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5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming An Entertainer Onboard A Cruise Ship

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

I still remember the absolutely terrifying day stepping onto my first cruise ship almost three years ago now. I was so lost, didn’t even have sheets on my bed the first night, and had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

Crewmembers partying onboard
Our team celebrating a party well done!

There isn’t much online about it either. Everyone wants to talk about all the benefits onboard….and I get it. There’s a lot and that’s often what consumes my mind too…

But today I wanted to switch it up. Here are the top 5 Things I wish I knew before applying to work as an entertainer onboard a cruise ship. Hopefully, if you’re reading this you take my advice in good heart and I can’t wait for you to start your adventure too!

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1. Experience is good, but personality is vital

When I first decided to apply to work onboard a ship I had not one drop of experience. The application form asked me to speak two languages (at that time, I only spoke English). The job description also was looking for someone with experience in hotels or entertainment on land. The closest thing I had to qualifications was a communications degree that did little to nothing to help me.

Of course, when I sent in my original application I didn’t really expect to be hired so I was honest about everything and I’m so glad I was. They made sure to ask me in Skype interviews again about my languages and even offered a prompt announcement I was asked to translate.

It was something very simple like:

Welcome to our 70’s and 80’s night. We’re your entertainment team and we’re so excited to party with you all night long to groovy music and way-bay tunes. This is your Flower Glory Night!

3 years ago NO WAY I could even b.s. my way through this line in Spanish let alone in any other language.

Crewmember in rotterdam
This is me docked in Rotterdam one of my favorites!

To my surprise, they were super chill with me only speaking one language, said I’d for sure pick up more on the way, and they were grateful for my honesty. In some seasons (like the Caribbean) you’ll only use English anyway so that’s where I was sent until I learned more!

But don’t lie. They’ll figure it out right away especially if it’s about your languages!! Experience is good, personality is vital. I guess my easy-going nature and willingness to learn was well received by the hiring agent because soon I was offered a job.

New Languages

2. You’re going to be confused as heck

Your first day onboard…heck, your first month onboard you are going to be ridiculously lost. Finding your way around a cruise ship is much different than finding your way around a hotel and there will be so many days where you don’t know if you’re going forwards or backward.

Sometimes you’ll have a great team. A team that genuinely remembers their first week onboard and baby walks you through everything. A team that will stick by your side until you’ve grown your sea legs and start to become comfortable.

Sometimes you won’t be so lucky. Not that your team is full of bad people but what you’ll realize soon is that life onboard is so demanding it’s very easy to get lost in what you have to do and balance your time, sometimes it’s just hard to remember the new guy.

If I could give you any advice it would be to not give up within your first month. There’s something about adapting to a new lifestyle that’s so uncomfortable….but that’s the point right? You want to do something new and explore and learn….well this is the price.

You might feel uncomfortable with the job, or how people operate or the speed of your new life. STICK IT OUT. I promise month three will roll around and you’ll be so grateful you did.

3. Take it slow before going to hard

As soon as you get onboard your first ship it will feel like a whirlwind that just never slows down. And it won’t. You’ll adjust to the lifestyle but I can assure you one thing. ship life is anything but slow.

Do everything you can ESPECIALLY your first three months to soak up as much as you can- the best ways to do your job, advice from coworkers, lifestyle on board….soak it all up.

The biggest mistake I see lots of entertainers make is coming on board right away and partying just a bit too hard.

Yes, we party hard. Yes, we will always enjoy and yes it’s okay to let loose a bit but remember, working onboard will be more demanding than any job you’ve had before on land.

Learn your work first and then join the party. Don’t let any push you into hanging out in the crew bar too late if you know you won’t wake up the next morning for work and LISTEN TO YOUR TEAMMATES.

They’ve been through their first contracts before. They know better now. Try to avoid making all the same mistakes they did.

4. As an entertainer, you’ll probably be asked to do things outside of your department

You’ll soon become a “face” of the ship. Someone that all the passengers see, recognize, and often grow fond of. Why wouldn’t they? Your job is making people smile and happy and you’ll be one of the few departments that have the privilege to constantly talk and get to know the guests. It’s part of our job description.

(pro tip: talking to passengers and genuinely be-friending them will not only be so rewarding but those guests will remember you years down the road and that’s a cool feeling!)

Since the guests are comfortable with us, we often get asked to help with other duties. Embarkation, disembarkation, crowd control etc….it sounds boring but the coolest thing about being an entertainer is you can make anything fun if you try hard enough!

I’ve seen so many great animators that have a line of guests waiting to go outside so engrossed in their story or charades they’re laughing and smiling. When it’s time to open the doors, they’re sorry to say goodbye!

Make everything yours even when it’s the “gross jobs that aren’t that fun to work”.

5. The life will soon become an addiction

You’ll hear it within your first week from some crewmember onboard over coffee or at the bar…”This is my last contract”

You might be surprised when the rest of the table laughs and shrugs off the comment. That’s because they know how easy it is to be sucked into cruise life. The lifestyle itself becomes addicting.

Yes, you’ll miss your family and friends back home, but you’ll build a new one. You’ll meet people from all different cultures and start to travel the world more than ever before. You’ll work hard and be proud of your growth. You’ll party hard and smile thinking about the memories years from now.

Is it impossible to do one contract and done? Yah for sure it is…but I wouldn’t put your foot in your mouth just yet.


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