You've made the decision to apply for a cruise musician gig and filled out an online application. Great! Reading this article is the ideal next step. Here are 10 strategies to keep in mind during the application process.
1. Be open, clear and honest. By telling the whole truth about your musical abilities, your musical experience, your medical condition and your legal situation, your agent can guide you towards a position and a cruise line where you can be successfully approved. Changes in the band line-up or misleading information about your song list, pre-existing medical conditions, use of medication, or DUI records can result in cruise lines banning you for life. But a good agent can work with your limitations as long as he/she is aware they exist.
2. Play “in the pocket.” Cruise lines cater to broad passenger demographics and therefore the entertainment offerings often fit within a particular musical spectrum. This means you may have to stay away from playing original material, breaking into wild improvisations, or playing material on the fringe of global musical production during demos.
3. Listen to your recruiter. And listen carefully. Hey/she understands better than anybody what each cruise line requires. Often, he/she has been interacting with cruise reps for years, so don’t underestimate your recruiter’s requests for repertoire, new videos or other promotional material. These are the tools required to sell you for the gig.
4. Be quick and deliver on time. Timing is everything. Jobs come and go at a fast pace so every discussion is timely, even if the proposed job is a year ahead. When promising your recruiter certain material on certain dates, be sure to deliver the goods on time. This reflects on your personality and sense of responsibility and will help the recruiter evaluate your reliability.
5. Dress the part. Remember you are applying to be part of the entertainment on a luxury cruise vessel, where passengers might wear tuxedos a couple of nights a week. Grand Ballroom, Captain’s Cocktails, and white glove service are the norm onboard cruise ships. Even if you are applying as a party band, you have to look clean and sharp, even for the audition. There is no second chance to make a good first impression.
6. Think quality. Send good quality videos, photos and demo recordings. There is no need to overproduce your videos with overdubs and expensive camera work. A stationary camera may do the trick. Just remember your recruiter will prefer to hear your real “live sound,” but he/she needs to hear it well while seeing you clearly. For more tips on putting together materials to send your agent, read our article on Electronic Press Kits (EPK).
7. Be prepared for your audition. Make sure you are warmed-up, in tune, well rested, well dressed and on top musical form. Don’t underestimate the standard of reading and musical ability required to work on ships. Sight reading while on contract is often very challenging and your audition will imitate these circumstances.
8. Be available. Regular cruise contracts range from 3 and half months to year-long employment with pre-planned vacation. While occasionally shorter contracts occur with short notice, they are usually reserved for very experienced individuals. If you are only available for a couple of weeks out of the year, then this line of work is not for you.
9. Be open. A cruise ship gig is like no other you’ve ever experienced in the past. Going on a cruise is an adventure in a surreal environment. None of the land life parameters exist at sea. You can’t buy groceries, you don’t need to wash dishes or cleaning your house, and you will most certainly not be packing gear and driving to the gig. You are at sea and ultimately your boss is a captain. In other words, everything is very different. Avoid having a preconceived idea of what ship life is and remember that it’s a real job, not a paid vacation.
10. Don’t pay any fees upfront. You should not be charged, directly or indirectly, fees for recruiting, placing or employing you. Once employed, you will have to cover the cost of your passport (if you don’t have one), and generally the costs of obtaining a physical examination and a Seafarer’s record book.
Still got questions? Leave a comment below or visit our FAQ section.