The celebration started with a drinks reception in the main hall of the Amsterdam cruise terminal. The area had been deck out with drapes, crystal chandeliers and white tables. For nibbles there were plates of local cheeses and then waiters served hot snacks. A harpist and a flutist provided the entertainment.
We were here for about and hour, and after a talk by the master of ceremonies we had the choice of staying and watching the naming on the giant screen, going outside on a glass walkway or heading down to the quay to each the events. Well there is not much point coming all this way to Amsterdam and then watching it on the screen, what's the point in that? Might as well just get the DVD when it comes out!
I headed down to the quay side to watch the christening - they were naming four ships, all after Viking gods; Viking Odin, Viking Freya, Viking Njord and Viking Idun, however two of the ships were delayed and still at the shipyard, so there was a video link set up to Rostock where they are being built. Odin is the father of the Viking gods and the greatest Viking god of all, Freya is the goddess of love, beauty and fertility, Njord, is the god of wind, and Idun is the goddess of spring, rejuvenation and eternal youth.
To start the ceremony off we enjoyed some electric violin music performed by two local excellent musicians, then the master of ceremonies introduced the four godmothers:-
Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking River Cruises, gave a speech and welcomed the godmothers. The captains of each respective ship, all looking very smart in their dark uniforms, accompanied each godmother.
The first ships to be named were the ones in Rostock, Germany, so it was over to the big screens, it was like being at Eurovision "come in Rostock, this is Amsterdam calling!"
The godmothers all had the same toast to the ship "I christen this ship Viking Nordic (or their ship name!), may the crew and passengers be happy and there always be one hands worth of water under the vessel" and then the cut the ribbon -and a few hundred miles away in Rostock the champagne smashed on the hull accompanied by fireworks!
For me the most exciting godmother was Joanna Lumley. As she approach the railing where the ribbon was tied, waiting to be cut, she seemed to grow in stature as she stood proud and declared her christening message in a clear, distinct and confident voice, such a professional! She cut the ribbon and the bottle of Verve Cliquot champagne smashed onto the hull in an explosion of fizz and glass, as fire works were set off behind. It was quite moving to be honest. A local fireboat sent twin plumes of water high into the sky as more fireworks we set off and the ships all sounded their horns in unison to mark the occasion.
After the christening ceremony it was back to the main hall for more speeches from the owner of the ship yard (a very long speech from him), from the port of Amsterdam and from each of the godmothers.
The speech from Gail Wiswedel was very moving; you could tell she was so proud to have been chosen. One particular thing she said was that without Viking River Cruises being in her life, she would never have been to so many places, with so many more to discover. She was so appreciative and was struggling to get the words out as she was close to tears.
The speech by Dr. Lisa Randall wasn't moving and she looked like she would rather be somewhere else - maybe it was nerves.
Joanna rose to occasion and was great, of course, gushing her thanks to the owners and thanking everyone, even the stage, you could tell she was genuinely proud to have been chosen to be a godmother and the audience lapped it up. She is a real national treasure and such a professional, who wouldn't want Joanna Lumley as their godmother? I want her to adopt me! She is also very funny!
After the godmothers gave their speeches, they were presented with various gifts, including a bouquet of flowers, a framed print and then a gold bracelet in the style of an anchor chain! Incredible! Rebecca, Joanna and Gail looked really moved and flattered to be receiving such a gift, the Dr looked like she just wanted to go home.
Then it was back on the Viking Odin as we were setting sail and heading out into lake Ij for a short cruise whilst we're were dining. As the riverboat left the dockside, it was so smooth and quiet, you really didn't realise you had left! No vibrations either.
Our gala celebration dinner was extremely good, and consisted of: -
After diner we retired to the main lounge for the evening entertainment, a really excellent jazz trio accompanied by a very young but very good female singer. They stayed well beyond their allocated time slot as the guests were having such a good time!
It was a great day and the christening ceremony went very well, with Joanna Lumley being the star of the show for me.
Just last week, Viking announced it has commissioned six additional Viking Longships for delivery in 2013, bringing the total number of new ships to be launched in two years to 12. With the six additional vessels, Viking will have invested more than $400 million in its fleet development program over three years.
Part 1 can be viewd here - Viking Longships Christening Part 1