Like most forms of travel, cruises were hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, forcing them to shut down operations temporarily. But that didn't stop one cruise line from giving travelers rare access to parts of the world. This week Viking Cruises is taking you inside the gardens of Highclere Castle, aka the filming location of Downton Abbey.
The cruise line launched a new virtual content hub—Viking.TV—featuring live-streamed interviews and content from notable experts and cultural partners. One of the regular shows is called Fridays at Home at Highclere Castle, which features the Countess of Carnarvon and her husband Geordie, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, talking about how they manage the affairs of their home, Highclere Castle. Viking has a long-standing relationship with Highclere Castle, giving guests onboard exclusive access to the stunning castle as part of their cruise itinerary.
In this week's installment, the Countess will give viewers a virtual tour of the estate's walled gardens and the botanicals that give Highclere Castle gin its unique flavor.
"I am delighted to open our castle doors and lives to the extended Viking family to give a little virtual insight into our history and lives, while we are all trying to deal with this temporary new normal," Lady Carnarvon said in a statement.
Karine Hagen, Viking Executive Vice President, told Departures, "Viking and Highclere Castle have maintained a close relationship through the years. We are linked through friendship, our families of dogs, and the many Viking guests who visit the estate each year. Through this new platform, we can share Privileged Access with more stories about the 'real Downton Abbey' and live stream sessions hosted by the Countess of Carnarvon each Friday."
In addition to Fridays at Home at Highclere Castle, Viking.TV has daily themed programming like Museum Mondays, Resident Historian Tuesdays, Wednesdays with Music, Guest Speaker Thursdays, and Wellness Weekends.
"At a time when we are not traveling together, we are pleased to offer new ways for our guests and lifelong learners to connect and share positive experiences on Viking.TV," said Hagen. "Viking.TV is a way for us to continue exploring the world in comfort—from the comfort of our homes."
Interested viewers can tune into the Highclere Castle gardens tour here on Friday at 11 am PT.