Cruise Ship Advice/Insights

enactabstract

Member
Messages
5
Hello! First time post here. I had a question for anyone with knowledge of gigging on cruise ships. I've been playing for about 12 years, and hold a Bachelors degree and Jazz and classical guitar porfomance.

My question is, has anyone had luck getting on a cruise ship? Most of the agencies I've looked into require 150-200+ pieces of repertoire. Between my solo jazz arrangements and classical guitar repertoire I only have about 75-80. To me, 150+ seems kind of crazy, like, how do you maintain that? Maybe I'm just not ready? I've been busking for a few years and am starting to get a bit desperate.

Any advice/insight on the subject would be MASSIVELY helpful. Here is a youtube video of an audition for graduate school I did recently, so you can get an idea of my skill level.

 

Heinz57Pep

Member
Messages
11,278
Seems like what you do would be more suited to restaurant gigs and pre-wedding reception environments.

Are you keying in on cruise ships because of a higher potential for income?
 

enactabstract

Member
Messages
5
I've actually had very little success getting restaurant gigs. Finding very few restaurants that are open about having music, and virtually none of those that don't already have a list of people ahead of me already. I'm keying in on cruise ships simple because I can't seem to get any gigs or make any money other then street performing. I pick up random art gallery gigs from the street occasionally, but have had no real response from sending hundreds of emails, dropping off cards in person and calls. Over the last few years I've tried this in central and southern Florida and Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

As for ProShip, I've filled out their application around 6-7 times over the last 3 years, and have never heard anything.
 

tiktok

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
22,753
Hello! First time post here. I had a question for anyone with knowledge of gigging on cruise ships. I've been playing for about 12 years, and hold a Bachelors degree and Jazz and classical guitar porfomance.

My question is, has anyone had luck getting on a cruise ship? Most of the agencies I've looked into require 150-200+ pieces of repertoire. Between my solo jazz arrangements and classical guitar repertoire I only have about 75-80. To me, 150+ seems kind of crazy, like, how do you maintain that? Maybe I'm just not ready? I've been busking for a few years and am starting to get a bit desperate.

Any advice/insight on the subject would be MASSIVELY helpful. Here is a youtube video of an audition for graduate school I did recently, so you can get an idea of my skill level.

Don't those gigs allow charts? Surely you can pad things out with a bunch of things you read?
 

sanrico

Member
Messages
12,242
I agree with Heinz that your music seems better-geared for restaurants and the like. It doesn't seem like cruise ships would be a good choice.

I have a friend who works as a classical (kind of) guitarist. He's been successful, but he's had to work hard at creating an image and product. He lived in Santa Fe, which is a destination city with a lot of high-end restaurants and hotels. He worked for a long time just playing classical pieces in restaurants, but he wanted more recognition and success. He changed his name and look, and started playing in a way that was more desirable for the Santa Fe tourists (kind of flamenco-lite, new age and classical).

It doesn't hurt that he's an exotic-looking handsome guy and women started to follow his performances. And of course, living in Santa Fe meant there are a lot of "New Age" types who love his original compositions. And this was where Ottmar Liebert gained his following.

He's actually a pretty accomplished classical guitarist, but the "branded" music he does is his bread and butter. He's very good at writing melodies that people love.

 

bob-i

Member
Messages
8,769
Cruise ships are tough gigs to get. Sometimes they will hire full bands to play in different areas around the ship, sometimes solo artists for lounges, and often musicians to play for the shows. The show musicians need to be sight readers to support the various shows that they fly in for one nighters.

Your best bet is to find an agent to book you. Good luck.
 

Gitarman

Member
Messages
1,882
One of my band-mates has a weekly cruise ship gig on one of the casino boats. He mostly plays & sings along with backing tracks on his laptop. Sounds like you're looking for more of a 'regular' cruise ship-type thing, though.
 

Papanate

Member
Messages
19,859
Most of the agencies I've looked into require 150-200+ pieces of repertoire.

On a cruise ship - for a 7 day tour - do you really want to listen to the same 75 songs over 6 days????
It's a matter of exposure. Just learn another 125 songs - you can clean them up on board as you play
them six gazillion times.

If you want to be a CruiseShip Musician - you have to be a top end entertainer - good with audiences
be very versatile - and as noted have a pretty big set list. I would start with the 150 song list - and
use your time wisely on board learning 10 new songs every week. Use tools like an iPad to put the
Sheet music in front of you. I hope you can sight read well.

The upside - the Cruise Lines pay fairly well - $2000 to $4500 a week. If you play your cards right
you will have very steady employment - and the life style is easy going.
 

