Viking has named its latest ocean ship in a small, private ceremony in Malta.
The 930-guest Viking Mars was officially welcomed to the fleet by its godmother Lady Fiona Carnarvon, the Countess of Carnarvon, who appeared via video link from Highclere Castle. A bottle of Norwegian aquavit was then smashed on the ship’s hull.
The cruise line and Lady Fiona Carnarvon have each donated £10,000 to 25 charities “important to both Viking and the Carnarvon family”, a statement added.
The ship will begin its maiden season this week, sailing itineraries in the Mediterranean, Scandinavia and Northern Europe, before repositioning at the end of the year for voyages around Australia and New Zealand.
Chairman Torstein Hagen said: “It is always a proud day when we welcome a new sister ship to our fleet. Viking Mars will allow us to offer even more opportunities for curious travellers to explore the world in comfort.
“Many of our guests were introduced to both Viking and Highclere Castle while watching Downton Abbey, and over the years we have continued a close friendship with the Carnarvon family as they have welcomed our guests into their home.
“We are very grateful that Lady Carnarvon has honoured us by serving as godmother of our newest ocean ship.”
Lady Carnarvon added: “I am honoured and privileged to be the godmother of the Viking Mars. I have no doubt she will delight the many guests who travel with her around the world.
“For more than a decade, Viking and Highclere have been linked through both Downton Abbey and life, and we look forward to continuing welcoming the extended Viking family to explore our home for years to come.”
The company recently launched its expedition cruising brand and its first purpose-built expedition ship Octantis.
In March 2022, the company named eight new European river ships during a special event in Paris.