The Proship team has been working and booking for the cruise ship industry for 30 years. Our CEO and the majority of our agents and recruiters have worked on many cruise ship roles, such as pianist, drummer, musical director, sideman, and show band musician. You could say we’ve been there and done that. So we got together, discussed our experiences and compiled the top reasons why musicians love working on ships (pros) and the top reasons why they may not be so thrilled about it (cons). Here are a few of those pros and cons.
Cabin Fever - Itineraries vary. You may be on a ship that stops regularly at ports of call but you may also be at sea for several days in a row. Cabin fever can kick in if you find you miss your corner coffee shop or the park down the street, or that it’s been a while since you've hang out with other people. Which brings us to...
Relations and Personal Projects - If you have a family, you are married or involved in a serious relationship with somebody, being away for long periods of time might prove difficult. You are more likely to miss your kids’ life-events, skip anniversaries, and be absent for birthdays. You may feel lonely, even while you are surrounded by hundreds of extraordinary people —these people may not be the ones you crave to see. There will be times when you wish you could be a taxi ride or phone call away from your loved ones but instead, you are at sea in a different time zone.
Keeping up with other aspects of your life can also be challenging. If you have a personal project on the go, for instance, a business, a band, an album, a large puzzle... You will need to put it on hold for the duration of your contract.
The People - People might be a blessing, and we will talk about that a few lines down this article. But people may also be a hurdle. You will likely be sharing a cabin and there is no guarantee your roommate will become your best friend. In addition, your living space will also be your workspace, so depending on how you look at it, you will live at work or work at home. Either way, you will be bumping into your colleagues and possibly your audience members even when you are not working. In other words, while you may get downtime, your respectful and courteous manners may never get time off. Finally, with regards to people and personality, if you value your alone time, keep in mind that it might be difficult to find it while on a ship.
The People - If you love meeting people and making friends from all over the world, cruise ship gigs will be like a dream come true. You will be working and hanging out with colleagues from different countries and backgrounds. You might even find the love of your life! No, really! We cannot name names, but we can tell you there are a few members of the Proship team who are married to their cruise ship sweethearts.
Playing full time - How shall we put this… you will be playing music and getting paid for it. Full time. You’ll get to play challenging music to big audiences on a regular basis. This not only means ample chances to practice but also getting to do what you love for a living. What’s more, while you are having fun on stage, you will be effortlessly transported to a whole new destination.
Travelling - Seems obvious, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless! Cruise gigs are adventure gigs. You will see places you didn’t even know existed. You will get to experience countries you may never have been able to travel to otherwise. Not to mention, you will always be only a few steps away from an incredible ocean view.
The money - You are working and travelling in style. Of course, your sleeping and eating quarters are very different from the onboard guests’, but you are still living the life. You never have to worry about laundry, cleaning, or groceries while you are working on a ship. You don’t need to pay rent or electricity bills. All the money you’ll make (and don’t spend on drinks or at a destination) you’ll get to keep.
If you are an experienced cruise musician, let us know how you relate to this in the comments below! If you’ve never had a cruise gig before, then it is up to you to weigh each pro and con above and decide whether or not a cruise ship gig might be right for you. If you are in, fill out an application to audition > If you still got doubts, we recommend you read a musician's notes on how to prepare yourself musically for a showband gig or jump to our F.A.Q section.