Holland America Cruise Ships to Serve as Hotels for World Cup 2010

September 28, 2009
Westerdam (7:45 p.m. EDT) -- Next summer, hundreds of thousands of football enthusiasts will descend on South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, and a few thousand lucky fans will be staying aboard Holland America Line's Noordam and Westerdam.

South Africa's Cape Argus newspaper reported on the 25th that the two ships have been confirmed for a June 10 to July 12 residency in South Africa (World Cup takes place from June 11 to July 11). Chartered by Germany-based hospitality services provider One Ocean Club, Noordam and Westerdam will dock at three South African ports -- Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban -- sailing between them to follow the action.

One Ocean Club is offering various two- to five-night packages that coincide with match play, though finalized schedules will not be available until the official World Cup bracket is cemented in early December. (Qualifications are ongoing.) While the various packages, available for purchase here, will include transfers on match days, they do not include tickets to any of the always raucous games, so you'll have to secure your own through FIFA.

Besides being a fully operational cruise ship, with casinos, bars and restaurants open for service, "the ships will have African touches," says Hartmut Schultz, spokesman for One Ocean Club. Menus will feature locally sourced African food, African artists will perform in lieu of the standard show program, and both ships will display a gallery with local art. As is standard on Holland America cruises, passengers can dine at the Pinnacle Grill, an alternative restaurant that serves steaks and seafood for an additional cost.

The company expects an international mix of passengers from Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, but English will be the number-one language onboard.

One Ocean Club is no stranger to chartering ships for major sporting events. It used cruise ships as floating hotels for the Olympic games in Athens and Sydney. For its part, Holland America will be offering ships on a charter basis to serve as floating hotels for the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

So what about Queen Elizabeth 2, the retired ex-Cunarder whose new Middle East owner, Nakheel, had World Cup visions of its own? The door may be shutting on plans to dock the classic ocean liner in Cape Town. The Cape Argus reported that Brett Dungan, chief executive of Fedhasa, has said that QE2 will not dock in Cape Town after all. Spokespersons for Nakheel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

--by Dan Askin, Associate Editor