In June 2018, Space reporter Samantha Mathewson sailed on the maiden voyage of Viking Orion, the newest ship in Viking's growing ocean fleet.
The ship set sail on June 13 from Rome and traveled to several ports in the Mediterranean before ending its voyage in Barcelona, Spain, on June 19. The cruise ship is named after the constellation Orion, the hunter, and in recognition of NASA's Orion spacecraft, the first crewed capsule designed to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit.
You can relive Samantha's journey here. And click next to take a photo tour of the Viking Orion!
In September 2017, Viking Orion touched water for the first time during the float-out ceremony that took place at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy.
The ship was later moved to a nearby outfitting dock for final construction and interior build-out in preparation for its maiden voyage in June.
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NASA Astronaut Honored
Retired NASA astronaut Anna Fisher was honored as "godmother" of Viking Orion at the float-out ceremony in September 2017.
Fisher was one of the six female astronaut candidates selected for NASA's first class of space shuttle astronauts. She became the first mother in space when she served as a mission specialist on STS-51A aboard the space shuttle Discovery, which launched on Nov. 8, 1984.
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The Leaning Tower of Pisa
The first port of call was Livorno, Italy. A short ride inland brought passengers to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Square of Miracles. In 1589, Italian scientist Galileo Galilei experimented with gravity by dropping objects from the tower here. His experiments revealed that all of the objects hit the ground at the same time, demonstrating that any two objects, regardless of weight, shape or composition, will fall at exactly the same rate.
In 1971, astronaut David Scott, commander of the Apollo 15 mission, conducted a similar experiment on the moon using a geologic hammer and a falcon's feather.
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Fireworks Over Orion
The official naming ceremony of Viking Orion took place on June 14 in Livorno, Italy.
The ship's name pays homage to NASA's Orion spacecraft, which is the last project Fisher worked on before she retired in May 2017.
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Orion Ribbon Cutting
As "godmother," Fisher used a historic Viking broadax to cut a ribbon at the naming ceremony of the ship on June 14. During the ceremony, Fisher offered her blessing of good fortune and safe sailing — a naval tradition that dates back thousands of years.
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A Blessing for Orion
As part of the official naming ceremony, Monsignor Liberio Andreatta, who reports to the cardinal vicar of the pope, blessed the ship. Andreatta is seen here with Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen, Fisher and Viking Senior Vice President Karine Hagen. Fisher gave astronaut flight jackets to the Hagens.
NEXT: A Viking Orion Show
A Viking Orion Show
British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes served as narrator for the naming ceremony, which also included musical performances from Italian tenor Antonio Corianò and Norwegian bukkehorn player Sissel Morken Gullord.
Norwegian singer Sissel Kyrkjebø, who will be the "godmother" of Viking Jupiter, also put on a show. Viking Jupiter is expected to make its debut early next year. [Best Summer Vacation Ideas for Space Lovers]
NEXT: The Orion Explorers' Dome
The Orion Explorers' Dome
The Explorers' Dome on board Viking Orion is currently the highest-definition 7K planetarium in the world, and Orion is only the second cruise ship in the world to have a planetarium on board.
The attraction currently offers two 3D films: "Journey to Space" and "Under the Arctic Sky."
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The ship also has a Viking resident astronomer, who will lead lectures on the wonders of the cosmos and offer guided tours of the night sky during stargazing sessions. Related Story: Star Ships — New Sciences Cruises Offer Pristine Cosmic Views
NEXT: NASA's Orion, Meet Viking Orion
NASA's Orion, Meet Viking Orion
The ship has many space-themed touches, including a NASA photo exhibit and an archway decorated in different constellations leading into the ship's Explorers' Lounge.
NEXT: Star Explorers Lounge