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How to Land a Job on a Cruise Ship. 

Part One

Working on a cruise ship is a great opportunity to see the world and to be enriched by the variety of Cultures that make up Ships’ Crew and Performers.  

Who else will pay your flight and provide free accommodations, with excellent food available almost around the clock, prepared by International Chefs and free of charge! 

There are many employment opportunities onboard a vessel, but for Entertainment-oriented positions these opportunities are split into two: Performers (Dancers, Singers, Musicians) and Social Staff (Cruise Staff, Youth Staff). Essentially, Performers will be hired to present/support Production Shows, etc. and Social Staff (Cruise Staff) are hired to present/support social events – from supporting/hosting a Daytime Activity to acting as support or Host for the many evenings’ events. These can run the spectrum from Trivia games to Line Dance Classes, MC-ing a Karaoke Night or Game Show-type event to supporting a formal Captain’s Cocktail Party. Social Staff do not require formal qualifications, per se but need to be articulate, outgoing with a fun personality – Actors might do well in this position, for example. 

To get an opportunity to work on a cruise ship, you should begin by taking the following steps: 

Research different Cruise Lines to see if they are hiring and what is their employment criteria. Also, research the demographic of a Cruise Line as this might dictate the type of material you will be a part of once onboard. For example, a Cruise Line known for ‘Family Fun’, presenting 3, 5 and 7-day Cruises will have their product skewed to a younger, more upbeat clientele whilst those sailing 10, 12, 14-day Cruises may well be skewed towards a more mature clientele. 

Here’s just two Cruise Lines’ entertainment careers web-link, but you’ll get the idea! There are many Cruise Lines, based in the U.S., U.K., Europe, Australia, Japan, China, etc. so do some research into some more of them until you spot something that resonates with you! It truly is a wonderful, growing experience and a great way to use your skills to see the World – it will change you.

When we would cast for our shows, we would look for dancers/singers:

– Over 18 years of age. 

– Proficient in English (if not proficient in English, there are cruise lines that cater to specific markets such as Japanese, German or Spanish, so do your research and apply accordingly). 

– Height and weight appropriate – as in any show, it’s casting! 

– For dancers, a solid, all-around technique in jazz, contemporary and modern and you may be required to have some ballet and/or tap. Acro specialties might also be a plus. 

– For singers,a wide range of styles of Broadway, pop and Sstandards are required, as production show styles will vary throughout the cruise to provide variety for the passengers. 

– Able to sign up for a six-month contract.  

– Photos to include a full body shot and headshot. 

– Video submissions should show your talent at its best (sound/image clear), but usually hiring will be done based on in-person auditions. 

Once you’ve succeeded through the audition process, an offer will be forthcoming and for first-timers, this will usually begin with a few weeks (depending upon the number of shows you will be performing) in the company’s studios where, along with the other cast members, you will learn the choreography and/or vocals. This will precede joining your first ship, which may also include a ‘handover’ from the previous Cast to enable the replacement cast to have costumes fitted and become used to the stage facilities. Shipboard contracts are normally  six months in length, after which you will return home and, depending upon the success of your first contract, you may be offered a second contract (and so on, and so on!). 

The cruise lines’ personnel departments will ensure you are aware of what to pack. Cabins are normally fairly small (you don’t spend much time in them and they are well appointed, with private shower/bathroom facilities) and typically, most dancers will share a two-berth cabin whilst singers may be afforded their own cabins. (This arrangement varies from cruise line to cruise line.) If your contract is mainly in Alaska, for example, you will need to pack accordingly whilst if your contract has a mixed itinerary (Alaska then Caribbean, for example), then you will take both climates into consideration! 


Martin Hall joined Princess Cruises’ Los Angeles offices in 1984, having previously been an international professional musician. Starting by applying his knowledge of music, live entertainment, etc. he came up through the ranks in the Entertainment & Passenger Programs Department, booking musicians and dealing with all facets of the onboard entertainment requirements, including being part of the design team for new ship builds. Becoming a vice president in the early 80s, he oversaw the hiring of on-board staff, including dancers, singers, production staff, social staff, youth staff and guest entertainers. He developed exciting onboard programming – both daytime and night time – from branded passenger participation events to spectacular, bespoke production shows incorporating a cast of 17 along with a live band. In 2004, Princess Cruises also took on managerial responsibility for the historicCunard Line & P & O Cruises, Australia – a fleet of 22 Ships at one point! Martin retired from the cruise industry in 2013 but currently runs a production company in Los Angeles, incorporating its own multiple dance studio and theatre complex. 

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