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The new Viking Cruises ship has a high-tech planetarium

The Explorers & # 39; Dome on Viking Cruises & # 39; Viking Orion will use the latest in planetarium technology to offer shows on space and exploration.

Viking Cruises

LIVORNO, Italy – A new Viking Cruises ship debuting this week in Europe has a surprise feature: a high-tech planetarium.

Viking executives on Wednesday night offered USA TODAY and several more media to the 26-seat attraction on Viking Orion, a 930-passenger vessel that will be baptized on Thursday afternoon in Livorno, Italy. The circular space, similar to a theater, had been kept secret for more than a year while the ship was under construction.

Called the Explorers' Dome, the attraction will use the latest in planetary technology to deliver space and exploration shows, including one that includes a segment on NASA's new Orion spacecraft.

"It's the highest-definition 7K planetarium in the world," said Viking hotel operations director Ralph de Klijn during a demonstration.

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Orion is only the second cruise in the world to debut with a planetarium. The 14-year-old Queen Mary 2 from Cunard was also launched with a planetarium that for years has been the only one of its kind at sea.

Orion & # 39; s Explorers & # 39; Dome is located on the second level of the Explorers & # 39; Lounge of two decks of the ship. It is a space that hosts exhibitions of exploration on other Viking ships.

Built in a Fincantieri shipyard in Ancona, Italy, Orion is the fifth in a series of almost identical oceanic cruise ships that Viking has been deploying since entering the ocean cruise business in 2015. Its first navigation with passengers from Payment begins on Tuesday.

Viking executives at the opening of the Explorer Dome on Wednesday said the concept was not necessarily something that would be extended to other ships. The line has eleven more ships to deliver between now and 2027.

"It's on this ship, it may or may not be on all other ships in the future," Viking marketing chief Richard Marnell told USA TODAY . "We're evaluating it, it's a kind of pilot program."

Marnell said executives see the dome as an artistic installation and noted that the art on each Viking ship is a little different. Art is the only important thing that is different from one ship to another in the Viking fleet.

In addition to the explorer's dome, Orion presents photographs of NASA astronauts and missions in public areas. The godmother of Thursday's christening ceremony will be a former astronaut, Anna Fisher, who worked on NASA's Orion spacecraft project as well as flying on a space shuttle.

The new dome, the photographs and the choice of Madrina for Orion fit into a theme of exploration: a Viking touchstone. Line trips are designed for exploration-minded travelers with diverse itineraries focused on destination worldwide and extensive enrichment offers.

In addition to offering shows at the Explorer's Dome, Orion will sail with a resident Viking astronomer who will give lectures on the mysteries of the cosmos and how humans have explored it. The astronomer on board will also offer guided tours of the night sky during the stargazing sessions.

The ship also carries a digitally stabilized portable telescope for passenger use.

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