Think a cruise holiday means you have to leave your golf clubs behind? Think again. The combination of cruise and golf has come a long way the scruffy putt putt course with holes punctuated by twirling windmills and bobbing palm trees (though those are still onboard if that’s more your thing). In theory, golfers can take any cruise and play a round or two at ports along the way, but there are a few lines that offer golf-themed cruises.
Tee-off at sea
Onboard golf simulators used to be all the rage on cruise ships, though in recent years many lines have begun to phase them out. One line that is carrying on the trend is Hapag-Lloyd, onboard its ultra-luxurious Europa 2. The ship is equipped with two state-of-the-art golf simulators where passengers can play a round at Gleaneagles, St Andrews or one of the 13 other courses on offer. One of the simulators also features video analysis that will assess your swing so that the onboard PGA professional can give you a detailed critique.
All ships in the Crystal Cruises fleet have onboard driving ranges and putting greens. The ships are stocked with top-of-the-line TaylorMade equipment and teaching clinics are run by golf pros on most sailings. Star Cruises’ flagship vessel SuperStar Virgo has a golf driving range on the Sports Deck. Passengers can putt golf balls around the grass lawns of Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice class ships.
Once you’ve perfected your swing onboard, you can take that knowledge ashore with a range of golf-themed cruises. Hapag-Lloyd’s golf cruises sail around the world so passengers can play on courses in Europe, the USA and Canada, the Caribbean, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and South Africa. The itineraries highlight the courses available on each voyage and cruisers can purchase a package to play, with prices around US$425 per course. The packages all feature the line’s first-class service, with club fittings, training, baggage services and cleaning included.
Azamara Club Cruises has one of the most comprehensive golf cruising programs with specialised cruises to the British Isles, Spain, the Middle East, the Baltics and Australasia. Cruises are also timed to coincide with premier events such as the British Open. Itineraries include multiple rounds of golf at legendary courses such as Royal Troon, Royal County Down and Barcelo Montecastillo. Prices vary depending on destination, but golfers can expect to pay an additional US$2,000 to US$5,000 on top of the standard cruise fare.
One of the real charms of these golf cruises is that there’s plenty to keep the non-golfer entertained. Instead of being trapped at a resort designed solely for golfers, they are travelling on an exciting, luxurious ship with endless dining options, entertainment and activities, a huge spa and other cruisers to meet.
Three of the best golf cruises
- Azamara Club Cruises Azamara Quest, 11 nights Dublin to Southampton, priced from A$8,256 per person. Play Old Head Golf Links, The K Club, Royal Country Down, Royal Lytham & St Annes and Gleneagles
- Hapag-Lloyd MS Europa 2, 14 nights Capetown to Capetown, priced from US$10,593 per person. Play at Rossmund Golf Club, Humewood Golf Club, Durban Country Club and Pinnacle Point Golf Club.
- Crystal Cruises Crystal Serenity, 9 nights New York to Quebec City, priced from $3,940 per person. Plat The Links at Brunello.