Name change: Viking ocean ship to be called Orion

The Viking Orion at its float-out in Ancona, Italy.
The Viking Orion at its float-out in Ancona, Italy.

NEW YORK -- Viking Cruises said the fifth in its series of 930-passenger ocean ships will be named Viking Orion. The vessel is due in July 2018.

The line had previously referred to the ship as the Viking Spirit.

Viking chairman Torstein Hagen announced the name swap during a press event aboard the Viking Sky here.

The name of a planet, Mercury, was also considered, Hagen said, but "since our ambitions are unlimited, we decided on a constellation."

Also fitting the space theme, Hagen said that retired astronaut Anna Fisher will be the ship's godmother when it debuts in July 2018.

Fisher was in Italy last week for the ship's float-out ceremony at Fincantieri's Ancona shipyard.

The Orion will spend its first year sailing Mediterranean, Asia, Australia and Alaska itineraries.

Viking, well known as a river cruise company, entered the ocean cruise business with the launch of the Viking Star in 2015. It was followed by the Viking Sky and Viking Sea, with the Viking Sun expected to debut next month.

Hagen said the company's growth will make it the "largest small-ship ocean line" ocean line by 2019, with 5,580 lower berths, making it larger than both Oceania Cruises and Silversea.

Viking's river ship building is also full-speed ahead: Hagen also said at the event that the company would introduce seven new river ships in 2019.

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