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Discussion Starter · #61 ·
Well, after some strange events they’ve brought me back to Miami to join the Glory AGAIN, after 10 days off. This time I’m spending 2 days in Carnivals rehearsal studios with the horns. Sitting in an apartment they’ve given us for the rehearsals now.

-Bubba-
 

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Discussion Starter · #62 ·
It's been far too long since this was updated... I wanted to write out a few things for therapeutic reasons for myself, but maybe it will be helpful to someone else as well...

Contract 1 cont...
Following my last post, I went to Miami for just a few days doing rehearsals with only the horn section-- the band already joined the ship. Then, they sent me back to my previous ship. This was the beginning of developing mild depression, and a reputation as "Ten Tequila Jake." Despite promises, I was separated and working on a different ship than my girlfriend, which caused a breakup. Then, absolutely despising the person I worked with the most... the trumpet player. We eventually didn't even talk at our sets. The best thing to come out of the contract though, was really learning about Latin music: we played Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Cumbia, etc. and at toward the end of the contract the Peruvian band leader told me that I was playing the style just like a Latin player. One of the best compliments I've ever received.

When the contract ended, I took a nice 3-month vacation traveling solo through South America. It was probably the best thing I ever did for myself.

I came back to Carnival for a 1-month fill-in contract in a very similar setting on a different ship (Breeze). Met some nice folks, and took the interview to become Music Director when I was back at home. They liked me, called me on Thursday night and asked if I could fly out Friday night to become Music Director on the same ship I just left, since there was injury onboard to the Sax Player/MD.

Contract 2:
I continued on that ship for 6-months as MD/Sax Player, learned a boatload about the business/corporate side, and got to shape the gig more closely to my taste. We did a jazz set for cocktail hour each night, followed by Pop/Rock tunes. At the end of the contract, I prepared to leave, and got a call the night before we all left because the new MD got in a car accident, and they asked me to cover him for a week. Great week actually, since they had a Sax player already, I just drank and made sure the band didn't do anything too stupid.

Contract 3:
Following a 1-month break, I headed back to Florida for the rehearsal period of my first band from start to finish. 6 weeks of refining our sound concept, and really putting it together. Ended up a great product, and started dating my singer (bad idea, kids). Went onboard, had a blast playing music 6-nights/week, but my direct supervisor was a nightmare and I nearly quit. I learned a lot that contract about what I wanted, and didn't want, but ultimately I stuck around until coronavirus hit the USA and shut down the industry.

I spent the next month receiving a salary to sunbathe, and do minimal rehearsing. Following a 12 day hype-depressing quarantine in a small room like a caged animal for allergy symptoms, they finally released me back home with promises to be back soon, and an extra 2-months of pay.

Covid-19:
After a few months at home, Carnival has a conference call with all the horn players in the company. They're no longer going to use Saxophone, Trumpet, or Trombone on any of their ships except one (the Mardi Gras). Really sad news, and it appears to be "permanent." Purely economic from my perspective, in the previous quarter they lost $4.4B-- can't really blame them.

10 months later...
I now talk to you in the present day, on February 11, 2021. Despite thinking I was done with that life, and starting to establish myself in my hometown... I accepted an offer to be in the first Sax player back on the Celebrity Silhouette. I don't have a lot of details yet except, 2 week quarantine onboard, rehearsals until guests arrive in May. Pit gig for Guest Entertainers, production shows, and some jazz sets.

It's a lot, but it was good for me to write all this out. Hopefully now with a new company, I'll have some things to update you with, but if you see anything you'd like to ask or contribute, please do.

-Bubba-
 

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This is such a great thread, so glad you revived it as I hadn't seen this story, or Merlin's! Sounds like quite the adventure and a great preofssional experience. Hoping the best for those future gigs - My wife and her family are HUGE cruise lovers, so I may have to pressure the family into going on one of your boats one day!
 

