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1. Auditions

How can I apply?

Please visit the Jobs & Applications page of our website, where you will find all the necessary information to apply. We look forward to hearing from you!

Where can I find out more about the different positions and necessary repertoire?

Please visit the Jobs & Applications page of our website and click on a specific position to read about the job description, necessary skills, and repertoire. Even more information can be found in many of our Blog posts, which we encourage you to check out!

Which documents will I need?

All cruise lines require a valid passport and a medical exam from every employee. As well, almost every nationality must obtain a visa and many must provide a background check (Americans and Canadian are amongst those citizens exempt from these last two). There may be other requirements based on the cruise line and its itinerary, but we will inform you of these details once you have been placed on a ship, and we will help you take care of all the paperwork.

Can I still apply if my English is not very good?

Probably not. English is the universal language spoken on almost all cruise lines, and you will be expected to understand general safety instructions from officers as well as directions from your Musical Director (see Work-Related) on and off the bandstand. However, we make sure to speak at length with our perspective employees during our audition process, and will be able to determine if you are qualified in that respect.

2. Before I Arrive

How long will my contract be?

Most contracts last for 4 to 6 months. You shouldn’t expect any amount of time less than four months, but contract length varies based on your position and the particular cruise line. It is important to note that a contract is one continuous length of time, without any sort of vacation or work break in the middle. It is often possible to extend your contract, should you wish to work for longer than your assigned finish date, but you can decide that for yourself once you’ve spent some time on board.

Will I need to bring my own musical equipment?

Yes, most musicians will. Guitarists are required to bring at least one guitar and a pedalboard, as well as enough XLR cables to hook up to an amp; bassists must bring their bass and at least one XLR cable for the same purpose. Neither position is required to bring an amp. Depending on the cruise line, sax players must bring at least one sax, a flute and a clarinet; trumpet and trombone players simply need to bring their horns. Drummers aren’t required to bring a kit, but must bring their own cymbals as well as a hi-hat clutch, sticks, mallets, rods, brushes, etc. Pianists and vocalists aren’t required to bring any gear, although taking along your own keyboard or mic is perfectly acceptable. All musicians should also consider bringing a metronome for practicing purposes.

What do I need to pack?

The basics? All relevant musical gear, ship-related paperwork and clothes. What you end up packing will vary based on the cruise line, the specific run of the ship, and of course, your personal preferences. Bring only small, travel-sized toiletries (shampoo, body soap, toothpaste, etc) because they weigh down your suitcase and you can easily buy those items in large volume once you arrive in your home port city. Books, electronics, and other entertainment are recommended for leisure purposes, but again, can be purchased in ports once you arrive on board. Bring no more than one towel, because bath towels will be provided for you and it is also possible to borrow beach towels from the ship when going out in port. Do bring some money, as you might not get paid for two or three weeks after arriving on board. See below for advice on clothes.

Specifically, what clothes do I need to bring?

In short: a suit and some nicer clothes, some comfortable clothes, and probably some beach clothes. If the ship’s run is in a warm-weather climate (the Caribbean, Mediterranean, etc), short-sleeve t-shirts, shorts, swim trunks, flip flops and sunglasses are recommended; a colder run (Alaska, the Baltic, etc) might necessitate long pants and a jacket. In either case, definitely bring some comfortable clothes for yourself (shirts, jeans, etc) and some nicer clothing (collared shirts, khakis, dresses) to wear in guest areas. You will almost always need to bring at least one suit (and at least one button-down shirt and tie) or at least one formal dress. Often a tuxedo is required; sometimes the tuxedo is provided for you by the cruise line.

Will I have to pay for my own transportation and accommodation expenses when I travel to the ship to start my contract, or when I travel home after I finish?

No. The cruise line will provide transportation and cover those expenses, and if it is necessary for you to stay in a hotel as part of your transit to the ship, the cruise line will pay for that, as well. Likewise, travel from the cruise ship to your home city at the end of your contract will be arranged and paid for.

