Want to be an entertainer on a cruise ship?

  • Tell us what your biggest obstacles are here!
  • What would you like help overcoming?

40 thoughts on “Forum

  1. I am new to the market, but not to performing, so one question is how to get the work. I was offered a job back in the 70’s while I was performing at Cedar Point but wasn’t really in a position to accept it.

    One issue is while I have numerous years of experience as a full time performer at many types of performing: Comedy Magic for adults (but at the same time clean). kids magic, closeup magic, and mentalism these acts are commercial but may seem generic. How do I stand out as just saying that I am good doesn’t seem enough

    • Yes Gil, standing out in the crowd is definitely the key. The people buying entertainment on cruises have seen way more audition videos that a person should have to endure. I will be covering this in a very big way.

  2. Biggest obstacle, in general? Marketing to the right person! This, of course, is coming from a land-locked performer(!), wanting to market to a niche client, in a city where “entertainment” is either country music or hockey! Our problem is trying to get the “right” person to even know we exist, and then get them interested enough to ask us questions, and eventually say “Yes, we’ll hire you!”. Now, to do all of that on the ship, where the intake personnel see thousands of promo videos…

  3. I have been entertaining for many years and have experience with Hornblower Cruises and Events singing for their dinner cruises and providing live entertainment and DJ services for their corporate cruises, weddings and private charters. I enjoy the cruise ship format as an entertainer but also have many years experience as an owner of a very large entertainment company. I am interested in both entertaining and/or serving as a cruise director in the cruise ship industry. Several years ago I sent out some packets and had a few responses but nothing terribly serious. I like to see if I can make this happen in would like all the help I can get in doing so. Please advise.

    • Hi Bill;
      You may be perfectly suited for being a Cruise Director. Most likely that will mean going to work first as an assistant cruise director. Its a kind of on the job training. A line like Holland America, has the assistant cd also be the DJ… So it may be a perfect place to start.

    • Yes, currently a lot of guest entertainment work is fly on, fly off. Much of the time you will be doing the last half of one cruise and the beginning of the next. This means a couple things… You will be catching the cruise in a foreign port and leaving in a foreign port. It usually means that you don’t need quite as much material. In a weeks contract your audience will change and it us typically okay to repeat material. -Sometimes its not though; if the itinerary changes week to week, there may be a significant number of passengers staying on for the next trip. In this case you won’t want to repeat your show. I’ll explain this more detail in the course.

    • Hi Marshall, sorry for the delay. I have been travelling and the time zones are killing me. I’ve got a lot to say in these areas… More soon.

  4. I am an over 55 performer. I could work as a orchestra guitarist, solo acoustic guitar/vocalist, or ventriloquist. Do cruise ships hire over 55 performers? If so, what is your opinion as to what talent I should pursue in order to maximize my chances of getting hired? Thanks.

    • Hi Brian;
      Yes, cruise lines will hire performers over 55.
      I’m not sure I can give you a preference as to what program is better suited for you. I would be the one you are most strong in. The cruise line is looking for unique and audience pleasing programs with proven track records. Honestly, at 55 your material should be broken in a solid. I don’t think cruising would be the place to work out your act. It needs to already be a tight package. –I hope that helps.

  5. Fred, I’ve been a successful standup/stage magician on land and want to transition to the occasional ship gig. I know first impressions are important and don’t want to end up on the “cutting room floor”. To “break in”, is it best to go direct to an entertainment director or through an agent? I also don’t want to miscalculate fees and get locked in to a price point that isn’t profitable. In other words, how do I calculate my fee, the cost of transporting props, airfare etc. so this winds up being a profitable experience?

    • Hi Terry;
      These are excellent topics and I discuss them in GREAT detail in the course. A bit of good news though,for most part, all transportation is provided or reimbursed by the company (short of your trip to your local airport). In the course I give you a “Negotiation Worksheet” which helps you ask all the right questions when you are offered the job. Its good stuff.

  6. As far as what question I would ask them it would be what are you looking for in an entertainer? I know they have seen tons of magicians but what would get the gigs now? What type of act? I have a lot of experience in stage and close up.
    I’ve performed everything from kid shows up to stage and illusions.
    Thank you Fred, I appreciate your help.

