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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a live audition?

Live auditions are strictly for orchestra / showband musicians who play the following instruments: Piano, Saxophone doubling on Clarinet & Flute, Trumpet, Bass, Drums, Trombone, Guitar. Being part of a showband or orchestra is highly challenging so only the finest musicians will be offered this type of work. During your audition, you will be asked to sight-read, improvise and play some standard repertoire by memory. Auditions can be done in person or remotely and usually take 45-90 minutes.

Why does Proship hold auditions?

We audition every candidate to ensure each entertainer we hire meets the performance calibre we require. Our audition process is designed with all of our clients' needs in mind so we can determine which cruise lines a candidate is suitable for without the need for more than one audition.

Where does Proship hold auditions?

Proship auditions can be done in person in our Montreal studio or over the phone from anywhere in the world. For more details about the technical requirements of a phone audition or to set up an audition contact one of our recruiters.

What happens after the audition?

Once your audition is complete we will evaluate your performance and determine what options are available to you. Keep us updated on your availability and we will let you know when we have a job to offer you.

How many job openings does Proship have?

Thousands of jobs every year, hundreds monthly. Thus far, we've booked over 20,000 contracts! Because of our vast network and experience, we are your best connection to the cruise and hospitality industries.

Why is it better to get a job with Proship?
  1. You don’t pay us any fees as it is our clients that pay for our services.
  2. Our team of industry savvy experts have the experience and resources to make sure you're prepared for your contract.
  3. Our 24/7 emergency travel hotline keeps you at ease knowing that you are fully supported when travelling to and from your contract.
What is the starting salary for cruise ship entertainers?

Starting salaries in the cruise industry range from approximately $2,000 to $3,000 USD/month for sidemen. However, we can sometimes negotiate higher salaries for musicians with ship experience or outstanding professional experience. You’ll also be able to save most of your income because airfare to and from the vessel or destination, meals and accommodations are supplied free of charge in most cases.

Does Proship take a commission fee from entertainers?

Our entertainers don’t pay us anything. Proship operates on a no commission basis with no up front charges. Our clients pay us directly therefore no commission is taken out of your pay.

Do entertainers pay taxes for income earned on a ship?

Some cruise lines may withhold applicable Federal taxes from U.S. residents; State or other jurisdictional tax requirements are your responsibility. British cruise lines may withhold national insurance from UK residents. Since cruise ship employees are not eligible for State unemployment or disability insurance, no such withholding or contributions will be made. Whatever nationality you are, it is your duty to declare any income made abroad.

What type of entertainers is Proship looking for?

Proship is always looking for new entertainment personnel so if you’d like to know what options are out there for you simply get in touch with us or fill out an application. We are currently looking for showband musicians who play piano, bass, drums, guitar, trumpet (lead and 2nd), saxes with doubles, or trombone. We are also looking for piano bar entertainers, cocktail pianists, singing cocktail pianists, party bands with 3-6 members, one man bands, acoustic solo guitarists, duos, acoustic duos, classical ensembles with 2-4 members, steel pan players, and Caribbean/Island bands.

What is a cruise ship showband musician?

Showband musicians are part of the main musical group, the showband or orchestra. Showband musicians must have excellent sight-reading abilities and knowledge of repertoire from the 20's through today. The showband accompanies all shows and cabarets, performs dance sets, cocktail parties, masquerade parties and talent shows.

What work schedule can I expect on a ship?

You will work long hours. You can expect to work seven days a week, usually about 5 hours a day as a musician, less as an entertainer, more as a technician. Your schedule will vary from day to day. Some days you may not work at all, others you may work a lot! It all depends on your position.

What are the living accommodations like on a cruise ship?

Crew members are assigned a crew cabin as soon as they board their vessel. A sideman usually shares a cabin with another musician, while a Band Leader, Musical Director or Guest Entertainer will usually have a single person cabin. We will review all of these details with you when you receive a job offer. Space on ships is a valuable commodity so cabins are usually small and take a bit of getting used to. Cleanliness and personal hygiene must be practiced by everyone, especially in a shared cabin.

How much time will I spend off the ship?

As a general rule, every time the ship is in port you have free time to go enjoy the ports attractions and sights. You may have a late afternoon rehearsal to attend or a lunchtime set to play depending on the day’s activities. If the ship stays in port overnight, usually a third of the ship’s crew must remain onboard for emergency purposes. This is called in-port manning. In-port manning is rotated between all crew so it remains fair.

How long are the contracts for entertainers working on cruise ships?

Contracts can be as short as three days or as long as six months. The average length is 4 to 6 months. Short contracts come with little notice, sometimes only 24 hours! Short notice means our clients need to fill a position quickly and therefore are prepared to adjust the length of the contract. Normally our cruise line and hospitality clients prefer to hire people for longer periods of time. On a regular contract, you will usually have four to eight weeks notice to prepare for your departure.

What restrictions do entertainers have on cruise ships?
  1. The following parts of the ship are off limits to staff members: Casino, passenger cabins, pools.
  2. Tardiness is not acceptable. When the ship is in port you must return to the vessel before the stated time; usually one hour prior to the ship's departure. For safety drills, rehearsals, or performances, make sure you are always set up and ready to start before the scheduled start time. If you only arrive at the scheduled start time you are late.
  3. Passenger interaction is limited to friendly conversation. Physical relationships between crew and passengers are not permitted. Entertainers should always socialize with guests in a professional and respectful manner.
  4. Slightly improper behaviour can lead to disciplinary actions. Grossly improper behaviour such as drunkenness, or possession/use of illegal drugs will lead to dismissal or imprisonment.
Do entertainers need to be a certain age to work on a ship?

