As mentioned in previous blog posts, the large amount of free time musicians have on board can be spent in a myriad of ways. However, in addition to activities for one's own health, education or leisure, there are actually some ways to earn a bit of extra cash. Below are a few examples of side jobs where one can do exactly that, provided one is desirous of supplementing his or her base paycheck.
Most cruise ships have an art vendor on board -- a separate company that sends a team consisting of an art auctioneer and art associates and a large collection of paintings and prints to various ships in a partnership that is profitable for both the ship and the art vendor. The art team will hold multiple auctions and other functions with the goal of selling as many works as possible, and although some teams may consist of several people, the art auctioneers will usually enlist a few members of entertainment department to help register passengers during the auctions (and for other small tasks, as well). These assistants are paid at a rate of roughly $10-12 an hour, and can usually choose to work as often as they'd like; auctions are most commonly held in the early afternoon on sea days, and last 2-3 hours.
Another position on board which functions similarly to that of the art team is that of the shop expert, also referred to as the super shopper. Also employed by an independent company and sent out to a ship, the shop expert position is usually filled by an individual or two partners working together. Their role is to be the liason to the many shops in the ports of call, selling everything from jewelery to alcohol to clothes. The super shopper(s) need assistants for the promotional talks they give, as well as to organize flyers and port maps and then hand those out to guests exiting the ship to go out in port. As with the art auctions, the average salary is $10-12 per hour.
And sometimes musicians get asked to play private functions, as well. A couple getting married on board a ship might request a cocktail pianist for classical music during their ceremony, or a jazz trio for their reception. A group of businessmen might rent out the piano bar and request the piano bar entertainer to play. All of these extra functions pay very well, but are completely dependent upon the clientele and do not arise with any kind of consistency; they are simply other examples of extra cash that can be made aside from one's normal salary on board.
It's certainly true that these side jobs can be boring, and those who volunteer may sometimes find themselves wishing they were sunbathing, napping or practicing instead of having committed themselves to any of the above tasks. But the up side is that one can very easily make enough money as an art or shop assistant to cover weekly expenses, so that the base musician's salary can virtually become all savings. And that's an incentive that's worth the extra hours.