    • Hi David;
      I interviewed one of the most powerful agents in the cruise industry (just for Gigs On Ships) and asked that very question. I was a little surprised by the answer. -The answer surprised me because it had changed in about 2 years time. In other words, the entertainment industry has trends or fads, just like the world of fashion. What is in high demand today, may not be next year.

      But the agent also said, being a solid and dependable act means that you will always have work.

      In a couple weeks I’ll send you a link to our FREE “Sneak Peek” at Gigs on Ships the complete course. It is an essay that talks about the kind of performers that are right for cruising and also lets you test drive the Gigs On Ships format.

      Everyone that is signed up for the Notifications will get the Sneak Peek.

  7. I am part of the juggling troupe Mountain Motion. One of our biggest questions is whether we can book gigs on ships as a trio? We have been told by others in the industry that duos are often their maximum, or they won’t pay the fees necessary for a trio.

    We also have a few different types of shows and are wondering what will be the best fit for a cruise ship. Comedy juggling tricks, stunts, jokes and audience interaction for an hour? Add a motivational flavor to the act? Would a musically based artistic show be appropriate? We perform glow juggling acts that are high energy visual spectacles to music. Would these fit into the cruise ship night life?

    Along with that, we have many of the traditional questions.
    How do I get started? Who do I contact with my promotional material? Do I need an agent? Etc. I look forward to hearing more about the industry.

    Thanks for your time

    • Hi Jeremiah;

      Thanks for your questions. Yes, GOS will discuss in great detail all of those areas regarding getting started and getting the gig.
      But let me answer your first question here… Yes it is possible to be booked as a trio; it may be a bit more difficult. You don’t fit as easily into the format. But plenty of trio acts are working. Some of the issue is cabin space. They may only have so many non-revenue cabins available. Also be aware that even if there are cabins, you would likely only get two. That means two of you would have to share a cabin and one would go solo. (I’d suggest making up a rotation).

      Even so, the act you describe sounds like the right product for ships!

  8. Hi Fred! Very nice and useful site! Well done! I and my wife for many years on the stage and is now very interested in becoming artists on ships.
    My name is Boris and my wifes name is Lyalya, we are the Concert Performer Vocal Headliner act.
    With over 25 years headline performers on concerts,casinos,corporate events, festivals and nightclubs

    we have two full 45 minute shows( music) orchestrated for up to eight instruments. shows can also be performed with bacing tracs.
    We live at Staten Island, New-York.

    • Nice to meet you Boris, It sounds to me like you have all the assets in place for ship work. 2 Full shows, charts, and experience… Perfect!

  9. All of the previous questions are similar to mine. Who to mail to? What to send? What Not to do in an Act? As well as what types of material works best? Tips on traveling to and from, paperwork issues, permits, etc.
    I’ve been on about a dozen cruises over the past 25 years. I’ve performed on several as a passenger, in the talent show, etc. I was told “you’re good enough to work this cruise line” and that I should contact the entertainment offices. In the 1980’s I did and was offered a 6 month gig, but the timing was wrong for my life then so i turned it down. Now I’d like to do a few weeks as a way to travel & se a few sights while getting paid.

  10. here is my gig we have been performing in many forum countries such as tourists hotels in turkey,afrika afrika circus in germany,circus rajmahali in india,china yamehi park,and many more,

  11. Hi Fred!
    I am a close-up /sleight of hand magician. I have performed primarily in restaurants, bars, nightclubs and for private events. I recently became aware that some cruise lines are using this style of entertainment on board. (Carnival?) Is it possible to get work exclusively as a close-up performer or are cruise lines more interested in a stage/cabaret act?

    • Yes, word on the street (ocean?) is that Carnival is hiring some close-up magicians to work atmosphere, even when there is a stage illusionist on the same ship! So this is good news. Some other lines have started to do the same. I’m not sure where the pay is for that (yet). But yes, there is room for talented close-up performers at sea!

      • Thank you!

