CAREER OPTION for techie vocational students – cruise ship technician!

Ahoy there any theatre educators out there – also professional techies looking for a seachange!

Do you have vocational tech theatre students who you know will go on to become professionals in the entertainment business, who are asking, how do I navigate the rough seas ahead!? Or are you a professional technician who is looking for something more adventurous? Well...I’ve been researching an often-overlooked career option…

So, I wanted to share a blog I’ve just launched that’s sure to float your boat about this career option, that might not have crossed your, or your students’, radar yet. It’s a unique and fulfilling career stream that combines your or your students’ passion for working in the theatre world, with an unparalleled opportunity of traveling the world – working in theatres on cruise ships!

And - while working on a cruise ship may sound like an exciting career opportunity for your vocational students, before they chart a course lasting many months with the expensive risk of finding out it’s not for them on their first day at sea, they will benefit from this open-to-all treasure chest of information. As someone who works in educational tech theatre, and also loves cruising(!), I’m pleased to share with you my new Cruise Techies Blog.

I post a new post every Friday. I invite you and your crew to cruise the CruiseTechies blog at https://www.cruisetechies.com/cruisetechies-blog and learn all the ropes.

And, if you have anything in particular you, or they, would like to know about landing a tech theatre job on board a cruise ship, please feel free to contact me at [email protected], and I’ll see if I can lash up a blog post for you!

Happy reading, and happy sailing!
Beth
 
Welcome aboard the Privateer Vessel Control Booth!

Beth, you exceeded the new member pun limit. Expect a wave of nautical jokes in retribution of this transgression. ;)

It's been a few decades since doing time on a boat. I'll be reading to see if anything has changed!
 
I would like to point out that many cruise lines can be very predatory in their hiring practices. I urge students and new technicians to carefully read their contracts and to calculate your hourly rate. (don't base it on a 40 hour work week because on a ship you're generally doing 60-80 work weeks). That said, Cruise ships can be a great start to a career.

This looks like an entertaining read and pretty informative.
Happy to have you here Beth.
 
I worked on cruise ships in my 20’s. It’s a stepping stone job, not a long term career option. I did it for three years then never looked back. Unless things have changed the only thing you get is your paycheck. No retirement account or real medical benefits. Yes, while on board if something happens to you they’ll take care of it but nothing as far as preventative care. Keeping in mind the corporate buisness model is about exploiting labor from developing nations to work on the ship. There are very very few Americans on board as staff, and very few staff from developed western nations. All the cruise companies are also incorporated in other countries to avoid paying much if any federal tax to the U.S Government. Once I left I went to Broadway tours, union contract, WAAAAY better pay, pension, annuity, per diem, vacation pay account. I’m trying to say, the exploitation of labor isn’t just directed at staff from Indonesia or The Philippines.

Yes, it’s an option students should know about but the trade offs of every environment should be understood as well. I did get to go to a lot of places, on the other hand all the other jobs I’ve had since cruise ships have given me the opportunity to travel.
 
I would like to point out that many cruise lines can be very predatory in their hiring practices. I urge students and new technicians to carefully read their contracts and to calculate your hourly rate. (don't base it on a 40 hour work week because on a ship you're generally doing 60-80 work weeks). That said, Cruise ships can be a great start to a career.

This looks like an entertaining read and pretty informative.
Happy to have you here Beth.
@DuckJordan , I want to jump in behind you on this. Now, this did happen WAY back in 1998- but it was a heck of a lesson. I got hired by Jean Ann Ryan Productions as a TD for one of their ships and long story short, I wound up walking away from the gig 28 hours before I was supposed to fly to Miami for 3 unpaid days, and then fly to Germany to get the ship out of drydock. The contract was not accurate to the terms, rate and conditions we negotiated; information was slow in coming. My contract was a performers contract with the parts they thought irrelevant simply X-ed out. But the weight/silhouette requirement for performers remained. The clause stating I could be tapped at any time to host bingo in the ships library remained. I was verbally told "don't worry, that won't be asked of you". But if we're doing a contract, we're doing it right was my response. I was expected to provide my own tools- how much was I going to be able to bring anyway? Hand tools. Okay. To work on a showroom that had been cut through when the ship was lengthened.

