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Reflective Math after two contracts…

2010-01-13Where in the world am I today?: St. Maarten aboard the Emerald Princess

So I’ve done two different cruise ship gigs since the beginning of the year. One aboard the Monarch of the Seas, a ship operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and the other which I’m on now aboard the Emerald Princess. Before I go any further I must state that both lines have been good to me over the years and I’m in no way trying to pit one against the other, but wanted to put forward some math that I was running through my head the other day when I compared one with the other…

Let’s start with the contract I did aboard the Royal Caribbean Ship. Joined the ship on a Monday, left on a Saturday, performed two times for the Farewell Show on the last night and my sets were about 45 minutes long each. Six days aboard the ship if you count the day I disembarked, complete freedom to do what ever I like for the first few days until I was brought into the theatre on Friday to do my rehearsal and shows that evening.

Next lets look at the contract I’m just finishing up aboard the Emerald Princess. I joined the ship on a Thursday and will leave tomorrow (also a Thursday). I’ve done fourteen shows in the Piazza and do two tonight in the Princess Theatre as part of a split bill show. So… eight days aboard the ship if you count the day that I disembark, shows every single day of the contract averaging around 25 minutes or so meaning a bit less freedom of movement, but an awesome opportunity to stay sharp by performing a lot which I quite like because I find that if I don’t perform a lot I get a bit rusty… This many shows has the effect of making me really sharp, though by the end of a run like this I’m usually a bit drained…

Now… Consider this… Both contracts pay roughly the same salary.

The conditions are similar but different, the performance obligation aboard Princess is certainly consists of a significantly larger number of shows, but the shows are shorter and certainly in the Piazza are much lower pressure than working in the bigger rooms. Having such a light performance schedule on Royal Caribbean may seem great, but sitting around waiting to work can end up getting a bit boring if you let it.

This particular contract aboard Princess has a rather high show count and usually it’s not quite this high, especially if you’re brought on to perform in spaces other than the Piazza. I should also mention that the expected show length in the Piazza is only really about 15 minutes with some acts doing as little as seven or eight, so that I typically do about 20 – 25 is more than is really ‘necessary,’ but I just don’t feel like I’ve done a show unless I have some sort of beginning, middle and end.

The show count on Princess has gone up over the last year though, there’s no doubt about that. This started back in about March of 2009 when I think they pulled one guest entertainer spot off per cruise on all of their ships as a money saving procedure. The remaining acts were asked to do repeat performances and pick up the slack, but the salaries didn’t increase along with the show count. The general consensus is/was that if you were going to complain about the extra shows they could simply replace you with a long list of acts who had been cut and were quite happy to accept the new conditions if it meant getting the job…

In these touch economic times” seemed to be the catch phrase that got bounced around a lot as the means to manipulate the system and performers into doing more shows for the same money.

Working on ships is pretty great, you get to travel around usually to either warm or exotic ports, you get a staff of people backing you up to make your show look and sound the best it possible can which is awesome! Being aware that each line has different expectations of the acts and how much they’ll be asking you to work is worth a bit of research though just so you know what you’re getting yourself into and can feel good about the decisions you’ve made and the number of shows you’ll be doing. It’s not always about the money, but the last thing on earth you want is to start feeling as though you’re being taken advantage of.

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