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Laugh and the world laughs with you, especially if you’re on a P&O Cruises Comedy Cruise. The line has hosted more than 200 comedy cruises featuring more than 30,000 jokes since 2009. If you’re game, you can even get up on stage and tell a few gags yourself with help from a pro comedian. Comedian David Smiedt ran a comedy workshop for P&O Cruises passengers who were interested in participating in the Comedy Gong Show or, like me, keen to learn more about what it takes to stand up in front of a group of strangers and make them laugh.

Smiedt did his first comedy gig aged 38 after one of his best mates from university, comedian Adam Hills, suggested he give stand-up a go. Twelve years later he’s helping first-timers create the perfect premise, set up and punchline as we sail from Auckland to Brisbane. “Just jump up and give it a go. There are lots of different ways to tell a good joke. Everyone has their own style and the crowd is behind you,” says Smiedt.

The crowd is behind you on a Comedy Cruise

He’s an engaging presenter and almost succeeds in getting me up to have a go. But not quite. However, a couple of passengers who are braver than I am prove him right, getting a big round of applause for gags that are more Dad than rad. Some jokes are better than others, but all of them are met with good natured laughter and fit the PG requirement for the all ages Gong Show. I’m content to leave the jokes to the professionals onboard like Smiedt, Frank Woodley, Fiona McGary, and comedy ventriloquist Dean Atkinson who has the audience in stitches and the three guys on stage having second thoughts about volunteering to be human ventriloquist dolls.

Just like a regular cruise, there are also Broadway-style production shows and plenty of bars featuring live musical entertainment. Comedy shows in the main theatre are typically at 7pm and 9pm, with a couple of R18+ comedy shows taking place in The Sit Down Comedy Club after 10pm. One afternoon there is also a Comedy Debate and an intimate Cocktails and Comedy show in The Dome lounge.

Sit Down Comedy Club on P&O Cruises
Enjoy 18+ comedy at The Sit Down Comedy Club

Perhaps the best thing about our comedy cruise is the overall quality of the onboard entertainment which is akin to a cruise ship buffet featuring comedy rather than food. Not everything is going to be to your taste but there is always something tempting. Plus it’s a great opportunity to try new things. With a variety of different genres and entertainment for all ages, a Comedy Cruise is ideal for families. Children can catch one of the afternoon or early evening PG shows then head to the kids club. Our teen laughed along with us at the cheeky MA15 performances at 9pm which were more grown up.

With most comedy cruises taking place over the weekend, it’s a great way to enjoy a family holiday without your kids missing school. Pack their school uniform and they can go straight from the pier to school on Monday, arriving in time for the first lesson of the day. Join the fun and you’ll be laughing.

Disclosure: The writer travelled as a guest of P&O Cruises and was way too shy to get up and perform at the Comedy Gong Show.

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Dr Tiana Templeman is an award-winning food and travel journalist, travel author and media industry academic. She is the creator of The Travel Temple, writes for Australian and international media outlets and appears on radio talking about where to go, what to see and travel industry trends.