What to expect on a cruise to nowhere (that was also a comedy cruise)

A cruise to nowhere sounds absurd but it's a chance for first-time cruisers to find out what cruising is all about, go to a show and experience the hospitality options.

When writer Alana House booked herself a comedy cruise to nowhere, she got more than a few laughs and surprises. This experienced cruising traveller explains the weird and wonderful things that can happen at sea.

By Alana House

Should you go on a cruise to nowhere?

Flick through the travel section of any weekend paper and it’s pretty clear Australia is in the midst of a massive cruise boom.

Every second advertisement spruiks a cruise to somewhere exotic, whether it be the Mediterranean, Alaska, Fiji, Norway … and most have enticingly low price tags.

Cruises can be a cost-efficient way to see the world, as most fares include meals, accommodation and entertainment.

However, the general rule of thumb is the cheaper the fare, the bigger the ship. Expect to pay more than $1000 a day for a luxury small ship cruise, while you can score bargains on large liners for less than $100 a day.

And large these days can actually mean HUGE. Royal Caribbean International’s new Icon of the Seas will become the world’s biggest cruise ship when it sets sail in the Caribbean in January 2024. It will comfortably hold around 5610 passengers and 2350 crew and looks like this …


If you’re excited by cruise specials in travel sections, but unsure if you want to spend weeks at sea with thousands of other passengers, a “cruise to nowhere” is a great way to get a taste of the big ship experience.

A “cruise to nowhere” is one with no ports of call. The ship simply sails up the coast for a few days, then heads back to port. The cruises often have themes, which can range from comedy to ‘80s music and even Elvis impersonators.

P&O Cruises, Celebrity, Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean all offer cruises to nowhere. My partner and I recently went on P&O comedy cruise aboard the Pacific Adventure.

The ship caught on fire.

No. Joke.

The blaze made international headlines. But I’ll tell you about that melodrama in a minute …

We decided to go on a comedy cruise because we enjoy watching comedians perform live and were lured by an online special that offered balcony cabins for around $120 per person per night.

We were a bit uncertain about boarding a ship with capacity for 2636 guests, but were blown away as we stood on the prow as it departed from Sydney’s White Bay Terminal, sailing under Sydney Harbour Bridge past Sydney Opera House and out through the heads.

The view was so spectacular that I couldn’t resist posting a few shots on Instagram.

After posting this pic on Insta, Alana House was in for a few surprises ...

A few minutes later a friend messaged asking: “Just wondering exactly where you are??”

I replied: “You will be horrified – we’re on a comedy cruise.”

And she said: “Ummmmm … so are we.”

Unbeknownst to each other we’d booked cabins on the same cruise. What are the odds of that?

Similar to the odds of your cruise ship catching fire?

Now, about that fire … After having dinner and watching a comedy show, we retired to our cabin and fell into a deep sleep, only to be awakened by a piercing alarm at 3am. It was followed by a slightly hysterical loud speaker announcement that first aid was required on deck 10.

Frantic calls for all crew to urgently make their way to deck 10 continued for a few minutes until the Captain arrived on the bridge and calmly announced that there was no need to panic, but a balcony on deck 10 was on fire.

We immediately leapt out of bed and bolted onto our balcony to gaze in sleepy awe at a balcony about a dozen cabins away that was fully ablaze.

Next thing we knew, the Captain was telling everyone to get dressed, grab their life jackets and head to their muster stations.

Our muster point was in the casino. There weren’t enough seats at the poker machines, so we spent the next two hours lying under a blackjack table, repurposing our life jackets as pillows.

The flames in the cabin on deck 10 were eventually extinguished, but we weren’t allowed to return to our beds until all passengers had been accounted for.

After an hour of general announcements, crew members started calling out individual names of missing passengers on the loud speaker.

Finally it came down to one name, repeated over and over: “Luke Mangan, could you please check in.”

I thought it was an odd coincidence that a passenger called Luke Mangan was on a ship that had a Luke Mangan restaurant on board.

I also wished Luke would bloody hurry up and report to the crew so we could go back to bed.

Our friends had dinner the next night at the Luke Mangan restaurant and were surprised to be greeted by the celebrity chef himself at the door. He even poured their Champagne.

He might want to take his ear plugs out next time he cruises.

That said, our friends have been on 10 previous sailings and never had an emergency muster before. We’ve ended up being quite excited to have been involved in one as it’s given us a great dinner party story.

As for the rest of our cruise, it was surprisingly calm, balmy and fun. The sunsets were gorgeous and it was bliss to have zero responsibilities for a few days.

Despite being late May, it was so warm that people were sunbaking in cossies as we cruised past Port Macquarie.

Don’t expect much from the food on board - it’s on par with what you’d purchase in a shopping centre food court. However, you can expect a great meal if you pay extra for a specialty restaurant such as Luke Mangan. My friends reckon it served the best food they’ve ever eaten at sea and was even on par with wonderful restaurant experiences they’ve had on land.

As for the on-board entertainment, we loved the headline act – Bob Downe – who led a full theatre in a joyous rendition of Sweet Caroline and had us cackling over how inappropriate song lyrics were in the 1970s. We also enjoyed watching an amazing magician called James Galea, who has appeared on an array of US and Aussie TV shows.

Overall, we thought the cruise was fantastic value and we loved catching up with our friends for leisurely afternoon drinks on deck.

It’s definitely worth giving a cruise to nowhere a whirl to suss out if you’re a big ship person. While we’ve decided we prefer our ships slightly smaller, it was lovely to spend a few days at sea.

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