The new Viking Neptune has been appropriately christened and officially welcomed into the cruise line’s ocean fleet by a godmother with amazing connections to both the ocean and to space, astronaut and aquanaut Nicole Stott. The ship is now charting amazing new courses for guests on an epic 138-night world cruise.
Viking Neptune Named
Viking Neptune was officially named in Los Angeles, California, home of the cruise line’s headquarters, on January 8, 2023. The ceremony included all the traditional elements of maritime ceremonies to bless new ships in order to send Viking Neptune on her way with all appropriate fanfare.
“Today is a proud day for the entire Viking family as we name our newest ocean ship in Los Angeles, the home of Viking’s U.S. office for more than 20 years,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking.
In attendance at the event were various cruise line executives, ship officers, and other dignitaries, including several “godsisters” representing other ships in the Viking fleet.
A Spacefaring and Seafaring Godmother
Doing the honors to officially christen the ship was Viking Neptune‘s godmother, astronaut and aquanaut Nicole Stott. The name “Neptune” references both space and sea, making Stott a superb choice as the ship’s godmother.
“The Viking Neptune is a ship named for both the furthest planet in our solar system and the god of the sea—and our newest Viking godmother, Nicole Stott, as a NASA astronaut and aquanaut, also has connections to space and the sea,” said Hagen. “We are grateful for her many contributions to the scientific community and are proud to have her as part of the Viking family.”
Stott’s astronaut experience includes two spaceflights with 104 days in space on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). She performed one space walk, was the first person to fly the robotic arm to capture the free-flying HTV cargo vehicle, the last crew member to fly to and from their ISS mission on a Space Shuttle, and a member of the final flight crew of Space Shuttle Discovery, STS-133.
Nicole is also a NASA aquanaut who lived and worked on the Aquarius Undersea Habitat for 18 days, the only undersea laboratory in the world. Currently, Aquarius is positioned 62 feet (19 meters) below the surface, 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) off Key Largo in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
“It is an honor and privilege to be the godmother of the new Viking Neptune. As someone who has been blessed to explore space, the ocean, and some of the otherworldly places on our planet, I understand the importance of broadening one’s horizons through travel,” said Stott. “I am very excited for all those who journey around the world on this elegant vessel.”
For the naming ceremony, Stott was presented with an historic Viking broad axe by Sissel Kyrkjebø, one of the world’s leading crossover sopranos and godmother of Viking Jupiter, who used it when naming that ship in January 2020. Stott then used the same axe to cut a ribbon that allowed a bottle of Norwegian aquavit to break on Viking Neptune‘s hull.
A Remarkable World Cruise
Viking Neptune began its current sailing, a 138-night world cruise, from Fort Lauderdale on December 22, 2022. Prior to arriving in Los Angeles for the naming ceremony, the ship had already visited ports in Mexico, Columbia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, including transiting the Panama Canal.
The voyage now continues and in total, the new ship will visit 28 countries and 57 ports, including overnight stays in 11 cities such as Auckland, Sydney, Saigon, Singapore, Mumbai, Istanbul, and more. The outstanding journey will end in London on May 8, 2023.
Viking Neptune is largely identical to her sister ships, weighing in at 47,842 gross tons and able to welcome 930 guests aboard, all of whom will enjoy verandah staterooms.
What sets this ship apart is her small hydrogen fuel system. Viking Neptune is the first ship in the cruise industry to test hydrogen power for onboard operations, and information from her engines will be instrumental in adapting the power system for larger future ships.