Comedy Cruises 2020

Microphone on a wooden stool on a stand up comedy stage (Photo:Fer Gregory/Shutterstock)
Stand-up Comedy Cruises (Photo:Fer Gregory/Shutterstock)

Find a Cruise

More than any other type of theme cruise, Australians and New Zealanders love a comedy cruise. Brisbane and Melbourne cruisers have lots of options for a short or long weekend comedy cruise. Adelaide and Auckland cruisers can also join in the fun from their nearest port. For one of the best new comedy cruises, Melbourne is hosting its first International Comedy Festival at sea. The rest -- and the majority -- are P&O comedy cruises from Sydney, but Royal Caribbean will soon be announcing Aussie comedy cruises in 2020, too.

Updated October 10, 2019

1. P&O Comedy Cruises

P&O's biggest season of comedy is in full swing -- 82 dedicated themed cruises are setting sail from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Auckland in 2019 and 2020. These are known as Short Break Cruises, usually three to four nights, which stay in Australian waters and don't stop at any ports.

Line-up and Highlights

As well as catching headline comedy acts each night, passengers can take comedy workshops with experts in the trade and then compete on stage in the gong show.

Onboard Vibe: Fun and laughter all over the ship, with a party atmosphere at night.

Who would Like It: Aspiring comedians and anyone with a sense of humour. The late-night shows are not recommended for those who might be shocked by the adults-only material. 

How to Book: Contact your travel agent or see the full range of Short Breaks at P&O Cruises.

2. The Big Laugh Comedy Festival

Returning for the third consecutive year, P&O Cruises' The Big Laugh will be back by popular demand in 2020, delivering more big-name comics, performances and jokes than ever before.  Departing June 5, The Big Laugh Comedy Festival is a three-night round-trip from Sydney (there are no port calls) onboard the 2000-passenger Pacific Explorer. Book early as it sells out quickly.

 Line-up and Highlights

P&O doesn't release the names of comedy acts until a couple of months before departure but you can expect to see more famous comics than on the Short Break comedy cruises. P&O's Comedy Festivals generally feature a greater variety of acts, too, from family-friendly shows to risque, after-dark specials. Last year, top-name acts such as Tom Gleeson, Dave Hughes and Mel Buttle were among the stars of the 2019 Big Laugh Comedy Festival.

The 2020 Big Laugh cruise encompasses a wide variety of acts staged in different venues around the ship, so you can pick and choose from the full theatre experience in the two-deck Marquee Theatre or more intimate gigs in Pacific Explorer's small bars and lounges. While P&O aims to deliver comedy that will suit all tastes, you can expect some raunchy late-night 18+ shows.  Comedy workshops aren't usually held during Big Laugh Comedy Festival cruises.

Onboard Vibe: Apart from laughing yourself sick every night, there are plenty of things to do around the ship during the day -- and alternatives to comedy shows in the evening as well. You might run into that outrageously bawdy woman who kept an audience in stitches the night before at breakfast -- or more likely, brunch -- and you'll probably catch up with like-minded friends, both new and old.

Who Would Like It: Family groups (there are kid-friendly PG shows as well as R-rated gigs); friends cruising together; and singles and couples who have booked the cruise with the aim of having a good laugh.

How to Book: Contact your travel agent or see P&O Cruises.

3. The Big Kiwi Laugh

Departing September 4, 2020, The Kiwi Big Laugh features on a round-trip three-night cruise from Auckland (no port calls) onboard the 1,260-passenger Pacific Aria. Connoisseurs of dad jokes will be in the right place at the right time -- it's Father's Day on Sunday, September 6.

Line-up and Highlights

Comedy fans can expect a variety of genres and entertainment over three act-packed nights. The sell-out 2019 cruise featured a stellar line-up of talent that gives a hint of what's to come in 2020 -- Kiwi comedians Jarred Fell, Justine Smith, Melanie Bracewell, Pax Assadi and musical comedy duo The Fan Brigade, plus a few familiar faces from across the ditch.

