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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The October 2013 entrée: Paul Romhany » » Do you believe that Cruise ships are the golden prison? » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

ku7uk3
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I have heard that many entertainers on Cruise Ships find the experience a double edge sword. They love the fact that they are working an audience that want to see them, and go to many fabulous destinations. But at the same time, they hate the fact that most cabaret artists working the cruise ships are stuck doing these 'ship jumping' contracts, which means they jump to a different ship every four days, before two different shows on each ship before jumping to the next boat. They never have time to settle down or unpack, its all work, work, work.

Another negative is the isolation. Due to customer feedback cards, staff members who gossip and the number of rules that the entertainer has to confirm to (e.g not being seen in public areas), it has become a very temperamental work environment where just one minor upset person can cost you your job. Even worst is the fact that each cruise ship appears to work by its own set of rules, so what might be permissible on one boat (like swimming in the pool) is not allowed on another. Due to these rules being as they are, many entertainers choose to hide in their cabin when not working, in fear that they might bump into a passenger who for whatever reason, they accidentally upset them.

Very few of the staff speak English, and most of them live onboard and know your only there for a few days. So forming any type of friendship is extremely difficult. I have heard many entertainers call the cruise ship market 'The Golden Prison'.

Do you agree with this sentiment?
Paul Romhany
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Too funny - you nailed it:) I guess it could be a Golden Prison but it is not like that for me. I do know acts that are constantly doing that. The secret is just to keep your head down, do the job and move on. While on ships I don't mix and mingle. I might hang out with other entertainers but in all honesty I'm in my cabin rehearsing or enjoying the ports of calls. Because I've been doing this a long time I pick and choose where I want to cruise and the ships I work on. I work on the ones that like my act. I've worked with every type of cruise director and every type of hidden agenda - it's like going back to high school in many ways. To survive in the business you need to just do your job. I don't mix with the staff but am friendly and professional. I'm on there to do a job which is exactly what I do. Sometimes they don't like it depending on the Cruise Director or Entertainment Staff. Every ship is different as you say and it can be very political as I've found out.

I don't play games on ships - I'd rather be in my cabin writing and working on VANISH - which is what I often do. It's a great chance for me to write and work on effects. I don't do those contracts anymore - it would drive me mad.

The one negative is that you lose your land contracts so when you get back on land to work you have to start over again. I also know acts that have been on ships for at least 25 years solid - and recently the contracts stopped for them - it's very hard to start over again especially because they never needed marketing material etc. The golden rule I work by is never put all your eggs in one basket. If you follow that you'll have longevity in this business.
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ku7uk3
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So let me ask you, in order to get around the isolation issue, what if you were to take someone with you on the job like a wife or friend. I understand that some cruise ships charge an extra £25 per day for the privledge, while others would allow them on for free but then you as an artist would not get paid.

It is wiser to involve them within the show somehow, even if its just handing you a plate at some point, no-matter how minor in order to get them free passage? Or would that be frowned upon by the cruise director? How much involvemnet then should they have with the show?

But lets say you wanted to bring your wife along for the gig. And you were given a rare one week contract on the same boat. Under what payment conditions would you suggest we accept for this 'extra passenger' and should we be making additional demands such as a passenger cabin, rather than a crew cabin?
I am aware that when I did the gig once-upon-time, I was put in a cupboard with four beds in it and no windows in the middle of the crew quarters. Thankfully I was on my own, but the lack of a window really messed up my head.

What demands do you make in order to make your time in that cabin more hospitable?, and the needs for those that share the cabin with you?
Paul Romhany
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You are asking all the right questions and great ones at that. I'm a bit of a loner on ships as I like the isolation. It gives me time to work on projects. I know acts who don't like it and some who turn to 'drink' and tend to hang out with the crew a lot. Each to their own. Some guest musicians I work with are like me and spend that time practicing and developing their act. These are the ones who work a long time on ships and are always booked back. If you use the downtime wisely then it can be great to get work done.

In all cases my contracts state I get passenger status and cabins. These days I work only the ships that show entertainers respect both on and off stage. You'll find that some cruise lines no longer treat entertainers with respect and will put them in crew area. Times have changed a lot! I'm lucky I have a great agent who takes care of me and gets me lines that look after me. You should NEVER have to share a cabin - as a guest entertainer you will always get your own cabin. I certainly wouldn't work on ships if I had to share a cabin. I like my own space way too much. The great thing about Internet is that you are always connected on ships, although they put a stop to using SKYPE which is a bummer. IF you pay passenger prices for Internet it' very expensive, so you can sometimes get the crew rate which is much more reasonable. The Internet is my link to the outside world and my family if I'm away.

To keep sane I"m the first person off the ship in ports of call, and the last on. I LOVE being on dry land and especially exploring the amazing ports. I'm not big on sea days, I usually just stay in my cabin and work.


Yes you can bring your wife, girlfriend etc. on with you. The ships need to know in advance and you need to fill in forms - the agent would help with that. Unless your wife or significant other is a major part of your act I wouldn't put them in just so they can get a free trip. I've seen too many acts include their wives and it is pretty obvious to the Cruise Director, which gets back to the office. If she or he is a major part of the act then it makes sense. A great example of a husband and wife act is Charlie Frye and his lovely wife. What an amazing double act.
You can always take a guest on with you, some ships do charge a minimal fee and you pay say $15 a day (which is usually for tips) and their flight, etc.

Because I have been working on ships for a long time my agent was able to get my wife on as part of my contract. Some lines would pay for her flight while others didn't but she never paid per day. You need to negotiate that in your contract. She came on as my guest.

If my wife is with me she will help me off stage with my 'offstage' mentalism pieces and costume changes but I don't include her in my contract for payment - just that she travels with me. If they really want you they will (or might) go for it. It really comes down to your agent.
"life is like a movie ... you write your own ending" - Kermit the Frog

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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The October 2013 entrée: Paul Romhany » » Do you believe that Cruise ships are the golden prison? » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes)
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