Ok so hands up, how many of us have heard/seen this phrase?
Either on a TV show, in a Tweet, at a performance?!
*insert ‘hands up’ emoji
Ok, so now hands up for who actually knows what that means…or better still, if they think the person saying that statement knows what it means?!
I’m hoping that by the end of this blog, you’re going to know exactly what it means to be a Cruise Ship singer and why that saying is actually a compliment, not a negative criticism.
Up until the Pandemic, I had worked on Cruise Ships for around 8 years on & off (mostly on!) and it’s honestly been one of the most amazing experiences of my life!
In the couple of years after I left Drama school, the UK was hit with (yet another) recession, so performing work was few and far between. Luckily I had an audition for a Production Company who offered me a job on a Cruise.
At first I didn’t want to take it – I’d seen The Titanic, I knew how it ended…!
But when the itinerary included the Caribbean, seeing the Northern Lights “Aurora Borealis” and a summer in the Med, it was hard to turn down.
I’d always wanted to travel, and seeing the world whilst doing what I love – singing & dancing to grateful audiences – it was a dream job!
Fast forward to present day, I’ve stepped foot on 6/7 continents (Asia is the last one I need to tick off!), seen 3/7 wonders of the world, hung out with some pretty cool Penguins in Antarctica and been able to create a better life for myself on land. Now, this isn’t at all a brag about where I’ve been/what I’ve done but more an insight in to the opportunities available, should you wish to venture in to performing at sea.
So let’s take a closer look at what it actually means to be a Cruise Ship Singer…
· Production Shows: usually a team of 3-6 Singers (and a team of dancers), some also offer Singer/Dancer positions. You could perform up to 8 different style shows that again vary from Pop, Rock, Musical Theatre, Soul/Motown, Jazz and Swing style shows. There also tends to be a Classical style show, which may also be used as an outdoor performance for special events.
As you can see from the styles listed, you need to be versatile when performing these types of shows, not just vocally, but as an all-round Performer, so that you can connect with the music you are performing and sell it to the audience. These kind of shows usually feature harmony work and group singing so an understanding of these skills and the ability to blend well in a group would be an advantage.
This can be really fun if you like singing different styles of music and there may also be opportunity for you to do a Solo cabaret style show on certain Ships.
You would find these types of shows on board ships such as Seabourn Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas, Aida, Silversea, Celebrity and P&O. Companies to look out for audition-wise include Belinda King Creative Productions, Headliners, Pearson Casting and Luna Rossa Productions.
· Musicals: the big one that all Musical Theatre people want! Royal Caribbean & Norwegian Cruise Line are the ones to check out if you want to get yourself in the next Cast for Cats, Six, Rock of Ages, Grease…the list is endless. I know many performers who have been in at least one of these shows aboard a Cruise liner then gone on to star in the West End production. The Musicals on board tend to be shortened versions of the original, much-like you see in Vegas, but they always feature the big production numbers and you still perform the majority of the show. Again, with these shows you may also be asked to feature in another variety style show for evenings when the main show isn’t on.
Look out for auditions with Pearson Casting and Royal Caribbean who quite often hold Open auditions.
· The Party Band/Piano Bar Entertainment: if singing with a band or performing in a more intimate setting is more your thing then there’s plenty of opportunities on board where you can do this. Most ships have various lounges and bars that all tend to have their own individual entertainment. You could be in the Party band that will perform at most evening events taking place where you will be expected to sing up to 5 sets a day, singing anything from (usually) the ‘50s up to present day, and there may be themed events such as a Rock Night or even parties out on Deck which could have more of a Disco theme. There are also Duos, Trios and Cocktail Pianist positions available, which usually offer more laid back, acoustic-style music and again these would occur throughout the day, maybe more performances on days at sea. This can also offer great opportunities for showcasing your own material if you wish. These positions usually provide the music at the Formal events that take place onboard.
Many of these positions are advertised online through entertainersworldwidejobs.com and other such websites. I have also seen a lot of work like this advertised on Facebook groups, so keep your eyes peeled if this is something you are interested in.
· Guest Entertainer: if you have a Solo or Group show and have footage to showcase it then why not put yourself out there and get on to the Main stage. This is the best of both worlds – you fly out to join the ships, perform your show (usually 2 different shows), enjoy the onboard experience and then fly home or on to your next ship. It can be tiring in some cases as you may be flying from ship to ship, but if you don’t fancy being on board for months at a time then this could be the one for you! This is ideal for performers who are experienced interacting with an audience and maybe if you have a particular act you would like to present – Tributes, multi-instrumentalists with vocals, 3-part harmony groups etc. Cruise ship audiences really love to be presented with a variety of entertainment so if you have a great idea then get in touch with an agency and find yourself a platform!
There are many companies and agencies that are looking for Guest Entertainers to put on their books, including Sophisticated Entertainment, Must Have Entertainment and Blackburn International and many more…so get in touch with them but make sure you have all your promotional material available so that they know exactly what your act is.
I hope I’ve given you some insight in to what it actually means to be a “Cruise Ship singer” and that, whatever your style of music is and whichever direction you wish to pursue your career, there is a singing position for you onboard.
As with anything, if you would like to find out more about what life is like working onboard and advice on auditioning for Cruise ships, please don’t hesitate to ask.
So to sum up, being called a “Cruise Ship singer” means your vocally versatile, have excellent vocal stamina, a great performance ethic and probably visited parts of the world that people only dream of.
I’m Jess and I’m a proud Cruise Ship singer!