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Cruise Ship Gigs

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Joined: 20 Apr 2021
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2021 10:34 am    Post subject: Cruise Ship Gigs Reply with quote

I was wondering if anyone here has played on these gigs before. I want to know any and all information that I can get about them. I'm currently a freshman college student looking to improve my sight reading, jazz, and lead chops to eventually become a professional trumpet player. I have a month and a half winter break as well as summer break that I could go out on. I've seen on a few websites that you need to be 21 to be hired as well as people going out anywhere from a few weeks to mandatory 6 months. I just want to get some extra insight to see if it's something I could do. Thanks!

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Joined: 02 Jan 2002
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Location: Glen Burnie, Maryland

PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2021 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There have been a number of threads over the years talking about cruise ship gigs - they are a bit of trick to find though unless your Google-fu is strong. I literally did a Google search to find threads on the TH about cruise ship gigs - it's more effective than using the TH's site search feature.


Here's something else that popped up:
Great Work For University Trumpet Players!! I funded my way thru school on the cruise ships. The gigs are not too demanding, the pay is reasonable and I got to see most of the world. Great for sight reading and to study for the upcoming year.

Go to www.proship.com and contact them. If they ask, tell them that Jeff from Vancouver, B.C. sent ya!! I enjoyed the work and still go out for 2 or three weeks at a time to take a paid holiday to play the trumpet! www.proship.com

Based on your description of yourself, are you sure you're up for a gig like that? I've never heard you play - if you were a stellar HS player, then that's about what level you are at this point now. As of late, what I've heard regarding cruise ship gigs is that they can be kind of brutal - it's not the place where you can go to learn some skills - you need to have those skills when you step foot on the boat. You need to already be playing at a pro-level.

I started a thread yesterday because I heard the college senior recital of a student I knew when they were in high school a few years back. (I was working there instructing the jazz band at the time.) It was not good. In fact, it was embarrassingly bad. This isn't to say that's where you are, but suffice it to say that merely being a trumpet player in a college music program is not necessarily an indication of ability.

You might be able to do a summer tour of cruises - I guess it's going to depend on who is hiring and what the hiring requirements are, and you won't really know that until you talk to someone in the industry now.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2021 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although this post is 10 1/2 years old, you'll read about many hard-core realities of a cruise ship gig on it.

Something to keep in mind (and this is mentioned in that post) - musicians may and will be given extra tasks on the ship completely unrelated to your primary job. With Covid, you can bet that you'll most likely spent several hours a day on the ship disinfecting the ship. That is time where you could be practicing or enjoying time onshore.

It's possible you would also, in addition to Covid disinfection, spend time in the passenger buffet actually dishing out the food for them. I had to do that during a few weeks of Noro-virus restrictions on the ship.

HINT - Go for the very first serving at breakfast when breakfast opens. Your workload will be less than later in breakfast and other meals plus you'll get that extra duty done and over with first thing in the day. That's what I did and I'm glad I took that first shift.

ALL OF THIS - you will receive ZERO monetary compensation and for that matter - ZERO gratitude or appreciation. And my guess is the ship's cast will not have to perform those disinfecting duties near as much or often as the musicians.

Being a 1st-time hire it's unlikely you'll be able to go out for the short term you're looking for. It's possible, but unlikely. Those calls go to seasoned and proven ship musicians FIRST.

Plus you'll need to have a complete physical exam AT YOUR EXPENSE before being hired. And any accompanying vaccinations, also at your expense. Maybe your health insurance will cover those exams, maybe not.

Whether you play well enough or meet other individual cruise line standards...who knows. For sure it's worth checking out and if it doesn't work out for now, maybe it will in the future.

Here's the post you should read:

Tim Wendt


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Joined: 03 Feb 2021
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Location: New Hampshire, USA

PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2021 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trpthrld wrote:
Although this post is 10 1/2 years old, you'll read about many hard-core realities of a cruise ship gig on it....
Here's the post you should read:

Holy cow that was interesting! I'm just a recreational player, but I read that whole thread because it was just so freaking interesting.

For years, my wife drove big charter buses. A frequent gig for her in the spring was driving school groups from here in New England around Washington DC. Just outside of DC, she'd pick up a Tour Guide who would organize everything in the city. Her relationship with the "Tour Guides" and the "Chaperones" sounds a lot like your relationship with the "Cruise Directors" and the "Cast". The Chaperones, like the Cast, can do no wrong since they are parents and usually have connections with the School Board or are actually School Board members. But honest-to-god your complaints mirror hers totally.
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2021 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From 2006-2009 Carnival was paying about $450 a week.

A couple heavy days were 2 production show time slots & two captain cocktail sets. Rehearsal for an hr was at 4 after beach time and island exploring.

Some days were lighter with only two playing commitments plus the standard rehearsal before dinner.

Typical ship routine was to learn 2 different production shows plus the legends show and the 1-200 tunes in the dance book.

The standard arrangements varied in complexity from freshman jazz band difficulty up to as good as the band’s members were capable of.

We played with a click track for the production shows so you need a good ear piece to hook up to the aviom, your tuxedo, flugel if you have one, all the usual mutes and pack light otherwise.

Typical contract length was 4 months. Iteneraries were 3/4 day cruises or 5 to 7 day cruises coming back to home port and doing it again each run.

Carnivalentertainment.com has an audition link for trumpet. Aside from that I don’t have any current contacts but if you audition and do well then they will place you in a spot if they have a vacancy.

I heard stories of fill in quick contracts when a player was established and they knew the player could be counted on to come in and do the job when needed.

We did not have any side duties. But to have us work more hours we started playing in empty venues on the ship. The 14 hr work week turned into 40 by the end of the three years I played on the boats.

10 piece bands with 2 trumpets (lead and solo) were on the bigger ships but they had lots of 7 piece ensembles with 1 trumpet.

Yes it was a couple hundred dollars for a full physical and med clearance but after that its paid travel and time on the horn playing.

Perhaps that helps.
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