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Comics who cater to “Middle America” (think Jim Gaffigan, Roseanne, Seinfeld) are much more likely to get booked than edgy or absurd acts (e.g. His act is engaging and accessible to a “vacation crowd,” plus he’s funny. Unfortunately, the legendary theater and training center ended their contract with Norwegian in 2017, so ship jobs for sketch and improv actors are mostly nonexistent right now. A cruise contract won’t skyrocket you to Broadway or the big screen, but it also won’t be a blemish on your résumé.
Like most opportunities, it is what you make of it. Some stars started on ships, while others took to the seas after making it big.
Most production cast members share small, windowless crew cabins.
These usually include twin-size bunk beds, desks, a TV, minimal storage, and a modest bathroom featuring a “shoilet”—a shower and a toilet separated only by a curtain.
Look forward to a fair amount of safety training and drills. Some of it is boring, like memorizing the different types of fire extinguishers.
Some of it is interesting, like learning what all the P. But safety training is mandatory, and you will be tested.
This article covers both, with an emphasis on production casts.
Any given cruise will feature performances by a dedicated production cast (singers, dancers, and actors hired directly by the cruise line who perform set shows) as well as guest entertainers, AKA headliners (cabaret acts, aerialists, magicians, standups, and other performers who bring on their own shows).
If you’re skeptical about the quality of shows on cruise ships, try to keep an open mind.RELATED: If you’re looking to bring humor to the high seas, your best bet is standup comedy.Cruise lines love hiring standups—but not all styles. While being a “boat act” is frowned upon in some standup circles, ship comedians can make great money playing to packed houses without the drudgery of “working the road.” Ship vet Jeff Harms is a perfect example. For 13 years, sketch and improv actors had a great opportunity to perform on cruise ships via Second City’s Touring Company. So whether you’re a singer, dancer, actor, comedian, musician, magician, acrobat, ventriloquist, or mentalist, there’s a job out there for you. Your experience will vary greatly depending on role, cruise line, and specific ship. Luckily, cruise lines like Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Princess are always looking for new talent. * This guide is designed to give you a better understanding of what it’s like to audition for and work on a cruise ship.
As for dancing, CDs are looking for hip-hop, ballet, ballroom, latin, and so on. While your best bet is to be at least a double threat, there are some exceptions.