Lisa Popeil interviews Australian voice coach Marisa Lee Naismith who offers her knowledge and insight into this fun and lucrative work:
What kind of singing work is available on a cruise ship?
Soloist, Duo or Trio Singers are expected to keep the party going long into the night, performing high energy and interactive shows in lounges, atriums, or pool-side. Must possess an extensive and varied pop repertoire in order to perform requests.
Dance Band Singers are required to have a commanding stage presence, get guests up dancing and continue to learn and rehearse new repertoire as directed by the Band Leader.
Cabaret Singers perform two or more 45-minute sets per evening in the ship’s main auditorium. Singers must be fluent across a broad range of vocal styles which include: Pop/Rock, R&B, Contemporary Musical Theatre/Broadway, and Jazz.
Production Show Singers perform as part of the cast in a pre-produced show, predominantly in theatre or themed shows. Singer must possess excellent acting skills and basic dancing abilities in tap, jazz and/or ballet. Female singers may be asked to sing classically in a legit show or belt in a contemporary pop/rock style. Male roles may often require Baritones and Tenors with developed falsettos and a strong Broadway/Pop belt.
Is there an ideal age for cruise ship singing?
Though most applicants are at least 21 years old, sometimes singers as young as 18 may be hired. Good news: there is no “maximum” age to work on cruise ships.
What do these jobs pay?
Performing for a cruise line is a great opportunity to earn a steady income while traveling to a number of exciting destinations.
All living expenses such as accommodation, meals, and flights are paid for. Other great benefits include medical and dental coverage, cruise discounts for family and friends, and continuing education assistance.
The standard salary varies depending on the singer’s experience, the length of the contract, and the time served with that particular cruise liner.
Below is the average standard monthly pay in US Dollars:
Headline Entertainers: $3,800 to $4,800
Soloist: $1,600 to $3,000
Duos and Trios: $3,000 to $7,000
Dance Band Singer: $1,500 to $2,500
Production Show singer: $2,000 to $3,000
What is the process of getting hired to sing on a cruise ship?
Singers can audition live or by video submission. Advertisements for these positions can often be found in major newspapers, social media or industry publications such as BackStage.com. One can also contact cruise lines directly, or Cruise Ship Agencies and Entertainment Agents.
How long is a typical contract?
Small band singers may sign a 3-month contract and those in Production Shows typically sign up for 6-month contracts due to the extensive rehearsal periods.
Are there certain personalities best suited for this kind of work?
Cruise singers need energy, stamina, and team skills and must be able to follow the rules of a military-type work environment.
Which cruise lines are considered the ‘cream of the crop’ for singing work?
Here are several of the most respected and highest-paying cruise companies that hire singers:
- Carnival Cruise Line
- Celebrity Cruises
- Costa Cruise Line
- Disney Cruise Line
- Holland America Line
- MSC Cruises
- Princess Cruises
- P & O Cruises
- Royal Caribbean
- Norwegian Cruise Line
- Star Cruises
- Cunard Line
Marisa Lee is an award winning vocalist, with over 25 years experience in the entertainment industry, performing on stage, television and radio. Stage performances as a support act for various national and international artists and touring the east coast of Australia. Teaching began in 1988 having taught in various performing arts schools and presently works in her own private voice studio and at various other locations on the Gold Coast including teaching a certificate 4 in Musical Theatre studies at Gold Coast Triple Threat.
Lisa Popeil is one of LA’s top voice coaches with over 40 years of professional teaching experience. As a singer, she’s performed and recorded with Frank Zappa and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic and her album ‘Lisa Popeil’ was a Billboard ‘Top Album Pick’. Lisa has an MFA in Voice, is the creator of the Voiceworks® Method, and is regularly featured in leading music magazines, journals, books and conferences.