From larger-than-life performances in the 580-seat Marquee Theatre to intimate gigs in Pacific Aria's many bars and lounges, the Kiwi Big Laugh cruise will have everyone from young kids and teens to nan and pop laughing their socks off.

Onboard Vibe: Upbeat and fun. As well as comedy shows, there's lots to do around the ship to keep you entertained. Sporty types can play tennis on the half-size court, basketball, mini golf, boules or quoits; craft workshops offer the chance to create accessories for the Gatsby party; and there's an indoor cinema and pool with a retractable roof if the weather isn't the best.

Who Would Like It: Comedy fans and anyone looking for a light-hearted, end-of-winter short break. Don't go if you're even faintly prudish.
How to Book: Contact your travel agent or see P&O Cruises.

4. Melbourne International Comedy Festival

This is a first for P&O -- a five-night round-trip cruise from Sydney that goes to the renowned Melbourne  International Comedy Festival. It joins P&O's Main Events line-up and takes all the hassle out of going to the largest comedy event on the Australian calendar by including everything from tickets to transfers.

Pacific Explorer departs Sydney on April 6, arrives in Melbourne at 8am on April 8 and leaves at 8pm on April 9, returning to Sydney in the morning of April 11.

Line-up and Highlights

There will be big-name comedy acts performing onboard on the way to Melbourne and on the way back to Sydney, but we won't know who will be headlining until nearer the time.

A show at Melbourne Town Hall exclusively reserved for Pacific Explorer's passengers. Pacific Explorer will be in Melbourne for two full days during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, which features some of the world's best comedians, so passengers can take their pick of shows on April 8 and 9.

Onboard Vibe: Expect wall-to-wall fun. Pacific Explorer is well set-up for entertainment of all varieties : there's the Edge Adventure park on the top deck;  barefoot bowls; waterslides for kids of all ages; and sophisticated bars for grown-ups.

Who Would Like It: Serious comedy fans should take this opportunity to enjoy a laugh-packed cruise along with on-the-spot accommodation on the ship for shows in Melbourne.

How to Book: Contact your travel agent or see P&O Cruises.

Find a Cruise

Popular on Cruise Critic

7 Dumbest Cruise Mistakes Ever
We've all been there: almost getting your Romanian spouse forcibly debarked -- and expatriated; sprinting through the St. Thomas jungle to catch your departing ship; eating three of Guy Fieri's 1,000-calorie burgers in one sitting. Perhaps not, but as Bram Stoker wrote in Dracula, "We learn from failure, not from success!" What has failure taught Cruise Critic's editors and contributors when it comes to cruising? Do your homework on visa requirements, and triple check that you know how to get where you're embarking. Be careful what you eat and what you book. Read our seven mini-stories of supreme stupidity, have a laugh at our expense, and vow never to make the same mistakes.
Best Time to Cruise
It's one of the most common cruising questions: When is the best time to cruise Alaska, Australia, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Hawaii, Europe or the South Pacific? The answer depends on many variables. For example, fall foliage enthusiasts will find September and October the best time to cruise Canada/New England, whereas families prefer to sail in summer when temperatures are warmer for swimming. The best time to cruise to Alaska will vary depending on your preferences for viewing wildlife, fishing, bargain-shopping, sunshine, warm weather and catching the northern lights. For most cruise regions, there are periods of peak demand (high season), moderate demand (shoulder season) and low demand (low season), which is usually the cheapest time to cruise. High season is typically a mix of when the weather is best and popular travel periods (such as summer and school holidays). However, the best time to cruise weather-wise is usually not the cheapest time to cruise. The cheapest time to cruise is when most travelers don't want to go because of chillier temperatures or inopportune timing (too close to holidays, the start of school, etc.). But the lure of cheap fares and uncrowded ports might make you change your mind about what you consider the best time to cruise. As you plan your next cruise, you'll want to take into consideration the best and cheapest times to cruise and see what jibes with your vacation schedule. Here's a when-to-cruise guide for popular destinations.

Find a Cruise