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?
- The following parts of the ship are off limits to staff members: Casino, passenger cabins, pools.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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)
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 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.