Viking Neptune was christened with a celebration in Los Angeles on Sunday. The ship’s ceremonial godmother, Nicole Stott, retired NASA astronaut, aquanaut, and artist, blessed the ship for good luck and safe sailing – a maritime tradition dating back thousands of years.
Following the naming ceremony, Viking Neptune departed Los Angeles for Honolulu early on January 8.
The ship is currently sailing on the 2022-2023 Viking World Cruise, an epic journey from Fort Lauderdale to London that spans 138 days, 28 countries, and 57 ports, with overnight stops in 11 cities.
The appointment of Viking Neptune also comes at a time of record sales for Viking, with the launch of Viking’s new 25th Anniversary Sale on 1 January resulting in the highest number of bookings in a single week in the company’s history.
“Today is a proud day for the entire Viking family as we name our newest ocean liner in Los Angeles, home of Viking’s U.S. office for more than 20 years,” said Torstin Hagen, president of Viking. “Viking Neptune is a ship named for both the most distant 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.” We are grateful for her great contributions to the scientific community and are proud to have her as part of the Viking family.”
“It is an honor and a privilege to be the godfather 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 expanding your horizons through travel. “I am very excited for all those who are traveling around the world on this elegant ship,” said Nicole Stott.
In keeping with naming tradition, Nicole used a historic Viking broad ax during the ceremony to cut the cord that allowed the bottle of Norwegian aquavit to be smashed against the ship’s hull. Prior to the ribbon cutting, the ax was presented to Nicole by Sissel Kirkebo, one of the world’s leading crossover sopranos and godmother of Viking Jupiter, who used it at the naming of her ship in January 2020. Guests at the event also enjoyed performances by Sissel and Norwegian violinist Thor Jaran Apold.
Nicole Stott, godmother of Viking Neptune
Veteran NASA astronaut Nicole Stott’s experience includes two space flights and 104 days spent living and working in space aboard the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS). She performed one spacewalk and was the first person to operate a robotic arm to capture a free-flying HTV cargo vehicle, the last crew member to fly to and from her mission to the ISS on the Space Shuttle, and a member of the last flight crew space shuttle Discovery, STS-133. Nicole is also a NASA aquanaut who lived and worked in the underwater habitat of Aquarius for 18 days.
She is the author of Return to Earth: What Life in Space Taught Me About Our Home Planet – and Our Mission to Protect It. Also an artist, Nicole painted the first watercolor painting in space—and co-founded the Space for Art Foundation, which unites a planetary community of children through the awe and wonder of space exploration and the healing power of art. Through her work, Nicole inspires everyone to appreciate our role as crew members here on “spaceship” Earth.
The Viking Neptune
The Viking Neptune is the newest ship in Viking’s award-winning ocean fleet of identical sister ships, which also includes the Viking Star, the Viking Sea, the Viking Sky, the Viking Orion, the Viking Jupiter, the Viking Venus, and the Viking Mars. In April, Viking will also welcome another new ocean ship, the Viking Saturn. Classified by Cruise Critic as “small ships,” Viking’s ocean vessels have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, with 465 staterooms that can host 930 guests; the ships feature all veranda staterooms, Scandinavian design, light-filled public spaces and abundant al fresco dining options.
Although identical to Viking’s other ocean ships, the Viking Neptune is uniquely equipped with a small hydrogen fuel system, making it the cruise industry’s first ship to test the use of hydrogen power for onboard operations. Viking is using the small system as a test to determine how hydrogen fuel could be used at a larger scale in future new builds.