The Green at Sea

New cruise offerings aimed at golf enthusiasts

By: Kara Cutruzzula

For some cruisers, the ideal vacation at sea involves more driving, chipping and putting than sunbathing, snorkeling and sightseeing. Cruise lines are listening and offering more land excursions to some of the world’s most picturesque and challenging golf courses throughout the Caribbean, South Pacific, Mediterranean and Mexico.

“Cruises offer something for everyone, including golfers. In addition to personalized, onboard professional instruction and the chance to meet tour pros, a number of cruise lines offer escorted trips to unforgettable golf destinations designed to challenger golfers of all skill levels,” said Bob Levinstein, CEO, Cruise Compete LLC.

Silversea Cruises has expanded its Silver Links golf program to 12 cruises in 2008. Golfers can perfect their swing on 35 world-class courses in 16 countries and islands. The golfing excursions, arranged and escorted by a ship’s golf professional, range in price by course and include transfers, pull or power-drive carts and all green and caddy fees.

Here is sampling of the Silver Links voyages on Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper departing this year.

-Fifteen-day Panama Canal crossing on May 16 from Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles, with golf excursions to La Iguana at Los Suenos (Puntarenas); Tres Vidas Golf Club (Acapulco); and El Tigre Golf Club (Puerto Vallarta).

- Seven-day Mediterranean voyage on July 19 sailing from Rome to Monte Carlo; golfers can play at Golf Park Mallorca (Palma de Mallorca); PGA at Catalunya Golf Club (Barcelona); Servannes Golf Club (Sete); and Sainte Maxime Golf Club (St. Tropez).

- Seven-day Mediterranean cruise Aug. 16 from Barcelona to Rome, with golf excursions to Canne Mougins Golf Club (Menton); Cosmopolitan Golf Club (Livorno); and the Monte Carlo Golf Club.

- Eleven-day Mexican Riviera voyage Sept. 17 from Los Angeles to Costa Rica, with rounds at Cabo del Sol Desert Course (Cabo San Lucas); El Tigre Golf Club (Puerto Vallarta); Club de Golf Marina Ixtapa (Zihuatanejo); and Tres Vidas Golf Club (Acapulco).

- Nine-day Caribbean sailing Dec. 3 from Fort Lauderdale to Barbados; golfers can play at Antigua’s Cedar Valley Golf Club, the St. Lucia Golf & Country Club and Sandy Lane Country Club in Barbados.

- Fifteen-day holiday cruise on Dec. 20 to the South Pacific, leaving from Sydney to Auckland. Tee times set at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Royal Hobart Golf Club, St. Clair Golf Club (Dunedin), Clearwater Golf Club (Christchurch), Paraparaumu Golf Club (Wellington), Cape Kidnappers Golf Club (Napier), Kauri Cliffs Golf Club (Bay of Islands) and the Tauranga Golf Club.

“Many of the golf courses the cruise lines visit are not open to the general public,” Levinstein said. “The cruise lines have made special arrangements with them to allow their guests to play on these exclusive links. It’s a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity for many golfers yet another reason cruise vacations are memorable.”

Norwegian Cruise Line has also launched a new Golf Bermuda program, giving its golf-loving guests more opportunities to hit the links where there are more courses per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Golf Bermuda has excursions for every level of golfer at the island’s most popular and scenic courses. They include the Ocean View course, rated four stars by Golf Digest; the challenging Belmont Hills Golf Club; Mid Ocean Golf Club, located in scenic Tucker Town; Port Royal course, operated by the Bermuda government; Trucker’s Pint Golf Club, one of the top golf resorts in the Caribbean; St. George’s Golf Course, featuring ocean views at every hole; and Riddell’s Bay Golf Club, described by locals as a must play.

Crystal Cruises also expanded its golf-themed cruises for 2008. Guests can tee off on three 11- and 12-day golf fests, playing in the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands and the maritime coast of Canada and New England. PGA pros join Crystal guests at several notable courses, including The Monte Carlo Club, situated high above the French Riviera, Spain’s El Saler Golf Course and Lisbon’s Penha Longa Golf Course at the foot of the Sintra Mountain Range.