How I Got A Job As A Cruise Ship Musician
I got the idea to work on ships on a vacation to Croatia. We used the night train to go to Croatia and on that train my friend and I met a guy that told us he had worked on cruise ships a long time ago as a waiter. He didn’t tell us much about the life on board, but he mentioned live bands and entertainment. We left the train without exchanging any contact information (which we should have). That happened while I was still in high school and since then I had imagined myself working on cruise ships as a musician. Until the day I arrived in Miami to rehearse for my first ship I had never met anybody else that worked on ships.
After finishing my military service in 2013 I applied for something like 15 different cruise lines. I put together a nice application with all the formal paperwork and I also put together videos of me playing a variety of styles. I sent all my paperwork and my videos to the cruise lines, I mailed them hard copies, flash drives and I sent many emails. I invested a lot of time and effort in my applications trying to get a job as a drummer.
Out of those 15 cruise lines I got automatic responses from a few: “Thank you for your application, we’ll look through it…” A few months later I got responses from three cruise lines, saying that they looked through my application and appreciate my interest in their company but that they didn’t need any musicians at this moment. The rest of the cruise lines never replied.
As you can imagine, I was frustrated. I started questioning my skill as a drummer, even as a person, as I didn’t even have a job. I practiced all day every day, but I still wasn’t good enough, not even to get an audition. I had already lost all hope when I found an agency online called “Lime Music Entertainment”. Their website wasn’t very special and I wasn’t sure if it was just a scam or if it actually was a legitimate agency. I emailed them my CV but I never sent them any of my videos. Only a few hours after sending the email I got a response from them. They thanked me for my application and they asked me when I’d be available for an audition.
I was so excited, I finally got a chance to show the world my skills!
I remember it was a Friday when I got that email, so I told them I’d be able to audition on Monday and we agreed on a time. I practiced that whole weekend. I didn’t talk to anybody, didn’t go out and didn’t think about anything else but that audition.
Monday came, I had prepared everything. I set up my laptop to download the music and the pdfs. I set up another laptop to have the Skype conversation on, cause they’d call me on Skype, from London. I had speakers setup so I could have the playback on, that enabled the caller from London to listen to the music. I had turned on the printer and checked if it worked properly to print out all the sheet music and I had a camera running that would record everything.
They called at 3pm to send me the link to dropbox where I could download all the audition files. They gave me exactly 15 minutes to download all the files, print the music, check if the playbacks were working and have a quick look at the charts. At 3:15pm they called again. This time the audition started.
The guy from the agency introduced himself and explained how everything was going to work. There wasn’t much to explain since the complicated part of downloading, printing and setting up had already happened. Now it was time to play.
A Lot Of Reading
If I remember correctly I had 5 pieces of music to play. Two of them were just grooving along with a rhythm section; one of them was a funky tune and the other one was a little bit more latin inspired. I had to play these three times, one time easy groovin’, a little busier and very busy.
Now I had to sight read a big band chart and play along with the track. It was an up-tempo swing tune with some tricky hits and breaks. I had to sight read two pieces of a production show. They were really tough as there were tempo changes, dynamics, hits and weird bar counts.
After playing we talked for another ten to fifteen minutes as he needed to know if my English was any good and if my personality was going to work on cruise ships. The audition took almost an hour. At the end of the audition he told me that everything had gone really well and that he’d be happy to find a ship for me.
I was so excited and not many days after the audition he called me and told me that there was an open position for me in three weeks on the Carnival Fantasy. So I spent the next three weeks getting all my paperwork and visas ready to go to Miami. Since then the agency "Lime Entertainment" has grown a lot and I've been in touch with them regularly over the years, even when I wasn't on a ship. They've also updated their website: Lime Entertainment
I'm super happy that I had made the decision and gotten the chance to work on cruise ships as I have learned a lot about myself, music and life.