How to Become a Cruise Ship Entertainer in the US

Cruise ship entertainers seem to have it made. They travel to exotic locations, meeting new people and partying with the ship guests. Travel is considered an education in itself, and one learns a significant amount when cruising with people from all over the world. It can be an amazing opportunity to create a global name for yourself and make valuable contacts.

The job

The job of a Cruise Ship Entertainer is a broadly defined position. Roles vary widely and can include lounge piano players, singers, dancers, comedians, motivational speakers, and almost anything else that you can imagine. These are typically contracted positions that last a defined number of trips.

If you find work as a Cruise Ship Entertainer, you will be expected to complete your act as defined by your contract. In addition, you will interact with guests in an appropriate manner when you are not on stage.

Work environment

The work environment of a cruise ship is what makes this job so appealing. Cruise Ship Entertainers are surrounded by people on vacation and ready to have a good time. Though ship rooms are not usually luxurious, there is plenty of food, drink, sun, and fun.

One of the downsides to working on a cruise ship can be dealing with the egos of other performers. If someone that you have to work with has a chip on their shoulder, impedes on your stage time, or has an unpleasant personality, you are still stuck with them for the length of your contract. Being on a ship together means that you will be spending a lot of time with the people you work with.


Salary for Cruise Ship Entertainers varies as wildly as the types of acts that may be hired. Contracts will be higher dollar for performers with a fan following, but even salaries for relative unknowns can be unpredictable. Since there are several positions for cruise ship entertainers, I’ve listed a range of salaries for each one. In general, you can expect to be offered between $1,600-3,000 per month, in addition to your food and accommodations.

Cruise entertainer job position

Salary range

Cruise Director

$4,000-$7,000 per month

Assistant Cruise Director

$2,500 to $3,000 per month

Cruise Staff

$1,800 to $2,300 per month

Activity Coordinator

$2,400-$2,800 per month

Casino Manager

$2,400 to $4,200 per month

Casino Dealer/Croupier

$1,600 to $2,400 per month

Casino Cashier

$1,400 to $2,000 per month


Skills required

Most Cruise Ship Entertainers are not hired based upon their education or specialized training, but based upon their public appeal and ability to work a crowd. While you may have training that has helped you hone and perfect your talents, it is the audition performance that is going to get you a job as a cruise ship entertainer.

Be prepared to show your talent in a variety of ways. For example, if you are a singer, have selections of ballads and up beat music prepared. Cruise ship entertainment will be customized by the cruise line based upon the type of guests that they expect to have. You may need to have material that will be entertaining to young singles or a senior cruise.

Also, be prepared to show a proven track record as an entertainer. Due to the highly competitive nature of these positions, cruise lines will often insist on hiring only professional entertainers.

Job prospects

Positions as Cruise Ship Entertainers are highly sought after and the competition is fierce. The allure of travelling while working doing something you love and meeting new people draws in many applicants. The number of passengers taking cruise vacations taken increases approximately 7% each year with some ships carrying over 100 entertainers on any single trip, so employment opportunities will continue to exist for those who are the most talented entertainers in their field. Over 20 million people treated themselves to a cruise vacation in 2013, with more expected to cruise each year, and those people need to be entertained.