Who's Cruising Into the World Cup?

May 13, 2010
World Cup Cruising (11:45 a.m. EDT) -- This year's FIFA World Cup kicks off (pun intended) in just one month -- but if you've booked a cruise holiday, there's no need to panic!

The tournament, which begins on June 11 with group games and runs through until the final on July 11 in Johannesburg, will be shown aboard plenty of cruise ships this summer. Want to go a step further and actually be in South Africa for the tournament? Two Holland America ships have been chartered by company One Ocean Club to offer packages for the games.

And even if sports aren't your thing, rest assured that at least one line has dubbed its ships football-free zones for the duration of the games.

Keep reading for all the details on World Cup season at sea; we will keep you posted as we receive any football-related news from other cruise lines.

Get Me to the Games

Through the One Ocean Club charter, Holland America's Westerdam and Noordam will be cruising between three tournament locations -- Port Elizabeth, Durban and Cape Town -- throughout the games.

There is still availability to sail on these ships (check the Web site for pricing and exact itineraries), and just this week, organisers said that there were still 280,000 tickets to be sold. However, there is a caveat. You will need to secure flights out to South Africa, which, no doubt, will be costly.

Where Else Can I Watch?

If you are happier watching the game on the big screen along with fellow cruisers, here's a roundup of the cruise lines showing the matches onboard. (And, if you're not a football enthusiast, we can tell you who isn't broadcasting the games, too.):

Thomson Cruises and its sister brand, Island Cruises, announced in March that they will be allocating special areas of Thomson Dream, Thomson Celebration, Thomson Spirit, Thomson Destiny and Island Escape for matches. All England games will be screened. If the England games aren't exciting enough (or if England gets knocked out early on), Brazil's and Spain's games will be shown, too. For partners and travelling companions who are less smitten by the game, special spa promotions will operate during the matches.

Carnival's U.K. brands -- P&O Cruises, Ocean Village, Princess and Cunard -- will all be showing matches. Both P&O and Ocean Village have confirmed they will be screening the England games (June 11, England versus United States; June 18, England versus Algeria; and June 23, England versus Slovenia), as well as the semi-finals and final on July 11.

Guests sailing with Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara won't have to miss out on any of the action either, as the lines have obtained rights to air all of the games (great for the the mix of nationalities and locations the ships will be cruising in) on every ship across the three fleets. Matches will be shown in staterooms and in designated lounges.

As we have previously reported, Norwegian Cruise Line, which does attract a more international audience on its European cruises, will be following Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Argentina, U.S.A., Germany, Italy and England through the initial stages, followed by the whole of the rest of the tournament, up to and including the final. This applies to all the line's ships that are in Europe this summer -- Norwegian Gem, Sun, Jade and the brand-new Norwegian Epic (which will be on a series of pre-naming inaugural voyages in June).

Football-Free for Me!

For those not interested in the game, Fred. Olsen has come out and said its ships will be football-free zones throughout the tournament.

The World Cup-cruise connection hasn't been without a little drama. Last year, we reported that Cunard's former ship, the much-loved Queen Elizabeth 2, would be leaving Dubai (where it has been lying stagnant since late 2008) to head to Cape Town to act a floating hotel for 18 months -- which would have coincided with the games.

However, the idea was reportedly given the "red card," due to the amount of time the current owners -- Dubai World developer, Nakheel -- wanted the ship to remain in the V&A Waterfront port. To this day, QE2 remains in Dubai's Port Rashid.

Are you planning to cruise during the World Cup? Are you having a football-themed party onboard? Let us know!

--By Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor