Throughout my career as a musician and founder of Proship Entertainment, I’ve been asked countless of times: “Did you ever worked on ships yourself?” The answer is: yes and I had the time of my life. In fact, I had so much fun, I started this company whilst onboard my first vessel, in cabin CW-8 of the SS Amerikanis.
During the two-day crossings between New York City and St-Georges in Bermuda, I was able to borrow the purser’s typewriter to put together our company’s first agreements, procedures, and correspondence. Between 1987 and 1989, I worked onboard the Amerikanis of Chandris Fantasy Cruises, the Mardi Gras of Carnival Cruise Line and the Windstar of Windstar Sail Cruises, as a musician and musical director. Many years later, I worked as a show producer on the Regent Star of Regency Cruises. Those of you that read my previous blog entry would know that I left home completely broke, playing mainly in the subway, desperate for a gig.
I’ll always remember the excitement of my first day onboard the Amerikanis, when the ship actually left port and I began to feel the sway of the sea as we sailed under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. I was on my way to the adventure of a lifetime and it felt like it. I embarked on a life I considered luxurious at the time, eating ten-course meals in the passenger dining room, having a room steward make my bed every day and take care of my laundry.
Wow! What a change from the usual peanut butter sandwiches.
No more day job, no grocery shopping, no laundry, no dishes, no house cleaning, no subway rides to get anywhere, it felt as if I had just reclaimed 90% of my awake time.
I could finally practice as much as I ever wanted to, and I had time to spare. My level of musicianship rose to unprecedented levels, with my flute and clarinet chops gaining the most out of it. Every night I was performing in front of a crowd, leading a great band through challenging shows. This was the life, and I was getting paid for it.
Best of all, I still had time to spare, so I began discovering the joys of scuba diving in Bermuda which is famed for its wrecks, hence the triangle… What a trip! During this first contract, I acquired two levels of certification up to Advanced Open Water. At other times, with newly acquired friends from all over the world, we began exploring the magnificent island of Bermuda on rented motorbikes, exploring its pubs and pink beaches. Swimming, running and exercising every day became part of my routine. At dinner, or later at the crew bar, we would share stories of our adventures of the day.
Because I never drank much, I was able to save most of the money I made. I met a colleague that was able to buy a house back home in the Philipines from his ship wages. So the tally after a six-month gig: $4000 in my pocket, more chops than ever before, a start-up company, two PADI certifications, resplendent health, a new girlfriend, friends from all over the world and memories for a lifetime. I can’t think of another job that beats that, as I write this from my desk at my ‘day job’. Can you? Umm, maybe I should start practicing again…
Not sure if cruise ship gigs are for you? Have a read through my post on finding the best gig for you >