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  • Cruise Ship Gigs

    Who's done 'em, who's doin' 'em? My wife has checked into this a little and thinks it might be a good idea for us. It would still be about three years before we're in the position to try it.
    http://www.crazydeliciousband.com/

  • #2
    Notes Norton would be our resident expert.
    I have not done one, although I have had offers which were turned down based on schedule issues. If I were offered one now, I might be inclined to take it.
    "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

    Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'

    "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

    Solipsism is the new empiricism. -Alan Burdick

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    • #3
      I did cruise like gigs for 3 years in the late 1980s and a summer in 2005.

      For 3 years I did Carnival Cruise Lines. I'd do them again. The rules are reasonable, and they treat you like a human

      For one summer I did Celebrity and would never go back. They treat their help like they are adversaries.

      OK, the good things about cruising:

      1) Never-ever have to move your gear. We did 8 months straight, then moved to another ship to get to different ports, and almost forgot how to pack up.

      2) The audience pays more attention to you than they do on land. No pool table, at the time no wide screen TV in the lounge, people come to be entertained and nobody has to drive home.

      3) They audience is on vacation so they come out every night

      4) The musicians and other staff members tend to bond together like family

      Cons:

      1) Same cruise again and again and never enough time in the ports

      2) Same menu for dining every week so you could get bored

      3) Small cabin for crew/staff but you do have the run of much of the ship.

      All in all I enjoyed my time with Carnival, and survived my time with Celebrity (RCL owns Celebrity and I hear is the same way).

      Carnival was the first steady gig for our duo. We collected requests, learned the requests, and learned how to attract a crowd to our little lounge. We ended breaking all-time revenue records in that lounge on all 3 ships we gigged on, and the reward was a passenger sized cabin with a porthole. Corporate looks at revenue records in the bars to see if the people like you or not. The passengers will spend their money on the ship, but where they spend their money tells corporate who they like.

      If you have any questions, my answers are from the past, but I'm glad to answer.

      Notes
      Bob "Notes" Norton
      Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
      Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
      The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Notes_Norton View Post
        I did cruise like gigs for 3 years in the late 1980s and a summer in 2005.

        For 3 years I did Carnival Cruise Lines. I'd do them again. The rules are reasonable, and they treat you like a human

        For one summer I did Celebrity and would never go back. They treat their help like they are adversaries.

        OK, the good things about cruising:

        1) Never-ever have to move your gear. We did 8 months straight, then moved to another ship to get to different ports, and almost forgot how to pack up.

        2) The audience pays more attention to you than they do on land. No pool table, at the time no wide screen TV in the lounge, people come to be entertained and nobody has to drive home.

        3) They audience is on vacation so they come out every night

        4) The musicians and other staff members tend to bond together like family

        Cons:

        1) Same cruise again and again and never enough time in the ports

        2) Same menu for dining every week so you could get bored

        3) Small cabin for crew/staff but you do have the run of much of the ship.

        All in all I enjoyed my time with Carnival, and survived my time with Celebrity (RCL owns Celebrity and I hear is the same way).

        Carnival was the first steady gig for our duo. We collected requests, learned the requests, and learned how to attract a crowd to our little lounge. We ended breaking all-time revenue records in that lounge on all 3 ships we gigged on, and the reward was a passenger sized cabin with a porthole. Corporate looks at revenue records in the bars to see if the people like you or not. The passengers will spend their money on the ship, but where they spend their money tells corporate who they like.

        If you have any questions, my answers are from the past, but I'm glad to answer.

        Notes
        That's just the kind of insight I was hoping for, thanks for such a great response! I can definitely see trying this out when the time comes.

        Back in late June they finally found my replacement in the band I've been in for four years. I told them back in February to start looking for a replacement and they're telling me it'll still be September before they believe he's worked in and ready to take over. Anyway, the wife and I have been concentrating on our own little act playing hit pop/rock tunes. She plays flute, the AKAI EWI5000 (that I bought her for her birthday) and is learning mandolin while I'll mainly play guitar but we're both advanced at piano & keyboards. This opens doors for us to play tunes that are very recognizable but rarely attempted by typical guitar based groups. Hopefully we'll get our thing honed in and start doing some gigs locally by this Fall or Winter. Our progress is tempered by our sometimes demanding full time jobs but we'll certainly achieve our goals. We plan to retire and actually move out of the area in less than three years now and the idea of doing the cruise ship gigs at that time is rather appealing.
        http://www.crazydeliciousband.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          I loved the cruise ships. After 3 years we got off as we got a house gig in a yacht club that paid much more. Carnival gave us a vacation (with pay) and we played in South Florida on our months off, that's how the house gig came about. We were missing land things by that time anyway.

