I arrived at my first cruise ship dancer audition with a bare resume and a homemade headshot. I had only my dance training and a few moments onstage under my belt. I remember performing with all of my energy for the casting directors—kicking high and throwing myself off balance, and winding up my pirouette prep in a novice effort to impress.
Needless to say, that was not the day I booked my first cruise ship.
But after many more cruise ship auditions spent watching, observing, dancing and learning—I finally found myself with a contract in hand. I was headed out to sea to perform aboard ships sailing to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and more. My eyes were wide with wanderlust and I was itching to dance.
Though I was still young and inexperienced onstage, I started learning fast upon arriving at rehearsals. I dove into learning five shows over the course of six weeks. I thought my brain might explode from agonizing over retaining hours worth of choreography.
But something incredible happened. I did remember my choreography. And I went on to perform with cruise ships for the next three years, growing smarter, stronger, and more professional with each contract.
Here’s why that cruise ship contract was one of the smartest moves for me at the beginning of my career, and why it too may be a great opportunity for you.
Opportunity to Hone and Practice
I was not brand new to the stage when I accepted my first cruise ship contract, but I still had a lot to learn. Once onboard, I quickly became familiar with performing. I had no choice—I was onstage over four times a week. Keeping this routine over the course of a six-month contract got me comfortable with the stage. I soon found my pre-show rituals, warm-ups, and quick-change short-cuts to help me perform consistently and efficiently. Cruise ships give the novice performer the opportunity to hone their practice, perfect their art, and maintain their technique.
Opportunity to Learn Multiple Styles
I will be the first to admit that I was the “bun-head” at auditions. With a heavy foundation in classical ballet, I was insecure in styles of dance that made me flex my feet or dance parallel. Luckily my technique has never left me, but I’ve gained versatility in movement as a result of performing styles from folk, to jazz, to contemporary and even ballroom. Learning a package of cruise ships shows is bound to expand your repertoire.
Opportunity to Work As A Team
As a cruise ship performer not only are you part of a cast, you’re part of something bigger. The cast is part of the ship’s entertainment team, which can include anything from jugglers, divers, ice-skaters, musicians, hosts, DJ’s, and aerialists. Delivering a high-quality product to passengers is a group effort made possible by support and teamwork. These workplace skills are not taught in school, they are learned on the job. If you are a cast member who is eager to help and support your fellow entertainers, your kindness and energy will not go unnoticed and may well become a pivotal part of your reputation as you move on in your career.
Opportunity to Network
As part of the entertainment department onboard, you have the opportunity to meet and work with performers of all types. From visiting guest entertainers to your very own cast members, cruise ships are full of opportunities to network in the industry. For example, a cruise ship cast mate is now running her own casting agency. Another cruise ship friend is producing his own shows that perform worldwide. You never know who’ll you’ll meet on a cruise ship and where that connection may take you. It might even secure you your next job!
Opportunity to Save Money
Beyond all of cruise ship’s performing perks, you also get to pocket your paycheck. It’s like getting paid to become a better performer, work as a team, learn new styles, and expand your industry network. Don’t forget the added bonus of traveling and seeing the world, perhaps one of cruise ship’s most alluring traits. Use your cruise ship contract to save money to support you in those moments in between jobs. This kind of savings is always a good idea to have. Cruise ship contracts are one of the few entertainment jobs where you can save your earnings.
Dancing and performing aboard cruise ships is an excellent opportunity. The auditions alone are worth attending to practice versatility and learn from your peers. I recommend any young aspiring dancer to seek out a cruise ship audition or a veteran cruise ship performer, to inspire you as you step out into your career.