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After a few months at home, Carnival has a conference call with all the horn players in the company. They're no longer going to use Saxophone, Trumpet, or Trombone on any of their ships except one (the Mardi Gras). Really sad news, and it appears to be "permanent."
I had mentioned earlier in this thread that the Carnival ship out of Baltimore about four years back, had canned music for its shows, one piano bar and acoustic guitar acts (think that was 2017). We took another one the next year on the same boat and they actually had a jazz combo, albeit without horns. They also had an interesting violin act. Still canned music for their shows however. A drag that's going to be the norm on all their ships, but one.

Great to hear you're working Bubba.
 

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Just read through this whole thread. Very interesting! It sounds like overall you've had a good experience, despite some downs?

I am not in a place in my life to jump onto cruise gigs, but I sure wish I'd done it when I finished my BA in music years ago. I would've loved the opportunity to play constantly, get better, and pay off some of those damn student loans.

Good luck with future gigs! Once my wife and I feel comfortable with cruise ships (so basically, after getting a vaccine), I may look you up and see which line you're working!
 

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I did a 6 mos. job on a Norwegian ship after 21 years on ships and surface duty in the Navy but I absolutely hated it. I don't ever want to work where I live nor do I ever want to go back to sea.

KUDOS to Bubba!
 
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Discussion Starter · #67 ·
I had mentioned earlier in this thread that the Carnival ship out of Baltimore about four years back, had canned music for its shows, one piano bar and acoustic guitar acts (think that was 2017). We took another one the next year on the same boat and they actually had a jazz combo, albeit without horns. They also had an interesting violin act. Still canned music for their shows however. A drag that's going to be the norm on all their ships, but one.

Great to hear you're working Bubba.
I re-read that today too. Really surprising-- all Carnival ships are supposed to have a full band, and at that time about 75% of the ships had a 3 piece horn section. BUT, they're entitled to a day off, so perhaps that lined up, or something was different. The String Trio + Tracks is normally an interesting group too.

Just read through this whole thread. Very interesting! It sounds like overall you've had a good experience, despite some downs?

I am not in a place in my life to jump onto cruise gigs, but I sure wish I'd done it when I finished my BA in music years ago. I would've loved the opportunity to play constantly, get better, and pay off some of those damn student loans.

Good luck with future gigs! Once my wife and I feel comfortable with cruise ships (so basically, after getting a vaccine), I may look you up and see which line you're working!
I'm glad you asked that, because that long post was a little pessimistic. I really did enjoy the overall experience, and that's why I'm going back. As a 23 year old, fresh out of music school, it was a killer experience to grow as a player, learn about the music business, and make some good money. Without saving particularly hard, in my situation, I could have paid off my student loans in 2-3 years.

I would say the particular gig I had, was kind of "entry level." I basically played in a horn section, depending on the band it's pretty well just reading down pop charts, and playing a couple iconic solos/melodies. I'm not moving into something where the expectation on doubling is a lot higher, and I'm motivated by chance to grow.

-Bubba-
 

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I’m not sure I’d go back on a cruise ship. The likelihood is that new contracts will include unrelated duties over and above safety responsibilities.

If I went back now, it would be only as a guest entertainer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #69 ·
The likelihood is that new contracts will include unrelated duties over and above safety responsibilities.
There's only one way to find out at this point for me. Each contract with Carnival seemed to be heading that direction-- I can handle a bit of good spirited helping out, but we'll see what happens.
I appreciate your cynicism, nonetheless.

-Bubba-
 

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I re-read that today too. Really surprising-- all Carnival ships are supposed to have a full band, and at that time about 75% of the ships had a 3 piece horn section. BUT, they're entitled to a day off, so perhaps that lined up, or something was different.
Well, the boat out of Baltimore is affectionately known as The Walmart at Sea. My girl and I know how to have fun though, and we made that boat our own and had a couple of real nice cruises first to Bermuda and then the Caribbean. The shows aren't the main attraction for us. It's just nice we don't have to fly anywhere to get onboard, and can get dropped off and picked up at the port by family. We'll go again when things normalize, for sure.
 

