Viking Orion Named by NASA Astronaut Dr. Anna Fisher in Italy

Viking Orion Naming

Viking Ocean Cruises has named its fifth ocean ship, Viking Orion during a celebration in Livorno, Italy.

The ship was delivered to Viking last week and is currently sailing a maiden voyage with her ceremonial godmother, American chemist, emergency room physician and retired NASA astronaut

Named after the prominent constellation and in honour of Dr. Fisher’s work on NASA’s Orion exploration vehicle project, the 930-guest 47,800-ton Viking Orion arrived in Livorno early this morning, Viking said.

“Today is a proud day for the entire Viking family. 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. “We are grateful for Dr. Fisher’s many contributions to the scientific community, and we are humbled that she is godmother to Viking Orion. The spirit of exploration is at the heart of the Viking way of travel, and we look forward to welcoming guests onboard our newest ship, which has been designed to offer opportunities for learning about the great history of space exploration.”

Viking Orion Naming

Following her arrival this on Thursday morning, Viking Orion was positioned alongside the city’s historic Medici-built Fortezza Vecchia (Old Fortress). Livorno is known as a gateway to Tuscany, a region reached by the original Viking explorers.

Nearby, Pisa is also known for its native Galileo Galilei – “The Father of Science” – whose gravitational theories and the invention of the Galilean telescope have been central to advancements in oceanic navigation.

It was at the Fortezza Vecchia that in 1662 students of Galileo held an experiment to test his projectile motion theory.

Livorno – with its Fortezza Vecchia – was chosen specifically for Viking Orion’s naming ceremony because of those connections to scientific studies and exploration.

Viking Orion Naming

During the naming ceremony, guests enjoyed a high-tech show and musical concert that paid tribute to Nordic mythology and the spirit of exploration. Legendary British explorer Sir Ranulph “Ran” Fiennes served as the narrator for the event, which also included musical performances from Italian tenor Antonio Corianò, Norwegian bukkehorn musician Sissel Morken Gullord and Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø, who is widely considered one of the world’s top crossover sopranos and who will also be godmother to Viking Jupiter, which debuts in early 2019.

In addition to the naming ceremony, “Finse Explores the Universe” was also released, the 14th book in the educational children’s book series, “The World of Finse”, which showcases the adventures of Viking Senior Vice President Karine Hagen’s yellow Labrador, Finse.

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MSC Cruises unveils plans to build fifth Meraviglia class vessel

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MSC Meraviglia

MSC Cruises aggressive fleet expansions plans are set to continue after the brand revealed plans to build a fifth Meraviglia-class vessel.

The line announced its decision to build a ship, due to be delivered in 2023, during a ceremony today (June 14) at the Saint-Nazaire shipyard in STX France.

The vessel will be the 13th ship to be built during MSC Cruises’ 10-year investment plan which will see the line double its capacity by 2020 and more than triple it by 2026.

Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman, said: “Our fifth Meraviglia-class cruise ship will bring a new generation of cutting-edge environmental technology to the market, benefiting from a new generation of LNG-powered engines.

“This will help us further reduce our environmental footprint and advance in our journey of constant improvement.”

The line also revealed at the event that the fourth Meraviglia-class vessel would be called MSC Virtuosa, which underwent its steel cutting ceremony today.

For the first time in Saint-Nazaire’s history, three cruise ships belonging to a single cruise brand are under simultaneous construction at the shipyard.

MSC’s agreement with STX France to add another ship to its order book represents an investment of €900 million.

Thursday’s event was held to mark three shipbuilding milestones: the steel cutting ceremony of the fourth Meraviglia class vessel, the coin ceremony of MSC Grandiosa and the float of MSC Bellissima.

MSC Bellissima will be christened at a ceremony in Southampton on March 2 2019.

The event will be attended by more than 2,000 guests, including VIPs and important British stakeholders.

MSC Seaside christened in all-star affair

From left, MSC Seaside Capt. Pier Paolo Scala, godmother Sophia Loren and MSC executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago. Photo Credit: Ivan SarfattiMIAMI — MSC Cruises on Thursday held its first christening in North America for the MSC Seaside, a ship MSC hopes will crack open the doors to further growth for the largely European brand.

The 4,138-passenger ship will anchor MSC’s Caribbean itineraries with seven-day cruises from Miami, starting Jan 6.

MSC executive chairman Pierfrancesco Vago said that the MSC Divina, offering weekly departures from Miami, sources only 40% to 50% of passengers from North America. With the arrival of the Seaside, MSC hopes to boost that number to 80%.

Geneva-based MSC has 12 ships, with deployment ranging from South America to the Middle East to South Africa to China. The bulk of its business, however, comes from Europe with the Mediterranean countries of Italy, Spain and France being particularly important.

The Seaside christening was a star-studded affair with Italian actress Sophia Loren serving as godmother for the ship on a balmy Miami evening. Loren christened the first new ship for MSC in 2003, the MSC Lirica, and has done the honours ever since.

“It’s an evening we’ve been waiting many months for,” said Roberto Fusaro, president of MSC Cruises USA.

Ricky Martin at the MSC Seaside christening. Photo Credit: Aaron Davidson/Getty Images
Ricky Martin at the MSC Seaside christening. Photo Credit: Aaron Davidson/Getty Images

Prior to the christening, an audience of more than 2,500 dignitaries, travel agents, journalists and vendors was entertained by operatic tenor Andrea Bocelli and Latin pop singer Ricky Martin.

Bocelli sang “Ave Maria,” solo at first and then with Voices of Haiti, a children’s choir of 60 Haitian kids that sang this summer at the Teatro del Silenzio concert in Bocelli’s hometown of Lajatico in Italy’s Tuscany region. They also sang “Amazing Grace” together in English.

The emcee of the evening was TV personality, Mario Lopez. Also on hand was Hall of Fame Miami Dolphin quarterback Dan Marino, underscoring MSC’s marketing partnership as the official cruise line of the Dolphins.

MSC announced a charitable partnership with the Andrea Bocelli Foundation to help the impoverished island of Haiti with health, education, environmental help and economic development.

The Seaside is a new class of ship for MSC, it’s fifth since it began building cruise ships for its own fleet in 2003. The ship has an unusually broad, uncovered promenade on Deck 8 that gives a sense of closeness to the ocean.

A pool on the aft of Deck 8 deck is surrounded by loungers and is connected by glass-enclosed elevators to another pool and sun area on Deck 16. Over that pool is a zipline, running from funnel to stern, the longest at sea at 400 feet.

Dan Marino gives a Miami Dolphins helmet to MSC Cruises USA President Roberto Fusaro. Photo Credit: Ivan Sarfatti
Dan Marino gives a Miami Dolphins helmet to MSC Cruises USA President Roberto Fusaro. Photo Credit: Ivan Sarfatti

The ship’s inaugural 14-night cruise departing Dec. 23 will visit Antigua and Barbuda; the U.S. Virgin Islands; Nassau, Bahamas; Jamaica; the Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico.

MSC is spending $12 billion to triple its capacity by 2026. “This is what has allowed us to have the tonnage to finally serve the North American market,” Vago said.

Mediterranean Shipping Co., the parent company of MSC, was founded in 1970 by a former ship captain, Gianluigi Aponte, and grew into a global power in the container shipping sector. It entered the cruise business in 1989 by acquiring Naples-based Lauro Lines, with its flagship the Achille Lauro.

At the christening, MSC Seaside was docked at Port Miami’s Terminal B, one terminal away from a massive MSC cargo ship, its decks stacked 10 deep with 2,500 maroon-coloured containers with the yellow MSC logo stamped on the sides.