Big Fish, Big Pond: Life as a Cruise Ship Crooner

Aimee Lake

Aimee Lake

  • Tony Targan

While cruising for a living may seem glamorous, being at sea for six months at a stretch has its challenges. Aimee Lake has traveled the world while performing as a lead vocalist on Silversea cruise ships, and she compares the experience to drama school: “Ship life is a lot like drama school: you are in your own little bubble. You find yourself spending time with the same people over and over again in a confined space for months on end, and it can be extremely intense and challenging. Having to sleep where you work is the biggest challenge of all, as you cannot leave your work for the day and head home; the ship is, in fact, your home.”

But Aimee wouldn’t trade this adventure for the world: “Waking up in a new destination every day has to be the deciding factor as to why I took the job in the first place. I am 28 years old, and by the end of this year I will have already seen 100 countries … and to think that was from traveling at someone else’s expense!” Aimee never misses an opportunity to experience a new port: “I’m always out in every port. I feel guilty if I miss one. I’m always signing up for tours and trying to gain the most out of this wonderful experience.” Her favorite countries include Greece, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Croatia, and Italy.

So, how did a country lass from rural England end up traveling the world as a lead vocalist? Aimee’s singing journey began “at the tender age of 14, in the hit musical ‘The Wizard of Oz’ with a real-life Toto and some glittery ruby shoes at my local amateur dramatic society in Telford, Shropshire.” She went on to obtain degrees in Performing Arts at Shrewsbury College in Shropshire and Musical Theatre performance at Mountview Theatre Academy in London. During her final year at drama school, she “stumbled on cruising” after auditioning for Jean Ann Ryan Productions on Regent Seven Seas. Aimee says, “I always wanted to travel, and I thought this would be the perfect way! It was a daunting process at first, leaving the U.K., starting out somewhere new without your family and friends, but I do think University helped, as by that point I was used to being away from home and being independent.”

So what is a typical workday on a cruise ship? Aimee says, “Our work schedule begins around 6 pm: This normally consists of socializing in the bars, getting to know your audience, and using our time wisely to promote the shows. Daily activities such as coffee chat and golf or signing up with the shore excursion team for guest tours all help! I’ve noticed that as a result of this interaction, guests come to watch you perform as they feel they have a personal connection with you which adds to their cruise experience as well as my own.”

The vocalists usually start performing at 10 pm. They have four main productions on board which they perform on every cruise for six months, but Aimee says they also have the “flexibility to create our own individual cabarets.” For the Silversea line, a London-based production company chooses the cast, which includes six vocalists on the ship. Aimee says, “I have met so many wonderful friends of different nationalities and cultures while onboard.” Aimee describes her current castmates as “more international than ever,” including performers from the US, UK, Ukraine, and Germany. While they each have different goals, Aimee’s dream is to go into full-scale musicals someday.

Aimee describes her most memorable cruise performance as follows: “The one and only Dame Shirley Bassey came to enjoy a cruise around South America at Christmas time and we all had the great honor of meeting her. Dame Bassey came to watch all of the shows on board and she was always very supportive. I did however have to sing her signature tunes at a James Bond themed evening! Needless to say I’ve never been so nervous in my entire life. I doubt many auditions will faze me after the experience I felt that day.”

While Diamonds Are Forever, cruising is a temporary stop on a vocalist’s career path. But for Aimee Lake, it’s been the experience of a lifetime, so far.

Tony Targan is an aspiring playwright whose short plays have appeared in Midwest regional and community theaters. He is also a director and actor in southeast Michigan community theater, mostly with the Farmington Players Barn Theater. By day, Tony works as a technology attorney in Detroit.