          If you want a gig on the ships, get your promo together. Back when I did it, they needed black and white glossies and cassette tape demos. I'm sure they probably want color glossies and a video by now. Call one of the ships and ask.

          Be commercial and personable on stage. You will have plenty of competition right next door so you have to have your act together.

          If you get the gig, prepare to be flexible. We worked straight through without a break on the nights where people were on the Promenade deck, and when everybody was in the main show we took hour long breaks because nobody was around.

          Be respectful to the passengers, if you are on the last bar stool listening to the guy in the piano lounge, and a customer comes in, get up and let them sit. They pay your bills. Be nice to all, most passengers are nice, but a few you just have to ignore. Don't do drugs, you don't want to end up in a non-USA jail. Before returning to the ship, check all bags to be sure someone didn't plant something on you for a reward. This is extremely rare, in the 3 years I was with Carnival I've heard of it twice. Be aware you won't be allowed to gamble on the ship. If you win and a sore loser passenger is next to you, they might cry fowl. You have a wife so you don't have to worry about this, so I'll say it anyway. Do not go into passenger cabins for sex or anything that can frame you for that.On Carnival they explained if the girl is in a crew cabin, it implies consent. If you are in her cabin and she changes her mind and accuses you of rape, you are in deep trouble.

          All of that is just common sense.

          On Carnival there were people from 30 different countries working and it was an enriching experience. The ports of call were nice, but after a while you've seen all you can see in the time allowed. That didn't bother us, but it did some others. I made musician friends in the islands, and a guy in Puerto Rico taught me a lot about Salsa and Merengue and in turn I gave him pointers about North American music. Made a friend with a musician/dive-master in the Bahamas, and one day he didn't have any bookings so he took us out for free.

          If you are interested in our husband-wife duo, go to http://www.s-cats.com -- we've been gigging since 1985.

          Notes
          Bob "Notes" Norton
          Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
          Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
          The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

          Comment


          • #6
            I did a few cruises decades ago so I won't comment much regarding that, but I know at least a couple of dozen guys and gals that cruised for years, and a few solos that are either cruising now or just got off.

            From what I've gathered, you had better like working hard if you are a muso on a ship. Wherever and whenever they need you, be ready to play. Don't expect to get pampered unless you are a featured artist.

            Better learn the lowest common denominator tunes because generally, people that cruise don't get out much, and so every overplayed song from Dock Of the Bay and Pretty Woman to newer stuff like Havana and Despecito are in high demand, but YMMV.

            Know your place. Maybe you don't need to grovel, but know your place, and also, respect the chain of command.

            You should be healthy. I know of one fellow that can't cruise anymore because he has the beginnings of diabetes.

            Roll with the punches and the waves. You need to maintain a mellow attitude or you'll blow a fuse and blow the gig.

            NO illegal drugs!

            Smile often.

            Comment


            • #7
              +1 on Shaster's comments.

              How much you work depends on the cruise line. We did 6 nights, and on one sea day we did a happy hour set mid afternoon on Carnival. On Celebrity we just did 6 nights.

              However if you are in the 'orchestra', featured performer, or anything else, you may be required to help out during bingo games, escort people on shore trips, work the beer guzzling contest by the pool, or whatever (not playing music but actually working). Make sure you know before you go, and if possible, get it in writing.

              We volunteered to take the place of the staff members that took people to the land excursion shows at least once, so we could see the show for free and give the other folks a night off. Getting the people on and off the bus for one night when you are going to get to that port once a week for months is no big deal and the people we volunteered to replace appreciated it.

              One of the headliners we met on the ship played two shows per week. They tried to get him to do Bingo and he pulled out a copy of his contract. He was a good draw, paid his dues previously on the ships, and earned that great contract.

              Notes
              Bob "Notes" Norton
              Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
              Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
              The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Shaster View Post

                NO illegal drugs!

                Smile often.
                Seems like an oxymoron!

                Just kidding of course. I haven't done any illicit drugs in at least 15 years, I'm a technician at a huge avionics company and the FAA has many of us in a random drug test pool. Back when they started that I decided that smoking some weed wasn't worth losing my job over! My wife practices geriatric psychiatry and prescribes drugs for patients so she has no need to partake in street corner drug deals either.

