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A slice of Downton Abbey heads to Australia – the new Viking Mars bound for Down Under

Viking has revealed details around its newest ocean ship. The 930-guest Viking Mars will debut early in 2022 and she will be heading to Australia.

The ship will spend her maiden season sailing itineraries in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe before heading Down Under.

The ship will be christened by Lady Fiona Carnarvon, the eighth Countess of Carnarvon and owner of Highclere Castle, made famous by the popular television series Downton Abbey.  She is a good friend of Karine Hagen, the executive vice president of the line and the daughter of Viking’s founder, Torstein Hagen.

“The day that a new ship meets water for the first time is always a special moment in time, and today is especially meaningful because for the second time, my dear friend Lady Carnarvon will honour us by serving as godmother to a new Viking ship,” said Karine Hagen, Executive Vice President of Viking.

“The last year and a half has been a period of uncertainty for all of us, and it is in those times that you know your true friends. Lady Carnarvon has done so much to help Viking, including opening her home almost weekly for our guests to experience life ‘At Home at Highclere’ on Viking.TV. She is truly a like the sister I never had. We are delighted to celebrate this important milestone, and we look forward to welcoming Viking Mars to our award-winning ocean fleet next year.”  

The traditional float out ceremony took place at Fincantieri’s Ancona shipyard and is significant because it denotes a ship moving into its final stage of construction. The float out of Viking Mars began at approximately 11am local time when a member of the Viking team cut a cord that signalled water to begin flowing into the ship’s building dock. Following a two-day process that will set Viking Mars afloat, she will then be moved to a nearby outfitting dock for final construction and interior build-out.

The Viking Mars bound for Australia.

Viking and Highclere Castle

As part of the itineraries aboard Viking Mars, guests will be able to visit the grand and majestic Highclere Castle, the home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, and known as the filming location of Downton Abbey.

The line will have pre and post cruise extensions co-created by Karine Hagen and the Carnarvon family include Oxford & Highclere Castle and Great Homes, Gardens & Gin,  both of which are available for guests on select river and ocean itineraries.

Also, for guests on the popular Pharaohs & Pyramids Nile River cruise itinerary, Viking offers the five-day British Collections of Ancient Egypt Pre-Cruise Extension, which gives guests an introduction to Egyptian antiquities in preparation for their Nile experience, and includes retracing the steps of the world’s most famous Egyptologist, Howard Carter, and his benefactor, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Guests experience Privileged Access to archives and museum exhibits not normally accessible to the public, and at Highclere Castle, have the opportunity view the earl’s magnificent private collection of Egyptian artifacts.

For more than a year, Lady Carnarvon has welcomed viewers to Highclere Castle on Viking’s award-winning enrichment channel, Viking.TV. In her ongoing series, At Home at Highclere, a segment airing on select Fridays, Lady Carnarvon offers virtual Privileged Access to the historic home and its grounds.