6000 punters have set sail for the Melbourne Cup this weekend – the largest cohort of racegoers to ever have travelled to the event by ship.
The passengers aboard the three P&O cruise ships travelling from Sydney to Melbourne and account for 10% of the 55,000 visitors to Melbourne for the Cup.
The race-themed cruise liners offer activities including fascinator-making classes and hold talks with guest speakers like legendary Melbourne Cup jockey Wayne Harris and the Cup-winning horse Rogan Josh’s owner Wendy Green.
Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry said the cruise operator plan to add a fourth ship to the convoy next year after selling-out this year’s Spring Carnival trip.
“Australians love cruising and sports and by combining the two, we know we’re backing a winner,” Sherry said.
P&O’s selling-out success reflects the burgeoning cruising industry in Australia with passenger numbers hitting a record of 833,348 people in 2013, up 20% from 694,062 in 2012.
Australia now boasts the highest global penetration rate of any cruise source market, with the equivalent of 3.6% of the population taking a cruise in 2013. It is the first country to surpass the North American cruise market with a penetration rate of 3.3%, according to the Cruise Industry Source Market Report.
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