Day 79 – 23rd March 2020, Dubai

Some of the 8 other cruise ships in DubaiThe 2019/20 Viking World Cruise is ending and disembarkation has started, with all of our Australian passengers departing in the middle of the night for flights home. In addition, a number of Europeans and North Americans also departed, with Viking filling every available seat on Emirate’s flights. Unfortunately, as we didn’t make the disembarkation list, we were unable to catch our flight this morning.

For those of us waiting for flights, we received another challenge, as Emirates announced they were shutting down flights effective midnight on 24th March, so only 2 days remaining. As per a couple of days ago, the local authorities have mandated we must depart Dubai with Emirates, which just happens to be owned by the Dubai Govt.

We spent the entire day, secured alongside the berth in Dubai.

Temperature: 22C/72F

Wind/Weather: Sunny with haze

Sunrise/Sunset: 06:24/18:32

Clox: No change (Z+4)

Activities

11:00 Backstage Tour & Cast Q/A

12:00 Trivia

15:00 Film – They Came Together

16:00 Baggo – Officer v’s Pax

20:00 Film – Dr Sleep

Mein Schiff ahead of our ship

Mein Schiff, one of 3 cruise ships docked ahead of us

We spent the first part of the morning unpacking one of the cases, so we have some clothes, while we await new flights.

At 11:00, we headed to the Theatre, where we had an informal, but excellent, chat with Beven and the 4 vocalists, who readily answered all the questions asked. Some of the great questions were:

  • Audition process – none of the vocalists knew each other before being hired. They all attended an audition with the company Viking contracts with to supply vocalists and guest entertainers. They competed with 500+ others, going through multiple auditions and interviews. Selection is made on both individual talent and harmonisation between the 4 of them, ensuring their voices complement each other. The audition process obviously works as well as Viking’s crew hiring practices, as these 4 singers are exceptional
  • Will they return to another Viking ship – they can request to stay together and return, after a period of leave, but this is extremely rare. Most go off for other auditions to further their careers.
  • How do they complete the many costume changes – they have a fairly large dressing room on the port side and each performer lays out the required changes for that show in sequential order. They do not have anyone to assist, but they do assist each other.
  • How do they learn the shows – once hired, they spend almost a month in London learning the standard productions shows. Once aboard, they spend a couple days before each show, rehearsing in the Theatre, fine tuning their timing and positioning to this stage.
  • Why do they use fog machines – when the stage lights are used, without fog, you only see the beam on the stage deck. With fog, the audience see the entire beam, which enhances the performance.

On completion of the Q/A, we split into 3 groups. We visited the stage store room on the Stbd side of the stage. This is where all instruments and the piano are stored, when not on stage. When performers depart the stage to Stb’d and they require a costume change, they change in the store room, having previously set out the required clothes. In the store-room they also have a monitor to watch the show, so they know when to return to the stage.

Unlike some older ships, the Viking stages do not have physical props, as everything is high tech. What the audience sees at the rear of the stage is a large, very high definition LED screen, which comprises numerous LED units bolted together. Departing the store-room we walked behind the screen, which is a rather cramped area, suitable for single file only. The screen is controlled from the video/sound booth. Stage front, they explained the reason for each of the tape marks on the stage deck. This is where performers must be at key times, as that is where a light is programmed to illuminate them. Next up, Beven opened the bulkhead panel, just off the stage to reveal a huge array of high-tech speakers, which ensures the volume is consistent throughout the Theatre.

The last stop was the dressing room, which had a separate walk-in closet for storing the costumes on a rack. On the outboard side they have 4 stations, which is 1 for each of the vocalists. Another smaller section, on the opposite side, is available for guest entertainers, etc. The only access to the dressing room is from the stage or outer decks, with the vocalists arriving at least 1/2 before showtime.

MSC Lirca astern of us

MSC Cruise Ship Astern

On completion of the tour, we went straight into Trivia, with all new teams and no rules. We created 4 super teams of about 8 – 10 each. Much better questions today, as we scored 10/15, tying with the other team on our side of the Theatre.

Since disembarkation is day to day, we enjoyed another farewell dinner with Alison, Ron, Deb & Munro. After dinner we headed up to Explorers’, then down to Torshavn when it opened.

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