In the port of Marseille, a 16-story, 337-meter-long behemoth shades the other ships, which look like flimsy skiffs by comparison. Welcome aboard the Costa Smeralda, Europe’s largest ocean liner1. Powered by liquefied natural gas, the latest flagship of the Costa Cruises company welcomes lovers of the white ball from May 2022 for a week like no other in the Mediterranean.
At each scale (or almost) a golf course. This is what the Cruise & Golf formula offers, which allows you to explore at your leisure some of the most beautiful courses in the region of Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Rome and Genoa from the city of Marseille.two. A hat with the Costa Cruises logo, a box of balls and a card holder are offered on our arrival in the cabin (with balcony), while our golf clubs are in a safe place. After a briefing, it’s time to set sail, or rather to put gas, on the Costa Smeralda. To Spain. For us, it’s almost time for dinner at one of the ship’s 11 restaurants. Like the 23 courses offered over the next week, there’s 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 Royal Club of El Prat (drawn by Greg Norman), the barcelona golf club (designed by José María Olazabal), Vallromanes (drawn by Fred W. Hawtree), Earthsea (with sea views, in Sitges).
Costa Cruises organizes transportation to the golf course of our choice at each stopover, in this case the 45 holes of the majestic The Prat, 35 minutes from the port. Designed by Greg Norman, the course (pink) meanders through a pine forest and then rises in every sense of the word, offering views 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. And it is precisely so, since the venue has already hosted the Spanish Open ten times.
Back on the ship at the end of the day, the perfect place to work out the tensions caused by a flowering of ghosts, not necessarily seasonal, is in the 16me scenery. With an elevator, we specified. At the Solemio Spa another type of course awaits you, composed in particular, in addition to the traditional sauna, of a Salt Room (salt on the skin improves the quality of skin and sleep), a Snow Room to – 10°C (ideal for strengthening the immune system and blood circulation) or a balneotherapy pool.
Tuesday: Palma de Mallorca
The golf courses offered are: alkane (drawn by Robert Trent Jones), They are Gual (magnificent course in the heart of the Majorcan countryside) or one of the three Arabella golf courses (Son Quint, Son Muntaner and Son Vida).
focus on Your Muntaner (just 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 carved into the heart of a forest of pine, carob and olive trees, has undeniable prestige. Water hazards enliven the first six holes before almost disappearing from the landscape. On each of our golf trips, Costa Cruises provides a basket filled with water, fruit and snacks.
In the evening, an unusual dinner at Teppanyaki, the Japanese restaurant on the Costa Smeralda. In the center of a large table, the cook prepares the ordered dishes before our eyes and in a good mood. On the menu: juggling with knives, gangnam style or throwing dumplings into the mouths (or not) of the most daring customers.
Wednesday: at sea
To get to Sicily from Mallorca, the Costa Smeralda crosses the Mediterranean during the day, which is not necessarily synonymous with boredom. In addition to the countless bars and music venues on the ship, multiple activities (theme conferences, contests, bingos, Ferrari wine tasting, stretching or fitness classes, etc.) are on the daily program, while the children have fun on the slides. outdoor pool, the Pirates Party or the Baby Squok, a creative workshop for children under 6 years of age. hungry? 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 one obviously) or treat yourself to the enjoyment of the bar. Nutella that overlooks the indoor pool.
Every night a quality show is offered: singing competition as in “The Voice”, musical choreography, acrobatics, magic, individual show (in French), tribute to Michael Jackson… there is something for all tastes. . Night owls can then try their luck at the casino, visit the amazing 400m² museum of Italian design located in the heart of the ship.3(from the Vespa to the Armanien pants to the Pinocchio puppet, you can find everything there) or, even more surprising, move your hips in silence with your headphones on during the “Silent Disco Night” organized around the pool.
Costa Cruises in an all-inclusive formula offers both the comfort of a 5* and the fun of a vacation club with, the icing on the cake, a stopover or even a different country every day. The sheer size of the ship means that you rarely meet many people at the same time, except perhaps at breakfast (if you choose the buffet) or during shows. Just one small drawback, specific to most cruise ship passengers: Wi-fi at sea is expensive and not very fancy.
As in every stopover, Costa Cruises sells several guided excursions. The opportunity to visit the Romanesque cathedral that 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 of the clergy and the local nobility of yesteryear lie. For sandwedge addicts, a 9-hole course (par 32) is located in town, just a ten-minute drive from the port. A chance to fine-tune your swing and approaches before the highlight of the show tomorrow.
The golf courses offered are, to choose from: simone frame (host of the 2023 Ryder Cup), theArgentinian (with sea view), the national golf (technical center of the Italian federation), Rome Acquasanta (one of the oldest golf courses in Italy), Thatstelgandolfo Y Terre dei Consolali (both drawn by Robert Trent Jones junior).
After an early breakfast and a priority disembarkation for golfers, we drive 1h20 from Civitavecchia port to the northeast of Rome, where the meandering simone frame, unless it’s the other way around. Getting a chance to play golf in the 2023 Ryder Cup is something you have to earn. Like the Golf National at Guyancourt, host of the iconic event in 2018, we travel not so much for the stage – nondescript after all – but to walk on a high-end course whose warped fairways (we played very few flat-footed kicks). They are almost a registered trademark. Pure golf pleasure! It seems that from the highest mounds of certain outlets, we can see on the horizon the dome of Saint-Pierre, which unfortunately escaped us. My only regret: the pro shop, which offers very few items and no branded balls (or ball markers).
The golf courses offered are: Genoa Sant Anna (drawn by Robert Von Hagge) and planter (designed by English architects John Morrison and John Harris).
A great favourite! the golf course planter, 45 minutes from the port of Savona, is a little gem that Liguria hides in the heart of the Lerrone Valley. Here, we swing on a postcard with a forest of olive and pine trees, as well as the budding foothills of the Alps in the background. The driving range has even had built-in tracking for a few weeks to, among other things, measure the distance and range of your balls.4. A real plus that few golf courses can be proud of.
To finish this beautiful cruise in style, we had dinner in the gastronomic restaurant of the ship. The Archipelago menu contains three menus created by a trio of great international chefs: Hélène Darroze, Angel Leon and Bruno Barbieri, or 15 Michelin stars between them.
The Costa Smeralda sets sail again not far from La Canebière. The week went by so fast that we imagined going back for a spin and discovering other golf courses. In the Mediterranean or elsewhere, since Costa Cruises should launch the same concept (Cruise & Golf) in the Persian Gulf and the Caribbean in the coming months.
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1/ Launched in December 2019, the Costa Smeralda has capacity for more than 6,000 passengers.
2/ The formula also includes certain golf courses in the Marseille region for those embarking at another port.
4/ Only 2 euros per bucket of balls.