Have you ever wondered what it was like to work on board a cruise ship? I worked as a singer on cruise ships for three years and it was a truly exciting time in my life. However, before I joined, I scoured the internet trying to find information about what it was like, and ended up with very few details. Ask any ship musician you meet, one thing is for sure: your life will NEVER be boring. Here are a couple of takeaways from my experiences on cruise ships.
1. You will never want to pay full price for a drink again.
No matter which line you work for, there IS a discount on drinks. I would frequently score my cocktail of choice for a little more than a dollar per drink. Some of the “all inclusive” cruise ships that I have worked for have even offered FREE drinks (as long as you are mingling)! However, keep in mind that when you work on a cruise ship you will likely live right down the hall from security. So, if you plan on joining in on the debauchery, keep your wits about you, or it could land you a one way trip to home sweet home!
2. You will be confident in ways you never thought possible.
Before I landed a gig on cruise ships I had done very little traveling. I had never been on a cruise ship in my life, and I was pretty freaked out to be honest. I was worried that I wouldn’t find my bearings easily or make any friends. Let me tell you though; within the first couple of hours I met someone who helped me move my luggage, ate dinner with me, and later introduced me to a bunch of people at the crew bar. Just remember that you WILL make friends, you will get comfortable exploring around the ports, and your anxieties about traveling to new places or maybe even performing every day will subside.
3. You will become a strange combination of incredibly social/introverted.
Depending on what your specific job on board is, you may have a room mate. This can be super awesome (resulting in lots of cabin parties) or it could lead to you avoiding your room as much as possible. Regardless of the outcome of your rooming situation, what I have found to be true is that while onboard you will have to find your own source of entertainment. This is true especially during the day if you're a musician. As precious minutes on the internet are expensive, and therefore limited, I would drain as many books as possible, play video games, or buckle down and get to work on some music. In the evenings it was game on, and the whole band would usually go out for drinks or hang out after the show. As a side note: I always tell new cruise ship musicians to make sure they are always spending ample time outside. Sunshine is good for you and many of the cabins do not have windows! Also, to balance stress, get to the gym as often as possible. You will have free access to (at least) the crew gym if not the high end equipment supplied for the guests!
4. The musicians around you will influence you more than you know.
When I showed up to play my first cruise ship gig, I was straight out of university with theater and classical training. I had no idea what I was in for. THANKFULLY, I had a ton of help from the musicians around me who encouraged me learn and grow. It took some time, but I finally started to develop my own style and feel confident in what I had to offer. I also always had a wealth of fantastic musical recommendations at my fingertips. And, since I had lots of time at my disposal, I was listening to a new album every day by different jazz composers that I had never heard of. I worked alongside people who graduated from Berklee and Juilliard as well as those who had no formal training, but had talent for days. There is lots to learn from both. Working with them every day and listening to them and gaining their feedback was truly priceless.
Hopefully you’ve gained a little insight. I have stories for days about this particular topic, so please let me know if you have any specific questions about working as a musician onboard cruise ships and I will happily answer them! Make sure to subscribe down below if you want more content like this, or just want to listen to new music from our band!