If you’ve decide to come to the dark side and join a cruise ship as a musician/entertainer, there is a standard procedure you need to follow before you will be allowed on board. Let’s say for example you want to do a contract in the Caribbean with Royal Caribbean international and you are not from the U.S. Here are 4 key requirements you will need to organise. (I will go into details how/where to get them and how much to budget)
1. US VISA
2. MEDICAL CERT
3. POLICE BACKGROUND CHECK
4. CONTRACT PAPERWORK
It’s also important you study as much information as you can in regards to insurance, passport surrendering, gateway cities etc before departing. This will significantly impact your independence before/during and after the contract.
1. US VISA The type of visa you will need is called a C1D.
For Australians applying: http://www.ustraveldocs.com/au/au-niv-typecandd.asp
This allows you to work in US waters whilst on board the ship. It does not however give you permission to work on land in U.S. If for instance if you are from Australia like myself, finding a US embassy is not as easy as one would hope. For me, the closest one is located in Sydney (which is roughly 2/3 hour flight from my home in Brisbane). Be sure to give yourself headroom to make this appointment as it’s very busy with a very strict number of applications per day and at specific times. The good news is this should last you 5 years. The cost however is a little less exciting estimating at approximately US$160
2. MEDICAL CERTIFICATE Now on paper this seems straight forward but I can not stress how important this is. If your medical is done incorrectly or not validated or something just doesn’t make sense to the medical team board, they will not let you join the ship. It is so important you meet all the requirements and go to a medical facility that is recommended by the company. Failure to do this properly will mean you could fly all the way to the ship and be sent straight back home (this really happens!).
3. POLICE BACKGROUND CHECK Now this really is straightforward (for those of you with no criminal records). For those punks out there, best of luck! Just call your local police station and they will line you up with an appointment to collect your paperwork when it’s ready.
4. CONTRACT PAPERWORK This is basically all the nitty gritty things you need to read and fill out as a new hire. It can be an overwhelming task so chip away at it and try and have all your basic things ready eg: scanned IDs (passports etc), digital signature. If in doubt have a scanner near by! It’s important you understand your contract as people often overlook the fine details of what the company is asking of you. An example may be that you’re hired to play drums but you are asked to dance in the parade on board. This is often the case and people neglect to read that in their contract prior to boarding and spend time playing the victim rather than having a good attitude and being grateful to be travelling the world playing music.
AND THE GOOD OLD BUDGET All in all, the budget to set aside will vary depending on the medical centre you go to, and your location with regards to the nearest US embassy etc. Personally I would put aside $1500-$2000 to be on the safe side. It could and hopefully will be lower, but also could be up to or slightly more that $2000 (AUS) in total. This seems like a lot but if your contract is going for a while you will pay it back in less than a month and renewals can be done cheaper. To clarify there are many variables to consider and it’s very hard for me to have a one size fits all budget etc but this is how it has been for me as of 2015-2017 and if you’re like me, any information on a new career path is valuable. I will continue to share my experience on and off board “The Adventure of the Seas” and if you have any questions, just hit me up and I will be happy to help.