Speaking on cruise ships sounds exotic and adventurous. And for many speakers it is. Cruise ships need to keep their guests happy with lots of entertainment, and lectures are a part of that. The cruise industry is a $37 billion dollar a year business and still going strong.

I looked up the statistics and found that the average age of a cruise ship passenger is 50+ with average earnings of $107,000, and 86% have a college degree. That’s probably something to keep in mind when you prepare your pitch, depending on which cruise you’ll be on.

Even though some speakers do get paid on a cruise ship, most don’t. But they do get a free cruise, and sometimes get travel paid to the port, but not always. Some speakers do quite well selling books and DVDs. Plus, like on regular free gigs, they are able to build up an email list.

There are two ways to get work as a speaker on a cruise ship. One is through an agency. There are several agencies that are known and trusted in the industry. Sixth Star, Compass Speakers, Tim Castle, and Posh Talks. Paying a standard $50-$100 a day administrative fee to them is the industry norm. Like a speakers bureau, you can work for more than one agency.

Another way to go is to book directly with the cruise ships. It’s much harder to book this way since your competition is higher. They rely on the quality of your DVD, so make sure it’s as good as it can be.

Here are some tips and experiences from speakers who have been booked for speaking on cruise ships:

“I have spoken several times over the years, i.e the last twenty years on cruise ships. I once was booked through a speakers bureau, but the other times through an agency that did only that….book speakers for cruise ships. I don’t think it exists but it was the Working Vacation…and it was! I have not found as easy to do so even though I had rave reviews. Some ships like Carnival do not have speakers. Royal Caribbean such as the Millennium had much to offer. Since I am the author of several books and dozens of CD programs, even though I was not paid, I did develop a huge following and ended up in the large auditorium by the end of the cruise. I did very well selling products so to say the least, my experience was fantastic. Ready to sail again.”

Edie Raether, MS, CSP – “The Bully Buster”
Change Strategist: Speaker Author Coach

“I got booked through the travel agents who were booking my cruise. It was rather last minute, so I was happy with getting a significant upgrade in my cabin and several other perks like a welcome basket with champagne, ship coupons, etc. I would definitely recommend cruise speaking. It is so much fun to mingle with the other passengers before and after who chat with you about your speaking topics. I suggest trying to arrange beforehand to have your books sold in the ship’s shop, as I did, as well as at the end of your talk.”

Carole Lieberman M.D.
America’s Psychiatrist
Media Psychiatrist and Bestselling Author

“I have had the opportunity to speak three times on cruise ships, I ended up doing one of the opportunities. Here was my experience.

The first one, which ended up falling through only had 4 speakers booked for the conference and none of us is a big name. So, we were not able to get enough people booked to allow the cruise to go forward. The other
challenge was the travel agent really dropped the ball and was relying on us to do the bulk of the marketing. It ended up being a nightmare experience and costly as we gave her a retainer. Very disappointing.

The second cruise, which I did speak on and loved it. A friend of mine emailed me the info about the cruise and said, “You should call them to see if you can speak on there.” And I did…and it worked. Their deal was if you sold a certain amount of cabins you got your cabin free and at the very least you got $100 for everyone you referred. I was allowed to buy my cabin and still speak on the cruise. I sold a bunch of books and had a fabulous experience.

The 3rd opportunity which came out of the second was set up a bit differently. If you did not sell a certain number of cabins, you were not even allowed to speak. So, I could still come on the cruise, just not be a speaker. That seemed odd to me, because if I did sell some to people that wanted to hear me and then I end up not on the cruise…I didn’t like the arrangement at all and ended up turning down the opportunity.

I would definitely recommend speaking on cruises, but read the fine print carefully. My understanding is unless you are booked directly through the cruise as a whole ship activity you will be responsible for either paying your own way or having to do some big sales. It was a great way to reach more people and have a wonderful vacation along the way.

One of the other things that arose during the cruise I spoke on was about sales. Because I was doing mine as a CEU opportunity, the rule was no selling in the room. And the ship had a rule about not selling anything OUT of the room, so it got complicated. In the end it worked out, but just something else to be aware of.

Dr. Kathy Gruver, PhD, LMT, RM
Natural Health Speaker, Author, Educator and Practitioner

“I was not hired by the cruise ship. I was hired by the Northern California Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers to teach CEU classes on a cruise from San Francisco to Vancouver.

The seas were so rough the ship didn’t make it to San Francisco until late Wednesday night from Los Angeles due to storms. Everyone was put up in a hotel close to the pier in San Francisco. We boarded on Thursday morning. As soon as we got past the Golden Gate Bridge the seas were so rough everyone was either sick or on Dramamine, including myself. I was about 30 minutes into the presentation (with all these sick ladies) when we had the mandatory life boat drill.

Two hours later we reconvened. The ladies were either asleep from the Dramamine, sick or turned away from me looking out the window to view the horizon (which was a mistake in my opinion), so it was extremely challenging to speak to them, much less “educate” them.

Then, because the ship was behind schedule and needed to be in Vancouver to start the Alaska cruises on Saturday, we didn’t stop in Seattle where we were to sightsee for a few hours of education, but more important, we were to stock up on food. They ran out of food for dinner Friday night.

I got to sleep in an inside cabin, which I will never do again. I’m not sure I will ever take a cruise again, it was so bad. I call it the “Cruise from Hell” and I’m not one to make bad statements like that. Looking back, it was comical and certainly wasn’t as bad as many other people have had, but it is one of those “speaking” experiences I’ll never forget.”

Linda Lenore
Feng Shui Master
Founder, Green Chi Designs
“I spoke on two cruises a while back. They were business cruises for executives, not recreational cruises. The executives met with vendors and attended lectures during the day and attended parties at night. My goal was to network and promote a book that I was touring for at the time. I wasn’t paid except for a free cruise and airfare to get to the departure point.

The experience was not good and I only recommend it if someone was clear about their personal goals and was sure that the opportunity would meet it. In my case it didn’t. The organizers deliberately kept the speakers isolated from the executives, going so far as to assign us meal seating at speaker-only tables. We were afterthought edutainment. They were only concerned with the paying vendors and the attending executives.”

Paul Glen
Co-Author of “The Geek Leader’s Handbook”


4 Responses to “Speaking on Cruise Ships”

  1. Martin Lindeskog says:

    Julie: I have a goal to have more speaking engagements in the future and would like to travel more too, so that could be an interesting combination. I will bookmark your post for future reference.

    I wonder if my forthcoming book on tea could be a topic that could work with a cruise ship?

  2. Ross McWilliam says:

    I have an expertise in mindset, working mainly, but not exclusively, with children and young people.
    I work on improving potential, even in older people!
    My work covers belief systems, talent development, confidence ring fencing, resilience, etc
    I would like to speak on cruise ships, especially those that travel around North America – can yo give me any specific advice?

  3. Charles Gentile says:

    I will be retiring soon. Master in History. I want to speak on cruises about the countries we sail.

  4. tim smithe says:

    I am a excellent motivational speaker. I live in chicago and roatan island, western caribbean. About a dozen ships or more come to our island each week. I would love to walk on board and give a 1 hour motivational speech. Any suggestions? I enjoyed your website. Thank you for that.

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