Musician’s earning on Cruise Ships

Every musician who dreams to work on a cruise ship knows that they will get a high enough salary that can provide a good quality of life for their families. 

But the question is… do you really know how much is it? 

Please allow us to show it to you in detail. You heard us right! From average salary to their expenses onboard, all everything in between! 

Of course, just like the other job, salary may depend on the experience you have. Why do you think experience matters? The answer is, that the experience can give enough skill and experience to a worker which can showcase to a lot of people. Another thing is that as you go along the way, as you make it in many more years, you become more mature, and you know how to handle things properly.

Okay, as we go back if you are a “starter” or a “beginner” the usual range is from $2000 to $3300 per month. As I have mentioned above, it depends on the years of your experience, and also on the specific music position you take. 

We have different types of musicians onboard, by their count, it depends on the cruise ship’s size and as well on the cruise line. But usually, they have in total of 25 musicians onboard. Contracts are well monitored to ensure a definite count of musicians throughout the year. If you will ask us where the 25 musicians go on the entire ship, the cruise line designed them for every corner of the ship to give fun, enjoyment, or more like entertainment to the guests.

Here below are the types of musician jobs with their starting salaries:

  1. Solo Musicians 

– A general term for Guitar Vocalist and Piano Bar Entertainer

– Has own cabin | Salary starts at $3000/month

  1. Duos         

– Classical and contemporary  

– Shared cabin | Salary starts at $2400/month

  1. Ensembles   

– Jazz Quartets, Party Bands, & Dance Quartets

– Shared cabin | Salary starts at $2400 – $2800/month 

  1. Orchestra or Showband Musician   

– Bass, drums, guitar, keys, sax, trombone, trumpet

– Shared cabin | Salary starts at $2200

5.  Bandmasters    

– Usually, members of the orchestra

       – Has own cabin | Salary starts at $2700

Musicians with high and good experience can receive a good salary offer from the cruise company. And in addition, musicians can be hired as well for special events and or book shows can receive a higher salary.


The expenses onboard are way different from the expenses on land. If you are earning a $2400 you can save a lot as you don’t have more expenses on your entire contract. And you can enjoy saving a lot. 

How can this be possible?

  1. Entire travel to cruise ship
  • Flight, accommodation, transfer and visas (if any) all of these are paid for by the cruise company
  1. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner? All are free of charge wherever you want to eat onboard.
  1. Cabins are free and well maintained by the housekeeping department.

How was it? Good enough, right? 😉


With regard to the length of the contract, usually, it lasted from 4 to 9 months. 

Average of 6 months of continuous work with pay and with 6 weeks off filed ahead. 

And if you’re contract goes well, and if you still wish to have another 6 months, you can schedule it before the other one ends. 

This kind of job can give you job security when it comes to in terms of having a vacation with your loved ones and having an almost free expense working onboard which we all know hard to find.


There are two types of Musicians on the cruise ship, employees and contractual.

  • Employees – The salary is usually credited to their bank accounts on the 1st and 15th of the month.
  • Contractors – They are paid weekly or monthly to their bank account.


International musicians are in favor onboard as taxes are not withheld for non-US citizens while for US employees, federal taxes are withheld.


It depends on the cruise line. Sometimes the cruise line pays the agency directly to provide them with quality musicians. But, if the cruise line does not pay the agency, the agency will take a small percentage of your salary (common industry ranges are from 10-20%). This will be done by an internal understanding to compensate the agency fee.


Cruise lines or companies work exclusively with agencies to provide them with the musicians they need. Being recruited by the music agencies can give you a huge chance to get that dream you really wanted.

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