                We're both looking at having a fairly comfortable retirement so the idea of cruise ship gigs would just be a bonus fun thing for us to try out. We've both been on cruises as passengers so we understand things from that perspective. I believe she has actually inquired as to what would be needed for us to be considered an entertainment hire. It's great to read your experiences and advice here, I really appreciate and thank you for the insights!
                http://www.crazydeliciousband.com/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ggm1960 View Post
                  Anyway, the wife and I have been concentrating on our own little act playing hit pop/rock tunes. She plays flute, the AKAI EWI5000 (that I bought her for her birthday) and is learning mandolin while I'll mainly play guitar but we're both advanced at piano & keyboards. This opens doors for us to play tunes that are very recognizable but rarely attempted by typical guitar based groups. Hopefully we'll get our thing honed in and start doing some gigs locally by this Fall or Winter. Our progress is tempered by our sometimes demanding full time jobs but we'll certainly achieve our goals. We plan to retire and actually move out of the area in less than three years now and the idea of doing the cruise ship gigs at that time is rather appealing.

                  And you'll both do vocals?

                  No paid experience here, but we've been on small ship cruises where some of the passengers become some of the entertainment, in a variety show setting. Some VERY good -- and then there are the others, not even all musical, but usually all in good fun. When I've been enticed "on stage" in that environment, it helped to be able to walk (guitar, not drums) and chew gum (vocals) at the same time. Did a pick-up duet thing with the ship's musician (him on keys at the time), too, and it helped a lot that we were both able to do instrument plus vocals. At least is seemed the rest of the audience responded better than to just the soloists...

                  -D44
                  Last edited by Drummer44; 08-08-2018, 01:15 PM.
                  ************************************************** *********************************

                  Old guy, just trying to play through the arthritis...
                  - Balance is a virtue; loud for its own sake is not... and loud won't fix bad
                  - I may not interpret ridiculous, crazy, or stupid the way you intended
                  - Common retail products are never awesome (thermo-nuclear probably is, though)
                  Assume the requisite list of stuff...

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Drummer44 View Post


                    And you'll both do vocals?

                    No paid experience here, but we've been on small ship cruises where some of the passengers become some of the entertainment, in a variety show setting. Some VERY good -- and then there are the others, not even all musical, but usually all in good fun. When I've been enticed "on stage" in that environment, it helped to be able to walk (guitar, not drums) and chew gum (vocals) at the same time. Did a pick-up duet thing with the ship's musician (him on keys at the time), too, and it helped a lot that we were both able to do instrument plus vocals. At least is seemed the rest of the audience responded better than to just the soloists...

                    -D44
                    Yes we both do vocals, I've been singing in bands for many years. She doesn't have as much experience with that but she's great at harmony vocals and is also doing some lead and, of course, she has the higher vocal range of a female.
                    But we are definitely all about the fun and we'd like to keep things light, loose and enjoyable. I like to think we'll have the ability to be flexible and still keep things from getting out of hand.
                    http://www.crazydeliciousband.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If you do get a gig on a cruise ship, it can teach you a lot about being competitive. On the ships we worked on in the late 1980s there were 7 lounges with live music and one disco with a DJ.

                      A duo usually plays in a small, 'side-show' lounge. You have to figure out what the ship needs that it isn't offering, how to get the people to find you early in the cruise, and then how to get them to come back and find your lounge to be their favorite spot on the ship. If you can do that, you have it made.

                      We figured that out at the time, set record revenue receipts in 3 lounges, in the same side-show lounge, on 3 ships. The reward was a passenger-sized cabin with a porthole, and a "don't say that I told you you can sell recordings to passengers on the ship" deal.

                      But back then there were no cell phones, the most portable music was on cassette tape, and after 3 years we got tired of the routine. We got a house gig at a yacht club for more money back home and our sailing days were pretty much over.

                      We did get a few calls to come back. Usually with short notice because a duo 'jumped ship' and we with a good revenue record were a first choice to fill the vacancy. But we were booked well in advance on land each time they called, and eventually they stopped calling.

                      I enjoyed my time at sea, and especially if you are husband and wife (or any other paired couple) it can be a good gig -- depending on your personalities.

                      Insights and incites by Notes
                      Bob "Notes" Norton
                      Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
                      Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                      The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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