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Gig&Tell: Viking Cruises

  • Viking? 11/17/2015  9:25am

    Has anyone here worked a contract with Viking? Would like to have an idea of what life on board is like. Thank you.

    Good if you want to travel and get paid for it. I worked on the Viking Star. The shows are bad. The day we arrived on the ship, they fired the crew purser and surprised us with a shorter contract than the offer sheet described. Performers are not valued enough to have single cabins. It's also difficult prepping for shows because call will be in the middle of another event (you can't warmup) in the theater or dressing room. Other departments randomly store items in the dressing room at your station.
    Also lots of technical problems in the theater. If the currain doesn't open your expected to go on without any safety plan. They will want you to improvise. Worst of all the demands of corporate ownership outweigh common sense and actual necessity on this cruise line.

    02/11/2016  8:32am

    Well I would discount the first review just on the basis that they said the shows were "bad". Trying my best to not be personally insulted by that, they are probably just upset that they didn't get a renewal. Anyway, I was part of the opening cast for the Star. The company is on a learning curve when it comes to live in entertainment. They don't have private rooms for the performers because with the ships they've had only officers get private rooms, that's the way they think it should be. I don't think it has to do with value at all, and I really don't get what the problem is, you're barely in the room anyway so what if you have to share it. The three mainstage shows are a lot of fun, they are different than anything else you would do anywhere else, and the audiences really love them. The cabaret shows are a little rougher, but the two guy ones are very much adored by the guests, so much so that one of them had to be ticketed and done three times a cruise. When it gets down to it, it wasn't perfect, but unlike almost any other cruise job the shows are pretty much all you do, I got off the ship practically every port day for hours, got to see and do some amazing things. The food is also a lot better and there's a guest area you can have breakfast and lunch in. All in all I believe it will continue to improve and if you want to pay to travel and perform it's a good job to take.

    02/13/2016  9:36pm

    How long was the onboard contract?

    04/06/2016  10:28am

    I second the very first response. The travel and ports are unlike anything you'll experience on most other cruise lines. That really is a large Plus.
    However the shows aren't very high quality in production value and there isn't anyone onboard to do any maintenance. The people you get as your support system is a total crap shoot. We ranged from the best to the absolute worst in Cruise Directors to Stagehands/technicians. I fully agree that the ownership/corporate are totally our of touch with day to day operations and as an Entertainment department, you're very much looked down upon. There is a general lack of respect for the performers as it comes from the top. Things they won't mention in an offer also include having IPM, there is no crew gym and usage is limited, guest interactions or dining privileges are few and far between and many loops have to be jumped through to get a simple dinner anywhere other than the Officer's Mess.

    05/26/2016  10:16am

    I was the second post and I will say that some of what I said may no longer be valid as I know many changes have occurred since I was on board. They do have to do In Port Manning now, which was not a thing when I was contracted. And it was much easier to eat outside the mess than the message above me implies, but again I believe that could have changed. They are certainly trying to find their footing, and I would agree that the entertainment is looked down on by the higher ups and they make no effort to hide it. However I will still back up the shows for the most part. The two book shows are fun and unlike anything else you will do on other ships. I do think the with the cruises being as long as they are they need to either add more shows or more performances.

    07/27/2016  8:42pm

    Let me start by saying Mertz Productions, the company that produces the shows for Viking, is wonderful and a joy to work for. You will enjoy every day in Orlando rehearsing with them. Once you get on the ship and they leave, things become very different. I agree completely with the first and third review. Viking as a company does not really put a lot of emphasis on entertainment and you are therefore on your own and not high on the list of priorities. There are also many things thrown at you once you get on board that you did not know ahead of time. The performers have to maintain the sports deck, you must welcome the guests to port talks and lectures, and you have IPM every four days (which means you have to stay on the ship every four days). At the end of the day, the travel experience on Viking is just incredible, but you will not be treated like a professional performer. Also you will not have your own room and the pay on Viking is much lower than many other cruise lines. If you are looking for a job that will pay to travel around Europe, by all means, this is the job for you. But if you are looking for a professional work environment that values you as a person and treats you like a professional actor, keep looking.

    08/13/2016  2:05pm

    Chiming in one more time.
    Don't. Do. It.

    This cruise company is run by rotten crooked people.

    08/20/2016  4:30pm

    Look. All of the negative comments above are absolutely true. There's no getting around the heap of shit that is Viking Cruises as a company. Their higher-ups are pretentious, not interested in entertainment, and are violently unapproachable. If you run into trouble while out there, Mertz Productions cannot help you. They are strapped by their contract and in the end they will not stick their neck out for you and risk losing the contract with Viking. You will spend plenty of days feeling like you work for a company that does worse than ignore you, it looks down on you. If you want to make some money and see the world and you don't care about lack of fulfillment, lack of humanity, and lack of what most artists consider to be essential, then be my guest. It isn't just people who didn't get asked back either whoever you are on the second post. Pump your breaks. Bottom line, I say avoid this unless you're looking for a steady job for 8 months.

