“Why I love being a Viking godmother”
You recently became godmother of Viking Mars. What can guests expect to see on board?
I am honoured and privileged to be the godmother of Viking Mars. I have no doubt she will delight the many guests who get to travel with her around the world. People enjoy cruising with Viking because their ships are so beautifully designed.
They have charming corners to sit in, different places to eat and amazing views across the waves and out to sea. There’s something special about being at sea – I find the colour blue tremendously calming and peaceful and it gives everyone, especially me, a sense of perspective.
Which Viking cruises have you been on that you particularly enjoyed and why?
I have been fortunate to go on so many cruises; I particularly enjoyed visiting Jordan.
Viking Osiris will launch in August this year. Can you explain how Highclere Castle will be involved with the ship and its itineraries?
I am thrilled to be part of Viking Osiris’ launch in Egypt this year. The fifth Earl of Carnarvon discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. He loved Egypt and used to spend every winter there from 1906 until he died in 1923.
It’s been so interesting to share his photographs with Viking, and I have been amazed to find the depth and quality of his photography. He loved taking photographs of Egyptian people as well as the landmarks, architecture and works of art in Egypt.
Building on Viking’s longstanding relationship with the Carnarvon family, guests who sail on board Viking Osiris will experience Privileged Access to memories from 1922 and the events surrounding the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb.
You’ll be publishing your book about Tutankhamun in October. Can you tell us anymore about this?
It’s been a really interesting journey to follow the life of the fifth Earl of Carnarvon. I think he would have been a good Viking because he loved the sea and he sailed from Cowes, just south of Highclere, across the Atlantic to Argentina around the West Indies.
His passion was Egypt; he was looking for Tutankhamun and of course, extraordinarily, he found him.
You are a regular guest on Viking.TV with your ‘At Home at Highclere’ series. Why do you think it has been such a success?
Viking.TV has been an extraordinary enterprise and I offer huge congratulations to Karine Hagen and her team at Viking.
It’s a great resource for those who love travel and want to learn about certain topics or destinations in detail.
What do you enjoy about the channel?
I was honoured to be asked to host the series ‘At Home at Highclere’. It’s good fun and it was a bit of a learning curve at first for the Highclere team and for me, but in the end I think we became quite professional and we all learnt so much from doing it all.
Can you tell us about the exclusive privileged access and pre/post extensions that feature the Highclere estate?
It has been a joy to work with Viking. Not only are Highclere and Viking linked through Downton Abbey, but Karine and I are linked through life and our dogs, and we warmly welcome our extended Viking family to explore our home on many of Viking’s itineraries.
We worked with Karine to develop excursions featuring the estate and I believe they are amongst the highest rated worldwide. For example, Highclere Castle is part of Viking’s ‘British Collections of Ancient Egypt’ pre-cruise extension on the Pharaohs & Pyramids Nile itinerary.
It gives an introduction to Egyptian antiquities in preparation for the Nile experience, and retraces the steps of Howard Carter and the fifth Earl of Carnarvon.
Guests gain special access to archives and museum exhibits not normally accessible to the public, and at Highclere Castle they also have the chance view the Earl’s private collection of Egyptian artifacts.
Which destination would you like to go to on a Viking ship?
Norway and the Norwegian Fjords are top of my wish list. With its Norwegian roots, I think it would be very special to travel there with Viking.