Costa Cruises pulls out all the stops for golfers
The Italian company Costa Cruises has just launched a Cruise & Golf formula in the Mediterranean. From Marseille to Genoa, via Barcelona, Majorca, Palermo and Rome, Women's Swing took part in the inauguration of this one-week club-in-hand cruise, which notably offers the possibility of playing the 2023 Ryder Cup course. Impressive!
At the port of Marseille, a 16-storey, 337-meter-long giant shades the other ships, which look like flimsy skiffs in comparison. Welcome aboard the Costa Smeralda, the largest European liner1. Powered by liquefied natural gas, the latest flagship of the Costa Cruises company has been welcoming lovers of the little white ball since May 2022 for a week like no other in the Mediterranean.
At each stopover (or almost) a golf course. This is what the Cruise & Golf formula offers, which allows you to explore some of the most beautiful courses in the region of Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Rome and Genoa at your leisure from the city of Marseille.2. A Costa Cruises logo cap, a ball box and a card holder are offered upon our arrival in the cabin (with balcony), while our golf clubs are in safe custody in a dedicated place. After an information meeting, it's already time to set sail, or rather the gas, for the Costa Esmeralda. Off to Spain. For us, it's almost time for dinner in one of the ship's 11 restaurants. Like the 23 courses offered during the coming week, there is plenty to choose from.
The golf courses offered are, to choose from: PGA Catalonia (No. 1 in Spain and in the top 5 in continental Europe), the Real Club of El Prat (drawn by Greg Norman), the Barcelona Golf Club (designed by José Maria Olazabal), Vallromanes (drawn by Fred W. Hawtree), shore (with sea view, in Sitges).
Costa Cruises organizes transport to the golf course of our choice at each stopover, in this case the 45 holes of the majestic El Prat, 35 minutes from the port. Designed by Greg Norman, the course (pink) meanders through a pine forest then rises in every sense of the word, offering a panorama for miles around. Perfectly manicured, the winding and fast greens are a constant challenge and almost give the impression of playing a tournament on the European Tour, sorry the DP World Tour. Which is precisely the case since the site has already hosted the Spanish Open ten times.
Back on the boat at the end of the day, the perfect place to resolve the tensions caused by a flowering of bogeys, not necessarily seasonal, is located at 16e stage. With elevator, let us specify it. At the Solemio Spa, another type of course awaits you, composed in particular, in addition to the traditional sauna, of a Salt Room (the salt on the skin improves the quality of the skin and sleep), of a Snow Room at -10° C (ideal for strengthening the immune system and blood circulation) or a balneotherapy pool.
Tuesday: Palma de Mallorca
The golf courses offered are: Alkana (drawn by Robert Trent Jones), They are Gual (magnificent course in the heart of the Mallorcan countryside) or one of the three Arabella golf courses (Son Quint, Son Muntaner and Son Vida).
Setting sails for His Muntaner (only 15 minutes from the port), undoubtedly the most prestigious of the three courses at the Arabella resort. Surrounded by the hills of the island, this par 72 with wide undulating fairways sculpted in the heart of a forest of pines, carobs and olive trees, has undeniable cachet. Water obstacles spice up the first six holes before almost disappearing from the landscape. As for each of our golf trips, a basket filled with water, fruit and snacks is provided by Costa Cruises.
In the evening, an atypical dinner at the Teppanyaki, the Japanese restaurant on the Costa Smeralda. In the center of a large table, the cook concocts the dishes ordered before our eyes and in a good mood. On the menu: juggling with knives, gangnam style or throwing dumplings in the mouth (or not) of the most daring customers.
Wednesday: at sea
To reach Sicily from Majorca, the Costa Smeralda crosses the Mediterranean during the day, which is not necessarily synonymous with boredom. In addition to the countless bars and musical atmospheres of the ship, multiple activities (thematic conferences, quizzes, bingos, Ferrari wine tasting, stretching or fitness classes, etc.) are on the daily program, while the children have fun on the slides the outdoor swimming pool, the Pirates Party or the Baby Squok, a creative workshop for children under 6 years old. Peckish ? You can always stop at the sushi bar, taste the delicious pizzas with olive oil and mozzarella from the Pummid'oro (we're still licking our chops!), enjoy an ice cream (at the Italian obviously) or treat yourself to a little treat at the Nutella bar which overlooks the indoor swimming pool.