Jon Silberman

10Q Jerry & Dickey
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
41,624
If you're on my cruise ship this August you damn well better know more than 75 songs. :p
 

enactabstract

Member
Messages
5
So, am I right in assuming that these gigs really don't want very serious (not necessarily meaning mood wise) classical music and they're looking more for light simple stuff, like Bossa Novas and Beatles arrangements?
 

Leonc

Wild Gear Hearder
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
18,165
My advice is, don't let any cruisers mistake you for a chair.
 

mixwiz

Member
Messages
2,334
Dude, you are a really good guitar player however, I'm not sure cruise ships are your bag. The audience is middle aged peeps that want to hear the hits (and the misses). You need a massive repertoire and a big book as well. You also have to sing and entertain. I repeat, I watched your audition vid and to be able to play that well in twelve years pisses me off just a bit.

Cheers.
 

stevel

Member
Messages
14,651
d Jazz and classical guitar porfomance.
There's your problem.

They want popular music.

The cruise ship I went on had a solo guitarist/vocalist doing the James Taylor singer-songwriter thing, a full band playing basic pop/dance music, and a reggae band.

There was no Jazz or Classical. I watched The Love Boat recently, and apparently, in the 1980s there was still some slight interest in having Jazz on the cruise ship (on the show at least), but I'm sorry, they're dead genres. OK, I know everyone here just got their panties in a wad, but sorry, face facts. You learn 150 pop tunes.
 

stevel

Member
Messages
14,651
So, am I right in assuming that these gigs really don't want very serious (not necessarily meaning mood wise) classical music and they're looking more for light simple stuff, like Bossa Novas and Beatles arrangements?
Is this 1960?

No one listens to "Bossa Novas" anymore.

You're correct, they don't want serious music. But "light" stuff is not classical or jazz.

They want The Rolling Stones, The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Supremes, or they want James Taylor, Jimmy Buffet, etc.

They want SONGS, with WORDS, THAT THEY KNOW (and Girl From Ipanema is not one of them).
 

stevenymets

Member
Messages
505
OP, choose wisely who you listen to in this thread. You are an awesome player, I wish I had half your talent. And last time I checked, jazz and classical music was doing just fine in any number of places throughout the US. Good for you in getting a highèr education in something you love.

Regarding cruise ships, it would strike me, like some others have said, that they are looking for popular music, though, to be quite honest, I am no expert as it has been quite some time since I have seen Love Boat on TV.
 

Dasein

Member
Messages
4,384
I gotta ask this -- have you done your research? Do you know any cruise ship musicians that have this gig? Do you know any cruise ship bookers? Does the gig you imagine even exist? How do you know this?
 

Rod

Tone is Paramount
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
22,069
I agree with Heinz that your music seems better-geared for restaurants and the like. It doesn't seem like cruise ships would be a good choice.

I have a friend who works as a classical (kind of) guitarist. He's been successful, but he's had to work hard at creating an image and product. He lived in Santa Fe, which is a destination city with a lot of high-end restaurants and hotels. He worked for a long time just playing classical pieces in restaurants, but he wanted more recognition and success. He changed his name and look, and started playing in a way that was more desirable for the Santa Fe tourists (kind of flamenco-lite, new age and classical).

It doesn't hurt that he's an exotic-looking handsome guy and women started to follow his performances. And of course, living in Santa Fe meant there are a lot of "New Age" types who love his original compositions. And this was where Ottmar Liebert gained his following.

He's actually a pretty accomplished classical guitarist, but the "branded" music he does is his bread and butter. He's very good at writing melodies that people love.

That's funny Sanrico, I was just going to mention Robert.... For live performance, we are in the entertainment industry.... Let your hair grow, get some funky clothes, exude confidence... Maybe try flamincoizing some popular songs folks know... People want to relate to what they hear... Maybe invest in a looper and learn how to work with that and your guitar. There was another Flamingo type guitarist I knew from Santa Fe that does great music with just him, his electric classical and a looper.... If you want to take it up another notch to band level, invest in a Trio Plus. Now you've got a looper, bass and drums all synced in time.... And if you can sing a few songs here and there, folks like that too..... If you're a purist, you probably think I'm full of crap.. But I'm a realist and have been doing live performance for many years...
 

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
32,971
In my limited cruise experience the showband players doubled as the jazz combo/lounge players.
It seemed as though they were highly competent and had a wide repertoire.
YMMV, of course.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Rod




Trending Topics

Top