I had the opportunity on a recent Holland America cruise to sit in on a Q&A session with the four singers and six dancers who perform the shows onboard. For students pursuing a musical theater degree, working on a cruise ship might be worth considering for future job possibilities.
The entertainers, who looked to be mostly 20-somethings, have a lot of experience under their belts. All of the female dancers started taking classes and performing at age three or four. The men, however, lagged behind. They mostly started performing only in middle or high school.
The cast is multinational. One singer was from Liverpool, another from Rotterdam. One dancer was from Brazil. Several now live in Los Angeles which is where the shows were put together.
The entire cast is signed on for an 8-month contract. They do a rotation of five or six shows. They must also participate in leading the emergency drills at the beginning of each cruise.
According to the cast, the advantages of this lifestyle are no rent, no car payment, no grocery bills, and no travel expenses. Once they have passed the original audition and become known to casting agents, jobs are apparently quite plentiful.
The main disadvantage is being away from family and friends for eight months with limited ability to be in touch. Internet onboard is expensive. Employees make phone calls and email using free wi-fi in ports. They live in cabins similar to dorm rooms. Dancers share cabins; singers get a cabin to themselves. When not rehearsing or performing, they get to enjoy all the perks the passengers do.
Not a bad way to see the world.