Viking® (www.viking.com) today named its newest river ship, the Viking Osiris, with a celebration in Luxor, Egypt. As part of the intimate event, the company's first ceremonial godfather, George Herbert, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, offered a blessing of good fortune and safe sailing for the ship—an evolution of the naval tradition that dates back thousands of years. Designed specifically to navigate the Nile, the state-of-the-art ship was built at Massara shipyard in Cairo and will sail Viking's bestselling Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary.
The naming of the Viking Osiris comes as Egypt marks several key events this year, including the highly anticipated opening of the new Grand Egyptian Museum outside of Cairo on the Giza Plateau and the 100th anniversary of the discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb by the world's most famous Egyptologist, Howard Carter, and his benefactor and co-explorer, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon.
"Egypt has always drawn curious explorers for its rich history and ancient antiquities, and ever since we first began operating on the Nile River in 2004, our guests continue to be amazed by the country's many cultural treasures. Today we are pleased to officially welcome the Viking Osiris to our growing fleet on the Nile River, which allows us to welcome even more curious explorers to this incredible destination," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. "During this milestone year for Egypt, we are also very grateful for the continued close friendship with the Carnarvon family, and that Lord Carnarvon has honored us by serving as the first godfather in our history."
"It is a great honor to be asked to be godfather to the Viking Osiris, one of the most beautiful river vessels to have ever graced the Nile. This is especially the case in the centenary year of my great-grandfather's discovery of the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, and no doubt he and my great-grandmother, Lady Almina, would have been delighted to board the Viking Osiris had it been sailing in their day," said Lord Carnarvon. "The 5th Earl of Carnarvon was one of the great explorers and excavators of his time, and today you may join in his love of the glories of ancient Egypt, all in the exceptional comfort and style of the Viking Osiris."
The 8th Earl of Carnarvon, Godfather of the Viking Osiris
The 8th Earl of Carnarvon is the son of Henry Herbert, 7th Earl of Carnarvon, and Jeanie Margaret Wallop (1935–2019). His mother was born in Big Horn, Wyoming, to Oliver Wallop, who was the brother of the 8th Earl of Portsmouth. The 8th Earl of Carnarvon was educated at Eton College and St. John's College, Oxford. He succeeded to the title of Earl of Carnarvon when his father passed away on September 11, 2001. He lives at Highclere Castle with the 8th Countess of Carnarvon, and they run the estate and business together. He is a keen horseman and sits on the board of the Historic Houses Association (HHA). He also takes a considerable interest in conservation and farming and has been an investor in start-up technology businesses. Together, the Carnarvons are Viking's first "godparents," as Lady Carnarvon is godmother of Viking's newest ocean ship, the Viking Mars®, as well as the river ship, the Viking Skadi.
The 5th Earl of Carnarvon and the Discovery of King Tut's Tomb
Nearly 100 years ago, in November 1922, the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun by the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter was considered the first global media event and has provided a legacy of understanding, knowledge and insight into a remarkable civilization. In her newest book, The Earl and the Pharaoh: From the Real Downton Abbey to the Discovery of Tutankhamun, the Countess of Carnarvon tells the behind-the-scenes story of this discovery and explores the unparalleled life of the 5th Earl. Among many talents, he was an avid amateur photographer with an artistic eye for composition. His photographs are at Highclere Castle currently, stored in photo albums in the Library, and show the process of discovering and excavating the tomb of Tutankhamun, as well as scenes of daily life in Egypt of the period. With kind permission, the Carnarvons have allowed Viking to share this private collection for guests sailing on board the Viking Osiris.
Viking and Highclere Castle
For years Viking has offered a variety of ways for its guests to experience life at Highclere Castle, which is the home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and the historic estate best known as the filming location of Downton Abbey. Viking became a household name during its sponsorship of the celebrated MASTERPIECE series through the years Downton Abbey aired on PBS. Karine Hagen, Viking Executive Vice President, worked closely with the Carnarvon family to develop the Privileged Access Pre/Post Extensions that feature the estate, including the highly-rated Oxford & Highclere Castle and Great Homes, Gardens & Gin extensions. Both are available for guests on select river and ocean voyages. For guests sailing the Pharaohs & Pyramids Nile River itinerary, Viking offers a five-day British Collections of Ancient Egypt Pre Extension, which gives guests an introduction to Egyptian antiquities in preparation for their Nile experience, including retracing the steps of Howard Carter and the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Guests experience Privileged Access to archives and museum exhibits not normally accessible to the public, including a private, early morning tour of the Egyptian Collection at the British Museum, as well as visits to Sir John Soane's Museum, the Petrie Museum, the Ashmolean Museum and Oxford University's Griffith Institute, which houses Carter's archives. At Highclere Castle, guests also have the opportunity to view the Earl's magnificent private collection of Egyptian artifacts.
The Carnarvon family has also welcomed viewers to Highclere Castle on Viking's award-winning enrichment channel, Viking.TV (www.viking.tv). In the ongoing series, At Home at Highclere, Lady Carnarvon offers virtual Privileged Access to the historic home and its grounds during which she is joined by Lord Carnarvon, who shares his memories and a look inside his ancestral home.
The Viking Osiris & Viking's Growing Egypt Fleet
Hosting 82 guests in 41 staterooms, the new, state-of-the-art Viking Osiris is inspired by Viking's award-winning river and ocean ships with the elegant Scandinavian design for which Viking is known. The vessel features several aspects familiar to Viking guests, such as a distinctive square bow and an indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace. The Viking Osiris joins the Viking Ra, which launched in 2018. Additionally, in response to strong demand, the Viking Aton, an identical sister ship to the Viking Osiris, will join the fleet in 2023. During today's naming event in Luxor, Hagen also announced that two more sister ships, the Viking Hathor and the Viking Sobek, are already under construction and will be delivered in 2024 and 2025, respectively.
Viking's Pharaohs & Pyramids Itinerary
During the 12-day, Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary, guests begin with a three-night stay at a first-class hotel in Cairo, where they can visit iconic sites such as the Great Pyramids of Giza, the necropolis of Sakkara, and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali. Beginning in late 2022, guests will also be able to visit the new Grand Egyptian Museum. Guests then fly to Luxor, where they visit the Temples of Luxor and Karnak before boarding a Viking river ship for an eight-day, round-trip voyage on the Nile River, featuring Privileged Access to the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens and the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, and excursions to the Temple of Khnum in Esna, the Dendera Temple complex in Qena, the temples at Abu Simbel and the High Dam in Aswan. Guests also visit a colorful Nubian village, where guests can experience a traditional elementary school. Finally, the journey concludes with a flight back to Cairo for a final night in the ancient city.