Karine Hagen and the real-life Finse the Puppy. // c 2014 Finse Foundation & Suzy-Jane Tanner
Even though Viking River Cruises is firmly focused on its core baby boomer market, vice president Karine Hagen has found a way to educate future cruisers on the pleasures of exploring the world through a series of popular books centered on the adventures of Finse, her real-life Labrador puppy.
Finse was born at Highclere Castle, the setting for the television show “Downton Abbey.” There, Lady Fiona Carnarvon, who was named godmother for one of Viking’s Longships in 2013, breeds yellow Labs, which is how Hagen acquired the adorable pup.
Now, Hagen has launched a series of 12 books under “The World of Finse” title. The books, which are sold on Viking ships and on Amazon.com, introduce young readers to the world of travel using Finse as the ambassadress. Often grandparents and friends buy the books for younger children, who learn about destinations along the world’s rivers, including the region’s geography, history, cultures and languages.
“We have a fun message to deliver through these books that is fundamental to our brand: learning about the world, which cannot start too early,” Hagen said.
The books’ watercolor illustrations by Suzy-Jane Tanner, who has written and illustrated more than 100 children’s books translated into 14 languages, convey Finse’s charm.
Finse, named after Hagen’s favorite mountain plateau in Norway, has gone to nearly all of the places she explores in the books. “Finse’s First Journey” and “Finse Explores Europe” came out last year, and they have been followed by “Finse Explores Russia” and “Finse Explores China” this year. The series will ultimately take Finse to Scandinavia, France, Indochina, Egypt, Portugal and America. The pup will also explore good manners and world languages in 2015.
‘“I am fortunate enough to take Finse with me when I am on location filming for Viking,” said Hagen. “Telling stories of our itineraries through the eyes of a sweet and curious Labrador puppy seemed like a gentle and amusing way to teach children about the world. The books will hopefully also give our guests a way to share their travels with the children in their families."