(12:30 p.m. AEST) — Pacific Dawn is set to become the first cruise superliner ever to sail under Melbourne’s Westgate Bridge when it arrives in the city tomorrow — a special event caused by a lack of space at the city’s main terminal during the Melbourne Cup.
The berths at Station Pier will be taken up by the rest of the P&O Cruises fleet, Pacific Jewel and Pacific Pearl, plus Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Spirit — which are bringing a record 8,000 passengers to the annual horse race.
To fit in a fourth ship in, port authorities decided to have the 70,285-tonne Pacific Dawn berth upstream in the Yarra River at Victoria Dock, close to the heart of Docklands.
Westgate Bridge has a clearance of 50.1 metres and Pacific Dawn has an air draft of 47.6 metres, so it is expected to give passengers an exciting “under the bridge” experience comparable to sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge or Brisbane’s Gateway Bridge.
Once the punters are off the ships, 164 coaches will take them from the wharf to the track. Cruisers will make up 8 percent of the total attendees at Flemington, with the Carnival Australia “megafleet” delivering the biggest single contingent of interstate visitors to Cup day.
“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 operates P&O and Carnival Cruise Line.
Entertainment and activities will also be provided onboard the ships by racing personalities and jockeys, fashion and style experts, musicians, and radio and television presenters.
Carnival Spirit, Pacific Pearl and Pacific Jewel will sail out of Sydney this afternoon, while Pacific Dawn sails from Brisbane and is scheduled to pass under the Westgate around 7am on Tuesday, November 3.
Pictured above is the last time Melbourne had three cruise ships in port, alongside the Spirit of Tasmania ferry, during last year’s Melbourne Cup.