Usually, at the more conventional lines like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or NCL, the musicians are divided into three generic groups.
Lounge musicians or venue musicians: formations of two to 5 musicians in charge of entertaining parties and quiet evenings.
We talk about jazz combos, dance music, intimate duets, Caribbean band, etc. They usually bring a repertoire of songs rehearsed from home and suitable for a wide range of audiences: classics and top hits from every genre of commercial music.
In general, they perform throughout the ship’s venues such as bars, halls, swimming pools or small stages.
These musicians come «rehearsed from home». In other words, they will not have the need to practice their repertoire once they board, unless they want to.
His working day usually consists of three 45 min sets a day and one day off a week, approximately.
Orchestra Musicians: These musicians typically embark solo and join the ship’s existing orchestra. In other words, each musician starts and ends his contract on different dates, unlike venue musicians.
Their most common work space is the ship’s theater, and they are in charge of running the production shows, with the cast.
The production shows are shows composed and designed on purpose for each ship and are repeated on each new cruise. The «cast» is a group of professionals that includes dancers, singers and acrobats, who have previously been rehearsing the shows explained above on land.
The orchestra musicians are also in charge of accompanying solo artists, who board punctually to offer a single show per cruise. For these shows, which are usually the most frequent, it is essential to have a high level of musical reading.
The working day for orchestra musicians generally consists of a one-hour rehearsal and then two performances of the same show, about 45 minutes each. They will also have one day off per cruise or per week, approximately.
Solo musicians: These musicians are usually solo pianists or singer-songwriters who bring a repertoire prepared from home.
They perform in the rooms or bars of the ship, providing atmosphere and entertainment for the most romantic and intimate encounters.
They usually have working hours very similar to the venue musicians.
Unlike the other two types of musicians mentioned above, solo musicians enjoy better conditions: they do not share a cabin and usually have better salaries.