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Setting Sail: Cruise Line Jobs for Musical Theatre Performers

For musical theatre performers, the world is truly a stage, and sometimes that stage floats on the open sea. Cruise line jobs offer unique opportunities for performers to showcase their talents while traveling the world. Here's a deep dive into what working as a musical theatre performer on a cruise ship entails, why it might be the perfect gig for you, and a look at some of the major cruise lines and what makes them unique.

The Allure of Cruise Ship Performing

Travel the World: One of the biggest perks of working on a cruise ship is the chance to travel to exotic destinations. From the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, you'll get to visit places you've only dreamed of, all while getting paid to do what you love.

Steady Employment: Cruise lines offer contracts that typically range from six months to a year. This means you have steady employment for an extended period, which can be a rarity in the world of theatre.

Professional Experience: Performing on a cruise ship is a great way to build your resume. It shows casting directors and producers that you have the stamina, discipline, and versatility to perform regularly in a professional setting.

Networking Opportunities: You'll work with a diverse group of performers, directors, and crew members from around the world. This can lead to lifelong friendships and professional connections that could benefit your career long after you disembark.

What to Expect

Rehearsal Period: Before setting sail, performers typically undergo a rehearsal period on land. This can last anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months. You'll learn multiple shows, perfecting choreography, music, and blocking.

Performance Schedule: Once on board, expect a busy performance schedule. Cruise ships often have multiple entertainment venues, and you might perform the same show multiple times a week or switch between different productions.

Living Conditions: Performers live in crew cabins, which are typically smaller than standard passenger cabins. While the space may be tight, it's a great way to bond with fellow cast members. Most ships provide crew-only areas like gyms, lounges, and dining facilities.

Guest Interaction: Cruise ship performers often interact with passengers, whether it's during meet-and-greets, workshops, or other activities. Being personable and approachable is key to success in this environment.

Preparing for a Cruise Ship Contract

Auditions: Cruise lines hold auditions year-round in various locations. Check out our casting pages and cruise line career pages for audition notices. Be prepared to showcase your singing, dancing, and acting skills, as cruise lines look for versatile performers.

Health and Fitness: Living and working on a ship requires good physical health. You'll need to pass a medical examination before joining. Staying fit is also important, as the job is physically demanding.

Packing: Pack wisely for your contract. Bring enough clothes for various climates, as ships travel to diverse destinations. Don’t forget personal items like toiletries, medications, and entertainment for downtime.

Mindset: Be ready for an adventure! Life on a cruise ship is unique, and flexibility is key. Embrace the experience with an open mind and a positive attitude.

Benefits and Challenges


  • Financial Perks: Cruise lines typically cover room and board, and you can save a significant portion of your earnings.

  • Experience: You’ll gain invaluable performance experience and get to work with top-notch production teams.

  • Adventure: The chance to explore new places and cultures is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


  • Isolation: Being away from family and friends for long periods can be tough.

  • Intense Schedule: The demanding performance schedule can be physically and mentally exhausting.

  • Living Conditions: Adjusting to small living quarters and ship life can be challenging for some.

Popular Cruise Lines and Their Unique Offerings

1. Royal Caribbean International:

  • Known For: Spectacular, high-energy productions with cutting-edge technology.

  • Production Style: Broadway-caliber shows, including full-length productions like "Mamma Mia!" and "Grease."

  • Special Features: Features the largest ships in the world with innovative entertainment spaces, including ice-skating shows and aqua theater performances.

2. Disney Cruise Line:

  • Known For: Family-friendly entertainment and Disney-themed productions.

  • Production Style: High-quality shows featuring beloved Disney characters and stories, such as "Beauty and the Beast" and "Frozen."

  • Special Features: Exceptional attention to detail and immersive experiences that delight audiences of all ages.

3. Norwegian Cruise Line:

  • Known For: Diverse entertainment options and flexible performance styles.

  • Production Style: Includes Broadway-style shows, dinner theater, and unique acts like "Burn the Floor" and "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."

  • Special Features: Freestyle cruising with flexible schedules and a wide variety of entertainment venues.

4. Carnival Cruise Line:

  • Known For: Fun, energetic shows that appeal to a broad audience.

  • Production Style: Includes Playlist Productions, which are high-energy revues that combine popular music with impressive choreography.

  • Special Features: Focus on interactive entertainment and audience participation.

5. Holland America Line:

  • Known For: Sophisticated, high-quality productions.

  • Production Style: Features the innovative "Step One Dance Company" and "BBC Earth" experiences, blending live performance with stunning visuals.

  • Special Features: Elegant atmosphere with a focus on enriching experiences.

Is It Right for You?

Working as a musical theatre performer on a cruise ship is not for everyone. It requires a blend of talent, resilience, and adaptability. However, for those who thrive in dynamic environments and crave adventure, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

Cruise line jobs offer musical theatre performers a unique opportunity to perform professionally while traveling the globe. With steady employment, professional growth, and the chance to make lifelong connections, it’s an option worth considering. If you’re ready to set sail on a new adventure, the stage is waiting for you—on the high seas.

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