Fore Play While Cruising
Written by: Kuki
Admittedly golf might not be the first thing to come to people’s minds when they are considering their cruise vacations, and choosing which itinerary they might want to sail. But, devoted golfers are a bit of a strange breed. Many golfers will willingly plan entire vacations based on how many games they can fit in to their limited vacation time, and therefore look to travel to better known land based “golf Mecca’s”, such as Arizona, Nevada, California, Hawaii, etc.
This week’s Blog just may come to the rescue of the golf widows, who can rarely convince their golf addicted husbands to cruise because they’d rather do a land vacation where they can golf every day, and hopefully also provide information to couples who love to travel and golf together, but may not have thought a cruise could fill that desire.
The fact is some of the most stunningly beautiful courses I’ve played have been during cruises, and were golf courses I don’t think I’d have ever played if it weren’t from a cruise ship.
A company called Elite Golf seems to act as the contractor for the vast majority of cruise lines; operating golf tours from the ships in ports of call, as well as running golf simulators on ships equipped with them, and offering lessons onboard as well. Frankly, I think they do a terrible job of promoting the product they offer, as on most cruises it’s almost impossible to know if and where golf outings are offered in advance of your cruise. One reason is they generally are run independent from the cruise line’s shore excursion programs, and therefore not listed as a choice, to book in advance, on the line’s online shore excursion choices. Therefore passengers are most always unaware golf is even offered until they are onboard the ship. Though each has a golf pro onboard to operate their golf programs, the pros get little or no support from the cruise line’s shore excursion departments, which makes it somewhat difficult for the pros to present truly well organized golf outings.
However, if you can tolerate some disorganization the opportunity to play many fabulous golf courses around the globe from a cruise ship is available. And certainly on some itineraries, like the Hawaiian Islands, it’s very simple to arrange and book your own golf outings independently.
Using the ship’s programs it’s possible to golf on almost any itinerary, not just in the Caribbean islands. It’s possible to golf on many European, Far East, British Isles, Mexican Riviera, and even Baltic itineraries as well.
The most beautiful golf course I’ve ever played anywhere was from a cruise ship during a port stop in the Dominican Republic; called The Teeth of the Dog. There’s a sign hanging in the pro shop with a quote from the course designer, Pete Dye, saying “I designed 11 holes, God designed 7”.
Another absolute favorite was the Caye Chapel Resort and Golf in Belize. This course requires a 7 minute flight in a 10 seat airplane, with golf carts waiting at the end of the runway, from where you begin an amazing day of great golf and views of the ocean from every hole on the course.
Other golf courses I can recommend in the Caribbean are: The Tierra del Sol GC (Aruba), Cozumel Golf & Country Club (Cozumel, Mexico), Mahogany Run GC (St. Thomas), Los Suenos Marriott & Golf (Costa Rica), Summit Golf Resort (Panama),
Le Tigre GC (Puerto Vallarta), El Cid (Cabo San Lucas),.
Perhaps the most unusual place I’ve played golf was in Estonia, during a Baltic cruise. Unusual to me because I thought… “who’d have ever thought there was golf available in Estonia?”.
There was something special about playing the Royal Monaco Golf Course on our visit to Monaco. With so many historic sites to visit throughout Europe it could seem odd to some to go golfing. But if you’re fortunate to have visited these sites several times, there are some excellent golf courses to play. For example, if your ship is docking in Malaga, just a short drive away is the Costa del Sol, with many golf options. I’ve enjoyed playing golf in the hills above Florence, with vistas of that magnificent city as the backdrop, as well as a day away from the Vatican and cathedrals of Rome for a day of golf.
High up on my wish list is a golf cruise in the Far East, where I’m told the quality of the golf courses will amaze me.
While I understand golf may not be the activity of choice for many people while cruising, to me (and many other golf fanatics) it’s perfect “fore play”.
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Posted: July 21st, 2009 under Kuki.