Thousands of spectators gathered along the Thames yesterday, May 05, as London welcomed the 930-passenger Viking Sea that boasts a snow grotto and is set to become the biggest ocean-going cruise ship to be christened on the famous river.

The Viking Sea, which measures more than two football pitches in length, was christened with a spectacular fireworks display depicting the colours of the two main runners in the Mayoral elections. 

Before the extravaganza illuminated London's skyline, the ship entered the Thames Estuary, passing Gravesend, Kent, and squeezing through the Thames Barrier in Woolwich, before it was photographed with sights such as the O2, Canary Wharf, the Shard and the City in the background.

Viking Sea

The 745.4-ft long ship, owned and operated by Viking Cruises, had previously sailed from Venice via the English Channel and Atlantic and the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas.

Viking Sea completed its inaugural voyage from Istanbul to Venice last month, and following her christening in London tonight the vessel will spend her maiden season sailing around Scandinavia and the Baltics as well as the Mediterranean.

It is the second ocean-going ship from Viking, which is known more for its smaller vessels that sail the rivers of Europe and Asia.

The all-balcony ship has a luxury spa with a snow grotto where artificial snowflakes fall from the ceiling through chilled air, and three pools, including an infinity pool on the aft deck and one that is protected by a retractable roof.

Holidaymakers can choose from five different room classes, with staterooms ranging from 270 square feet to more than 1,100 square feet.

On board, they have plenty of options to pass the time – from a lounge with stunning views at the front of the ship to a theatre where they can watch live performances. Multiple restaurants serve everything from American classics to heart-healthy options. 

With a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, Viking Sea is the first ship in nearly a decade to hold a naming ceremony in Greenwich and heralds a wave of impressive new arrivals to the cruise terminal at Enderby Wharf. 

It passed through the Thames Barrier shortly after 11am and moored at Greenwich at around 12:15pm, when 48 sailors saluted the ship as they stood on the Cutty Sark's yardarms in a traditional naval custom to welcome her.

A spokeswoman for Los Angeles-based Viking Cruises said the company chose London for its christening because it is a special city for founder and chaiman Torstein Hagen and for its impressive scenery and history.

London will be a stop on future itineraries for Viking’s fleet of ocean ships. In 2018, London will be the final destination on the soon-to-be-built Viking Sun’s round-the-world journey.