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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey Guys-- I regret not being more active lately, but I wanted to start this thread, since this is still where I go to for most of my information. Firstly, I got the idea of keeping a cruise blog from Merlin, so I recommend checking that out here: Merlin's Cruise ship gig thread. If you're familiar with this thread, you may be wondering why I'm starting another one:

1) Our playing experiences and ages are very different: I'm just graduating from a Music Ed/Jazz program, and my doubling is very limited. I took one semester of Clarinet lessons 6 months ago, and one semester of Flute lessons about 2 years ago. I've only played these in public on a HANDFUL of gigs.
2) This will be my very first time doing a cruise gig. I want to log this experience and compare my preconceived notions with my impressions on board.
3) I want to include the details, the questions, and the preparation before I get on the ship.

Audition Preparation: I knew going into this that this would be a reading audition. I setup a time with the Agent ahead of time and worked on my doubling as music as I could (mainly working on scales, arpeggios, evenness, and 12-keys). I got the music for the audition thirty minutes ahead of meeting, printed, and spent about 5 minutes circling and highlighting what I could before the skype call. In addition to the call, I recorded the audition on my phone and sent him the results. After the call, I sent him some brief recordings of me improvising over standards on Alto AND Tenor. It actually didn't go very well, and I didn't get the initial gig. He later set up an online audition/INTERVIEW with the people at Carnival Cruise Lines, and I got THAT gig.

The Cruise: I start in late-October playing Alto, Tenor, Flute, and Clarinet for 8 months. [Edit: This ended up not being completely accurate, 6 weeks of rehearsal in Miami, plus 6 1/2 months onboard. Which got cancelled, and I went directly to the ship to replace a fired sax player] This was considerably longer than I hoped, but they also offered more money than I anticipated. In contrast to Merlin's cruise experiences, my ship will be going from New Orleans -> Progresso, Mexico -> Cozumel, Mexico. The same circuit for 8-months.
Pros: more money than expected Cons: A single, less exotic cruise. [Edit: I ended up alternating week-long cruises to East/West Caribbean. East is better.]

[An interesting aside... I'm told by my agent that Carnival is the only cruise line right now that actually rehearses. Apparently they've built a massive rehearsal facility in Miami, Florida where I'll go for 2+ weeks before the cruise to work with the band I'll be in. This is in stark contrast to what I've heard about other cruises being a motley crew/sink or swim situation.]

Current Preparation: There's a number of things going on right now... 1) Medical stuff: I'm working on a very specific set of medical things they need like vaccination and drug testing. Most of it is pretty standard, but there's a very specific process (I could elaborate?). 2) Reducing costs on land... I'm working on ending my current apartment lease, selling things I don't need, taking care of errands, and ending any spending that's not necessary (Car insurance, subscriptions, etc) 3) Music Preparation... This mainly has to do with getting my doubles together, getting equipment I might need, learning horn lines I've been meaning to learn, etc.

Even as I finish writing this I'm thinking of so many details that I left out, but I'd hate to bog down the post any more than I need to. Please ask any questions! I'm looking forward to logging this experience as it happens.

-Bubba-
 

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Don't forget musical instrument insurance if you don't already have it. Make sure it covers you in this situation.
 

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It sounds like a very different experience that you're going to have compared to mine! I shall be following this thread with interest.
 

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I'll be following as I did Merlin. I also have a friend currently doing a contract in Australia who I follow on FaceBook. Judging from the ports it sounds like the Carnival Triumph, too bad you won't be on there this month as I'll be on that cruise at the end of the month. Looking forward to your updates.
 

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I'm from Miami, moved away a long time ago but still know the lay of the land pretty well. Feel free to PM me if you want some local background.
 

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Cafe Versailles for Cuban food. South Beach for babe watching.
That's all you need to know.
Not a bad start, but...

The Sunday breakfast buffet at Versailles is pretty good, that's for sure.

Hey, wait a minute, the rehearsal facility's in Davie. That's adjacent to Ft. Lauderdale, a bit of a drive from where I'm from off of Calle Ocho in Miami.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Good point on the instrument insurance!
Thanks for the Miami tips, I would love some more; I'm only familiar with South Beach.

Hey, wait a minute, the rehearsal facility's in Davie. That's adjacent to Ft. Lauderdale, a bit of a drive from where I'm from off of Calle Ocho in Miami.
Yeah, that seems to be where google says it is. I'm really excited about that part; they're taking care of transportation, pay, etc while I'm there. I'm wondering what groups other than the horn band.

Judging from the ports it sounds like the Carnival Triumph, too bad you won't be on there this month as I'll be on that cruise at the end of the month. Looking forward to your updates.
What a near miss! Do some recon for me, please!
 

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Thanks for the Miami tips, I would love some more; I'm only familiar with South Beach.
Traffic's pretty chaotic: look both ways twice before crossing, and remember that a green light means "proceed with caution", yellow means "drive faster" and red means "the next three or four cars may proceed". Cuban coffee is a great idea: coladas are your friend. Fairchild Tropical Garden is great if you're at all into horticulture, lots of cool stuff and one of the best collections of palms in the world. If you smoke cigars, my favorite cheap stick is the maduro toro from Cabana Cigars at SW 58th Ave and 8th Street; Cuban Crafter's on NW 7th St at 30-something Ave has a cool, gritty vibe as well and a very well stocked humidor. The Captain's Tavern on S. Dixie has been around forever, one of the best seafood spots in town - my favorites are the Dijon Roasted Snapper, Yellowtail Matecumbe, Pompano Macadamia or Grilled Dolphin.

It's kind of hard without knowing where you're staying, what you're into or how far you're able and willing to go. I'm inclined to go tromping around in the Everglades or spearfishing in the bay, but...