    08/21/2016  6:43am

    While Mertz Productions was an absolute dream to get to work with, the Viking company has a LOT of issues, not just in the Entertainment Department, but shipwide. They are not an entertainment-based ship, and so corporate treats their entertainers with little to no respect.

    ENTERTAINMENT DEETS: The cast consists of 6 singers and 1 dance couple (8 all together). During the install process, a Company Manager is chosen to basically be the Vocal Captain, Dance Captain, Costumer, and voice for the cast all in one. There are 4 main stage shows, 2 cabarets, a pool deck show, and various "unexpected moments" that happen in the middle of the ship. It’s important to know beforehand that the dancers are only in 3 of the mainstage shows, they are not in the cabarets, and only the male dancer “sings” during the pool deck show. The pay rate is non-negotiable, and is not as competitive as other cruise lines. All cabins are shared by two performers, there are no single-occupant cabins. You will have crew duties almost daily. These duties range from library sweeps (collecting all the books, from all the cabins, on all decks) on embark/debark days, putting the sports deck equipment in/out and hosting games, doing gangway welcome-backs, and doing doors (there are lectures/performances at almost every hour in the theatre, and performers are required to meet and greet guests for 20 minutes at the start of each event). Dancers also have to teach a dance class to guests on sea days. There is no crew gym, so you can only use the guest gym during approved hours. Additionally, there are typically no vegetarian options at the crew mess and everyone onboard, even entertainment, has IPM (in port manning—meaning you can’t leave the ship every 4 days). Dancers be mindful that due to your lack of involvement in shows, the time you spend doing crew duties (though typically miniscule) will often outweigh the time you spend doing anything related to entertainment.
    The biggest perk is that there are usually a couple of days a week where you have ample free time, and you can go off into ports or escort the really neat tours provided for guests. Additionally, there are specific times/occasions where entertainment is allowed to eat at the guest buffet.

    IMPORTANT: We witnessed many HR disasters, as well, including a serious complaint/report filed against someone, which was in turn disregarded by a representative of corporate offices due to his personal relationship with the accused employee (Which we found out from the corporate representative personally in a face to face meeting). Unfortunately, some crew members were not rehired for simply practicing their right to report to HR.

    As with anything, it is truly what you make it. Every company is going to have its own unique pros and cons. I’m thankful that I had a very strong cast of wonderful people who made the experience worthwhile. I hope this gives you some more insight with Viking, and if you ever get the chance to work with Mertz Productions, DO IT.

    10/06/2016  7:44pm

    This gig is incredible.
    It is what you make of it-
    We have access to nearly a different city everyday, high class clientele (wonderful conversation) incredible enrichment lectures, top knotch facilities (stage, pianos, microphones), consistent performing to keep the chops up and explore.
    The nature of the line is luxury, you are the face of the ship and socalize with guests, make connections, sing, and explore.
    I put away 80 percent of my salary into savings, saw 24 countries (not counting the cities within), made friendships that will last a lifetime, partied all over the world, laughed, cried, and made magic, all in one contract.

    There are pros and cons- you live you live to adapt, work the system, build relationships throughout the ship to help make things work the best for you, and create what you would like the experience to be FOR YOU.

    If offered this gig, take it ( if you are open to leaving for x amount of time)- it left an everlasting positive affect on my life.

    04/05/2017  9:48am

    I recently returned from working a contract with Viking and wanted to give my opinion here.

    Pros- You get to see THE most amazing places. Because the ships are smaller they can sail through some rivers as well and that gives access to the most amazing ports. I cannot say enough about the ports. I got to see 25 countries in 6 months and that was just priceless. Mertz Productions is truly an amazing company to work for. My time at rehearsals in Orlando was so incredible. Challenging, fun, exciting, professional... the list goes on. The shows are great! They are a bit silly at times, but the material is very diverse and there was a lot of room to grow and places for each role to shine. I truly enjoyed watching the boys' shows (when allowed hahaha) The ships are beautiful and very high class.

