MB 025: Cruise Ship Magician – Part 1


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Cruise Ship Magic Part 1

What does a Cruise Director Expect From A Cruise Ship Magician?


Ahoy Magician Business listeners … Stephen Cloete is a Cruise Director (Entertainments Director) for the 3rd Largest shipping line in the world.  This means he is responsible for all the entertainment on board plus he’s also a headline magic act. Stephen has great insights into the Cruise Ship industry and just where the magic act  and the performing artist fits into all of this.

This episode will put wind in your sails if your are thinking that being a cruise ship magician is right for you. You do need, however, to understand some fundamental differences between land based magic shows and cruise ship based magic shows. Stephen Cloete helps you navigate some of the icebergs that might otherwise scuttle your maiden voyage ….

In this episode we talk about:

  • Just because an act works land side doesn’t mean it will work on a ship.
  • Cruise Act … passengers don’t go cruising for the acts … entertainment is secondary …
  • Reactions from audiences are different between land and cruise and how to know what type of act works best at sea
  • Cruise you can build rapport with audience … variety shows are like advertisements … if they like what they see they will come and see you but it can work the other way
  • Much more feedback on a ship … audiences will complain about acts which they wouldn’t don’t bother doing on land side acts …
  • Closed community that can be hard to break into …. shipping lines will keep using the proven acts as it is a safe option
  • Cruise needs to be adaptable and adjust their show style.
  • Cruise acts need a 40 min headliner show plus 8-10 min guest spots
  • Cruise ships have a budget … won’t pay for 10 minute fantastic acts if there is still 50 minutes to fill on the program
  • Cruise ships are not training grounds for magicians and magic acts
  • Get a great show reel. Still needs to be presented as a DVD
  • Auditioning acts live can be a problem .. references, show reels can be doctored.
  • Theater on the ship holds 1000 people or more. You need to be able play BIG.
  • Long Term contract magician works 4-10 months as a crew member … need to attend crew meetings and safety drills. Need to be certified in fire fighting, first aid, survival techniques, crowd control and security threats. Then you need to be medically fit, have the correct passport. Can’t be claustrophobic, need to be able to socialize, need to be able to perform in rough seas.
  • Short term contract. You come on as a guest. No crew responsibilities. Eat in guest restaurants.


Resources and links mentioned in this episode:

Read more about Stephen Cloete in this Cruise Ship Trade website interview.

Abra-Viagra website http://showboat2.wix.com/abraviagra


Stephen talks about the growing need for children’s/family friendly entertainment on cruise ships. Part of that is having activities.

Start by having this essential guide to teaching a magic class. Click on the picture to find out more.



Thank you for listening

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Thanks again, Ken and Julian

Meet the Author

Julian Mather

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • lightning pete

    When I went on my last cruise i concidered the Magician to be part of the overall entertainment, along with many other fine performers.

    • I’ve never been on a cruise. It was interesting to hear that the audiences need to like you because you WILL be seeing them multiple times.

  • Scott & I love cruising! – I certainly have no interest for a full time job with a cruise line with my “act” but I would love the opportunity to occasionally face paint or twist balloons. Friends of mine have had this experience and loved it!

    Oh how I wish I would have gotten into this business when I was younger!

    Thank you for this interview!

    • Why don’t you investigate the possibilities for just that Christine and report back with your findings. You might just have the package they are looking for.

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  • Most children’s show entertainers perform for relatively small audiences. Would you expect a children’s entertainer to have a show reel showing them doing a children’s show in front of a thousand children?

    • I wouldn’t imagine so. Again, all out of my area of expertise.

  • I’ll see shortly if this is answered in the following episode, but while you talked about the different types of contracts, you didn’t mention any sort of pay scale at all, even a broad one. What is the pay like? I’m presuming there is a wide range, but some guidelines on what could be expected if you are starting out on a cruise line and then what you could expect once you have proven that you can work on on cruise line would be appreciated.

  • Regarding being medically fit, would having a condition which is controlled by medication mean that you would not be allowed to become part of the crew, or would that be acceptable?

  • I know you mentioned that there is a possibility for doing close-up work that can
    be presented on stage, but is there any opportunity for someone doing actual close-up work? For example, going from table to table during meals, or strolling among the passengers?

    • Sounds like a good option. No one I have spoken to has even mentioned this. Hmmm? When Stephen gets back from sea maybe he can answer this. Good question.

  • N Jay Jaybo Holtz

    Hello Julian, Ken and Stephen: Here is a question that can be asked of each of you guys. If someone is aboard a cruise ship who has experience as a children’s entertainer and wishes to give of his time to either teach or put on a small show for the children, can he do that or does he have to go thru the same ordeal as a paid performer? Now I have done a few shows at a few different times for the children aboard those ships with the same situations explained above. I was a passenger aboard, I had requested permission from the cruise director to demonstrate a few tricks explain the tricks and ask the children to demonstrate it for me, to be sure they have it. This was about 6 years ago so I would imagine, if I wanted to do it again, that things must have changed. Please give me your feed back on this.

    • N Jay I have no idea. Stephen and Fred are the cruise ship experts. They are both at sea again and hard to contact. We have asked them to try and get to this page and leave some answers.