Cruise ship businesses understand that there’s nothing as exciting and intriguing as live entertainment. That’s why they’re continuously in search of a wide range of performers to entertain their guests. Musicians, singers, dancers, DJs, comedians, magicians, and many other performers are sought after for cruise lines, which opens up a lot of opportunity for you. While freelancing has a lot of flexibility and freedom, cruise gigs offer numerous perks. A steady job and thousands of audience members are only an audition away. If you have your sea legs and you’re open for an adventure, a gig on a cruise ship may be perfect for you!
Getting the gig
Many cruise lines will contact specific entertainers they want, reaching out to them directly or through a service like GigSalad. However, you can also take the initiative and chase down the gig yourself. You can apply directly to the cruise ship lines or work with an agency to guarantee a place on a ship.
Applying: The first step to getting a cruise ship gig is to apply. The two major cruise lines are Carnival and Royal Caribbean. With Carnival, you can apply through the Carnival website or by reaching out through social media. For Royal Caribbean, apply directly through their website by submitting a talent form.
If you’d like personalized help finding the perfect cruise gig, there are entertainment agencies like Proship and Lime Entertainment whose sole purpose is to help talent find jobs on cruise ships. These agencies require that you apply and audition with them rather than with the cruise line. If you’re accepted, the agency contacts the cruise ships on your behalf. For the service, you pay a registration fee up front or a small commission fee that’s taken out of your salary once hired.
Auditioning: After you apply, as with all gigs, there’s an audition process. Because many cruises will be in another location than where you’re based, you’re likely going to audition through video calls or submissions rather than in person, which can really work to your advantage if you deal with nerves. Typically, they’re looking for a 4-5 minute video that displays your various talents. To best display your skills, show a few different clips within your submission. If possible, also include a few live clips to show off your stagecraft.
As with any audition process, once your submission is in, you just have to wait to hear back. Cruise lines generally run on a pretty tight schedule, so you can often expect a quick turnaround.
Life at sea
Accommodations and day-to-day activities will vary depending on the cruise line employing you as well as the type of performer you are. However, cruise lines are often very similar. No matter which line you set sail with, you’ll encounter much of the same requirements and practices.
Work schedule: Typically, you’ll perform for 3-5 hours a day with one day off per week. Ships usually give performers a few extra tasks as well, like assisting guests around the ship during embarkment and disembarkment. However, the majority of your working time will be sharing your talent with the many guests!
Free time: Aside from your performance time and occasionally assigned duties, you’re free to enjoy your time as you please. While a few areas are off limits for performers, the majority of the ship is open to you. You can soak up the sun on the deck, take time to practice, or just relax in your room. Remember, you’re not all alone out at sea either. Cruises employ over a thousand people, so you have plenty of chances to make new friends and connections.
Room and board: Your living situation will depend on the ship’s policies and the type of entertainment you offer. Soloists often have their own private cabin, but you may also share a cabin with another entertainer. Most shared cabins consist of two bunk beds and a desk, as well as closet and cabinet space.
The cruise line generally covers all of your meals. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and usually a late night snack will be available to you. Along with a cabin and food, laundry services will also be free and available to use.
Pay: Salaries vary widely but the standard pay is anywhere between $1,800 to $3,000 per month. Depending on the cruise line, you may also have the option of accepting cash tips. Remember, since you won’t be paying rent or buying food on the ship, it’s actually quite possible to go multiple days without spending any of your own money! Because of the low cost of living, it can be a great way to make it through the off season.
- A consistent gig – Most entertainers are generally contracted for anywhere from 1 to 6 months. So you’re looking at a minimum of 4 weeks of work. Not too bad!
- Free cruise! – You’re there to work of course, but you won’t be performing nonstop. You’ll have plenty of chances to relax and enjoy the exotic locales when the ship ports.
- Performance experience – With thousands of guests and numerous stages, you’ll return home with professional expertise that would have normally taken years to accrue. Crowds of all sizes and types, as well as varying environments, will challenge you and help you grow.
- Connections – Living with numerous other performers is a great way to make connections for referrals and partnerships as well as long-lasting friends.
Working on a cruise ship is definitely a unique and fun gig opportunity. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t get anywhere else, so we say go for it! You’ll gain experience, maybe even see some new places, and make some money all while doing what you love. What could be better?