Cruise Ship Musician Salaries and Perks
What is the Starting Salary for Cruise Ship Musicians?
A Cruise Ship Musicians salary varies greatly based on the cruise line of hire, your position, your instrument and the number of years you've worked with a certain line. Here is a breakdown of starting salaries based on different job positions, to give you a better idea of what you should expect to earn on board.
Showband Musicians (Trumpet, Sax, Trombone, Keys, Guitar, Bass, Drums) share cabins and start between $2,200 - $3,000 /month (USD)
Bandmasters / MD are usually a member of the showband, have their own cabin and start at about $3,000/month (USD)
Solo Musicians (Piano Bar Entertainers & Guitar / Vocalists) have their own cabin and start between $3,000 - $4,000/month (USD)
Duos & Trios (Classical & Contemporary) share a cabin and start at around $2500/month per person (USD)
Ensembles (Jazz Groups & Party Bands) share a cabin and range between $2400 – $3000/month per person (USD)
How Do I Get Paid?
As an employee on board, you will be paid twice a month in U.S. currency, either by cash or via direct deposit. Many cruise lines use 'Salary At Sea' cards which are basically debit cards that the cruise lines will directly deposit your salary to. If direct deposit is unavailable, you can elect to send a wire transfer or exchange the cash for a money order.
What about Expenses?
It's important to understand that a cruise ship salary of $2,500 is completely different than a land-based salary of $2,500. Why?…because almost everything is paid for. You won’t have nearly as many expenses on board so the money you make can be used to pay off student loans, house payments, a new instrument, or to even grow your savings account. Below are some examples of what makes a cruise ship musician gig so lucrative.
Travel – Roundtrip flights, hotels & transportation are all paid for by the cruise line. You’ll never pay to fly!
Food – Breakfast, lunch, dinner – all paid for! Whether you’re eating in the crew areas, or the guest buffets around the ship, food is on the house.
Room – You are basically living in a state of the art, floating hotel – at no cost. Your musician cabin includes a single bed, desk, closet, cabinets, television, and all the basic amenities (toilet paper, facial tissue, shower curtain, etc.) for free.
Health Coverage – Your medical is completely covered while on board. If the on board medical facility feels you need to see a different specialist shoreside, your full treatment and accommodations will be covered at no cost to you.
How long are Contracts for a Cruise Musician?
All prospective cruise ship musicians should be available for 4-6 months on their first contract, however, sometimes it's negotiable. These are continuos contracts which means you'll be assigned to a ship and spend the duration on that particular vessel. This also means 4-6 months of traveling and steady paychecks!
Why Use an Agency like Flagship Entertainment?
Applying through a recruitment agency like Flagship Entertainment offers 3 major perks:
PERK #1 - Multiple Job Opportunities
We provide multiple job opportunities to musicians and entertainers by working with several major cruise lines. When you apply with us, you're applying to multiple cruise lines at the same time.
Deciding to apply direct may be a good option if you are certain you want to pursue your career with a specific cruise line. However, you will find that working with multiple cruise lines can give you more options to find the absolute perfect fit gig. Flagship can open up those opportunities and secure a spot (and future gigs) that is best suited for both you and the cruise line of hire.
PERK #2 - Personal attention
A recruitment agency can provide the personal attention needed for musicians and entertainers to be successful in the cruise entertainment industry. From the start of a candidates audition to developing one’s talent and coordinating future contracts on various lines, we're there for you, side-by-side.
In some cases, musicians may choose to approach a cruise line directly. After time, they often feel as if they become a number in the system or simply just lose any sense of contact. Applying direct will save you a small percentage of your salary, but in the end, an agency like us will give you the kind of personal attention and time that you will need to be successful.
PERK #3 - Easy To Apply
Our online application is simple and takes a relatively short amount of time to complete. Most important, our team gets back to you in within 1-5 business days. We offer on-site auditions held in major cities around the world which can be very convenient for those who are slightly less tech savvy and want to apply for a cruise ship position. In contrast, when you apply through a cruise line directly, in can often takes months to hear back, if at all.