FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
The first you should do is visit the “Jobs & Auditions” page on our site. Pick the job you’re interested in from one of the three columns you see on that page.
Clicking on a job description will reveal a popup with a short description and a link to more information. To learn about the appropriate audition procedure, click on the “Apply Here” link on the bottom of the corresponding column. There you will also find contact information.
Fill out the form on our contact us page and we’ll be in touch with you.
Please visit the jobs & auditions page, pick the job you’re interested in and click on it for more information. On the bottom of the column you’ll see a link to the audition procedure for the job category you picked.
You will need a valid passport, a medical exam, a C1D visa (except for US and Canadian citizens) and a background check. Depending on the itinerary of the cruises, you may need additional paperwork such as a Seaman’s Book, yellow fever vaccination or other visas. We will help you compete all the paperwork.
Typically, contracts are between 4 to 6 months. This can be longer and it can be shorter depending on the cruise line you work for. But for the most part 4 to 6 months is a good guideline.
No. You must be able to understand instructions well and have conversations in English. Many musicians have been fired because they either couldn’t understand safety instructions given by the safety office or because they couldn’t communicate properly on the bandstand.
Lead vocalists in cover bands and dance bands should not have strong accents as that will reduce the chances for work.
The job of a lounge band is to attract passengers into your lounge and keep them there for as long as you are scheduled to do so. In order to achieve this, you do the following:
- Play cover songs that people know and love, in as many different styles of music as possible
- Play the music well
- The lead vocalist should interact with the passengers to keep them engaged
- All musicians in the band should look like they’re engaged and having fun
- Interact with the passengers when you’re not on the bandstand. This way you’ll create relationships with them which will go a long way in getting them back into your lounge the next night
- Be open to song requests. If you can’t fulfill a song request right away, learn it and play it later in the cruise
Yes. We book musicians and bands from all over the world, there is no restriction on where you are from.
We only hire singers that apply with existing bands or if they are a piano/vocalist or guitar/vocalist.
The show band (also called orchestra) is a 7 to 9-piece band that backs up the guest entertainers that perform on the ships. They also play the production shows along with a cast of singers and dancers and they get to play small combo jazz and big band sets on occasion.
Instruments that make up this orchestra are:
- Saxophone (all sax players must double on flute and clarinet)
View our “jobs & auditions” page for more information on orchestra musicians.
All lounge entertainers (piano/vocalist, guitar/vocalist, duos, trios, cover bands, dance bands) will have to play music in as many styles as possible. Consider that your job is to entertain all the people on the ship. If you specialized in blues only, for example, you’d only be catering to a small amount of people that like that particular style.
Preparing the right repertoire is of the utmost importance and we encourage you to read some of the following posts on our blog about this.
Feel free to contact us with questions.
No. Candidates should be 21 or over.
That depends on the position you’ll apply for, the cruise line you’ll work for etc. There are many variables that affect your salary.
For orchestra sidemen, salaries range between $1,800 and $2,600 per month.
Lounge entertainers can make between $2,300 and $3,500 per month.
Note that it’s the cruise line that sets your salary, not us.
Some cruise lines pay monthly, others pay bi-weekly. Some pay cash, some deposit your salary into an account they set up for you. In some cases you can also have your salary deposited into your private bank account. Currency is USD for the most part.
US citizens will be asked to fill out a W4 form on which you can state whether you want the cruise line to withhold taxes or whether you want to be paid in full and declare your taxes at the end of the year.
Musicians form other countries should check with their accountant about tax regulations.
Yes. Your CD would have to be approved shoreside before you are allowed to sell it. They are basically trying to make sure that all CDs that are sold on ships are professional looking products with good artwork, shrink-wrap etc. They wouldn’t want you to burn CDs on your laptop and sell those.
Once the CD is approved it can only be sold through the shops. You’re not allowed to sell them off the bandstand.
No. All sax players must double on flute and clarinet.
Most of the cruise lines have what some call a “friends & family program”. In most cases, you’ll have to be with the cruise line for several months before they let you take advantage of this program. It will allow you to bring your wife, parents or friends, on the ship for a reduced rate, provided they have rooms available.
Some musicians ask if their spouse can be with them on the ship for the duration of the entire contract. That’s not possible, unfortunately.
Of course, you can practice and we strongly encourage you to do so. Where you can practice depends on the instrument you play.
As pianist, you can either play on any of the pianos on the ship provided the lounge in which the piano is located is not being used at the time. You could also practice at night in the pit and/or you could take one of the spare keyboards to your room and practice with a headset.
Horn players usually find a room backstage. There are storage rooms that are often unused and provide good sound-proofing.
Drummers could use the drumset in the pit when the theatre is not being used. Some of the ships have electronic kits that could be used with headsets at any time.
Many college students are looking to work on cruise ships during the summer, as well as all the regulars that work on cruise ships all year long. So, it’s difficult to get a foot in the door simply because there are so many musicians looking to do the same.
Another issue that complicates matters is the fact that you have a particular window of opportunity during which you can work before school starts up again. If a job opening doesn’t line up exactly with these dates, they can’t hire you.
Consider also that a student typically has about 3 months time to work during the summer but most cruise lines prefer to hire musicians for 4 to 6 months.
Drummers won’t have to bring their own drumset, they should take their cymbals, bass drum pedal and some felts, nuts, washers and hihat clutch.
As far as electronic equipment goes, the general rule is that, anything that’s a part of the PA system is provided.
For guitarists and bass players that means you should bring your instrument and your own cables. Some keyboards are provided for the various lounge bands. We can provide more details prior to your departure.
If your sight-reading is rusty, you won’t qualify for the orchestra (also called show band or house band), but you may qualify for any of the lounge positions, like cocktail pianist, piano vocalist, guitar vocalist etc. Call us to inquire.
In most cases, the only other duties you will have are boat drills and In-Port Manning (IPM).
A boat drill is a short exercise of about 30 minutes that will familiarize passengers with the safety instructions and their emergency muster station. Your job during this exercise is to guide them to their station and to explain safety instructions.
While in port, ships have to be manned by a minimum of employees in case of emergency. There is thus a rotation of employees that have to remain on board while the ship is docked. You may be a part of that rotation and have to stay on the ship when it’s your turn.
There are two main reasons for why we don’t like to post sample charts.
For the orchestra position, we are looking for musicians that can read just about any chart. So, if you need to see charts, it’s likely that your reading is not up to the task.
Also, no sample chart is going to be indicative of all the various types of charts you’ll have to play on a cruise ship. Posting a sample chart could thus mislead you in thinking that your reading is strong enough.