships sailing around the world, including on the Nile. It’s also debuting on the Mississippi this June, with 15-day sailings between St. Paul to New Orleans on board 386-guest Viking Mississippi.

Indeed, Viking is looking at a revenue growth rate of 47 percent for 2023. Included in that growth are the sailings on the Great Lakes. “For me, it was very obvious this would be one of the places I would like to go,” said Hagen. “Very interesting area to see. Many interesting places and they are under visited.”

Hagen looks to the future with optimism as the cruise line is set to welcome a bevy of new ships, including Viking Mars, an ocean liner set to be named in Malta this May; a second expedition ship, Polaris, set for an August debut; and a new Mekong ship in August 2022, as well as two new ships on the Nile in 2022 and 2023. And there are currently five ocean ships under construction.

Hagen is also very optimistic when it comes to COVID, believing that the worst is behind us, and pointing out that Viking has never had an outbreak on its ships due to its stringent health and safety protocols, including daily testing. The goal, he said, is to relinquish the mask requirement by April 1.

Hagen is also very proud of the fact that Viking dominates the North American market share—50 percent—when it comes to river cruising, and with Viking’s first ocean ship having debuted less than 10 years ago, he notes that the line has 24 percent of the North American market share when it comes to luxury ocean cruising.

Paris’ famed Eiffel Tower looked over the celebration.

As the christening celebration continued in a stunning boutique hotel on Paris’ famed Place Vendome, Hagen celebrated the fact that Viking is well on its way of realizing his dream of having 100 river ships offering destination-rich sailings to “curious and active” guests “interested in history, science, culture and music,” as he says.

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