Best Cruise Lines for Comedy

Cruise ship comedy used to be a joke. No more. Today top-rated comics and comedy acts vie for the steady work, good money and solid crowds.Read this article by Fran Golden, special for USA TODAY.


Cruise ship comedy used to be a joke. No more. Today top-rated comics and comedy acts vie for the steady work, good money and solid crowds.

Cruise lines typically have some family friendly comedy shows that are expletive free. But that rule doesn't necessarily apply at late-night, adults-only shows – which feature more or less the same comedy fare you'll find in clubs on land (though opinionated politics jokes may be muted).

Check out the best cruises for comedy.

Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival gets advice from funnyman George Lopez in choosing talent for its Punchliner Comedy Club (photo above). The line's two-dozen ships host multiple comedy shows each night. Carnival is one of the top employers of comics around the world. The late night, age 18 and up shows can be downright naughty, and the crowd loves it.

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Celebrity Cruises: Acts such as comedic jugglers and impersonators perform as guests in the main theater but the Vegas act Sin City Comedy, making the rounds ofCelebrity ships (it was first introduced on Celebrity Summit), goes beyond regular cruise ship fare, combining nationally known stand-up comedians and burlesque – yes, jokes and seductive dance. The fun takes place in a lounge; for age 18 and up.

Norwegian and Headliners Comedy Club: The intimate comedy clubs onNorwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway attract top-flight comics, some of whom also do shows in the theater. On the Miami-based Getaway, the performers are booked via Levity Entertainment Group, the largest producer of live comedy. The late show is for age 18 and up. On alternate nights, there's the fun (and often funny) dueling piano experience "Howl at the Moon."

Norwegian and The Second City: The renowned Chicago-based company has troupes doing improvisational and sketch comedy on several Norwegian Cruise Lineships. Passengers can take improv comedy classes.

Princess Cruises: Comedians, including Carlos Oscar (who has voted by passengers as Princess Cruises' "entertainer of the year"), perform in the Vista Lounge – with slightly naughty jokes in the late shows. You'll also find impersonators and other comedic acts as guest performers in the Princess Theater.

Royal Caribbean: Live comedy is part of the entertainment scene on all of Royal Caribbean's ships. Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ships, have Comedy LIVE, a dark and intimate New York-style club where a comedy host and two headliner comedians do at least a couple of shows each night, for an adult audience.

Holland America Line: Comics come onboard Holland America Line's ships as guest entertainers, performing in the main theater and Queen's Lounge. There are some seriously funny acts including comedy jugglers.

Disney Cruise Line: On Disney ships, comedy often comes with a physical or visual element – such as music, ventriloquism, juggling or magic – so that passengers of all ages are in on the joke. Select late-night performances are geared towards adults.The show productions also bring lots of laughs from Disney characters.

Cunard: On the Cunard ships you'll find comedy in many forms – including stand-up, improvisation, slapstick, observational humor, one-liners and satire. In addition to guest performers in the Royal Court Theatre, check out the Cunard Insights program for lectures by guests that might include humorist Bill Bryson or funnyman John Cleese.

Fran Golden, special for USA TODAY

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