It’s hard to believe the two didn’t find each other decades before this, but a trend which has not just emerged, but become more prevalent in the world of cruising world has been the rise of humble golf-infused shore excursions and full-blown golf-based cruise itineraries.
Cruise lines are appealing more and more to the country club set with these forays into the world of golf. And it’s not just avid golfers jumping onboard as even those with more modest interests in hitting the links are dusting off the clubs and shoes in an effort to be part of certain itineraries and a chance to sail with a certain brand.
The idea of a golf cruise isn’t just limited to wannabe professionals either, with many former pro golfers seizing the opportunity in semi-retirement from the tour to host golf cruises in partnership with cruise lines around the world.
Normally the domain of the super wealthy, golf cruises aren’t just taking place on the luxury cruise lines such as Crystal Cruises or Azamara Club Cruises. Mass market lines and the more affordable and family-friendly companies such as Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises are regularly setting sail with golf infused voyages.
Norwegian Cruise Line for one is the official cruise line of the PGA and even if not on a specially themed golf itinerary, still offers plenty to keep golf fans happy. On Pride of America cruises in Hawaii and Bermuda, a PGA (Professional Golfers Association) licensed professional is available to consult with guests looking for golf advice or just to share stories.
For travellers unable to visit such destinations without seeking out a course, both also offer special golfers packages available on the ship which include rounds of golf in each port of call and even onboard club storage, should you wish to travel with your own clubs.
Guests can practice their game while at sea with golf simulators offering the opportunity to play a virtual round at hundreds, or even thousands or virtual golf courses in the world.
On the other side of the coin, and for a lot more coins, luxury cruise lines including Crystal Cruises are taking things to the next level.
By no coincidence, one of the line’s ships can often be found cruising in the British Isles around the same time as the British Open – one of the world’s oldest and highest profile professional golf tournaments – is taking place. This voyage is steadily increasing in popularity among the line’s regular passengers, in no small way due to an associated opportunity to sail alongside golf legends such as the ‘Great White Shark’ Greg Norman and the late Billy Casper being just as enticing as watching the elite of today on the fairways.
Generally, the guest golf personalities will deliver seminars and instructional lectures to help passengers improve their own game. Crystal passengers also receive priority access to special viewing areas on shore when visiting tournaments, while also having access to lunch and post-play celebration areas.
Azamara Club Cruises is another line which boasts a wide selection of golf cruises around the world, but in a more onboard environment. The small ship line is currently selling no less than 11 different golf-themed itineraries over the next few years.
This includes a close-to-home cruise aboard Azamara Journey departing from Auckland to Sydney on 22 February 2018. This 14-day sailing includes five rounds of golf at some of New Zealand’s top courses including the famed Cape Kidnappers at Hawke’s Bay and Jack’s Point in Queenstown.
In addition to so much off-ship golf, Azamara has even brought the game onboard with guests able to participate in a cruise long tournament, with challenges set and awards presented on the final day of competition. Guests partaking in the golf programme don’t even need to struggle with their own clubs, with Azamara providing services to transport your gear in both directions between the ship and the course, ready for you to collect.
Azamara’s golf itineraries go much further abroad than New Zealand, with destinations as far and wide as the Arabian Peninsula, the Mediterranean and the Iberian Coast. Even exotic courses in the Baltic are available, with a 2018 sailing to some of the most picturesque golf courses in the Northern Hemisphere scheduled and now on sale.
River cruise lines are also dipping their toes into golf, with European Waterways offering a range of itineraries which combine Europe’s stunning smaller rivers with award-winning courses. Also available from European Waterways are a range of shore tours combining a leisurely round of golf in the morning with a visit to a local vineyard later in the day for 19th hole formalities including cheese and wine! That has to beat even the nicest of clubhouses!
The smaller more intimate nature of European Waterways’ ships can even present a chance to round up your regular golf companions for a charter of one of their boats. Chartered river boat itineraries are also incredibly flexible, enabling you to put together your own lineup of your favourite courses within reach of your boat’s capabilities in the time you’ve booked.
Have you taken a golf cruise before? What did you think? Lets us know in the comments!