I’m incredibly fortunate – and very starstruck – to be sailing this week on Viking’s fifth and newest ocean ship, the Viking Orion, during its maiden voyage with her ceremonial godmother, American chemist, emergency room physician and retired NASA astronaut Dr. Anna Fisher, who brought along dozens of special guests, scientists, astronomers and more than a dozen of her fellow former and current astronauts.
The 930-guest, 47,800-ton Viking Orion is named after the Orion constellation and in honor of Dr. Fisher’s work on NASA’s Orion exploration vehicle project.
I’m prowling the decks with a print-out of the photos of the astronauts and other space experts hoping to meet them all and ask them questions about everything from travel tips learned from space travel to memories of their first flights. (Getting them to sign my press release would be awkward, right?)
Their answers will appear here and in various assigned stories I’ll share links to later, but in the meantime, here are some photos and tidbits from the spectacular naming ceremony that took place in Livorno, Italy that included musical performances, tributes to Nordic mythology, a flying ‘spaceman’ who traveled over the crowd and around the ship by jetpack and fireworks.
In Livorno, the ship was docked beside the city’s historic Medici-built Fortezza Vecchia (Old Fortress) and a special interactive exhibit was set up inside to tell the stories of exploration technology throughout history – from the Vikings’ solar compass to Galileo’s gravitational and projectile motion experiments.
Among the special features on this ship is a 26-seat planetarium-like theater called the Explorers’ Dome – showing special panoramic films about exploration, such as “Journey to Space” and “Life Under the Arctic Sky” in a fully immersive environment.
Viking Orion continues her maiden season sailing itineraries in the Western and Eastern Mediterranean this summer before heading east to sail Viking’s newest itineraries in Asia, Australia and Alaska.
Stay tuned for more.