Firechill | The Magic Stick Dancer

How the Pandemic Changed Cruise Ship Life as a Performer

If you’re considering applying for or returning to a cruise ship contract, understand that things have now changed about being a ship crew.

My last cruise ship contract as a specialty circus artist (I perform leviwand and hula hoops, both object manipulation acts that involve dance and acrobatics) ended abruptly in March 2020 after a month of rehearsals and only two weeks of performances. I was onboard MSC Bellissima for Cirque du Soleil at Sea, and I was sent home to the Philippines for what I thought would be a brief lockdown.

In July 2021, after about 16 months, I was back on MSC Bellissima again to create a new show with a new entertainment company and a new cast and crew. We created “Myüt” with TED (The Entertainment Department). It is a new show on the same Carousel Lounge where we used to have Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows, which features a storyline made more colorful with live vocalists, an ensemble of dancers, and an array of international circus performers.

As we go through the shows and everyday life, you start feeling how CoVid-19 changed the “ship life” as we call it.


Other than seeing the ports and the sea, there is not much of the world we can see for now. One of the major disclaimer of accepting this contract is that we cannot go down to shore (other than a few crew from excursions team). 

This means we cannot go out to the cities, the sights, the markets, the beaches, etc. Basically, we accept that we will be on the ship for the entire contract. We understand since this is a covid protocol, and this enables us to be safe in our jobs (and basically, to have jobs).


Once we embarked, we had to undergo quarantine in solo cabins, and we have to get tested regularly (until now) to ensure the safety of everyone. Quarantine wasn’t easy, and getting swabbed from your nostrils every now and then isn’t ideal either, but it’s how we can keep things going and hopefully go back to “normal.” 

All unvaccinated crew members also get their vaccination shots on board, which is a good thing for me as I came onboard without any shots.


On top of wearing voice-muffling masks and social distancing, a lot of the protocols affect our ship social life. 

Firstly, the crew bar, where most of the crew socialization happens, is not open for seating anymore. It also doesn’t help that we are in Saudi Arabia which means we have no alcoholic social drinks available on board.

Secondly, crew parties are not allowed. This is supposed to be the time when we get to dance without having reservations about behaving professionally among guests. Crew parties are when you sometimes meet new friends from different departments, so not having them doesn’t help our social needs.


One of the things I took for granted pre-pandemic was the amount of audiences we get every show. Other than there are less people cruising due to the pandemic, our audiences are also filtered down by the amount of seats available in the theater. Even though we get a “full house,” it’s still incomparable to the energy of a theater full of people.

In conclusion, all of us in the team – both artists and tech crew – are grateful that we have a job in the midst of this pandemic and tumultuous world atmosphere. We also get the perk of having single cabins now to lessen exposure due to contact.

Do you have more questions or experiences to share?

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