NEW YORK - Back when she was a nobody, long before she blasted to stardom on "American Idol" and "Dreamgirls," Jennifer Hudson sang on a cruise ship. And on Wednesday, the singer said she would do it again, this time as the headliner for a new concert series on Carnival Cruise Lines called Carnival Live.

"I used to work on a cruise ship, a long time ago," said Hudson before performing at a Carnival news conference in midtown Manhattan.

Her stint aboard a Disney cruise ship was "my test," she said. "Two days later, I went in and auditioned for 'American Idol.' "

Hudson is scheduled to perform June 18 on Carnival Ecstasy and June 19 on Carnival Breeze, both in Cozumel, Mexico.

Carnival has struggled to restore its image after three ships broke down last year. Images of passengers stranded at sea, ships towed back to port and trip cancellations created a torrent of bad publicity for the company that depressed ticket prices and revenue.

Other performers and bands scheduled to perform are Chicago, Daughtry, Foreigner, Gavin DeGraw, Jewel, Kansas, Lady Antebellum, LeAnn Rimes, Martina McBride, Olivia Newton-John, REO Speedwagon, STYX and Trace Adkins.