Right before our very eyes, two astronauts seem to float in the International Space Station. First, the man and woman were tilted up, then down, seeming to move gracefully without the pull of gravity. Even the woman’s ponytail would flip and look as though it were moving of its own accord.
Then, unbelievably, an actual reproduction of the Wright Flyer flew over our heads. There sat Orville Wright guiding the primitive aircraft just as he did on that miraculous day at Kitty Hawk on Dec. 17, 1903, while his brother Wilbur watches from the ground.
All this and so much more is part of the amazing show “Flight: Dare to Dream” aboard Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas. On my cruise, a dining room companion who is a retired airline pilot told me it is his all-time favorite show at sea. I can certainly see why.
The original stage production in the Symphony of the Sean’s theater chronicles the evolution of humanity’s endless fascination with flying. The show begins in the future with the launch of the world’s first aerospace cruiser to rocket the audience to Mars.
To make sure the look and feel of the International Space Station was correct, Royal Caribbean turned to an expert, former astronaut Clayton Anderson, who lived 167 days in space and completed 38 hours and 28 minutes over six spacewalks in two separate missions. Anderson checked out every aspect of the show segment to make sure it is correct.
As the show progresses, we travel backwards in time. Of course, the production includes singing and dancing and a bit of comedy. Among the highlights featured in the show are:
Oct. 30, 1938 – When Orson Welles presents “War of the Worlds” as a Halloween radio program, many listeners thought the invasion was actually happening. The Royal Caribbean show recalls that terrifying time when the H.G. Wells’ 1898 science fiction novel performed on the radio describes a Martian invasion of New Jersey. In the original story, the outer space creatures invade Great Britain.
Quickly, panicked radio listeners began phoning police, newspaper offices and radio stations to inquire about the fake news bulletins. A fascinating flight tidbit that seemed all too real when it happened. On the ship, we see “Little Green Men from Mars” reliving that realistic spoof.
Oct. 14, 1947 – U.S. Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier. For years, many aviators believed that man was not meant to fly faster than the speed of sound, fearing that transonic drag rise would tear any aircraft apart. Yeager proved them wrong.
Yeager’s sleek aircraft, nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis” after his wife, was designed with thin upswept wings and a streamlined fuselage modeled after a .50-caliber bullet. Yeager exceeded 662 mph and survived. He died Dec. 7, 2020, at age 97.
July 20, 1969 – Man’s first walk on the moon. When the lunar module lands on the moon at 4:17 p.m., it has only 30 seconds of fuel remaining. Astronaut Neil Armstrong radios, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Mission control erupts in celebration.
At 10:56 p.m., Armstrong climbs down the Eagle ladder and proclaims, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” Astronaut Buzz Aldrin joins him shortly and the two explore the lunar surface for two and a half hours, collecting samples and taking photographs.
The astronauts leave behind an American flag and a patch honoring the fallen Apollo 1 crew – Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee who were killed in a fire in the Apollo Command Module during a preflight test at Cape Canaveral on Jan. 27, 1967 – and a plaque that reads, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”
Fascinating history and fascinating cruise ship show. I certainly agree with the retired pilot. The presentation is incredible and one of the best I have ever seen on land or sea.
Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch
- Astronauts float in the International Space Station.
- Neil Armstrong walks on the moon. (cover)
- Martians invade New Jersey in ‘War of the Worlds.’
- Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier while ‘pilots’ celebrate on stage.
- A replica of the Wright Flyer leaves the stage and ‘flies’ over the audience.