        I assume that they’re would be some slight differences in the”promo package” I would need to present over a feature act. But, the information in your course about who to “get in front of” would still be relevant?

        • Yes Earl, the process would be exactly the same. You are still in the entertainment department and every part of the course would be relevant; however the pay scale may be different. But that is a guess.

  12. I am a comedy stage hypnotist / comedy mentalist. My show is extremely audience interactive. No matter if you are a counter on stage or sitting in the audience you are doing something in my show(s).

    I have been performing in my own theater for the last five years. Most of my video footage is the same backdrop, angle just different people / events. How big of a detriment is that to me? I have over 500 5 star reviews on Trip Advisor also, is that of any interest to the cruise ships?

    • Hi Guy,
      I’d say that he Trip Adviser rating would be of extreme interest to bookers. Cruise ships operate on their on internal rating system and therefore they’d care about your track record. (Congrats by the way!)
      Regarding the singular stage view… If framed correctly, that is “Guy Michaels in his own theatre,” it shouldn’t hold you back.

  13. What is it about entertaining on cruise ships that appeals to you? Well, I believe having several thousand guests on a cruise boat that are actively seeking out entertainment would be a huge draw for any type of entertainer. I have cruised a dozen times or so on many different lines and always find the theaters and comedy clubs completely filled no matter what type of entertainer is on stage. So, a full venue every night would be great fun for a comedy hypnotist like myself.

    Also, if you could ask us one question about the industry as a whole, what would it be? How does a person that gets hired by a cruise line get paid? would it be “off shore” type banking for a person from the US?

    • Thanks Don. You have a really good understanding of the product. “Thousands of guests seeking out entertainment.” It is one of the precious few markets that offer such.
      Regarding pay, now a days, most cruise lines have offices in the USA. As such, they pay you by check that is mailed to you. Gone are the days of cash on board. You are issued a 1099MISC at tax time. You are considered an independent contractor, so there is no withholding of any sort.

  14. Hi,

    What appeal to me for working cruise ships. Well there’s lots of things but mainly being able to meet new people and place that I ever been to.

    My question for the industry would be is safe out there as smooth sailing or does it get bump out there.

  15. You asked me what is it about entertaining on cruiseships that appeals?
    I think after performing to a successful level with a track record in the corporate market for 15 yrs with an act with over an hour or more tried and tested material and a fun personality, in which I truly enjoy interacting with people, who now on holiday cruising, are looking for a top evenings entertainment,what a challenge for a performer on its own, how exciting and scary.. to move to the next level, an adventure of travel and yes Im good enough to perform in this incredible environment on these ships.

    My one question about the industry as a whole.
    With so many incredible acts around,we need to be original and stand out to even be seen, am looking forward so much to your course covering the details of how to be that little bit different but still keeping your own personality and act that has been successful to date..

  16. Hey there,
    I’m based in Chicago and perform nationwide for private parties and corporate events. I’m attracted to the possibility of working in the cruise ship industry because of the opportunities, or so I’ve heard, to perform on incredible stages in similar conditions form show to show. Thus, helping to improve my act in a similar fashion that Hamburg did for the Beatles. I love to travel and would love the opportunity to bring my shows to audiences from different backgrounds in a variety of locations.

    I’m wondering how magic shows, in general, are received by audiences on cruise ships. Do most audiences walk into a show expecting to be amazed and inspired, or do they have thoughts of a birthday party magician? I’m excited to learn more about the industry and appreciate your support! Thank you, Danny

    • Hi Danny;
      Thanks for introducing yourself. Regarding the audience experience, I’d say most cruise ship entertainment is expected to be approaching Las Vegas level professionalism. That doesn’t mean you need large illusions, but you need to be high quality. I’ll be sending you some articles in the next few months. And watch for our tutorial video series due out later this year.

  17. What is it about entertaining on cruise ships that appeals?
    Traveling, performing the same show for different people on a regular basis, being in the water.

    My one question about the industry as a whole.
    Is visual more important than talking? In other words, knowing there is people from all over the world who might not speak English… is it better to do a more visual show? Or do you assume people will understand as English is one of the most common languages?

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