Back in the high life again

September 5th, 2011

The solitude and confinement of my soloist job on Carnival are the hardest emotional obstacles I have ever encountered. Learning to be “alone”has been quite a journey. But here are the perks.

  • The Money:  I started at a rate of pay that was $400 a month higher after taxes, than my day job, and that was after working at the clinic for 8 years.  I am completely out of debt and saved almost 10 grand in the last 6 months, compared to my 401 matching at MHCD that provided 7 grand which took 8 years to accumulate.
  • Medical coverage: There is 24 hour medical staff on board. During my first contract I had to have my big toe operated on, I had the same procedure performed on my other toe, by my primary care doc, the ship doc did just as good a job. I am required to pass a physical exam every two years, which I have passed easily. If health issues arise while working on the ship, the ship’s medical staff will address it, if they are not equipped to deal with it, you will treated at a shore side clinic or hospital, during which you will continue to draw full pay, until recovered. My good friend went in for his two year exam, they found a large tumor in his colon, it was removed before it could spread, he is doing fine, but without the Carnival exam, he would probably be dead now.
  • Security: All Carnival workers are background checked for work history, criminal history, and even STD and HIV. I doubt that any neighborhood in Denver could make that claim. There is a 24 hour security team. that includes video surveillance of every area on the ship. In contrast, During my years of living in urban Denver  my sporty Camaro was stolen twice, my band equipment was stolen out of my parked car, and my home in north Denver was burglarized twice during the two short years I lived in the area.
  • Time Off: I only work 5 hours a day, and this is spread out over an entire afternoon and evening,  I have tech support that sets up and breaks down all sound equipment, and conducts sound checks for me. I also have time to read, and read all three of Stieg Larrson’s trilogy of “the girl with the dragon tatto”.
  • Room Service: I have a cabin steward, for the cost of one dollar per day, my floor is vaccumed, fresh towels, bedding changed, bed made up, trash taken out, my laundry is picked up and returned pressed, folded and hung in my closet, my floor is ocassionally polished and the shower and toilet are cleaned everyday. I always leave Mr. Putu a generous tip. I dine in the staff dining room and if I don’t want to eat what is served on the buffet, I may order through our wait staff, off the menu.
  • The Life: The guest gym and crew gym are also available for my use, as well as the walking track on the top deck. Each department hosts “crew parties” every week, where we are sold drinks at wholesale prices. I also have a flat screen tv in my cabin that gets all the channels you could ever want. I get to watch world class entertainers in the main theater and meet people from all over the world, some of these wonderful people have become my friends and they have invited me to such places as Croatia, India, and South Africa.
  • Spouse Onboard: I am allowed to invite a spouse or close family member to cruise with me, staying in my cabin, at no charge. My guest will be given full privileges. My guest and I will be given permission to dine in the formal dining room for the week that my guest is sailing with me.

In conclusion, I never have to market my act, make my bed, empty my trash, wash my dishes, sweep my floor, clean my bathroom, or even commute to my job. This was a good move for me. I enjoy performing for the responsive audiences, and have been promoted to “piano bar entertainer” for my next contract, which will mean more money, and more fun. I can work on Carnival until I am 67 years old, and even then, my status could be changed from “crew member” to “guest entertainer”. In other words, as long as I can do my show, Carnival will find a way to keep me around. There is also a small retirement program that Carnival contributes to, and I can start to collect after 10 years with the company.

Even considering all this, the life is difficult. Each shift of performing leaves me exhausted and I spend the entire day recovering my energy in order to do it again, day after day. But I am where I should be at this point in my life. Thanks for reading my descriptions of this adventure.

Del Woodman, Piano Bar Entertainer on Carnival Cruise Line



  • Alan Pollard says:

    Thanks for sharing, Del.
    I feel like I’m at that place in my life where a cruise ship gig would provide me the perfect mix of professional and personal growth. I’ve submitted to a few companies, including ProShip, but so far, nothing. YOU sound like the kind of musician I would enjoy working with very much. If you ever need a good drummer or singer, look me up! I wish you the best of fortunes.

    Best regards,

    Alan Pollard

  • Hi Del – I enjoyed reading your ‘honest’ appraisal of life at sea. I’m thinking of applying for “guest entertainer” – I’ve been on a cruise & did a guest spot a few years ago and was encouraged to apply for paid work. I have a friend who has done spots for years and she loves it. I was resident vocalist at a Resort for a year & half – where I sang 3 x 40 sets a night for 3 mths straight, then negotiated 6 nights a week for the rest of the time – so I can relate to the ‘resting’ during the day routine. Not to mention – not ‘talking’ too much during the day or getting sick! It was a good ‘job’ though. I hope you’re still enjoying sharing your talents with the world? Cheers from Australia
    Lee J. Collier

  • Hello Del,
    I have been cleared to work on Carnival and I’m very exited
    I am 60 years old and have played all my life it’s all I know and look forward to the new life ..and thank you for your story I hope we meet one day just Google my name Jack Henriquez or the Funkman see you soon


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