Some information about booking gigs and working on cruise ships.

I am often asked about the best way to get work onboard a cruise ship. Curiously enough I am almost never asked about what to do when you have got your first job working on a luxury liner. It is a very different world out there on the high seas, and it needs to be approached carefully and systematically to ensure that you get booked back again.

Nick and the Captain copy 2I wrote a very tongue in cheek column for the Linking Ring a few years ago on this topic. I got some wonderful reactions from pros that were involved in this kind of work. They appreciated how much real information I delivered between the lines in the article and enjoyed the way I turned the topic on its head to achieve my goals.

However, I suspect that I may have been a little oblique for others reading the piece so I decided to remove my tongue from my cheek and retackle the subject in a more straightforward manner. There have been several books published on this topic but I can’t help feeling that they often stressed the obvious at the expense of the practical. I will give you the ‘Nick Lewin Crash Course’ in the next few paragraphs.

Cruise ships are the nightclubs of this era of entertainment. In the old days a performer would schlep around the country to different cities so that he would be able to work to different audiences. Now the ship does the schlepping and the audiences change because of the itineraries. The performer still has to get to his venue of course so sign up for your frequent flyer clubs.

I performed on my first cruise ship in 1969 and have continued to embrace this arena of work ever since. The business has changed greatly recently and the working conditions have improved vastly. The larger cruise ships now contain showrooms that rival your local Performing Arts Center. The sound, lighting and stages are very sophisticated and if you know how to, can be used to dramatically improve your show.

Generally speaking to get a booking on a ship you are going to need to travel two 45-minute shows. It doesn’t mean you will IMG_0053actually get to perform two 45-minute shows but you might. I am writing this column in the Grand Lobby of the Queen Victoria where I was booked to do one show. On a ship your show is usually repeated twice so that early and late seating dinner guests can catch them with ease.

At least, that is how it should have been on this particular three day run. However nothing runs quite that smoothly in real life. As I was going through my tech rehearsal the Production Manager informed me that there had been a magician who had already performed that cruise. He had featured a Torn & Restored Newspaper, which is the closer to my show. I immediately adjusted my show and changed my closing effect to the one from my second show. No problems.

After I finished my shows I was told that in fact they would need me to perform 15 minutes the next night in a variety show. No problem—I can dodge bullets for 15 minutes! However the next day at my tech rehearsal I was informed that the singer had lost her voice and could I do 35 minutes to close the bill. It worked out very well, but the entire business required a great deal of flexibility.

I described this episode in some detail but in verbal shorthand I could just have said ‘Prepare to be flexible.’ I will go into more detail in my next blog post!

I have in fact written an entire book on the topic that is packed with very useful and concisely phrased information on this topic. If you are interested in further information on the topic of finding work on a cruise ship and what to do when you get the job, you can get more information on Cruise Magic 101 by              CLICKING HERE

To Purchase the book CLICK HERE

Cruise Magic

Cruise Magic Ad.

Cruise Magic Ad.



~ by Nick Lewin on January 20, 2016.

One Response to “Some information about booking gigs and working on cruise ships.”

  1. Sounds very familiar Nick. Will order your book because it’s such fun to read behind the curtain

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