“Sammenkomst!” OK, we had never heard of this, either. Apparently, it is the Nordic word for “gathering.” Our Norwegian captain came up with the idea. He invited us to gather in the hallways at the appointed hour, drink sparkling wine, and get to know our neighbours while he ran through the ship shaking hands with as many passengers as he could reach. I’m not sure where our neighbours were when the gathering started, but we did get to talk to one of the eight-member house troupe of singers and dancers – a young woman from New York via Houston, named Heather.
She told us that auditions were held in New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles to select the eight working on this ship. (They all come from the United States.) They spent eight weeks in New York rehearsing the eight 45-minutes shows they perform during the cruise, eight days a week. They signed contracts to do the shows for the next eight months as the ship makes its way from here to Stockholm. (Eight seems to be the only number they have to remember for anything associated with the entertainment on this ship. Did I mention that the ship also has eight storeys, or decks as they call them in seafarer circles?)
Heather said that in times past putting your cruise-ship experience on your résumé was the equivalent of saying you had a grade two education. But now, it seems, playing a cruise ship is the next step up after you’ve done the regional theatres and want to make it to the bright lights of Broadway and the West End. The fact that a genuine West End star, Simon Bowman, is also on board makes the experience all the richer for the eight troupe members. “He’s done it all,” says Heather. “He says he’s going to watch some of our shows, and we think we can learn a lot from him.”
Our return visit to Dubrovnik brought sun instead of rain, and a good opportunity to stroll the pedestrian-only streets of the Old Town to check out the hundreds of stores, restaurants and wine bars.