A quality show is offered every evening: song contest as in "The Voice", musical choreography, acrobatics, magic, one-man show (in French), tribute to Michael Jackson... there is something for everyone. . Night owls can then try their luck at the casino, visit the astonishing 400 m² Italian design museum located in the heart of the ship3(from the Vespa to the Armanien pants passing by the Pinocchio puppet, you can find everything there) or, even more surprisingly, wiggle your hips in silence with headphones on during the “Silent Disco Night” organized around the swimming pool.
Costa Cruises in all inclusive formula, it is both the comfort of a 5 * and the fun of a holiday club with, icing on the boat, a stopover or even a different country each day. The gigantism of the ship means that you rarely see many people at the same time, except perhaps at breakfast (if you choose the buffet) or during the shows. Only small downside, specific to most cruise passengers: the wi-fi at sea is expensive and not very dashing.
As at each stopover, several guided excursions are marketed by Costa Cruises. The opportunity to visit the Romanesque cathedral which has been incubating the Sicilian capital for nine centuries, the Palace of the Normans (in turn Punic fortress, castle of the Arab emirs, then residence of the Norman kings) and the Catacombs of the Capuchins, where the mummified bodies lie of the clergy and the local nobility of yesteryear. For sandwedge addicts, a 9-hole course (par 32) is nestled in the town, just a ten-minute drive from the port. The opportunity to refine his swing and his approaches before the highlight of the show, tomorrow.
The golf courses offered are, to choose from: Marco Simone (host of the 2023 Ryder Cup), theArgentinian (with sea view), the Nazionale Golf (technical center of the Italian federation), Roma Acquasanta (one of the oldest golf courses in Italy), Castelgandolfo et Terre dei Consoli (both drawn by Robert Trent Jones junior).
After an early breakfast and a priority disembarkation for golfers, we drive 1h20 from the port of Civitavecchia to the northeast of Rome, where the wriggling Marco Simone, unless it is the other way around. Having the chance to play the 2023 Ryder Cup golf is something you have to earn. Like the Golf National in Guyancourt, host of the iconic event in 2018, we don't travel as much for the setting, after all, nondescript, but to walk on a high-end course whose warped fairways (we play very few flatfoot kicks) are almost a trademark. Pure golfing pleasure! It seems that from the highest mounds of certain departures, we can see the dome of Saint-Pierre on the horizon, which unfortunately escaped us. The only regret: the pro-shop, which offers very few articles and no branded ball (or ball-marker).
The golf courses offered are: Genoa Sant-Anna (drawn by Robert Von Hagge) and garlenda (designed by English architects John Morrison and John Harris).
A big favorite ! The golf course garlenda, 45 minutes from the port of Savona, is a little gem that Liguria conceals in the heart of the Lerrone valley. Here, we swing in a postcard with a forest of olive trees and pines, as well as the budding hills of the Alps in the background. The driving range has even had integrated tracking for a few weeks to, among other things, measure the distance and range of your balls.4. A real plus of which few golf courses can be proud.
In order to end this beautiful cruise in style, we dine at the gastronomic restaurant of the ship. The Archipelago menu contains three menus concocted by a trio of great international chefs: Hélène Darroze, Angel Leon and Bruno Barbieri, or 15 Michelin stars between them.
The Costa Smeralda is once again setting sail not far from La Canebière. The week went by so quickly that we could see ourselves going back for a spin and discovering other golf courses in this way. In the Mediterranean or elsewhere, since Costa Cruises should in the coming months launch the same concept (Cruise & Golf) in the Persian Gulf and the Caribbean.
For more information: click here
To read our last article on the same subject :
1/ Commissioned in December 2019, the Costa Smeralda can accommodate more than 6 passengers.
2/ The formula also includes certain golf courses in the Marseille region for those who embark in another port.
4/ Only 2 euros per bucket of balls.