The golf-focussed itinerary will be coupled with MSC Yacht Club accommodation, which is reportedly particularly popular with the French cruise market.
MSC Cruises joins Costa Cruises in focusing on golf-themed itineraries. The fellow Italian cruise line is the official cruise line of the 2023 Ryder Cup and will launch a ‘Cruise & Golf’ programme in May.
“French passengers rank first worldwide for our ‘ship within a ship’ concept,” Patrick Pourbaix, Paris-based MSC Cruises general manager for France, Belgium and Luxembourg told Seatrade.
“Even if our cruises are also meant for various types of people – for families – our Yacht Club represents an art of living, a French style service, a kind of luxury corresponding in some way to a cruise imagination which still exists in this country. It is probably a reason for its success here,” he added.
French tourists are also one of the biggest tourism source markets for Dubai, second only to the UK in terms of Western European visitors, which helps explain why MSC Cruises chose Dubai for its golf-focused itinerary.
MSC Virtuosa’s week long golf-themed cruise, paired with an MSC Yacht Club stay, will begin on March 5th and end on March 12th, it will include a visit to Dubai’s Jumeirah Golf Estates Club designed by Greg Norman; Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Beach Golf Club designed by Gary Player; Education City Golf Club in Doha, which was imagined by José-Maria Olazabal; and Emirates Golf Club in Dubai which was redesigned by Nick Faldo.
The golf package is intended for a maximum of 30 passengers only.
“We had started in 2019 to organise themed Yacht Club cruises…with some French partners,” explains Pourbaix. “The COVID-19 crisis stopped everything, We decided to renew this type of event: for example, from Dubai it was done with a French chef who worked for a week with our kitchen brigade.”
This March’s golf cruise is in partnership with Golfy, a French company with a wide international network of clubs who MSC Cruises has been working with for some six years.
The MSC Yacht Club was launched on MSC Fantasia in 2008 and is now available on 11 of MSC Cruises’ vessels, representing over 1,000 cabins for a total of 2, 260 passengers each week.
Spread over four decks, the most spacious Yacht Club to date is on MSC Seashore, which has 130 suites and almost 3 000sqm of outdoor space.
MSC World Europa – launching next year as the largest cruise ship ever built for MSC, will naturally also feature the ship-within-a-ship concept.