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Viking Neptune Named by NASA Astronaut Nicole Stott

Viking Neptune Named by NASA Astronaut Nicole Stott

The new Viking Neptune, cruise line Viking’s newest ocean ship, was named in Los Angeles by retired NASA astronaut, aquanaut, and artist Nicole Stott.

On January 8, 2023, cruise line Viking named its newest ocean ship Viking Neptune in a gala ceremony in Los Angeles. The ship’s godmother, astronaut Nicole Stott, offered a blessing of good fortune and safe sailing—a time-honored maritime tradition.

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Viking Neptune’s naming ceremony

The Viking Neptune arrived in port at Los Angeles early Sunday morning and departed for Honolulu, Hawaii following the christening ceremony. The new ship is currently sailing the 2022-2023 Viking World Cruise, a 138-day voyage from Fort Lauderdale to London that visits 28 countries and 57 ports.

As part of Viking’s naming tradition, Stott cut the ribbon with a historic Viking broad axe, allowing a bottle of Norwegian aquavit to smash on the ship’s hull. Noted crossover soprano (and godmother of Viking Jupiter) Sissel Kyrkjebø presented the axe to the new godmother before the ceremony. Kyrkjebø used the same axe when naming her ship in January 2020.

Guests at Viking Neptune‘s naming ceremony then enjoyed performances by Kyrkjebø as well as Norwegian violinist Tor Jaran Apold.

Soprano Sissel Kyrkjebø performs at Viking Neptune‘s naming ceremony as godmother Nicole Stott and Geir Rovik, Norway’s most renowned traditional longship builder, look on (image courtesy of Viking)

“Today is a proud day for the entire Viking family as we name our newest ocean ship in Los Angeles, the home of Viking’s U.S. office for more than 20 years,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking.

“The Viking Neptune is a ship named for both the furthest planet in our solar system and the god of the sea—and our newest Viking godmother, Nicole Stott, as a NASA astronaut and aquanaut, also has connections to space and the sea. We are grateful for her many contributions to the scientific community and are proud to have her as part of the Viking family,” Hagen continued.

Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking, spoke at the naming ceremony for the new Viking Neptune (image courtesy of Viking)

Nicole Stott, godmother of Viking Neptune

Neptune‘s new godmother is a veteran NASA astronaut with two spaceflights and a spacewalk to her credit. Stott was the first person to fly the robotic arm to capture the free-flying HTV cargo vehicle, the last crew member to fly to and from their ISS mission on a Space Shuttle, and a member of the final flight crew of Space Shuttle Discovery.

Veteran NASA astronaut Nicole Stott holds the historic Viking broad axe she used to cut the ribbon during Viking Neptune‘s naming ceremony (image courtesy of Viking)

She has racked up 104 days living and working in space on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.

Stott is also a NASA aquanaut, and lived and worked on the Aquarius Undersea Habitat for 18 days.

The retired astronaut is the author of Back to Earth: What Life In Space Taught Me About Our Home Planet—And Our Mission To Protect It.

Also an artist, Nicole Stott painted the first watercolor painting in space. She’s a co-founder of the Space for Art Foundation, which unites a planetary community of children through the awe and wonder of space exploration and the healing power of art.

“It is an honor and privilege to be the godmother of the new Viking Neptune. As someone who has been blessed to explore space, the ocean, and some of the otherworldly places on our planet, I understand the importance of broadening one’s horizons through travel. I am very excited for all those who journey around the world on this elegant vessel,” said Nicole Stott.

About Viking Neptune

The 930-passenger Viking Neptune is the newest in the cruise line’s fleet of ocean-going ships. Viking’s eight identical sister ships will be joined in April 2023 by another new ocean vessel—Viking Saturn.

Viking’s small ocean ships, including Neptune, each have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, with 465 staterooms. The ships feature all-veranda staterooms, Scandinavian design, light-filled public spaces, and a variety of alfresco dining options.

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Although otherwise identical to her sisters, Viking Neptune is uniquely equipped with a small hydrogen fuel system, making it the cruise industry’s first ship to test the use of hydrogen power for onboard operations.

Viking is using Neptune‘s small hydrogen system as a test to determine how hydrogen fuel could be used at a larger scale on future cruise ships.

Are you looking forward to sailing on the new Viking Neptune? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Carrie Ann Karstunen