Pros: constant playing, travel, saving money while living on board, health care provided, meals includes, and retirement benefits.
Cons: large unappreciative company, side-jobs assigned on board, lack of freedom, bad food for crew, on board health care, and lack of musical creativity.
This is a great starter gig for musicians. You can work with people from all over the world, and perform as much as possible. Most importantly, you can travel the world, while honing your craft.
A typical day of work would consist of performing 3-5 set per day, and one day off per week. Depending on the size of the ship, and the length of cruises, – more... those sets would vary in style and/or genre. Depending on the workload, you had plenty of time to get off the ship and enjoy the ports of call.
The largest skill I gained was the ability to work internationally. Professionally, musically, and even socially, you will grow in multiple angles from this experience. Because of my time on ships I am comfortable with traveling abroad, adapting to local cultures or customs, and I am certainly not afraid to tackle a place that I do not know the local language.
The hardest part of the gig was living out-of-suitcase. The only way to really make it affordable was being homeless. Between contracts you must bounce from hotel-to-hotel, or homes of friends-of-friends. Secondly, on board the ship, conditions are not exactly ideal. Between the tiny cabin, bad food, side-jobs, and constant rules & regulations, its can be hard to enjoy the music.
The best part of the gig comes in two parts: first, it is by far a great way to quickly travel and see a lot in a short amount of time (this also means you only get a "taste" of a port/city, compared to staying locally). Secondly, and most importantly, its is a lot of playing. Depending on the elements (Music Director, Cruise Director, Hotel Director, company requirements, overall Entertainment Schedule) you can play so much your technique, and love for music, can be pushed to the edge. If your not afraid to keep the chops pumping, this can be a great gig for you. – less