Viking’s newest ship named in New York
Ann Ziff of the Metropolitan Opera cuts the ceremonial ribbon
On June 6, Viking® named its newest ocean ship, the Viking Saturn®, with a celebration in New York City. As part of the event, the ship’s ceremonial godmother, Ann Ziff, philanthropist and chair of the Metropolitan Opera, a longtime Viking cultural partner, offered a blessing of good fortune and safe sailing for the ship, a maritime tradition that dates back thousands of years.
The ship will now continue its inaugural season, sailing two new Viking voyages: “Iconic Iceland, Greenland & Canada,” between New York City and Reykjavik, and “Iceland & Norway’s Arctic Explorer,” between Reykjavik and Bergen.
“This is a very proud day for Viking as we name our newest identical ocean ship in New York City, one of the great cultural capitals of the world,” said Torstein Hagen, chair of Viking. “It is especially fitting that Ann Ziff, chair of the Metropolitan Opera—one of the world’s greatest cultural institutions—has honored us by serving as godmother of the Viking Saturn. We thank Ann for her loyalty as a Viking guest, as well as her many impressive contributions to the arts and other important causes.”
“It is an honor to be godmother of the new Viking Saturn and celebrate this momentous occasion in New York,” said Ziff. “Viking and the Metropolitan Opera share a common goal in creating enriching experiences throughout the world, and there is no doubt the Viking Saturn will do just that for her guests.”
In keeping with the naming tradition, during the ceremony Ziff used the steel sword from the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” to cut a ribbon that allowed a bottle of Norwegian aquavit to break on the ship’s hull. The prop sword was originally used by baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky in the role of Count di Luna in David McVicar’s production, which premiered in the 2008–2009 season. Before the ribbon cutting, the sword was presented to Ziff by Lady Fiona Carnarvon, the countess of Carnarvon, who is also the godmother of the Viking Mars® and a Viking Longship, the Viking Skadi®.
As part of the ceremony, guests also enjoyed performances from Sissel Kyrkjebø, one of the world’s leading crossover sopranos and godmother of the Viking Jupiter® and Norwegian violinist Tor Jaran Apold. Following a celebratory dinner on board the ship, stars of the Metropolitan Opera—soprano Susanna Phillips, tenor Charles Castronovo, and baritone Quinn Kelsey—treated guests to a performance of opera classics, including selections from Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata,” Antonín Dvořák’s “Rusalka,” Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohème,” as well as a collection of American musical classics from Rodgers and Hammerstein, Jerome Kern, and others.
Ann Ziff, godmother of the Viking Saturn
A dedicated philanthropist focused on the arts, education, culture, and environmental conservation, Ann Ziff is chair of the Metropolitan Opera and serves on several boards, including the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Sing for Hope, the World Science Festival, and the Los Angeles Opera. Passionate about bringing culture and arts into the lives of children in need, she cofounded Smile Train and was a board member at Maloto, an organization that provides education and housing for abused and abandoned girls in Malawi.
Ziff also has an eponymous fine jewelry brand, Tamsen Z, where she designs and creates one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by her love of culture, art, and music, as well as her travels as a Viking guest.
Viking and the Metropolitan Opera
As one of the world’s foremost cultural institutions and the largest classical music organization in North America, the Metropolitan Opera is home to the most creative and talented singers, conductors, composers, musicians, and artists around the world and has been a Viking cultural partner since 2016. On board Viking’s ocean ships, guests are treated to the Metropolitan Opera’s award-winning Live in HD series, including an exclusive viewing of Mozart’s The Magic Flute. As part of Viking’s continued commitment to support enriching, cultural programming, other premier partnerships and sponsorships include Ballet Sun Valley, BBC, Highclere Castle, Los Angeles Philharmonic, PBS’ Masterpiece, RHS Chelsea Flower Show, Oslo’s Munch Museum, TED, and many others.
The Viking Saturn
The Viking Saturn is the newest ship in Viking’s award-winning ocean fleet of identical ships, which also includes the Viking Star®, the Viking Sea®, the Viking Sky®, the Viking Orion®, the Viking Jupiter®, the Viking Venus®, the Viking Mars®, and the Viking Neptune®. Classified by Cruise Critic as “small ships,” Viking’s ocean vessels have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, with 465 staterooms that can host 930 guests; the ships feature all veranda staterooms, Scandinavian design, light-filled public spaces, and abundant al fresco dining options.
The naming of the Viking Saturn comes as the company continues to celebrate its 25th anniversary and its most successful single month of bookings in January 2023, following recent years of strong growth. Since 2020, Viking has welcomed 17 new ships to its fleet.
This article originally appeared in the July 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.