Melody and Dan Wiklund are land-lubbers no more.
The singing Red Deer duo of Wiklund vs. Wiklund are about to find their sea legs on a four-month tour of duty onboard a Caribbean cruise ship departing from New Orleans.
“For us, this is the absolute dream,” said Melody.
She and her husband, Dan, who have performed weekends around Alberta, have long aimed to become full-time musicians. And “we’ve always discussed music taking us different places,” said Dan.
Having signed with Carnival Cruise Lines to entertain passengers on tours of the Caribbean and Mexico, from June to October, the couple considers it the opportunity of a lifetime to broaden their horizons, see new places and meet new people — including musicians from all over the world.
But taking to the high seas will be a big change for a couple of landlocked native Manitobans. The Wiklunds have rented their house and pared down their belongings to live in a ship’s cabin “the size of a closet.”
They have also been expanding their repertoire to sing as a country duo —which is what they were hired for.
“We’re working on our twang,” joked Melody, who feels it isn’t a far jump to country music since they were already performing as an acoustic duo. Their contract calls for Dan to play the electric guitar, and allows for them to perform some original tunes, as well as covers. This pleases the couple who have released eight online singles during the pandemic, as well as the 2018 album Love Aches.
The idea of entertaining on a cruise ship was suggested by their friend, singer Michelle Joly, a former Red Deer College music student, who they saw at a Calgary show. “She said, ‘Why aren’t you guys doing this?’”
Melody looked at Dan and said: “We should be doing this. I don’t know why we aren’t.”
On Joly’s advice, the Wiklunds videotaped some performances and sent these tapes to Joly’s U.S.-based agency, which agreed to take them on as clients.
Although The Entertainment Agency got them a tentative line on the cruise-line gig, the next step was more gruelling.
To prove they were in “ship-shape,” the couple had to go through several months of medical and dental tests — including vaccinations and other procedures. “I had to get my wisdom teeth pulled,” admitted Dan. Their health records were then sent off to an American doctor, who had to review them before deciding on their readiness for travel.
The Wiklunds were relieved to get the thumbs up and the job. They have their bags packed and are wrapping up a requested two-week quarantine before their flight to Louisiana.
While they will miss local fans and Red Deer venues — expressing appreciation for the years of support — they noted the separation will not be permanent.
Dan and Melody will be returning to central Alberta in October and posting videos on social media in the meantime.
But if all goes well and the Wiklunds prove sea-worthy, their ultimate plan is to cruise for eight months of the year — whether to Europe, Alaska, or even around the world — and to return to Red Deer for four months to touch base with home and family.