Cruising to Your Next Golf Game
By Peter Hellman
Classic GOLF Tours
I am uncertain whether it was the seagulls or the knock on my cabin door that woke me that morning? A glance out to my balcony indicated we were in yet another port and the smell of fresh coffee told me my cabin steward had arrived with breakfast. I am not sure how many nautical miles we had traveled while I slept, but from the itinerary I could see that we were in Jamaica. This was simply another port and another round of golf on my seven day Caribbean golf cruise. Life is good!
It is true that cruising and golfing can combine well and with a bit of planning and thought, cruising may become your favorite way to see the world and play some its best courses. So how, you ask, should one plan a successful golf cruise? First of all, you need to understand that not all cruises are golf worthy. Certainly the ports of call need to have available quality golf courses. Of equal importance is the length of time and time of day your ship is in port. Don't forget to figure in the time it takes to get to and from the golf course. A four hour port visit starting at 7:00 pm probably won't work.
There are lots of good reasons to consider combining cruising with golf. On a cruise your hotel room travels with you. Unpacking once while still experiencing multiple island, cities and/or countries has considerable virtue. Value is another reason for cruising. Not only are all your meals covered in the price of the cruise, but so is much of your onboard entertainment and all your expenses are in US dollars. Cruising is also great for couples. There are plenty of tours to take and things to do and see in every port. Even a non-golfing spouse will have as many tales to share as a golfer at dinner back on board ship.
Despite the fact that not all cruises are "golfable" cruises, there are still many types of cruises to choose. You could pick from several Caribbean itineraries, for example. Puerto Rico, the US Virgins Islands, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Barbados all have excellent golf courses. Mexico also has some top golf venues on their itineraries. These might include Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa and Mazatlan on the Pacific coast or Cancun, Cozumel and Riviera Maya on the Gulf of Mexico side. Even some US coastal cruises offer opportunities to see interesting ports while experiencing some wonderful golf. Hawaii and Bermuda have some of the best cruise/golf itineraries. Both Hawaii and Bermuda are expensive and one way to control costs is to use your ship as your prepaid transportation, hotel and restaurant while exploring the islands.
Don't forget Europe! River cruises are really big in Europe. Imagine floating down the Rhine or the Danube in a 200 passenger ship. Not only is every port one of culture and history, but there are fine courses to play. Another option is barging. Barging allows one to explore smaller rivers at a slower pace and with fewer people. Barges are typically designed to hold from 6 to 16 passengers. Some barges specialize in fine cuisine and quality local wines. There can be golf opportunities too. Bring some friends along and leasing a barge just for your group is a great idea.
The Mediterranean offers many options for cruising and golf. With itineraries that include Spain, France and Italy you will find plenty of golf available. Cruises in Europe's northern countries may not have as many golf opportunities, but with a little research you will find them.
You should also consider the style of cruising that best suits you. Fortunately, there are many different styles to choose from. Though cruising has historically been geared to older people, it is fortunately no longer true. Cruise companies have done a good job of understanding the potential market for cruises and have developed ships, itineraries, pricing and amenities that appeal to young singles, families, retirees, adventure seekers and just about very taste, interest and price point imaginable. I guarantee there is a cruise out there for you.
With so much information and so many options to choose from, where does someone go to arrange the perfect cruise with a golf experience? The internet is certainly one place. Sites such as www.hawaiigolfcruises.com are good for those interested in Hawaii. Many other sites are also available. Your travel agent could be another source, but make certain that they understand that your interest in cruising includes golf. Also, without being self-serving, you could call us -- Classic GOLF Tours. We know CRUISING and we know GOLF and how to combine them.