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More than 10,000 gigs a year – the Baltic Sea’s waves provide an important venue for entertainment artists, from troubadours to superstars

It’s always  a festival on the Baltic Sea, with Viking Line offering passengers on its vessels customized entertainment every day of the year. For the artists, it means a job and a venue that audiences have easy access to. “Gigs on ships are like working in a bubble,” says Jannika B, who will also perform for cruise passengers this autumn.

When Viking Line’s entertainment flagship, Viking Grace, sets out from Turku harbour one weekend evening for Stockholm, the vessel is full of passengers craving entertainment – and to their joy, there is a wide array of professional entertainers on board.

“Also along on the journey are the vessel’s own house band, a major artist, a trio, a troubadour, a troubadour duo, a DJ and a pianist!” says Mikael Panelius, who is Entertainment Manager at Viking Line.

Since a variety of entertainment acts are offered on all six Viking Line vessels every day of the year, the shipping company is one of Finland’s biggest commissioners of entertainment acts. A total of 10,000 gigs are arranged each year on Viking Line’s vessels. On a single weekend, more than one hundred professional entertainers plus the vessel’s own entertainment crew work on the company’s vessels.

“Entertainment is a must for a successful cruise, along with food and shopping. Once adult passengers have eaten and shopped, they start thinking about whether they should head to their cabin and turn in for the night or stay up and have a drink. Without entertainment, their cabin wins out. If there’s a good band, passengers stay in the restaurant to listen. And if it’s a really good band, they stay all the way to the end. Major artists are in a totally different category – people take the cruise just to hear them,” says Mikael Panelius.

Every Viking Line vessel has its own entertainment profile, which changes with the days of the week. Early in the week, it is often dance orchestras that perform, and on Wednesdays and starting Thursdays, party bands and artists perform.

“We also adapt the programme on the vessels for individual cruises. Among other things, Viking Glory has two orchestras every day: a house band from Sweden and a dance orchestra or party band from Finland. We can quickly shift the focus towards more Finnish or more Swedish entertainment depending on the audience we have on board.”

Finnish artists make up the bulk of entertainment, and for them the Baltic Sea is a very familiar workplace.

“On board you’re in a bubble in a way, and it’s also easy for artists to join in the flow. People are often on holiday and in a good mood. For most people, the job of an artist is mostly toiling alone in the studio. The contact with people is the biggest bonus in this job,” says Jannika B, who will perform this autumn on both Viking Gabriella and Viking Grace.

How the entertainment offering varies on Viking Line’s different vessels

The entertainment programme is carefully customized for each vessel. The length of the journey and the typical passenger group affect what kind of entertainment is offered on Viking Line’s different vessels.

Viking Grace is Viking Line’s entertainment flagship. Well-known Finnish artists are one reason to sail with Grace. From Sunday to Wednesday, people can listen to the best Finnish schlager artists between Turku and Stockholm, and on Thursdays there’s a party band. Fridays and Saturdays are devoted to pop and rock artists. Among the acts performing on Viking Grace this autumn are Maija Vilkkumaa, Lordi, Anna Puu, Elastinen and Jannika B.

Viking Glory is the new addition on Viking Line’s Turku route. The entertainment week there has more of an international flavour than on the other vessels – but there is still the Nordic touch. The cruise mood is heightened by swinging jazz tones in Torget and elegant piano music in the restaurant. The entertainment on Glory, which sails between Turku and Stockholm, is focused on Finnish dance music early in the week. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, the stage is taken over by high-powered Finnish schlager artists and dance orchestras, including Sinitaivas, Eija Kantola, Teemu Roivainen, Kyösti Mäkimattila and Souvarit this autumn.

Viking Gabriella offers top local artists, dancing with international dance orchestras and troubadour entertainment. Examples of artists who will perform this autumn on Gabriella, which sails between Helsinki and Stockholm, are Olli Halonen, Mikael Gabriel and Jannika B.

Viking XPRS is the favourite of Finns taking day cruises. On the journey between Helsinki and Tallinn, people sing karaoke, while a trio entertains in the bar. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, dance artists perform on board, and on Fridays and Saturdays evening entertainment is featured. Among the major artists performing this autumn are Tommi Läntinen, Jukka Poika and Kasmir. Many people know Viking XPRS for its entertaining theme cruises.


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