The very nature of cruising means it has long been thought of as a long, slow vacation at sea. But P&O’s modern approach to the cruise lends itself more to flexible short breaks; relaxing local return trips that fit neatly into a weekend or a sneaky midweek getaway.

These quick cruises, usually only two to four nights, are largely at sea, though some itineraries give guests one stop – Moreton Island, Kangaroo Island or the Whitsundays, depending on the departure port.

To make the most of that time on the ocean, P&O has tailored cruises around food and wine, sporting events and even – gulp – comedy.

But far from being where comedy goes to die, P&O’s cruises have actually become a bit of a stand-up hot-spot. What started as a tentative experiment in 2009 with just four short-break comedy cruises has now grown into a regular – and popular! – offering, with 72 dedicated comedy cruises in the 2018-19 wave season.

Their laugh-a-minute calendar highlight is the Big Laugh Comedy Festival.
Packed to the gills with 14 homegrown comedians, this year Pacific Explorer departs Sydney on June 20 for a celebration of stand up that comprises 36 shows during the four-night sailing. This year’s Comedy Festival has some major established acts performing, including Dave Hughes, Jimeoin, Matt Okine and Claire Hooper.

Another popular short break is the food and wine series. A round trip from Sydney, this regular three-night cruise offers seminars from food and wine personalities, cocktail making demonstrations and sommelier classes. Some itineraries offer a port stop, for guests who can drag themselves away from their gourmet Standard cruise buffet food this is not.

A more surprising offering is their sports-focused cruises. State of Origin fans can cruise on Pacific Explorer from Sydney to Melbourne to catch Game One live at the MCG, with transfers and tickets to the game included in their fare. The four-night round-trip cruise gives punters the chance to meet League greats, celebrate in Queensland and NSW supporters’ bars, enjoy footy-themed events and stock up on merchandise at the official shop.

Australian Open enthusiasts can go on one of three Sydney to Melbourne cruises for two days at the event (tickets and transfers included, of course) and day and night screenings of the action on the ship, where tennis personalities will be on hand for meet-and-greets.

For new cruisers, and those with tight schedules, these short themed voyages might be the perfect getaway.

View all P&O cruise deals