Traveling from around the world, invited guests of Viking River Cruises arrived in Avignon, France throughout the day. Much like the beginning of any other Viking sailing, the first day schedule is light as everyone settles in, adjusts to the time change and gets their bearings in a foreign land. But unlike other voyages, this one marks the christening of 18 new longships. A feat never attempted before in maritime history, Viking will beat their Guinness World Record by the time all is said and done. Still, amid a blur of last-minute preparations for the event, one underlying tone is crystal clear: Vikings have arrived, prepared, and with a plan in place to conquer another new land.
“The ancient Vikings were the greatest explorers of their age,” begins literature we found in our nicely appointed staterooms on Viking Heimdal upon arrival. By the end of the day, Viking River Cruises would have already christened nine ships in Amsterdam, flawlessly. (Photos in progress) Vikings apparently get good at such things rather quickly. It’s a skill that served the ancient Vikings well and a heritage that energizes the forward-thinking Vikings of today, a story of it’s own that we will explore throughout this report.
Today’s Vikings are equally adept at what they do, confirmed by all systems up and running as we boarded Viking Heimdal. Lunch was served at the ship’s Aquavit Terrace as passengers arrived, were greeted by Captain Rudi Beillard along with a number of ship’s crew and made welcome aboard. Those who arrived early could go on a Welcome Walk with a local guide for some fresh air.
Docked in Avignon, curious locals walked by on one side of the ship while Rhone river activity happened on the other. An afternoon cocktail party in the ship’s lounge brought those on board together as a group for the first time. Dinner featured a rendition of Beef Wellington like no other.
It was business-as-usual for Viking River Cruises, base experience fully functional, stage set for the next day’s Christening Ceremony; what we had all come to see.
We’ll get more inside what Viking has planned for France, what’s new on the Viking Longships of 2014 and more as this report continues. For now, some random images of the day, illustrating all of the above.