Oh, yeah: keep an eye out for a good Peruvian or Chilean restaurant, the best ceviche I ever had was at a Chilean hole in the wall in Hialeah (sorry, it closed 30 years ago). And the Peruvians have a drink called chicha morada that's made from purple corn, it's worth trying.
 

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8 months is a long time, & I remember from tours past how horns can lose a spring or develop a leak without warning. Does the cruise line provide an instrument technician, or are players responsible for their own tech? Wondering if a few tools & replacement parts would be good things to pack.
 

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8 months is a long time, & I remember from tours past how horns can lose a spring or develop a leak without warning. Does the cruise line provide an instrument technician, or are players responsible for their own tech? Wondering if a few tools & replacement parts would be good things to pack.
We're on our own when we head out to sea. I always take my MusicMedic repair kit with me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Any updates?
I've gotten a bit hung up on the medical examination process, so I've been waiting. I'll go ahead and post a little about their requirements.

In the U.S., we're required to get a "Seafarers Medical Fitness Examination," performed by a Doctor CANNOT be a Nurse/Practitioner...
There's pretty specific requirements for my cruise line. I needed to use either a "Carnival Approved" doctor, which didn't accept insurance, or I have to pay $160 to have a company called "All Sea Medical" approve my documents, including a copy of the doctors license, etc.

There's a 5-page examination...
The examination asks all kinds of things... an extensive medical history: "Have you ever been diagnosed with..." asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, eye glasses, sleep apnea, tuberculosis, trouble breathing, chest pain, stroke, dizziness or vertigo, memory loss, HIV, Malaria, Rheumatic Fever, Crohn's Disease, Hermorrhoids, Arthritis, Gout, Lupus, Anxiety, Depression, etc? Hospitalized in the last 10 years? Then there's a full body examination with Height, Weight, BMI, Blood pressure, heart exam, blood vessels, hernias, "general appearance" of head, eyes, ears, skin, breast, thyroid, lungs, kidneys, nervous system, abdomen, anus, genitalia, spine, musculoskeletal, an eye exam...

My current question is... Which of these things are deal breakers?
The vaccinations are: Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella (chickenpox) and they drug test for: Amphetamines, Cocaine, Opiates, Phencyclidine, and THC.

If I can, I'll post a blank examination sheet.

-Bubba-
 

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I've gotten a bit hung up on the medical examination process, so I've been waiting. I'll go ahead and post a little about their requirements.

In the U.S., we're required to get a "Seafarers Medical Fitness Examination," performed by a Doctor CANNOT be a Nurse/Practitioner...
There's pretty specific requirements for my cruise line. I needed to use either a "Carnival Approved" doctor, which didn't accept insurance, or I have to pay $160 to have a company called "All Sea Medical" approve my documents, including a copy of the doctors license, etc.

There's a 5-page examination...
The examination asks all kinds of things... an extensive medical history: "Have you ever been diagnosed with..." asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, eye glasses, sleep apnea, tuberculosis, trouble breathing, chest pain, stroke, dizziness or vertigo, memory loss, HIV, Malaria, Rheumatic Fever, Crohn's Disease, Hermorrhoids, Arthritis, Gout, Lupus, Anxiety, Depression, etc? Hospitalized in the last 10 years? Then there's a full body examination with Height, Weight, BMI, Blood pressure, heart exam, blood vessels, hernias, "general appearance" of head, eyes, ears, skin, breast, thyroid, lungs, kidneys, nervous system, abdomen, anus, genitalia, spine, musculoskeletal, an eye exam...

My current question is... Which of these things are deal breakers?
The vaccinations are: Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Varicella (chickenpox) and they drug test for: Amphetamines, Cocaine, Opiates, Phencyclidine, and THC.

If I can, I'll post a blank examination sheet.

-Bubba-
Most lines reimburse for the medical.

My Maritime Medical in Canada was $150 Cdn. Pretty straightforward; good enough that Carnival UK accepted it. The medical for Regent was crazy.
 

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I've heard that some lines are making you take all kinds of courses like fire fighting, captaining the life boat, etc..
You pay out of pocket and they reimburse you. It adds up to around a grand.
 

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I've heard that some lines are making you take all kinds of courses like fire fighting, captaining the life boat, etc..
You pay out of pocket and they reimburse you. It adds up to around a grand.
STCW training. I was told to work on Regent again that I'd have to take that course. I'd already decided there was no way in hell I was going to do another contract on that line.
 

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I've heard that some lines are making you take all kinds of courses like fire fighting, captaining the life boat, etc..
You pay out of pocket and they reimburse you. It adds up to around a grand.
Total, total BS. I work for a major corporation, and any required training or medical tests are either done totally in-house, paid for directly by the company or charged to my corporate card. I NEVER have to personally float company operating costs, and if I did it would raise a HUGE red flag for me that this is not a company that I care to work for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I've heard that some lines are making you take all kinds of courses like fire fighting, captaining the life boat, etc..
You pay out of pocket and they reimburse you. It adds up to around a grand.
The only thing like that for me is the safety training in the event of an emergency. Apparently at the beginning of each cruise I'll have some responsibility like a flight attendant teaching you about the lifeboats, etc.

For me the deal breaker would be that they expect you to foot the bill for the exam. Bad writing on the wall.
Most lines reimburse for the medical.

My Maritime Medical in Canada was $150 Cdn. Pretty straightforward; good enough that Carnival UK accepted it. The medical for Regent was crazy.
Interesting! As far as I know, the bill is on me. I have good insurance, but the $160 for them to "review" my documents really sucks.

-Bubba-
 
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