As many as 1,800 tennis fans are bound for Melbourne onboard Pacific Pearl as the ship departs Sydney today on P&O Cruises’ third annual cruise to the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament which began yesterday in the Victorian capital.

The five-night round-trip voyage will spend a day at sea tomorrow before arriving in Melbourne on Thursday morning for a two-day stay. Guests will have access to transfers to and from Melbourne Park for two days of world-class tennis action during the tournament’s second and third-round matches, with general admission passes included in cruise fares. Upgrades to a reserved seat in Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena are also available, with over 1,700 of them purchased by guests on the cruise.

P&O Cruises’ annual venture to the Grand Slam tournament will provide a $250,000 injection of tourism dollars into the Victorian economy in one go.

Company President Sture Myrmell said cruising was the best way to get to the Australian Open, with one price covering entry to the tournament, accommodation and all meals onboard the ship, with the only extra expenses being extra food purchased at the tennis.

“Where flights and accommodation can book up months in advance and cost a small fortune, cruising is an all-inclusive option which takes the stress out of planning while providing a fun and relaxing experience either side of the action.”

In addition, Pacific Pearl will cater to fans’ love of tennis during days at sea between Sydney and Melbourne in both directions. The ship will broadcast Channel 7’s coverage of the matches onboard, while a number of activities including tennis-themed trivia, table tennis competitions and Nintendo Wii tennis events will all take place onboard.

Stateroom bookings are now open for guests keen to join next year’s Australia Open cruise, which will see Pacific Pearl depart Sydney, bound for Melbourne for the 2017 tournament. The five-night cruise is priced from $699 per person quad share and includes general admission to Melbourne Park, with upgrades to Rod Laver Arena available at $100pp.