Confessions of a Cruise Ship DJ

Dayna SolomonBy Dayna Solomon, Guest Writer

I began my sailing adventures on the high seas as a Guest DJ Entertainer for cruise ships a year and a half ago. I got the gig through Scratch Events, a division of New York City-based Scratch Music Group, which has the largest team of DJs nationwide who entertain guests at various events. I had been working a number of events for them locally and inquired about other opportunities outside of Ohio and that’s when I found out they had a cruise division as well.Naturally, I jumped on that opportunity and requested to be considered for it. To this date, I’ve spent 5 months of my DJ life spinning for thousands of vacationers aboard cruise lines.

I stay in a cozy cabin with all of the necessities; comfy bed, shower, toilet, sink, desk, closet, TV with movie channels (which is a plus!). Usually, there’s no porthole, but the TV has a channel with a view from the bridge, so I can check what the weather and temperature is like outside before I head out. A lot of people ask me if it’s difficult to keep up with communication with clients and other business related work when I’m gone. Luckily, I have wifi on the ship that gives me just enough minutes to not feel completely disconnected to the outside world. Although, the wifi isn’t always reliable, so that can make it tricky on sea days. However, when we stop at the ports I have the option of going to one of the many restaurants or coffee shops that have free wifi! Speaking of ports, I’m allowed to get off and explore. I take full advantage of that and head out with either the new friends that I make onboard or do a shore excursion through the cruise ship.

My DJ schedule varies from ship to ship. I cover all of their events and DJ at various spots throughout the ship. The majority of my gigs are in the evenings, but sometimes they will have me DJ a poolside set. I’m spinning every night in the nightclub from around 11-11:30 pm until 2 am. There are theme nights, such as 70s Disco and 80s/90s Remix. All other nights of the week, I play a variety of music depending on the crowd. There are people from all over the world and all ages on these ships, so the challenging part is finding a happy medium to keep the guests on the dance floor or enjoying drinks at the bar. Therefore, my sets will include any of the following; Top 40, EDM, Hip Hop, Latin, Reggaeton, Dancehall, Motown, 70s, 80s, and 90s. (all clean edits is required) Having the music library and knowledge of so many different genres of music, along with reading a crowd has definitely attributed to my ability to spin sets like this. In addition to the nightly gigs, I also DJ the family dance parties throughout the week. Once a week I get to dress up as a pirate and rock the deck for a crowd of 2,000+! It’s a celebration of Pirates of the Caribbean. They do a pirate show followed by fireworks and then it turns into the hottest nightclub of the 7 seas…Club Pirate. Finally, I teach DJ 101 lessons to the teens in their hangout spot. It’s a really rewarding experience to share my passion with others and when they are into it, I love it even more!

It does take time to adjust to living the ship life. I do miss my own bed sometimes and rough sea days are not my favorite. Needless to say, I never get tired of seeing the glittering serene blue ocean nor breathing in the salty sea air every day. I love exploring all of the exotic locations where the ship goes and meeting people from all over the world. One of the best parts about DJing on a cruise ship is when the guests give me compliments and share how much they enjoyed the music I played and that I made their vacation memorable! It reminds me of a quote I like; “Life Is Like A Sea. We Are Moving Without End. Nothing Stays With Us. What Remain Is Just The Memories Of Some People Who Touched Us As Waves.”

When it’s 2 am as I leave the nightclub to walk back to my cabin on the promenade deck, I watch the waves crash up against the ship and look out into the vast ocean with the moonlight reflecting off of it. In that moment, I stop and think to myself, I’m one happy and grateful DJ.

If you want to keep up with DJ Dayna’s cruise ship adventures, follow her here:

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