‘I work on a cruise ship – here’s what it’s really like behind the scenes’

Jack Nolan, 33, on board the ship where he works as a singer and guitarist (Jack Nolan / SWNS)
Jack Nolan, 33, on board the ship where he works as a singer and guitarist (Jack Nolan / SWNS)

A man ditched his “dull” nine-to-five as a plumber to work as a musician on a cruise ship - travelling to 40 countries earning £40k a year.

Jack Nolan, 33, says being a plumber was "boring" and "unfulfilling".

He started working on cruises in 2016 and earns £3,315 a month and has travelled to countries like Australia, Iceland and Canada.

He revealed what it's like living and working on a boat.

While he has to work most nights as a singer and guitarists he gets all day off - and gets to explore each destination at his own leisure.

And living on a boat means he doesn't pay and rent or bills - and all his food is also included.

Jack's 'bucket list’ destinations so far have visiting the Acropolis in Greece, Colosseum in Rome, Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Hobbiton in New Zealand, and Blue Lagoon in Iceland.

The singer from Exeter, Devon, said: “Not many jobs will let you see so many countries and experience so much culture.

“We also don’t pay for rent or food which is great - as they are two of life's biggest expenses.

“I had finished university and I had worked in plumbing shops before ships.

“Plumbing doesn’t feed my soul the same way that music does and it doesn’t fulfil me. I wanted to travel the world and I hadn’t travelled by that time.”

Jack soaks up the scenery on a beach in the Pacific (Jack Nolan / SWNS)
Jack soaks up the scenery on a beach in the Pacific (Jack Nolan / SWNS)

His dad, Trevor, 67, recommended he become qualified in a trade, and Jack's previous life saw him installing bathrooms for three years and working in a plumbing shop.

He said: “I was living for the weekend.

“I still often worked Saturdays too.

“I was burned out and ultimately knew I didn’t want to do that job for the rest of my life."

In 2016, Jack got a call from a friend who he had previously worked with at a wedding.

He was a drummer and asked Jack if he knew any guitarists for a band he was putting together.

Jack said: "I told him I'd love to do it, and from there we recorded a promo video in sent it to agents, and we landed our first gig on a ferry in 2016.

"We then found another agent who found us a real cruise contract.

"After that, we were offered more jobs on different ships and I was so excited. The ships went to places like the Caribbean and I had never been."

Jack says some cruise-workers can also run their own “side-hustles” - like hairdressing and barbers.

He makes an extra £20 an hour running his own art auctions on board the ship, as well as playing in the band.

Often, he’ll spend an afternoon in one country before heading to another by noon the next day.

“I loved the ancient Acropolis in Greece and the Colosseum in Rome,” he added.

“Visiting Vancouver, Jamaica, and bungee jumping off the Auckland bridge, were some other highlights.

“Today we are in Palma, Mallorca - tomorrow we could be in France.

“Each day we wake up in another country.”

Jack during a scuba diving experience (Jack Nolan)
Jack during a scuba diving experience (Jack Nolan)

Jack says relationships between colleagues aren’t prohibited - and are actually “very common”.

But they can cause a lot of crew tension - and he says working there is sometimes like living in uni halls.

He said: “Even though we are older than uni students, it gives that vibe because we have these small rooms and we are next door to each other.

“We live with people we don't even know in such close quarters.

“You need to let off steam and decompress at times.”

As well as relationships, Jack’s seen his fair share of chaos at sea.

He says ships have rules which mean they help anyone stranded at sea who needs assistance.

He’s seen “loads” of ships stranded at sea - and he said crew often bring people in trouble on-deck to help them.

“There was a boat that was let onto our ship,” he added.

“There was a rumour they were pirates - rumours can spread quite easily on the ship.

Jack hopes to move back to land in the future as he misses family and friends, but calls his life at sea ‘addictive’ and continues to love every moment.

“I recommend anyone who wants to enjoy the trip to choose a position that lets you travel as much as you can,” he added.

“Some jobs mean you often never get to see the destinations, so choosing something in entertainment, shops or the casino allows you to see it all.”