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Playing on the High Seas: Part 2

Life On-board a Cruise Ship

by Elena Bonomo ’14

Read Part 1 here

Many of us have been on cruise ships as passengers, but we’ve never experienced what it’s like to actually work and live on the ship. For those of you who are thinking about working as a musician on a cruise ship, here is what you need to know about life on-board:

When you first arrive, you will be shown to your cabin. You will most likely be sharing a room with someone who is also in the Entertainment department (unless you are band leader, which often means you will have your own cabin). Now be prepared—your room will be small. It will most likely have bunk beds, a desk, 2 closets and a bathroom. But don’t let this alarm you, for you won’t be spending much time in your room anyway.

You will generally be working four-five hours a day. This includes time spent at rehearsals and time spent performing. A typical day looks like this: 1 hour rehearsal at noon, 1 hour performance at the lounge, and 2 production shows at night on the main stage. In my previous experience, when we played sets in the lounge, we played mostly jazz standards and ballroom dance music. The productions shows were the most fun for me, because they were in a 1000 cap theater with Broadway-style singing, dancing, lights, smoke, and all that jazz.

Your dining privileges will vary from company to company, but more often than not you will eat all of your meals at the buffet. You have an endless variety of foods at your disposal at all times: pizza, pasta, deli sandwiches, salad bar, hot food, dessert, etc. It’s really great (and also a little dangerous if you know what I mean).

When you’re not working, you have the opportunity to take advantage of a ton of opportunities on the ship and at port. You can go to gym, the pool, the nightclub, the buffet, the spa—just the ship itself will keep you busy. When you’re at port, you can get off the ship and explore. Some cruise lines will even allow you to go on shore excursions at a discounted rate, or even for free. It’s like a paid vacation—take advantage of all of the sightseeing opportunities that come your way!

Living on a ship is really like living in a small city in the middle of the ocean. From dining, to entertainment, to daily routines like laundry and going to the gym, your ship will make you feel right at home.


Hailing from Cortlandt Manor, NY, Elena Bonomo is a drummer, percussionist, composer, and music educator. A recent graduate of Berklee College of Music, she holds a Bachelors Degree in Performance, Summa Cum Laude. Elena is an avid music lover whose style spans a number of genres from jazz, to musical theater, to rock. Her notable performances have included appearances at: Symphony Hall, the Berklee Performance Center, the Agganis Arena, the Fresh Grass Music Festival, and the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Center. Elena has toured nationally with Boston based Americana/Folk group, The Novel Ideas, with whom she recorded a full-length album, produced and engineered by Rick Parker (Lord Huron, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club). In January 2015, Elena became a Mission Jazz artist and a member of the Fellowship of the Swing; an artist advance held in Santa Barbara, California, led by Winnie Swalley and artist-in-residence, drummer Kendrick Scott. Most recently, Elena finished up a contract with Holland America Cruise lines, where she performed in the Bahamas, Aruba, Curacao, Panama, Columbia, Costa Rica, Spain and Italy. Elena has studied privately with Neal Smith, Bob Gullotti, and Terri Lyne Carrington and considers them to be her biggest influences.

Check out Elena on the socialspheres:



July 4th Boston Pops


Jorrit Dijkstra’s Troubadour Tour 2015

1 Comment

  1. Camille

    you won’t be spending much time in your room – *most of it will be spent in the OB or sloth hunting. 😉

    (Love this blog.)

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