What’s the hardest thing about drumming on a cruise ship?

This is a question I get asked often by fellow musicians and just generally curious people. You may be surprised that the answer to this is not a drumming related quality nor is it particularly cruise related. It simply is having a good attitude. Simple yes, easy no….

If you’re someone like me who likes to be in the drivers seat, then there is a lot to manage. Just within your own department you are dealing with people from all over the world with different values, priorities and a lifestyle that requires a person to adjust quickly and remain effective. Within one contract your boss may change up to three times, with their boss changing a further three times and their boss changing a further three times. This ultimately leads to adjusting and understanding what’s required now and not being attached to how it was done yesterday.

The hardest thing about drumming on a cruise ship is having a good attitude….consistently.

Consistency is a special one, something I am learning more and more each day the true value of.  In this case, there is no point having a good attitude when things are going well and as soon as they go bad you turn into a finger pointing jerk.  Personally I’ve found it the hardest when all the itty bitty things add up and you haven’t had the chance to properly digest them. Just when you think it’s ok you’re inhaling another platter of organic sh**. (entirely metaphorical…)

Now in reality it all seems very petty to be complaining when you’re travelling the world getting to do what you love, but I can honestly say when you’ve been at sea for over six months and you’re getting pushed mentally, physically and emotionally, it can take it’s toll. So here are my tips for those of you embarking on this little solo journey.


  1. Be organised but be flexible.  Have a plan on when you can get naps in, how you can get that washing done in the middle of the night, getting that practice done before you’re stuck in a life boat drill etc. This can make all the difference
  2. Have no expectations for safety drills. They can go on for hours and at the end of the day they are there for yours and everyone on boards safety. If you’ve got a real good attitude, you might even learn something!
  3. Accept that the company will not be investing in any change any time soon unless it shows some form of capital favourable enough to support a new direction. It’s a business, so if the job is getting done and the numbers look good, they don’t care if you’re playing a broken drum set doing it.

It’s very difficult for someone to truly grasp what it’s like to take a full contract without personally doing it, but I do feel the value of taking the time to understand what you’re up against and learning simple tools to take into the battle arena will save you wasting time and energy on things you cant control.

For any questions or queries feel free to get in contact via the contact tab.

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