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The other main drawback, other than canned music for shows, is that they don't enforce their own dress codes; even on formal nights. You put on a tux and your girl's all dolled up and the guy at the next table is in a t shirt and ball cap. Next would be the ones that camp out in the adults only section and hog the hot tub. Thankfully the one in the gym is never used. Because no one uses the gym, of course. Not on The Walmart at Sea.
 

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Great to read your followup, Bubba06, I'd been wondering how that gig turned out for you.

It's amazing how, as a young player, every gig shapes your skillset, your interests & aspirations. Even negative experiences strengthen you & define your future path -- as you resolve never to work with that bandleader, play for that client, play that genre of music, or do that kind of gig ever again. Hopefully you also find inspiring mentors & excellent collaborators as you grow to become the musician you're destined to be. The process can continue lifelong, of course, but there's something extra special about those first few years in the biz.
 

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It's been far too long since this was updated... I wanted to write out a few things for therapeutic reasons for myself, but maybe it will be helpful to someone else as well...

Contract 1 cont...
Following my last post, I went to Miami for just a few days doing rehearsals with only the horn section-- the band already joined the ship. Then, they sent me back to my previous ship. This was the beginning of developing mild depression, and a reputation as "Ten Tequila Jake." Despite promises, I was separated and working on a different ship than my girlfriend, which caused a breakup. Then, absolutely despising the person I worked with the most... the trumpet player. We eventually didn't even talk at our sets. The best thing to come out of the contract though, was really learning about Latin music: we played Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Cumbia, etc. and at toward the end of the contract the Peruvian band leader told me that I was playing the style just like a Latin player. One of the best compliments I've ever received.

When the contract ended, I took a nice 3-month vacation traveling solo through South America. It was probably the best thing I ever did for myself.

I came back to Carnival for a 1-month fill-in contract in a very similar setting on a different ship (Breeze). Met some nice folks, and took the interview to become Music Director when I was back at home. They liked me, called me on Thursday night and asked if I could fly out Friday night to become Music Director on the same ship I just left, since there was injury onboard to the Sax Player/MD.

Contract 2:
I continued on that ship for 6-months as MD/Sax Player, learned a boatload about the business/corporate side, and got to shape the gig more closely to my taste. We did a jazz set for cocktail hour each night, followed by Pop/Rock tunes. At the end of the contract, I prepared to leave, and got a call the night before we all left because the new MD got in a car accident, and they asked me to cover him for a week. Great week actually, since they had a Sax player already, I just drank and made sure the band didn't do anything too stupid.

Contract 3:
Following a 1-month break, I headed back to Florida for the rehearsal period of my first band from start to finish. 6 weeks of refining our sound concept, and really putting it together. Ended up a great product, and started dating my singer (bad idea, kids). Went onboard, had a blast playing music 6-nights/week, but my direct supervisor was a nightmare and I nearly quit. I learned a lot that contract about what I wanted, and didn't want, but ultimately I stuck around until coronavirus hit the USA and shut down the industry.

I spent the next month receiving a salary to sunbathe, and do minimal rehearsing. Following a 12 day hype-depressing quarantine in a small room like a caged animal for allergy symptoms, they finally released me back home with promises to be back soon, and an extra 2-months of pay.

Covid-19:
After a few months at home, Carnival has a conference call with all the horn players in the company. They're no longer going to use Saxophone, Trumpet, or Trombone on any of their ships except one (the Mardi Gras). Really sad news, and it appears to be "permanent." Purely economic from my perspective, in the previous quarter they lost $4.4B-- can't really blame them.

10 months later...
I now talk to you in the present day, on February 11, 2021. Despite thinking I was done with that life, and starting to establish myself in my hometown... I accepted an offer to be in the first Sax player back on the Celebrity Silhouette. I don't have a lot of details yet except, 2 week quarantine onboard, rehearsals until guests arrive in May. Pit gig for Guest Entertainers, production shows, and some jazz sets.

It's a lot, but it was good for me to write all this out. Hopefully now with a new company, I'll have some things to update you with, but if you see anything you'd like to ask or contribute, please do.

