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David Lazarus of Port AdVenture Cruises has always been an entertainer

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

✦ David Lazarus loves entertainment, whether it be stage plays, live music events or parties. He loves to entertain and be entertained so that is what he does on his boat for others every day.

Even The Rhythmboat’s safety briefing is entertaining, and David adds a light hearted humour whilst providing informative comments about the focal points of the river throughout the daily cruises. During private functions, his role of the MC/DJ is one of his favourite parts of his job.

“ Without sounding corny, I love the feedback passengers give us when they disembark our boat after their cruise,” he said.

Note: Port AdVenture Cruises is hosting the Biggest Elvis Show on Earth with Father and Son Elvis team, Paul and Anthony Fenech. Sat 12 Aug 2023 8:00PM at the Darling Harbour Theatre, ICC Sydney, NSW.

Varied career path

David’s first job was a furniture removalist. “I loved the removalist job, it was very physical, lots of time was spent outdoors and it kept me strong for the sports I loved and played, rugby league and basketball,” he recalled fondly.

His next job was delivering hired TVs to St Vincent hospital in Sydney. It was during that time he became a part-time DJ, a pursuit that ultimately ended up being full-time. He worked with Donnie Sutherland, who had a National music TV show “Sounds” on the 7 Network.

"Donnie and that show opened so many doors for me. All of my skills and learnings were not formal, it just came from being part of the exciting disco scene starting in the 70s."

With Donnie live interviewing nearly every high profile act that came into Australia, David has either met personally or been backstage or in the same room with them too.

“I have kicked soccer balls with Rod Stewart, taken members of a great band called Bad Company waterskiing and shared a meal with Suzi Quatro. A lot of Australian rock stars know me by my first name (not just a Facebook friend) because many of them have performed on The Rhythmboat when it was in Sydney,” he told us. “And now, here I am in Port Macquarie, still working as a DJ on the boat that we own.”

The first boat or ship that David worked on as a young DJ was the Fairstar in 1983. Now, along with partner Elsa, he operates The Rhythmboat from the Clarence Street Wharf in Port Macquarie.

“Our boat is a public vessel and we have a massive obligation to ensure the vessel is safe and compliant with Maritime law," he explains. "Once cruising, it really is satisfying watching our customers enjoying themselves and watching the scenery changing every 5 minutes. You cannot do that on a land venue.”

David’s most memorable event

Jon English passed away suddenly due to a mishap on the operating table and he performed his second last ever show on the Rhythmboat. They had his official tribute at the Capitol Theatre and then all of his industry family and friends had their unofficial wake on The Rhythmboat.

“That was a very special gathering for us. While this was a sad occasion, to have a boat full of musicians and Australian icons, is something I will never forget,“ David said.

Fundraising for worthy causes

The vessel is a perfect venue for fundraising events and David and Elsa are in the position to provide their vessel for fundraising events outside our normal cruise times. The desire to offer this comes from a long history of community involvement for David.

Before he owned charter boats, David had been a strong supporter of the Wayside Chapel and has enjoyed since 1983 being the MC / DJ at the Christmas Day gathering for homeless and lonely people.

“The first year there were only about 500 people and now they cater for about 2000 people who all enjoy a donated meal, a fantastic atmosphere and a street party where I get them dancing and hopefully put a smile on their faces. As an entertainer and now owning The Rhythmboat, being able to provide charity and fundraising events is something we are very proactive at doing,” he said.

Changes in the entertainment industry over the years

The biggest change he has seen is the lack of venues that are now available for talented performers to perform in.

“Back in the day, every pub, club and so many live music venues all presented opportunities for artists to perform. These days it seems that venue managers have priority with gaming, food and beverage,” David explained. “Most of my entertainment friends and colleagues now rely on getting work on cruise ships, which is good for them, but while it sounds glamorous, it’s not as though you can go home after every gig and spend time with your family.

“Also, back in the day, there were several music and variety shows on TV where performers could sing and enjoy exposure highlighting their talents. These days, the only way you get exposure on TV now is to be judged, which is not ideal. Now, even with exposure on tv, there are still not enough venues to perform.”

That’s where The Rhythmboat fills a void. It’s a throwback to the old days, presenting good old fashioned entertainment, where the audience is close to the stage and the show becomes an event. Cruise on the Hastings River while enjoying an entertainment show!

Many events to enjoy aboard The Rhythmboat of Port AdVenture Cruises

Regular cruises include the 2-hour Dolphin Spotting Cruise, which includes catering, while the Seniors Big Day Out Cruise is very popular, where Seniors get on board and enjoy getting involved in the trivia, bingo and entertainment provided.

Currently in negotiation with the Players Theatre in Port Macquarie, David and Elsa are looking into providing a theatre restaurant style of Cruise called Dimboola.

“This is a play setting of a bush wedding and all the actors are the bridal party and the 'passengers' are the wedding guests. This play will be perfect for our boat. More information to come on that as it progresses further,” David told us.

A lot of the bands that have played aboard The Rhythmboat on Sydney Harbour in the past are booking future gigs in Port Macquarie. Plus, once Bob Downe finishes his very busy schedule, he will be back on board to share his amazing talent with us all again.

In between these events, the couple have a steady list of private function bookings and they are even getting bookings now for private and shared Christmas parties.

So, if you have been contemplating a Christmas party cruising the Hastings River, you had better book now to avoid disappointment!

Since David, Elsa and their fabulous team have been back in Port Macquarie they have established fantastic partnerships. “Collaborations with Port Macquarie EaTs, Players Theatre, Billabong Zoo, Brilliant-Online and too many other great businesses to mention, through their continued support of our endeavours, have helped us to provide a variety of cruises and events on our boat,” he said.


David Lazarus & Elsa Barbosa

t/ 0417 681 031 or 0434 393 199


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