I will assume they've gotten better over the years, but remember that if you're going to work on a ship: they (the ship and her officers) pretty much own you 24/7. Get your terms in writing, have a lawyer look it over even if you think it's good (or if it's a hot mess like mine, you'll know it), and yeah- make it a part of your career, but not too big a part of it.
 
Thanks so much for sharing this experience! I actually had a similar thing happen on land. I was a Theatre Manager, and all of a sudden they said that moving forward I would also be taking on the duties of being an on-call person for several buildings (in case people locked themselves out, or set off the alarms, that sort of thing), and that I could do this around my full time(!) TM duties. What?! So, after suggesting other solutions, to no avail, I quit. Then I went on unemployment, and then they challenged that. Again – what?! After a stressful hearing I had to go to, unemployment ruled in my favor, and said that yes, indeed, I was being told to do duties that were not in my employment contract. So even when you have – what you think is – a solid contract, they can try and get you. I do know that sometimes cruise ships will assign you other duties, so yes, it’s a great message to tell my readers that they should get everything in writing! I totally agree with you – if you’re going to have a contract, is should be accurate and binding, otherwise, what is the point of the contract. Thanks for your input – much appreciated!
 
FYI, as a shipboard employee you are ineligible for unemployment through the federal government. The cruise companies pay no unemployment for shipboard employees who are U.S citizens to the U.S government. A perk of being registered out of a developing nation.
 
Thanks so much for sharing this experience! I actually had a similar thing happen on land. I was a Theatre Manager, and all of a sudden they said that moving forward I would also be taking on the duties of being an on-call person for several buildings (in case people locked themselves out, or set off the alarms, that sort of thing), and that I could do this around my full time(!) TM duties. What?! So, after suggesting other solutions, to no avail, I quit. Then I went on unemployment, and then they challenged that. Again – what?! After a stressful hearing I had to go to, unemployment ruled in my favor, and said that yes, indeed, I was being told to do duties that were not in my employment contract. So even when you have – what you think is – a solid contract, they can try and get you. I do know that sometimes cruise ships will assign you other duties, so yes, it’s a great message to tell my readers that they should get everything in writing! I totally agree with you – if you’re going to have a contract, is should be accurate and binding, otherwise, what is the point of the contract. Thanks for your input – much appreciated!
The Devil is in the details, and while there are upsides to working performing tech on a cruise ship, it's still an employment relationship and subject to the laws of the ship's registry nation and applicable maritime law. Those are most often to the benefit of ship owners, masters, and officers and not to crew. Whatever country one calls home, if it is not the ship's flag, you'll need Your Consulate if you have problems.

I think the important take-aways from this kind of discussion applies to all folks at the early part of their tech careers, and that's to carefully consider how a nefarious employer might use broad contract language to give you 70 hour weeks across a variety of departments, on salary. That's not good on land, either, but being on a sailing vessel adds more complications. You might consider having a couple of guests on your podcast to share their experiences. A related topic: knowing what your skills and experience are worth.

Good luck with your podcast!
 
Thanks so much for sharing this experience! I actually had a similar thing happen on land. I was a Theatre Manager, and all of a sudden they said that moving forward I would also be taking on the duties of being an on-call person for several buildings (in case people locked themselves out, or set off the alarms, that sort of thing), and that I could do this around my full time(!) TM duties. What?! So, after suggesting other solutions, to no avail, I quit. Then I went on unemployment, and then they challenged that. Again – what?! After a stressful hearing I had to go to, unemployment ruled in my favor, and said that yes, indeed, I was being told to do duties that were not in my employment contract. So even when you have – what you think is – a solid contract, they can try and get you. I do know that sometimes cruise ships will assign you other duties, so yes, it’s a great message to tell my readers that they should get everything in writing! I totally agree with you – if you’re going to have a contract, is should be accurate and binding, otherwise, what is the point of the contract. Thanks for your input – much appreciated!
This sounds like a School District gig. 😆 School districts like to do that sort of thing.
 
