Astronaut christens Viking Orion in glamorous Italian ceremony

Viking’s newest ship Viking Orion which will head to Australian waters later this year has been christened in a glamorous ceremony in Livorno, Italy.

Orion which will cruise to Southeast Asia and China in August before arriving in Sydney in November, was christened by godmother and retired NASA astronaut Dr Anna Fisher.

Dr Fisher used an historic Viking broad axe to cut the ribbon that launched a bottle of Norwegian aquavit, the national spirit of Scandinavia, on the ship’s hull.

Viking Orion
Viking Orion was christened by godmother and retired NASA astronaut Dr Anna Fisher

During the ceremony, guests enjoyed a high-tech show and concert that paid tribute to Nordic mythology and the spirit of exploration.

“Just three years ago, we launched our first ocean ship and now we are welcoming our fifth ship, whose name was selected to honour both the original Viking explorers who used the constellations for long-distance navigation as well as the great space explorers of our time,’’ said Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking.

In keeping with its name, Orion features several onboard experiences on space exploration.

There is the Explorers’ Dome which is a planetarium-like theatre where guests can watch panoramic films including “Journey to Space” and “Life Under the Arctic Sky” in a fully immersive environment.

Orion is the first in the Viking’s fleet to have a resident astronomer, Howard Parkin who will lead lectures and stargazing sessions onboard the ship.

The 930-passenger Orion will spend time cruising in the Mediterranean before heading for Australian waters from November to March next year, with itineraries to New Zealand, South Pacific and Indonesia.

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