10 Perks of Being a Cruise Ship Performer

Written by Meghan Mitchell

February 15, 2017

Whether a singer or dancer, working professionally on cruise ships is a great way to see the world, meet people from all walks of life, and save money, all while living a life of luxury! Where else can you perform up to 5 shows in rep at one time — not to mention free food, free gym, and friendships that can last a lifetime?

1. Seeing the world…

One country at a time. When you think “cruise ships,” you may think Caribbean, Bahamas, Virgin Islands, but ships do travel all over the world.  Have you never dreamed of going to Rome? Norway? Fiji? There are so many ports of call worldwide that you can experience while working on a ship. Different contracts and ships go many different places. You may start a contract in the Bahamas, but then do a transition cruise through the Panama Canal and end up seeing Alaska for the summer!

2. Free room and board.

Worried about when rent is due? Not anymore—living on a ship is just that; you are being paid to live and work, typically, only just a stairwell or two away! You won’t have to worry about extra expenses because your “apartment” is already taken care of. And food too! Chefs are working tirelessly on the ship to have food available to passengers and crew alike, nearly all hours of the day. Much like actor housing at regional theatres, not having to pay for room and board helps keep your paycheck right where you want it—in your pocket.

3. Performing different shows in rep.

Typically, as a performer, we are working on one show at a time with an opening night and a closing night in sight. On ships, you could be performing 3, 4, or maybe even 5 shows in repertory at the same time.  Not including welcome shows and even flash mobs! Rehearsals may be long and quite stressful. Learning a show per week in rehearsals and then running through a show you learned a month ago is enough to make anyone apprehensive of the workload. But when onboard, the varying of shows is a dream for any swing out there on the seven seas. Each cruise brings a new itinerary, and typically a different show schedule. Nowhere else can you experience so many genres and styles of dance and music—it’s a performer’s dream come true.

4. Discounts on excursions and outings.

Ever wanted to zip line through a rainforest? Maybe see the Hermitage in St. Petersburg? Swim with stingrays in Bora Bora? There are so many things to see and do across the world, and typically as a crew member, there are discounts and sometimes even completely free ways to see what each city has to offer. Check with your crew office and look for announcements on how to get in on the best rates and take advantage of all there is to do in each port of call.

5. Meeting people from all over the world.

Suddenly on ships, you find yourself in a giant melting pot of nationalities from around the world. Typically, American, English, South African, Australian, and New Zealander’s are only a mere 10% on the crew onboard the ship. Ships are a great opportunity to learn new customs, foods, and celebrations of your fellow crew members. You’ll make friendships that span the globe! And after your contract has ended, you know you have a place to stay in any country you choose to call home. The only downfall of meeting new people from all over the globe is when you have to say goodbye.

6. Time.

On ships, you have time—time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Be it New York, LA, Orlando, Chicago, you are constantly trying to keep a day job while auditioning, running across town in a dress and sneakers just looking to make it in this career. However, on ships, there is finally a moment of reprieve. Ever wanted to catch up on a TV show? Someone probably has every season on a thumb drive to share with you. Ever wanted to bask in the sun on a beach all day, reading a book you’ve always been meaning to? Only having to worry about a show or two at night?  Ships are the ultimate getaway to finally catch up on what you’ve needed.

7. Gym time!

As a performer, you are able to access the gym and fitness center, pretty much any time you’d like. Have you always had fitness goals, but never the time to focus on them? Now is the time! Cast members can be seen at the gym almost every day, usually helping each other with new workout routines or doing workout videos together. Not much of a gym buff? It helps that from the gym, you can typically see out the front of the ship, making motivation much easier when you are literally running into the sunset across the sea to a beautiful horizon.

8. Working on a new skill.

Ever wanted to cultivate a new skill? There are so many opportunities to focus on your goals while on your ship contract. Whether it’s learning an instrument, working on new dance forms with fellow cast mates, singing at the piano bar, there is so much time to explore new hobbies you have always wanted to perfect while onboard a ship.

9. Saving money and paying off debt.

Studied abroad in college? Need to save up for a car post cruise ship life? Not having to worry about room and board leaves you open to finally pay off that credit card or save up for a big move to the city of your dreams.

Meghan Mitchell is a working actor who graduated cum laude from North Central College in Naperville, Illinois with a B.A. in Musical Theatre. She loves Shakespeare and nightly fireworks, and after working regionally and on ships, she is now proud to call Orlando her home.