Jesse Gottlieb ’11 lived and worked on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship for over 6 months! In this three part blog series he will talk about how he landed the gig, the perks of working on a cruise ship, and finally, life after living at sea.

How did I find myself boarding a 1,020 ft long, 137,276 ton, 4,500 passenger ship from a cement dock on the banks of the Louisiana in New Orleans? After a terrifyingly easy audition, an obnoxious amount of paperwork, and of course a lot nervous, last minute practicing, I was about to start my life aboard a floating hotel for the next 6 and a half months. 

Finding and getting the gig as trumpet 2 in the Voyager of the Seas orchestra was disconcertingly easy. To find it was the simple matter of observing my surroundings while passing through the halls of any one of Berklee’s various buildings. There were Royal Caribbean posters hanging every few feet offering the chance of a life time to travel the world while getting paid and that all you had to do was go to an open audition in the Uchida building. All prospective musicians were to be ready to sight read, improvise a little, and play a prepared piece of their choosing. The audition itself, although admittedly early for a musician to be awake (8a.m.), was incredibly easy and laid back. The whole audition took 10 minutes at most and the Royal Caribbean rep Vernon was very accommodating and relaxed. Because of general audition nerves, I never felt that I had done particularly well. I figured that, despite the fact that I am no beginner when it comes to trumpet playing, especially for a music education major, they were looking for real, honest pros who could hang to fill out their orchestras.

A few days later I emailed without much real conviction to check in and ask what the verdict was on my audition. I also mentioned that I preferred a summer contract (this was back in May of 2011) if he had anything like that available. His response confirmed in my mind the fact that my audition was as mediocre as I thought. He said there was nothing available for the summer, but maybe something for the fall would be open. The conversation was left there and I took the hint that he was humoring me with his vague offer for a position in the fall.

This is why, when I got his email in mid October offering me a job that started November 12th, it felt so out of the blue that I truly didn’t believe it was real. I didn’t remember Vernon’s name and had all but forgotten that I had even done the audition five months earlier. After easily and quickly responding ‘yes’ to his offer he was somewhat slow to respond to some of my important questions which, made me very suspicious that the whole thing was in fact fake, a scam of some kind. I asked my dad to read the email thread and verify its authenticity because he is good at detecting that sort of fraud and he seemed to think it was real so I decided to just sit tight and wait for Vernon’s answers. Finally he gave me a full list of paperwork and medical work I needed to complete before they could officially hire me. By the time that was done, it was almost time to head to New Orleans. Just a few days before November 12th, Vernon sent me my plane tickets and I was ready to go.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship that was home for over 6 months!