Pacific Dawn Set to Make Cup Day History in Melbourne

P&O Cruises’ Pacific Dawn will become the biggest cruise ship to sail under the West Gate Bridge and dock in the heart of Melbourne as this year’s “race that stops the nation” lures a history-making quaddie of cruise ships to the city.


For the first time, four cruise ships are offering Melbourne Cup itineraries – including P&O Cruises’ entire three-ship fleet – causing an overflow that will see the 47.6-metre high Pacific Dawn sail up the Yarra River and under Melbourne’s iconic West Gate Bridge, which has a clearance of 50.1 metres.


Marine experts have had the slide rules and tidal charts out to confirm that Pacific Dawn will have a handy clearance when she sails under the Bridge at 7am on Tuesday November 3.

The 70,285-tonne superliner will then berth well upstream in the Yarra at Victoria Dock, near Docklands, by 8am, enabling its 2000 guests to head to Flemington for the Cup.


Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which operates P&O Cruises, said it would be a thrilling journey for the guests onboard.


“Cruising is all about fantastic experiences and guests on this Pacific Dawn cruise will have a rare bridge experience comparable to sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Brisbane’s Gateway Bridge. Plus they’ll be able to wake up next to Melbourne’s Docklands each day they are in port – something no other modern day cruise passenger has done,” Ms Sherry said.


Pacific Dawn will spend two days at Victoria Dock, while sister ships Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl will be berthed at Station Pier along with Carnival Spirit from Carnival Cruise Line, which is also part of the Carnival Australia stable.  The three P&O ships will leave Melbourne on Wednesday November 4 while Carnival Spirit will depart on Thursday November 5.


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.


P&O Cruises’ punters will enjoy shore tours and special racing activity including an exclusive behind the scenes tour of Flemington, tickets to the official Cup brunch and shopping excursions to pick up any last-minute accessories as well as having transfers and entry to Flemington on Cup day included in their cruise fare.