What should I do to prepare musically before I start my contract?

Simply continue to practice as you normally do, and we will let you know if there’s anything specific we believe you should focus on before leaving for the ship. Musical preparation will depend largely on the position for which you are hired, as well as your musical background and experience regarding that position. Our thorough audition process will give us a very good idea of your playing capabilities, and we may give you concepts, styles or even specific sheet music to practice before you leave for the ship, depending on your musical strengths and weaknesses. If we do give you suggestions, however, it is not because we believe you are unfit for the job, but simply because we want to ensure that the transition to your new shipboard position is as smooth and easy as possible.

3. Work-Related

How many hours per day will I work while on board?

Usually between 3 and 5. This depends on many things, from the run of the ship and the clientele of the ship to your boss, his boss and the cruise line itself. The maximum number of working hours should be 5, including small breaks in between sets, but often the number is considerably less. Since the Showband may perform in multiple lounges over the course of a single night, their hours of actual playing are often reduced relative to other performers. As well, all groups usually get one day off per week.

Will I be expected to perform other duties besides performing music?

Yes, but not many. At the beginning of each cruise, all guests and crew must participate in a 30-minute safety drill. Your role during that drill will most likely be to usher passengers to the areas of the ship designated for emergency situations and then supervise the guests until the completion of the drill. As well, there are crew boat drills (not involving guests) to practice in the case of an actual emergency; the frequency of these crew drills depends on the cruise line. Aside from boat drills, extra duties depend on the cruise line; some cruise lines will use musicians for small tasks like assisting guests during embarkation or debarkation, and other lines have no extra duties for musicians.

Who will my boss be?

Your boss’ title is ‘Musical Director’; he or she will be in charge of all musical entertainment on the ship. If you are an Showband musician, you will work directly with your Musical Director, who is the band leader for the Showband; all other groups will report to the Musical Director for shipboard-related issues (schedule changes, equipment problems, guest interaction, etc). Your Musical Director will be the one informing you about safety trainings, department meetings and ship rules and regulations, and should be able to answer any questions and help you with any minor concerns or problems. (Of course, Lime Entertainment can also help you with questions, concerns, problems, etc [see Our Role].)

Will I be able to practice while on board?

It depends on the layout of the ship and what instrument you play, but yes, you will be able to practice on board, and we encourage you to do so. Pianists can use one of the several baby grand pianos in different lounges around the ship, as long as there isn’t a function going on in that particular lounge. Bassists and guitarists can practice in their cabins without using an amp, go to one of the two or three lounges with an amp (again, as long as the lounge isn’t being used), or move the amp to a quiet lounge or room and then return the amp when finished. Horn players can usually find a small room adjacent to the main stage or, again, an unused lounge. Drummers are generally restricted to the two or three lounges with drum sets, so bringing a practice pad is recommended; sometimes there are electronic drum kits which can be used for practice, as well. In general, the best times to practice are when the ship is in port, as most guests will be off the ship and there will therefore be a much smaller chance of disturbing anyone with your playing.

Can I sell my own CD's on board?

Yes. However, your CD must be approved by the specific cruise line’s head office before you’re allowed to do so (just to ensure that it is of professional or similar-grade quality), and the CD will then be sold in the gift shop; you will not be allowed to sell it during or after your sets around the ship.

4. Ship Life

Can I get off the ship when we're in port?

Yes. The vast majority of guests get off the ship in the various ports, and as your job is to entertain guests, the lack of guests on board means that you get the time off, too. Most often, you will be allowed off the ship for the full duration of time that the ship is in a certain port. Showband musicians may have a rehearsal that would require them to come back to the ship early, or a soloist may be scheduled for a dinnertime set if the ship stays in a port until late at night, but these circumstances are more uncommon. The only major exception — when you will need to stay on board — is when you are assigned “port manning”. Port manning is the result of the industry-wide safety regulation that a certain number of crew members must always be on board the ship at any given time. Every musician will thus be part of a port manning rotation which will require you to stay on the ship for one port day or a series of port days every month or two. The good news is that you’ll probably only have to do port manning a handful of times during your contract.

