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Punchliner Comedy Club on Carnival Cruise Line
Punchliner Comedy Club on Carnival Cruise Line
Comedy Cruises 2020
Stand-up Comedy Cruises (Photo:Fer Gregory/Shutterstock)

Comedy Cruises 2020

Comedy Cruises 2020
Stand-up Comedy Cruises (Photo:Fer Gregory/Shutterstock)
Sally Macmillan
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A message from Cruise Critic: During this unprecedented time throughout the world and across the cruise industry, it is important to note that article information might be impacted by cruise line hiatuses and port closures due to COVID-19. For the latest information, please visit our regularly updated article on what cruisers need to know about coronavirus.

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.

1. P&O Comedy Cruises

P&O's biggest season of comedy is in full swing, with departures from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Auckland. Known as Short Break Cruises, usually three to four nights, these sailings 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 range of Short Breaks.

2. The Big Laugh Comedy Festival

Returning for the third consecutive year, P&O Cruises' The Big Laugh is back by popular demand in 2020, delivering more big-name comics and performances.  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

Hans the German has been announced to perform onboard. Other acts will be revealed a couple of months before departure but you can expect to see more famous comics than on the Short Break comedy cruises. Tom Gleeson and Dave Hughes were among the stars of last year's Big Laugh Comedy Festival. P&O's Comedy Festivals feature a greater variety of acts, too, from family-friendly shows to risque, after-dark specials.

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 silly 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 the range of Short Breaks.

3. The Big Kiwi Laugh

Departing September 4, 2020, The Kiwi Big Laugh takes place on a round-trip three-night cruise from Auckland (no port calls) onboard the 1,260-passenger Pacific Aria. Lovers 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 the range of Short Breaks.

4. Melbourne International Comedy Festival

This is a first for P&O -- a round-trip cruise from Sydney that goes to the renowned Melbourne  International Comedy Festival. It takes all the hassle out of going to Australia's largest comedy event by including tickets and transfers to shows in the city, as well as an exclusive show on land for cruise passengers.

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

Internationally-acclaimed Aussie comedian Rhys Nicholson will headline the sailing to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Also performing onboard the ship will be Mel Buttle and Bev Killick.

A show at Melbourne Town Hall has been reserved for Pacific Explorer's passengers. Comedians will include the hilarious Joel Creasey, Dilruk Jayasinha and Becky Lucas.

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: Check out this special five-night cruise.

Updated April 14, 2020

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