Once you are have been accepted for a gig, each line has similar requirements for getting you processed to be able to board. Every crewmember must have:
- A valid passport
- A complete pre-employment physical including lab work (some lines reimburse for this, but many do not).
- Criminal background check
- Visas are required for many nationalities to enter certain countries
So you’ve been accepted for the gig and are fully processed, now what? What should you plan for?
- Every cruise line will pay for your travel to and from the ship (assuming you fulfill the contracted assignment), wherever it may be in the world. This includes hotel accommodations if needed.
- Food and lodging are provided onboard. Many lines allow for dining in passenger areas (passenger volume permitting) but there is a staff dining area that is always available to you.
If you have never been onboard a cruise ship, all cruise cabins are quite small, so be prepared to pack as lightly as possible. For comparison, a crew cabin is like a smaller version of a college dorm room (bunked beds for shared cabins). Musicians are placed in private or shared (with another musician) cabins, depending on position.
Complete medical coverage is provided to every crewmember while they are onboard a cruise vessel. For this reason, the comprehensive pre-employment physical is needed. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, it is best to notify us immediately to avoid any potential problems during processing or while you are onboard.
Payment is provided onboard twice a month and generally paid in cash onboard. Many lines have direct deposit options if you prefer.
Internet and phone are accessible while you are cruising. There is an internet cafe on every ship and is charged by the minute. Many musicians bring a laptop with them if they have one and use internet in port while the ship is docked. This is often much less expensive than the onboard internet.
You may purchase a phone card onboard and make calls from the privacy of your cabin. Offshore calls to your room are not available, however.
What are the work requirements?
Expect to work an average of four 50-minute sets a night. The maximum number of sets you would ever be asked to work is six, which would be very rare. Days off are not an entitlement but can be scheduled at the discretion of shipboard management. Most sets are in the evening which allows you to enjoy most every port you visit!
The only responsibilities you will have other than performing are participating in safety and passenger drills. These are mandated by law and every crewmember must participate. They occur once or twice a cruise and generally last 30 minutes to an hour.
There are endless questions about life on a cruise ship. The best way to answer these questions is to simply try it! There are trade-offs with cruise work compared to land work, but we feel that as professional musicians, the unique opportunities provided through ship gigs are something that everyone should experience. If you’re ready to enjoy the benefits and security of shipboard employment, contact us today!
For more information on ship work, you can also visit our FAQs page.