All candidates must be at least 21 years old.

What language skills do I need to get a job on a ship?

The ability to understand and communicate in written and spoken English is required. Other languages can be an asset so be sure to let us know which languages you know.

What are the required documents?

Proship will help you prepare and process all the documents you will need to travel. All candidates require a passport valid beyond the last date of their contract. Depending on the destinations (i.e. China, Australia, Russia), they may also need an entrance visa. Those who are not Canadian or American citizens will also need a C1/D seamen's visa obtainable for a fee at any U.S. consulate to be eligible for cruise ship work. Talk to your recruiter for more details about required documents and costs.

Will I have medical insurance while working on a cruise ship?

Medical coverage varies depending on which cruise line you're hired to work with, so ask your recruiter for more details. However, you will usually have full medical coverage while on board and while the ship is in port if you successfully complete a medical examination prior to departure. Medical requirements vary depending on the cruise line so we will review the specific requirements with you when you receive a job offer. Cruise ship employees are discouraged from participating in dangerous activities such as bungee jumping, sky diving, rental of risky mopeds, etc., as these activities may affect insurance coverage. It is up to you whether or not to invest in life insurance; keep in mind that the cruise line offers no compensation for fatal injuries.

Group Insurance: If you are a U.S. resident paying U.S. taxes or if you have the grade of an officer you may be asked to participate in a "Shipboard Medical Plan" which will provide coverage during your vacations.

Are instruments and equipment insured?

Insurance for entertainers' instruments or equipment is not provided by our clients, nor is it compulsory. However, for your own peace of mind, we encourage you to obtain insurance.

What is the dress code for entertainers?

The dress code varies depending on the cruise lines and the type of entertainer so we will explain the requirements specific to your position when you receive your job offer. However, entertainers generally need to bring a tux and/or black suit, and business casual clothes for the daytime if a uniform is not provided by the cruise line. A well-groomed appearance is expected.

What expenses will I incur on board?

Other than the expenses that you will incur while doing your sightseeing and shopping in port, you will have very few expenses during your contract on board. You will have to pay for your internet, phone cards, drinks and store snacks but they come at discounted rates for crew members. Your airfare, hotel, accommodations, food and work laundry are free of charge.

What is the alcohol and smoking policy on board cruise ships?

Every cruise line has different policies about alcohol and smoking on board. Make sure you understand the rules because drinking too much or smoking in the wrong place could result in you being fired. Showing up drunk to a safety drill, rehearsal or performance is unprofessional and will not be tolerated.

What are the consequences of being caught with illegal drugs?

It is not uncommon for cruise ships to conduct random drug tests or cabin inspections. Being caught in possession of an illegal substance or proving positive on a drug test can lead to immediate dismissal at best, imprisonment at worst.

What is a Coast Guard inspection?

Coast Guard officers are similar to Customs officers and have the right to search your cabin without your permission and without telling you why. These searches may be random and may happen throughout the ship on any day at any time.

What happens when one of the rules is broken?

On land, a fine is a common punishment for breaking the law (i.e.: parking and speeding tickets). It's the same thing on-board. The laws of the ship are clearly spelled out to you when you arrive. If you break an on-board law, you will receive a written warning. If you resist the temptation to break the rules you should not have any trouble.

Will I have access to a gym on board?

Depending on the ship, use of the passenger gym facilities may be permitted only at certain times. However, many ships have a gym dedicated to crew members that entertainers can access at all times.

Will I be required to participate in safety drills?

All entertainers are required to participate in passenger and crew boat drills. Drills will teach you how to act if an emergency situation arises. Boat drills happen once per cruise and are compulsory for both crew and passengers. A drill lasts about 20 minutes and is similar to an airplane drill. There are also special training periods for crew, which you must attend. Although cruise ships are extremely safe, take the time to learn how to save your life and that of others in case of emergency. These drills are part of life at sea and are not considered part of your work schedule.

What is the hierarchy on a cruise ship?

You should be aware of the hierarchy on cruise ships:

Captain (Master of the Vessel)

Staff Captain (2nd in Command)

Hotel Director

Cruise Director (Director of Entertainment)

Officers: officers are a breed apart. Unless you have already been exposed to a military environment, it can take some getting used to. Officers live in a world where strict obedience and respect are of the utmost importance. If you show officers the respect they expect, you will not have a problem. The best answer to an officer's command is a prompt and enthusiastic "YES SIR!"

Cruise Director: they are in charge of all on-board entertainment and has a long and hectic schedule. The Cruise Director can fire anyone who is not fitting in. Make it a point to cultivate a good relationship with your Cruise director.

Can I invite friends or family on board the ship?

Depending on the cruise line's policy, you might have the privilege to invite friends or family to cruise at discount rates after a certain period of employment.

What happens if I sign a contract with Proship but then change my mind?

Once you accept a job offer and sign a contract with Proship, your commitment is confirmed and an airline ticket is requested in your name. Should you change your mind prior to departure, you will be penalized. Our contract, which requires your signature, stipulates that you agree to pay Proship a replacement fee if you cancel a contract or do not complete your contract. This replacement fee does not apply if you are unfit for work on a ship as a result of a physical injury or medical condition.

What if something goes wrong?

Proship is with you every step of the way throughout your voyage. Your complete travel itinerary is monitored to avoid any problems or delays, and we'll assist you in obtaining all necessary travel documents such as your passport, visas, medical certificates and contracts. We'll even arrange for overnight accommodations if needed. You will also have access to our 24/7 emergency travel line so we can help resolve any difficulties that might come up during transit to your destination.