Gigs on a cruise ship?


Has anybody work on a cruise ship as a musician? Was it worth while? How is the pay and how are the accomodations? If nothing else it must have been interesting? Tell us your stories.

Curtis james

Gold Supporting Member
It beats being a starving musician
Cramped quarters,
ships get viruses,
very few, if any, other musicians to cover you when you get sick
Play "at least" three times everyday
Cannot fraternize with guest
Other than being an officer, one of the better jobs on the ship
Hopefully you get along with your roommates, since your bunk/ nose is 12" below there's.
Only allowed on certain decks and eating areas
You do save your money, as everything is basically covered
Forget the intrigue of being on a's work, not a vacation. (Kinda like people who don't shovel snow every winter....think snow is pretty)!?
You eventually miss family and friends as it's a very nomadic, sometimes lonely, isolating position....think merchant marines
Your constantly surrounded by people, and honestly need "space" but at the same time, miss connection. If that makes sense
Different cruise line have different contractual agreements...not everybody re-ups. Some, jump ship in port as it's not for everyone
Other than beats starving


Senior Member
Man that chart is easy. Little surprised at the level of that audition chart, could be 6th grade jazz band audition piece


Silver Supporting Member
Haven't done a cruise ship gig myself, though I've been offered several. Never quite enough money to make it worthwhile. I think back in the old days (70's-80's) it was a better situation (good pay, treated better). I have a friend who bought a house in Cali doing those gigs back then (paid in full cash). He got out of those gigs though, saying there were lots of changes in that industry.

I have heard a few horror stories though. One friend got paid cash at the end of the cruise, all of it was counterfeit and he basically got hosed by the cruise line. Another was almost beaten to death by the ships security cause he flirted with a girl the head of security had a crush on!


Silver Supporting Member
I've never had a cruise ship gig (so take this FWIW), but during the summers in college, I worked as a waiter (and lived) at a resort hotel, and I found it somewhat psychologically painful to be working at a place where other people were vacationing. Jealousy, I guess. That, despite the fact that I got to hang out at the pool with the guests for 3 hours every day between lunch and dinner.

Also, I've been on about 5 cruises, and I'm not a big fan of being "cooped up" like that. the last one I went on was about 5 years ago, and I had cabin fever after the 5th day. I just wanted off the ship.

So I'd say those are two potential downsides, for some people, on a cruise ship gig.

But I could also see it being somewhat fun for a young, single musician.


They guy I know who did it, abandoned ship at the first port. Sleeping Quarters, and treatment were his issues. He left good gear on the boat too. I would imagine it is hard if you are past the point in life where you can handle having a roomie.
I was in the Navy and enjoyed life aboard a destroyer, so a cruise ship wouldn't be so bad except for the restriction to only certain areas and the no fraternization with the guests policy. That would be the dealbreaker for me. I realize why they have those policies, but I also realize why I wouldn't want to submit to them. There are some very attractive female crew members, but the thought of being confined below decks except when actively performing just sucks. I have thought about maybe trying to book my cover band for a week aboard ship, but if the same restrictions apply in that scenario, I'm not interested. I've been on many cruises and I enjoy them, but the restriction to the crew areas just isn't appealing.

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