Will I be allowed in guest areas?

Yes. Musicians have access to all lounges and areas of the ship, provided they are dressed appropriately. There are occasional exceptions, such as a small “relaxation” area for guests that is designated as off-limits for all crew members, or certain hours when crew members are prohibited from the guest buffet area or the guest gym, but these limitations are minimal; for all intents and purposes, you can go anywhere you like on the ship. Except guests’ private cabins, though. Don’t get any ideas.

What am I allowed to do when I'm off duty?

Anything you want! Well .. not anything .. but there are certainly many options to keep yourself busy. You can practice (see Work-Related). You can stay in shape by going to the gym. You can lay outside in the sunshine and read a book or listen to music. You can learn a new language at the crew training center. Or you can lay in your bed and watch movies all day until you have to get dressed for work. One of the best aspects of shipboard life as a musician is the large amount of free time you’ll have, and you can choose to spend it just about any way you like.

What will my living situation be like while on board?

Musicians will either have a single private cabin or share a cabin with another member of the entertainment department. In the case of sharing a cabin, there will be two bunk beds, a desk, and a closet and cabinets for both you and your roommate. It is most likely that your roommate will be another musician, but occasionally a dancer, theater technician or other member of the entertainment department will be placed with you based on the department’s accommodation setup. Soloists will often have their own room, and most other musicians will share a cabin.

Where and when do we eat?

Most often, you will eat your meals in a buffet-style cafeteria with the rest of the entertainment department, as well as a few other departments from the ship (casino, gift shop, security, etc). Generally, breakfast is served from 7-9 am, lunch from 11:30 am-1:30 pm, dinner from 6-9 pm, and late-night food is usually available from 12-2 am. The buffet includes several meats, rice, pasta and at least one vegetarian option. In addition to the staff cafeteria, it may be possible to eat at the guest buffets at certain times of day; this privilege depends largely on the cruise line but can also vary amongst different ships within the same cruise line.

Is there internet on board the ship?

Yes. You will have access to Wi-Fi which you can use in most areas of the ship. However, the internet on board is not free; you’ll need to purchase an internet card (providing you with a pin to log onto the ship’s Wi-Fi), which costs roughly $20 for about 3 hours. In addition to purchasing internet cards on board the ship, many crew members frequent restaurants and cafes in port with Wi-Fi, where Wi-Fi access is free with the purchase of food or drink and the connection is often faster than on the ship.

Is it possible to make phone calls while on board?

Yes. You can make phone calls to landlines and cell phone numbers using the ship’s satellite system, but similar to the on-board internet, you’ll need to purchase a phone card. Phone cards cost roughly $10 and the per-minute cost of a call is dependent upon the country you’re calling; for example, a single phone card spent calling the U.S. will yield roughly an hour of talking time.

Can my family come cruise with me?

Yes. They can come cruise as often as you’d like them to, although it is not possible for any family member to come live with you on board. Cruise lines have varying policies on family cruising, but they often require you to work on board for a total of 6 months before you become eligible for a crew family discount (up until that time, they can come cruise as normal passengers). Crew discounts vary based on the cruise line, the specific dates of the requested cruise, and the availability of cabins in both guest and crew areas, and can vary from 15 or 20% off the normal passenger price to $7 per day in unique circumstances where certain crew cabins can be used.

Are there any rules or policies so important that I could be fired for not following them?

Yes. Drunkenness, drugs, fighting, stealing, harassment and intimate relations with a guest are all grounds for immediate termination of one’s contract on board, and would result in your being sent home. There is a zero-tolerance policy for any drug use (enforced by random drugs tests), physically fighting with a guest or crew member, stealing from a guest or crew member, and harassment of a guest or crew member. Drinking alcohol is not allowed while working, and only a certain amount of alcohol can be consumed when off-duty.