-Bubba-
How big is the band there on Celebrity? Is it down to two horns only- Sax and Trumpet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #75 ·
How big is the band there on Celebrity? Is it down to two horns only- Sax and Trumpet?
I haven't gotten solid information from Celebrity yet, but information from a friend in the office says... on Solstice class ships at Celebrity, they still have 3 piece horn sections, on millennium class they cut it down to just Sax/Trumpet.

I looks like there's a couple bands onboard, though... I'll be in the Pit/Theater group, which probably does a couple other jazz sets, a Pop/Cover group, and a Jazz group in a small lounge. If I were a betting man, and just from chats with other people, I'd bet that's a Jazz Trio or Quartet. Based on my last gig, the pop/cover group doesn't really require any doubles, and probably doesn't even really require Alto.

-Bubba-
 

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Discussion Starter · #76 ·
Update... I was supposed to leave 2 months ago, but things got delayed. I now leave on the 19th of this month (just 5 days away!) for Miami, and then we'll do the Atlantic crossing.
2 weeks quarantine in a cruise room, 1 month rehearsals. Currently, only "additional duties" I've seen is to sanitize the work area before/after performances-- I can handle that.

Medical process was incredibly frustrating, and incredibly expensive ( forced out of pocket for the majority). I'll happily tell more about it, but only in private.

-Bubba-
 

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Update... I was supposed to leave 2 months ago, but things got delayed. I now leave on the 19th of this month (just 5 days away!) for Miami, and then we'll do the Atlantic crossing.
2 weeks quarantine in a cruise room, 1 month rehearsals. Currently, only "additional duties" I've seen is to sanitize the work area before/after performances-- I can handle that.

Medical process was incredibly frustrating, and incredibly expensive ( forced out of pocket for the majority). I'll happily tell more about it, but only in private.

-Bubba-
I'm curious...
 

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Discussion Starter · #78 ·
WELL, I'm onboard.

The travel department is totally overwhelmed, and really sucked, but if you realize that it's all free, and they'll get you there eventually, it's not that stressful.

They vaccinated crew as they entered the ship.
I'm three days into my 14 day quarantine. I've heard they might let me out early since I'm fully vaccinated.

[edit: despite the flag by my name, I'm only temporarily in the Bahamas]

-Bubba-
 

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Congrats! Glad to hear it and hope you get to do some shredding soon! Funnily enough, hovering over the flag says Cincinnati lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #80 ·
Good morning from Glasglow everyone.

The music...
  • One show is all Alto pop stuff, with three horns. It's pretty track heavy.
  • Second show is the Flute/Clarinet/Alto. Kind of... Pop and New Orleans mixed with Pop
    • More unprofessional show I've ever done. Horrible writing. We're supporting the track.
  • One fully live Broadway tribute. Alto/Tenor/Flute/Clarinet, pretty heavy stuff.
Otherwise, we have some Guest Entertainer/Fly Ons that we do. One quick rehearsal/run, and then we do two shows that evening, or one matinee. It's been the Beatles, Jersey Boys, Motown, or Broadway shows mostly. Because of the Pandemic, they've also got "Resident Guest Entertainers." Basically, they're Guest Entertainers that they've gotten to do the 2-week Quarantine and stay on for 3-6 months. At the moment, there's a Comedian that sings, Sax player, and four tenor Broadway show.

The other...
As mentioned, I did a 2-week Quarantine. That was extended a few extra days because of poor planning of the ships location/PCR testing. We were told to plan for 2-months without shore leave, and it's not been 3-months without stepping on solid land. The dream European itinerary I was promised is now entirely "British Isles" until at least September. Good news, I'm still in the guest cabin/balcony since Quarantine.

The partying onboard was great for about 2-weeks-- apparently we had too much fun, and it was a moving target of "take away only," but no cabin parties, and no noise in the outdoor area, but "please try to have fun responsibly..." All in all, I'm not a fan of this company (for a lot of reasons I won't elaborate on publicly), and I'm preparing videos audition material for another company/agency.

-Bubba-
 
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