Carnival Australia’s Melbourne Cup ‘Megafleet’ Prepares To Sail

It’s a Melbourne Cup quaddie made in punters’ heaven, with a record four Carnival Australia cruise ships carrying 8000 passengers plus a host of Cup personalities and entertainers, heading to the race that stops the nation next month.


Working out just where to put four superliners – P&O Cruises’ entire current fleet, Pacific Jewel, Pacific Pearl and Pacific Dawn, and Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Spirit -- is a challenge in itself for Melbourne’s port authorities.


Three of the ships will be at Station Pier but the marine experts have had the slide rules and tidal charts out to enable the fourth ship, the 70,285-tonne Pacific Dawn, to become the first cruise superliner ever to sail under Melbourne’s iconic West Gate Bridge which has a clearance of 50.1 metres and berth well upstream in the Yarra River at Victoria Dock, close to the heart of Docklands.


With a soaring air draft of 47.6 metres, Pacific Dawn will safely pass under the bridge around 7am on Tuesday November 3, with a handy clearance giving passengers a ‘bridge experience’ comparable to sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Brisbane’s Gateway Bridge.


Getting so many eager punters to Flemington for their Cup experience is another logistics challenge that would have Army planners scratching their heads but a cavalcade of 164 coaches will take care of transport from wharf to track.


“Cruising is all about fantastic experiences and having a record four ships sailing to the Melbourne Cup offers thousands of eager racegoers a unique way of experiencing all the excitement of the race that stops the nation,” said Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which accounts for P&O Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line among its seven iconic cruise brands.


“Sending a megafleet to Melbourne delivers the biggest single contingent of interstate visitors to the Cup. It really demonstrates Melbourne’s reputation for being the events capital of Australia, with our ships also sailing to the Australian Tennis Open and the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.”


Between them, the four ships’ 8000 passengers will be contributing around 8 per cent of the total attendees at Flemington on Cup day – with the megafleet delivering the biggest single contingent of interstate visitors to the Cup (about 14 per cent).


Ms Sherry said the four ships would inject more than $7 million into the economy in passenger and crew spending as well as port charges and fees, with the ships spending a combined 12 days in Melbourne.

Carnival Spirit, Pacific Pearl and Pacific Jewel will sail out of Sydney to arrive in Melbourne in time for the Cup on Monday November 2, while Pacific Dawn sails from Brisbane to arrive early Tuesday. Transfers and general admission to the Melbourne Cup are part of the cruise package for the 8000 passengers aboard the megafleet.


The fleet is also awash with Melbourne Cup personalities and jockeys, Australia’s most famous race caller, fashion and style experts, famous name Australian entertainers and even an actual Melbourne Cup or two with which passengers can get up close and personal.


Attractions on the P&O Cruises’ ships include:


  • Legendary Melbourne Cup jockeys John Marshall and Michael Clarke (Pacific Pearl and Pacific Jewel), owner of Cup winning horse Rogan Josh, Wendy Green (Pacific Pearl and Pacific Dawn); and Bart Cummings’ Flemington track rider Joe Agresta (Pacific Dawn).


  • Popular Australian personalities including Carmelo Pizzino (Pacific Jewel) from Dancing With The Stars, author and radio personality Bianca Dye (Pacific Pearl), and TV presenter Zoe Sheridan (Pacific Dawn) joining their maiden Cup cruises to host P&O Cruises’ Myer Fashions at Sea events.


  • Fashion designer and stylist Katie Perry (Pacific Pearl), stylist Naomi Bell (Pacific Dawn) and Kylie Sultana from the Style Vine (Pacific Jewel), will also sail on their first Cup cruises, offering styling workshops and taking part in the onboard fashion parade.


  • Fascinator-making classes will be hosted by award-winning milliner Kathleen Watson (Pacific Dawn), Melbourne Cup Ambassador and renowned Australian milliner Kim Fletcher (Pacific Jewel) and Serena Lindeman (Pacific Pearl), who created the infamous “million-dollar hat” which took out the inaugural Fashions on the Field.


  • Aussie entertainers Normie Rowe (Pacific Dawn), The Glenn Shorrock Band (Pacific Jewel) and The Tap Pack (Pacific Pearl).


Carnival Spirit will have two of Australia’s leading beauty and style experts onboard – stylist to the stars Penny Hunt and Beauticate website founder Sigourney Cantelo, both former Beauty Editors at Vogue. Other Cup-themed events on Carnival Spirit include:


  • A ‘Q and A’ session with Australia’s most gifted race caller John Tapp sharing his vast knowledge of Australian racing and amazing tales of Cups past


  • Melbourne Cup tips from popular racing personality Richie Callander with the latest ‘mail’ in passengers’ quests for a likely winner at Flemington


  • A special Cup-themed degustation dinner plus a Mad Hatters’ afternoon tea and a post-Cup recovery lunch


“After this year’s Melbourne Cup there will be just two groups of people in Australia – those who sailed to the Melbourne Cup in 2015 on the Carnival Australia megafleet and those who wished they had,” Ms Sherry said. “It’s a quintessential Australian experience that is just too good to miss.”