by Kevin Griffin writing for cybercruises.com
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The 47,842-ton Viking Sea became the largest ocean vessel to be christened on the River Thames earlier this month.. Hordes of people gathered on the river banks to see her sail through to the heart of London.
The christening in London of Viking Cruises’ second ocean ship, the 930-berth Viking Sea (Courtesy Viking Ocean Cruises)
The first significant cruise ship to be commissioned in London was the 20,295-ton 354-berth Radisson Diamond in June 1982 and the last was the 32,346-ton 450-berth Seabourn Sojourn, christened by Twiggy in June 2010.
Viking Sun also exceeded by sixty-three feet Brunel’s great ocean liner, the 692-foot 18,914-ton Great Eastern, which was the first large ship to be christened on the Thames, in November 1857.
Seabourn Sojourn in London
The 930-berth cruise ship was christened with a fireworks display, having completed her inaugural voyage from Istanbul to Venice last month. As she moored in Greenwich at around 12.15 pm, forty-eight sailors saluted her with a traditional naval welcome, standing on the yardarms of the preserved clipper ship Cutty Sark.
The new ship was christened by godmother Karine Hagen, daughter of Viking chairman Torstein Hagen and the company’s senior vice president. Using a copy of the Viking axe found buried under the Thames, Karine cut the cord to release the christening bottle of aquavit as fireworks lit up the sky over the River Thames.
Viking Sea is identical to the line’s first ocean cruise ship Viking Star, with blonde wood interiors and beautifully crafted furniture throughout.
Viking Sea in Venice (Courtesy Viking Ocean Cruises)
She is classified as a “small” cruise ship these days, for 930 passengers, and every cabin has a balcony, king-size bed and large walk-in shower.
It has been said that the Viking design evolved from that of the original eight R ships built for Renaissance Cruises in 1998/2001.
A comparison might therefore be useful of these ships to the R ships, as well as to the new Oceania ships that also evolved from the R ships.
While Marina and Riviera are double the size of the R ships, the new Viking ships lie between the two Oceania designs.
Something the Oceania ships lack is a wraparound promenade, as they are fitted with shorter promenades on each side not unlike the class-conscious tourist class liners of yore. But the Viking ships have a 360-degree promenade, where four laps equals a mile.
Oceania Marina in Miami
Where the Oceania ships have a single-deck Horizons lounge up forward above the bridge, the Viking Ocean ships have a two-deck high Explorers Lounge. And where the Oceania ships share midships swimming pools, the Viking Ocean ship also has an Infinity pool overlooking the stern.
The Viking ships have a three-deck Atrium compared to just two on the Oceania ships while the main dining room in all three classes is located aft on the same deck as the promenade. The alternative restaurants on the Oceania ships are located in the upper deck area aft while those on the Viking ships are located a deck below the main dining room. The Viking Spa has also been banished from a high-value forward-facing area to a location within the hull below the theatre.
The first significant cruise ship to be commissioned in London was the 20,295-ton 354-berth Radisson Diamond in June 1982
While the new Oceania ships have twenty-three suites and the R ships ten, the Viking ships feature just eleven large suites, including an Owners Suite. By comparison, however, all Viking accommodations are outside with balconies, while the Oceania ships have many cabins without balconies and inside cabins on even its newest ships.
The new Viking ships will be primarily destination-oriented and the will be spending much of their time in the Mediterranean and the Baltic until this autumn, when Viking Star will make Viking’s first Transatlantic cruise leaving Bergen for Montreal on September 18.
The crossing has been sold out for some time, as has that of Azamara Quest, which leaves Southampton for Montreal on September 9. Both are leisurely 15-night cruise crossings.