RACY CRUISES

THE thunder of galloping hooves, the roar of the crowd, jockeys in colourful silks, and social fillies in outrageous hats sipping bubbly –  all make the Melbourne Cup the race that stops the Australian nation on the first Tuesday in November.

A jockey in colourful silks waits for his mount at Melbourne's Spring Racing Carnival
A jockey in colourful silks waits for his mount at Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival

Hotel rooms are booked out months ahead, but someone had a great idea – have cruise ships sailing into Port Melbourne for the event.

australiancruisingnews.com notes that it works well for other international events, and is now working like clockwork Down Under.

Several thousand interstate guests arrive this week on P&O’s Pacific Jewel and Pacific Dawn (pocruises.com.au), and on Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Spirit, for Melbourne’s adrenalin charged Spring Racing Carnival, carnival.com.au

The ships all cruised down the East Coast of Australia from Sydney for the exuberant celebrations, and will return north after the races.

By all accounts Cup cruises are usually booked early by passengers who enjoy the pre-race antics on board, as well as the ease with which excursion staff on cruise ships get them to and from Flemington Racecourse – with some 100-plus coaches booked well ahead of the event.

En route to Melbourne cruise ship passengers enjoy plenty of “horse, hype and hoopla” activities including a phantom race call so that everyone feels in carnival mood on arrival at the races. There are also fashion and make-up experts available in the on board beauty salons to “glam up” female guests for the Cup.

Melbourne Cup has a long history, and when Mark Twain attended the race in 1895 he said, “Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such magnificent appeal to the whole nation.”

Over a century later Australia’s richest race attracts international racehorses as well as A-list celebrities and socialites, and is televised around the world.

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