5. Money-Related

How and when do I get paid?

You will get paid weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, in the form of cash or a deposit to your ship-specific account. Most cruise lines have transitioned to an online system where your paycheck is automatically deposited every two weeks or each month. There are ATM’s on the ship for you to take out cash from your account, and the online access makes money transfers and the managing of your account straightforward and easy. Most cruise lines use U.S. dollars to pay employees.

What is an average salary?

Salaries vary greatly based on the cruise line, your position on board, the instrument you play and the number of years you’ve worked with a certain line. It is also important to keep in mind that it is the cruise line that sets your salary, not us. That being said, salaries for Showband musicians and lounge band members start roughly somewhere between $1,800 and $2,400 per month; soloists can earn anywhere from $2,000 to upwards of $3,000 per month.

What will my costs be while on board?

Your costs will be minimal compared to a normal life on land, but will obviously vary according to your lifestyle on the ship. Accommodation is completely free. As well, all services in crew areas (food, laundry, etc) will be free, with the exception of heavily discounted alcohol, soda and bottled water sold from a bar specifically for crew members. Goods and services for passengers are usually also offered to crew members at discount prices, including items from the gift shop (jewelry, suntan lotion, cigarettes, etc), coffee and pastries from the coffee shop (you can make coffee in the crew cafeteria for free), massages and haircuts from the spa, and alcohol from the bars. However, if you choose to simply eat three meals from the crew cafeteria and stay away from the bar at night, you can easily go through a day or multiple days without spending any money at all.

Will I have to pay taxes?

It depends on your nationality and the country in which the cruise line conducts business. U.S. citizens working on U.S.-based cruise lines will usually have a percentage of their salary automatically deducted from each paycheck; most other nationalities will not, but may be required to pay taxes by their respective governments as long as they must declare their income. Non-U.S. citizens should check with an accountant from his or her own country for more information.

Am I allowed to accept tips from guests?

Yes. If a guest is enjoying your performance and wishes to give you cash to show his or her appreciation, you can accept it. However, only certain positions are allowed to promote the act of tipping either verbally or by the use of a tip jar, open guitar case, etc. Piano bar entertainers are universally allowed to promote tipping, but permission for other soloists and bands to do so will depend on the policies of the cruise line.

Is there a safe for my valuables?

Yes. If you have valuables and feel uncomfortable about leaving them in your cabin, you can bring them to the staff administration office, where they will be placed in a lockbox. You will be provided a key to the lockbox and can access your valuables any time the office is open. As well, you can buy a small lock to attach to one of the drawers in your own cabin if you’re concerned about the safety of certain items but don’t wish to use the staff administration’s services. If anything, storage of your valuables in a lockbox or locked drawer will be almost entirely for your own peace of mind, as incidents of theft on board are very rare.

6. Our Role

Will Lime Entertainment be available if I have questions while on board?

Of course. Our biggest priority is the happiness and well-being of our clients, and we will do anything we can to ensure that you’re happy on board, both personally and professionally. Small matters can usually be resolved on board without our involvement, but if you feel that an issue is important enough to contact us, we will offer advice and, if necessary, take care of it quickly and in the way that is most beneficial to you.

Can I arrange my next contract while on board?

Yes. Once you been on board a ship long enough to decide that you’d like to do a second contract, simply let us know how much vacation time you’d like following the completion of your first contract and what ships (if any) you’re most interested working on, and we will take care of everything else for you.

Will I have to pay Lime Entertainment for their services?

Yes; Lime Entertainment charges all of its musicians a commission — a small percentage of one’s salary on board. However, our audition process is absolutely free, and Lime will not charge a musician any money until he or she arrives and starts working on a ship. We audition, place musicians on ships and provide all necessary information prior to boarding completely free of charge.

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