This sounds like a School District gig. 😆 School districts like to do that sort of thing.
As a school district employee that went from teaching one section of tech theater to my current load or 7th grade drama, 8th grade drama, 2 sections of tech theater and 2 sections of high school drama, I can confirm that 'other duties as assigned' can quickly broaden one's employment situation.
 
I want to point out that there are a lot of us who find the term "techie" demeaning for anyone older than the age of 12. It's a term parents and actors use for cute little kids who move set pieces around. It's going to be challenging to build a brand and following when a large portion of potential clients find your name insulting to their professionalism.
 
I want to point out that there are a lot of us who find the term "techie" demeaning for anyone older than the age of 12. It's a term parents and actors use for cute little kids who move set pieces around. It's going to be challenging to build a brand and following when a large portion of potential clients find your name insulting to their professionalism.
What he said. I hesitated to mention it as I wasn't sure how to word a response that didn't offend.

Even going with 'Cruise Tech' would be much better
 
I appreciate your opinions about the word "Techie", and they didn't offend. I totally get what you're saying, but I made that choice regardless.
 
Hello again to those who have worked on cruise ships…

I was wondering if I could ask you just a few questions to share with my readers?

How did you first find out about jobs on cruise ships?

What made you decide to apply?

What is/was your favorite thing about working on a cruise ship?

What is/was your least favorite thing about working on a cruise ship?

Thanks in advance!
 
When I found out that the line expected me, an employee of the show producer, to take on other crew duties that I was not being paid for by the line, I got my passport from the purser and got off the ship at the next port with a US consulate. That was 30 years ago, and based on that experience I'd never recommend cruise line employment to anyone for any reason.

Things may have changed, especially now that the lines pretty much directly employ all technical personnel, but the idea that the conditions and terms of my employment can change at the whim of the cruise line leaves me stone cold.
 
When I found out that the line expected me, an employee of the show producer, to take on other crew duties that I was not being paid for by the line, I got my passport from the purser and got off the ship at the next port with a US consulate. That was 30 years ago, and based on that experience I'd never recommend cruise line employment to anyone for any reason.

Things may have changed, especially now that the lines pretty much directly employ all technical personnel, but the idea that the conditions and terms of my employment can change at the whim of the cruise line leaves me stone cold.
I do know some of that still goes on - expecting to add on other duties - but that sounds like an awful experience! Have you ever watched Chris Wong's Youtube videos, or Lucy from Cruising as Crew? It would seem things have improved greatly.
 
I first found out about cruise ship jobs by word of mouth. I graduated from high school in 02, so I didn’t go into a world where regional theatre was the only thing talked about as far as jobs.

Before doing time on ships I worked at a major theme park in Orlando for two years, I’m pretty sure you can figure out which one I’m talking about. I hated living in Florida, didn’t care for the company culture, and the recession hit me really hard as a baby stagehand just out of college. So, I literally cruised through part of the recession.

I had way more personal autonomy than my theme park job. I literally just did the job I was hired to do and that was it. There were some grumbling at a certain point about us doing “other” jobs but shoreside shut that down pretty quickly. I also learned way more as far as skillset in my first six months than two years at that theme park. I made my own maintenance schedule and as long as I did my job no one cared.

A draw back, unfortunately on the line I was on we all ultimately answered to the cruise director who had zero understanding of our jobs. So it was the luck of the draw, some cruise directors were not meddlers and some were. Same thing since we were classified under hotel operations and not engineering. I would deal with an overzealous hotel director every so often, who had no real concept of what my job actually was.
 

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