In the past, taking a cruise during a major sporting event would be unthinkable for any hardcore fan of the sport in question. That's beginning to change dramatically however, thanks to specially crafted cruises that give sport fanatics the ultimate sporting event experience. This is a fairly new phenomenon, so not every event has a cruise to go along with it just yet, but the selection is increasing all the time! Check out a few of the sport cruises that have already made a splash (or are coming up soon!) to get an idea of what this novel cruising development could mean for you.
Cruise ship: Pacific Pearl
Duration: 5 nights
Departs: 19th January 2016
It's safe to say that the Australian Open tennis tournament is a pretty big deal. Not only is it Australasia's leading annual tennis event, it's also one of the most well attended tennis tournaments in the world. Many will be flying to Melbourne to catch the matches but some of those who really want to make the most of the experience will be stepping aboard the Pacific Pearl to enjoy a leisurely 5 night cruise that arrives in Melbourne just in time to catch all the action. It might be a little late to get in on this year's Australian Open cruise, but getting in early for next year is well within reach. Included in the price of the cruise is free General Admission to the tournament - an upgrade is also available for $100 per person. Plus, depending on which cabin type you opt for, there are even more free extras you could enjoy - get the full details here.
State of Origin (P&O Cruises Australia)
Cruise ship: Pacific Dawn
Duration: 7 nights
Departs: 28th May 2016
There's no rugby series quite like State of Origin. Referred to as Australia's greatest sporting rivalry, it has transcended its humble beginnings to become an international phenomenon, a battleground on which some of the finest rugby league in the world is played. Instead of just sitting at home in front of the TV this year, why not try something a little different? The Pacific Dawn is embarking on a 7 night cruise from Brisbane, arriving in Sydney just in time for Game 1 at the ANZ Stadium. Bronze tickets to the game are included in the cruise fare so you can catch all the action before stepping back onboard to return to Brisbane. The cruise also features day visits to both Moreton Island and Newcastle. Find out more about this amazing State of Origin experience here.
Melbourne Cup (Carnival Cruises / P&O Cruises Australia)
The Melbourne Cup may have started as just a horse race but it's now much more than that. The Cup has turned into a cultural institution which every year captures the attention of millions of Australians and Kiwis. Of course, the races themselves still lie at the heart of the event but a firm focus on society and fashion has come to the fore over decades. This is a colourful extravaganza that seems to draw in even the most staid of spectators and it provides the perfect opportunity to push the boat out, as it were, and tie in a cruise holiday to make your Melbourne Cup experience more memorable than ever before.
This year there are three different Melbourne Cup cruise opportunities for you to choose from.
- Carnival Cruises is offering a 6 night Sydney round trip cruise aboard the Carnival Spirit which will bring you to Melbourne just in time for the races. You'll depart the city again on the 3rd, giving you plenty of time to savour Australia's cultural capital.
- P&O Cruises has two different options for Melbourne Cup cruisers. The first is a 6 night cruise departing from Sydney that includes free general entry and coach transfers to Flemington Racecourse - upgrades are also available on request.
- P&O's second offering is a 7 night affair departing from Brisbane and returning to Brisbane. Again, free general entry and coach transfers to Flemington Racecourse are included in your fare and ticket upgrades are available.
More and more cruise lines are getting onboard with sport friendly cruising - sometimes this means a specially designed itinerary to fit in with a major sporting event, other times it will mean that (thanks to the wonders of satellite TV) there's no need to miss the big game even when you're at sea. Being able to head to a bar aboard ship and cheer for your team alongside other ardent supporters is one of those recent developments that have made cruising far more sport-fan friendly.
Given the amount of cruise lines stepping up their game in the sports department, those keen to enjoy the next big event in style would do well to keep their eyes peeled - your ultimate sports holiday could be just around the corner.