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Cruise ships and boat trips are regular employers of cabaret artists, singers, dancers, musicians, bands, dj's and other entertainers. The type and style of music or show required varies considerably depending on the company, length of trip and passenger demographic. Entertainers and musicians are expected to be highly proficient, versatile and capable of learning new routines/songs quickly, be able to read music and work long hours.

All sorts of artists are hired from the one man band (singer/guitarist/pianist/backing tracks), Duos, Trios, DJs to 'Cabaret Performers' who provide self-contained or accompanied shows in two or more 45 minute slots per day/evening or as a performer of an existing group in an pre-produced show. Some companies also hire artists as part of an 'in-house' troupe who are expected to learn and perform a variety of duties (acting/singing/dancing) on several shows presented during the length of the cruise.

Ships are like any other venue and come in all shapes, sizes and calibres of staff expectancy... some require the artist to provide their own musicians, backing, props, lighting and equipment whilst other ships contain a fully equipped stage complete with lighting, p.a. rig and in-house orchestra/band. The type of shows presented are diverse.. on larger ships, this may mean a dj is working in one bar, a singalong duo is in another whilst solo artists up to large theatrical style productions and/or major guest artists are rehearsing/performing on the main stage! Short trips and smaller craft have less space and amenities so tend employ more self-contained acts.

Being confined to a ship (no matter how large) means that all crew are expected to be on duty 24/7 ....... in other words, be nice to the passengers even if you have a sore head, runny nose or bad day plus be prepared to cover a variety of other duties when staff are off sick, even if it is not part of their normal duties. Staff are usually contracted for the duration of the cruise which can be for anything between one day to a year, and can expect good wages with accommodation and meals included.

It is also a fallacy that cruise ship entertainers are unlikely to be 'discovered' or attain celebrity status... many singers use any opportunity to perform as a means to polishing their performances and have subsequently moved onward and upward in their careers like Claire Sweeney and Jane McDonald.

Entertainers usually gain employment by application and audition. Age ranges considerably, although 21 to mid 30's is standard, companies who concentrate on serving the more mature market, often prefer music and artists who can cater to a more selective, older clientele. A show reel is not always necessary but desirable, especially for those who can provide a 'pre-produced' show or package. Advertisements for these positions can be found in The Stage Newspaper (UK), Variety (US) and major newspapers.  Enquiries can also be made direct to the cruise liners and specialist Cruise Ship Agencies and Entertainment Agents who may run showcases for cruise ship bookers.

Related Books

Cruise Ship Guide
American & Canadian Cruise Ship Employment Manual

Crews for Cruise:
The Official Cruise Ship Job Guide Cruise Ship Jobs

Crews for Cruise the Video:
The Companion Video to the Book "Crews for Cruise"

Cruise Ship Jobs:
The Insiders Guide to Finding and Getting Jobs on Cruise Ships Around the World How to get a Job on a Cruise Ship

Cruise Ship Employment Guide

How to Get a Job on a Cruise Ship

Worldwide Cruise Ship and Yachting Career Guide Worldwide Cruise Ship and Yachting Career Guide

Working on Cruise Ships

Working on Cruise Ships

Related Articles & Sites

This following is a small selection from our list of useful resources including links to cruise ship companies and specialised agencies available in the Cruise Ship Links section.

Cruise Ship Singing and a Jailed Dad
Mirror article about Brookside actress and singer Claire Sweeney who started her career singing cabaret on P&O Cruise Ships.

Holland America Cruise Line
provide and source entertainers and musicians of all types, visit the site for details and application requirements... further links to other companies are provided in the Cruise Ship Agencies Listings.

click here to visit Jane McDonalds official websiteJane McDonald
Became one of the most recognised Cruise Ship singers after the broadcasting of a BBC TV documentary series which followed the lives of on board entertainers and personell. Click on the logo to visit her website or browse Jane MacDonald Albums & Books by the singer and television presenter/ex cruise ship entertainer. Appeared on BBC’s The Cruise and presenter of talent show Star for a Night, Loose Women and The Alan Titmarsh Show has also released autobiography Follow Your Dreams .

"People Know Me Really Well": Jane Macdonald and the Construction of Authenticity in The Cruise by Christine Leishman, examines the projection of authenticity in television documentary features. (the link on the university site is in .pdf format and requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.

The Stage Jobs & Recruitment
provides brief descriptions of jobs, employers and agents plus online job listings and article The A-Z of Cruising includes a list of cruise ship agencies.

How to get a job on a Ship
Includes articles, information and addresses for cruise ship operators and agencies worldwide.