Every year the nation is gripped with racing fever as the Melbourne Cup comes around again. The fashion, the stakes, the excitement… And every year cruise ships provide fans with the ultimate Melbourne Cup experience, sailing from Sydney or Brisbane down to the big event. There are always plenty of Cup related features and events onboard, but this year cruisers are in for even more of a treat than usual. Not one, but two of Australia’s most famed race callers will be along for the ride as the ships make their annual Cupward journey.
Image: Chris Phutully
The race calling veteran of more than 50,000 races, John Tapp will be stepping aboard the Carnival Spirit for his third Melbourne Cup cruise.
“I love walking into Pharaoh's Show Lounge the evening before Melbourne Cup to soak up the atmosphere and to share my love of the Great Race with such a happy group of racing fans who sail to Melbourne year after year,” Mr Tapp said. “I can always count on seeing familiar faces in the audience.”
While Tapp has become a regular feature of Melbourne Cup cruises, another famous Aussie name in the world of race calling has only just retired and is embarking on his first Cup voyage. Greg Miles has called races at 36 Melbourne Cup events and will be joining cruisers on the Pacific Explorer. Miles will be sharing with guests about his storied career - from the obscure country track to calling history-making moments like Makybe Diva’s record breaking third consecutive Melbourne Cup win. Mr Miles said that it might feel a little odd not being in the broadcast box.
“I am looking forward to the Melbourne Cup cruise and it will be an extraordinary experience not to be at Flemington during the Carnival,” said Miles. “But I am ready to embrace the change that this means. There is something about the Melbourne Cup Carnival that brings people together. It is a special bond in which Australians enjoy each other’s company and horse racing has been so much a part of our history for such a long time. It breaks down barriers.”
Image: Chris Phutully
Passengers aboard the Carnival Spirit will be enjoying a six night round trip from Sydney complete with race tips from experts, sweepstakes, a fashion parade and general admission to Flemington. Carnival Cruise Line Vice President Jennifer Vandekreeke said of the annual sailing, “Every year our Melbourne Cup cruise gets bigger and better. This year raises the bar with new racing experts and fashion stylists sharing their hot tips to make the most of their day at Flemington but the opportunity to hear from the legendary race caller John Tapp is an exceptional opportunity.”
On the P&O Australia front, three ships will be sailing toward Melbourne for the Cup. While Pacific Explorer guests will be treated to Greg Miles’ story, Pacific Jewel guests will meet Sheila Jackson, the first female trainer to win both the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup, and Pacific Dawn cruisers will hear the rags to riches tale of the exceptional Rogan Josh from trainer Jenny Green and two-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey John Letts.
“There is a special magic about P&O’s Melbourne Cup cruises with a holiday atmosphere onboard that is unrivalled with thousands of guests in happy anticipation of what they hope will be a winning day at Flemington,” P&O Cruises President Sture Myrmell said. “The atmosphere is electric with racing fans making the Melbourne Cup cruise a main event in its own right.”
Although it’s a bit late in the day to join a 2017 Melbourne Cup cruise, it’s never too early to plan for next year. Find the Melbourne Cup cruise that’s right for you at Cruise Sale Finder.
Feature image: Chris Phutully