    Cons- Sharing a tiny room was tough. I loved my roommate so much, but you are in your room much more than you might think (IPM days, sea days, sailing time... it adds up) My experience would have been immensely better with my own room. The salary is less than other cruise lines. The guests are mostly older folks which wasn't my favorite. No families, no kids, no young people around our age to socialize with. Viking does not value their entertainment staff. They see us as trouble makers and they don't think we work hard at all. We do 2 week cruises, meaning that we performed in only 5 (now this is down to 4) shows every two weeks. At the end of the contract we only performed each show under 15 times. I expected to perform almost every night which did not end up being the case. We spent more time doing our other duties than performing, which was pretty soul crushing. And even then there were times we had nothing to do and were stuck onboard and that was really emotionally challenging. We were given certain privileges, but it felt like those were not really honored well. For example, production cast is allowed to eat in the guest buffet for breakfast and lunch, but only within certain hours and if it was too full we would be turned away. There were times I did not eat in the mess (terrible food) and waited to eat in the World Cafe but was turned away and left with no options for food. It felt like every day was a struggle to not get in trouble. All of our higher ups had it out for us and they were always looking for reasons to get us in trouble. I just didn't feel respected as a professional entertainer.

    Viking Ocean Cruises is still relatively new and I know they have some things to work out, but I am not planning to return to Viking unless changes are made. It is what you make it, and the travel experiences will be lifetime memories I cherish forever.

    09/29/2017  12:56am

    Ha! I am extremely close to the actual original creator of the entire Viking entertainment program. This person was in talks with them for over three years, presented and created the entire project for them and then was kicked to the curb. They lied to that person. took their concepts then went with a cheap Producer. They of course tried to make the original show concepts a reality (which is why the shows looked so ‘different’) but changed the names, and of course. it didn’t go well. The failure with these of kind of horrible people is they think by taking your ideas and going with a cheap producer, that the shows will be good! Now, admittedly, Ive not seen the shows except for clips on YouTube and have heard awful things about them. It makes me personally glad that they’ve had trouble with the entertainment because as angry as that may seem? That’s karma, working it’s magic. This person they had was one of the best in the industry. Viking also recently kicked out the musicians agent, another talented and nice person. They are horrible and awful people at Viking. The more you know.

    01/13/2018  5:04pm

    50, that's right FIFTY 5-0 HOURS of cruise staff duties for the singer/dancer production cast . The shows will be the last thing on your list of duties. On other ships it is 20 hours per week on many none at all. Not here!

    *You will be up at 5:30am running tour dispatch (because apparently the tour excursion team is too incompetent to get on the microphone and dispatch their tours). Had 2 shows the night before? No matter, up at 5:30am.

    *You will be put in danger by your superiors who will ask you to move boxes and anything else, one singer was sent to the hospital on suspicion of a ruptured spleen after such an episode on The Viking Orion. Order given by the Cruise Director and Hotel Manager to send a singer to work for Housekeeping. A show had to be cancelled.

    *You run the the 3D theater day in and day out, take care of sports equipment, work immigration detail and run every event from trivia to star gazing to handing out programs at the theater. It is endless.

    *You dress up in WOOLEN ridiculous Norwegian outfits and stand on the gangway in tropical heat looking like a freakish cartoon about to pass out from heat exhaustion.

    *You are not allowed to have a drink or a coffee in passenger areas. All privileges here are restricted to an extreme. If you have the privilege to eat in the buffet, you will only be able to when it is dead quiet and then you have to eat in a corner. In other words, you'll be stuck eating in the mess and you will not be allowed in public areas unless you are working. A "party" on this ship consists of people sitting in the mess drinking themselves under the table and eating cheese off of paper plates. They just demoted the singers down two levels on their "benefit gird" mid contract. That's right, what you sign up for is not what you'll get folks. The job descriptions you read will be absolutely nothing like what they'll have you do.

    *This ship had the most hostile, unpleasant environment where employees are treated like indentured servants, afraid to quit because they're be told they have to pay their way home once dragged half way across the planet. Pro Tip: Make them fire you, then they have to pay your way home. Walk naked thru the ship if you have to, if they fire you it's on them to get you home as per your contract.

    *If you're sold the "see the world" line, understand that you'll see it from the deck or a port hole. Any time off will be cut short by coming back to the ship hours early to clap at the passengers as they board (known as "happy clappy", not a happy face out there) or some other insane thing they come up with to keep the crew on board and away from ever having any downtime.

    *Be very wary of any visas required for you to go ashore. They will not give you accurate information or paperwork to obtain them and they don't give a damn if you're trapped on the ship for weeks at a time because of it. The lack of knowledge with management regarding this was astounding.

    This is a worst case scenario ship. You will be treated better on literally ANY other line. I have never witnessed a less happy crew and more miserly management team. Like a bunch of beaten dogs being housed by Cruella DeVille.

    Why is it that luxury companies always have the most ghetto work environment?

    NOT WORTH IT KIDS - if you can sing AT ALL you can get hired somewhere else. You literally can't do worse than singing for Viking. Also the shows are complete crap. The singers are lovely young people who were duped, not their fault, they're doing their best to polish a giant turd.

    09/25/2018  1:15pm