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  1. #1

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    Martin Taylor said once that it used to be you did an apprenticeship in music where you would play in a lot of bands and work the cruise ships but now to become a good play people just do a course. It got me thinking about the possibility of working on a cruise ship. So I was wondering if any of you guys have ever done that? What sort of things are they looking for? Is age an issue? It would be a great job that's for sure. You get to play all day and see the world and you even get paid to do it. I would imagine there would be a lot of competition for a job like that.


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  3. #2

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    I was supposed to work ships until I got my teaching Gig so I cannot say what it's like exactly but I can tell you what it takes to get the job.

    What they looking for?

    Good readers, and capable of playing any style. Solo guitar skills very important as well. But you have to be a good reader or you just won't get a shot.

    Age, all you have to be is legal I know ppl in their 40's stil doing ships

    Great job? No, not always. I know ppl who hate hate hate their cruise job. Most of these cats though are young and would rather be in NYC playing Jazz all day instead of gigging for real seeing the world and make some coin. If you are looking to be an artist, then cruise ships will drain your soul. If you're looking for good bread, fast and a fun lifestyle, then you ought to be cool.

    Competition is between good reading guitarists, there aren't many of us, so no there's not a lot of competition.

    If you're looking to do the Jazz Trio thing then you needa band, a good rep and be just a really good player. They typically only take piano trios and chuck them in the dinner hall.
    Jake Hanlon - Jazz Guitarist, Composer and Educator
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  4. #3

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    i dunno, viking, ever been on a cruise ship?

    "good pay" is subjective, but playing "brick house" to a bunch of inebriated sububanites who think they're "seeing the world" when they get off the floating hotel for 45 minutes and get their hair braided by a real "bahamian" is not. i'm not sure what the scene is like where you're at, but you'll learn a lot more about jazz hooking up with some old cats, getting your ass kicked a little, and getting paid next to nothing to do it.

    maybe things are different outside of the ships that dock in US ports, but i've been on two cruises, and while they make for a nice relaxing vacation, they're a musical wasteland, IMHO.

  5. #4

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    Thanks for your replies guys. I am encouraged to hear they are only after good readers and that there aren't that many good readers out there. One of my strong points has always been reading so I might have a shot at it. I am really surprised to hear it is not that competitive since to someone like me who just wants to play all day who is thinking busking might be the way to go it sounds like a dream. Also, if solo guitar is important then it is right up my alley. Anyway, you have buoyed my spirits and made me feel like following my dreams may actually be more like having an achievable goal. So thanks again for the advice.

  6. #5

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    Good thread. Does anyone know who you would approach in order to find out and get work on a cruise ship? Is it just a case of googling some sort of cruise worker agency website?

  7. #6

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    Contact the cruise line themselves.

    I am told Holland America is the best to work for.
    Jake Hanlon - Jazz Guitarist, Composer and Educator
    Website - Buy Music - Youtube - STFXU

  8. #7

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    I will give you an exception to what Mr. B and Jake have said. A few years ago, I took the family on a Carnival cruise to see the saints (St. Thomas, St. John's, etc). It was a 7 day cruise. After having been on a nicer one in the past, thought this one sucked by comparison, but it was cheaper.

    The real saving grace for me was the Michael Leasure Trio. All 3 of these guys were in their 40's-50's I think, and were pretty good. They played nightly at this particular cigar bar, which was the nicest bar onboard. They played a couple of 1 hour sets in the afternoon during the week, but mostly they were on at night. They only played jazz.

    I wound up talking quite a bit to Michael, and he was a really nice guy. He talked about the politics of ship life, etc. He was cool with it, as he was able to do lots of recording during the day. However, he had gotten married recently, and his wife was a horn player onboard.

    She got caught in some negative politics with the showband, and they were going to be leaving after that particular contract was up. He had done this off and on for many years. He is based in FLA.

    Michael Leasure - Jazz Guitarist and Composer / Guitar Synthesizer
    Last edited by derek; 07-16-2009 at 11:22 AM.

  9. #8

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  10. #9

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    A drummer friend has done this quite a bit and he played for the band that backed up the variety entertainers. A quick rehearsal in the afternoon and then the gig that night.They would frequently play in headsets with click tracks even when there were tempo changes to negotiate. They generally played a pre show set, the show and another dance set 6 nights and sometimes matinees and special events.

    He enjoyed the challenge of all the diverse requirements and trying to make it all groove. He also like seeing the Caribbean, Central and South America on his day off.

    He didn't enjoy the small quarters that come with a roommate. He found little or no time and space to practice drums, guitar would be somewhat easier I imagine.

    Each band situation is different. Jazz trio/quartet, string quartet,
    dance bands, house band. The pay varies from pretty bad to pretty good.

  11. #10

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    i guess like was said earlier, it depends on your idea of good pay. i have never done one myself, but only because a bunch of my friends have, and had nothing but bad things to say. sounds very depressing. the most common thing i heard: "you think you will save a bunch of money: no rent, free meals...but then the depression sets in, and the bar bills pile up." i was pretty close to signing on, but the guy that interviewed me was so pushy that i got cold feet. its NOT good money, even by jazz musician standards. and playing to a click track 4 hours a gig to a bunch of cheeseball tunes sounds more like a punishment than a challenge to me.

  12. #11

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    I found a funny anicidote about playing on cruise ships-

    It’s Only Music #2 - Chris Tarry’s Blog of Wondrous Nothings

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by sc06yl View Post
    I found a funny anicidote about playing on cruise ships-

    It’s Only Music #2 - Chris Tarry’s Blog of Wondrous Nothings
    That was hilarious.

  14. #13

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    Hi Folks,
    I played on a cruise ship in 1995 for about 4 months.
    The first show was completely sight read with no rehearsal. Pretty scary but the band actually played great.
    The repertoire included everything from Jazz standards to Bon Jovi to Chinese opera.
    At first i thought, "this is the life"
    After about 2 months the routine became torture.
    I worked for Star Aquarius which is a huge ship which runs from Singapore.

    It's worth doing at least once.


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