Some of the world’s finest and most far-flung courses are easily reached by water

Courtesy of NCL America Courtesy of NCL America
| Credit: Courtesy of NCL America

If you haven’t explored the option of a golf cruise lately, you might be stuck with outdated notions of massive ocean liners equipped with AstroTurf mats and hitting nets. Although some cruise lines still offer voyages on leviathan vessels, other tour operators run excursions on intimate yachts and river barges. This year’s water-borne offerings in the British Isles are a bit thin, but there’s plenty going on in other parts of the world. Of course, the basic appeal of a golf cruise remains unchanged: When you go to sleep at night, you do so with the anticipation of seeing both a new port of call and a new world-class golf course the next day.


Golf Hawaii, Pride of Aloha, Pride of America, NCL America

Weekly cruises beginning April 27, 2008

If you’ve ever wondered how to play Hawaii’s finest courses without going through the trouble of island-hopping by air, here’s your answer. The Pride of Aloha and the Pride of America are massive vessels, holding up to two thousand passengers apiece, but golfers will feel right at home thanks to well-stocked pro shops complete with Callaway equipment rentals and practice putting greens.

Where You’ll Play

Choose from eighteen courses scattered across four islands. Oahu’s must-play is Ko’olau Golf Course, a jungle layout considered one of the toughest courses in the U.S. On Maui, don’t miss the Emerald and Gold courses at Wailea, both lush gems designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. Kauai offers Jones’s Prince course at Princeville Resort, a supreme test that opens with a question mark–shaped par four carved out of a mango and guava forest, and Jack Nicklaus’s Kiele course at Kauai Lagoons, with its famed ocean holes. Along the Kona Coast of the Big Island lies Mauna Lani South, known for its over-the-ocean par three.

Cost and Contacts

Each voyage begins and ends in Honolulu. Seven-day cruises cost from $649 per person, based on double occupancy; greens fees not included., 866-234-0292.

The Riveria

Riviera Golf Cruise, Sea Cloud, Kalos Golf

May 14–24 and September 9–20, 2008

Starting in Nice and ending in Rome, this journey makes ports of call at legendary seaside resorts including Cannes, Monte Carlo and St. Tropez. Passengers luxuriate on the 360-foot Sea Cloud, an antique four-masted sailing yacht built in 1931 for E. F. Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post that holds just sixty people. Nongolf highlights include taking a turn at the roulette wheel at the Monte Carlo Casino and visiting the Colosseum in Rome.

Where You’ll Play

Although subject to change, the itinerary always emphasizes layouts that evoke their respective regions. Play often begins at Royal Mougins Golf Club near Cannes. Designed by Robert von Hagge, the course roams up and down hillsides laced with olive trees and studded with rock-wall terraces. Another regular stop is Monte Carlo Country Club, which sits atop a 2,650-foot summit and offers views of the French Alps and the Mediterranean. This nearly century-old layout by Willie Park Jr. makes up for its lack of length with blind shots, coastal breezes and nary a level lie. You’re also likely to tee it up at a pair of seaside classics by Robert Trent Jones Sr.: Sperone Golf Club on Corsica and Pevero Golf Club on Sardinia.

Cost and Contacts

From $6,375 per person, based on double occupancy., 800-314-3162.

Central Europe

Danube River Cruise, River Cloud II, Kalos Golf

June 25–July 5, September 9–20, September 17–28, 2008

If sailing the open sea isn’t for you and you’re willing to play a collection of less-celebrated European courses, the gentle flow of the Danube might be just the ticket. The River Cloud II resembles a sleeker version of a river barge. The cocktail hour is a popular time, as passengers mingle on the foredeck lounge, where they take in the passing countryside through picture windows, or out on the sundeck, enjoying the fresh air—and the small practice putting green. Cultural excursions include attending a Mozart concert in Vienna’s fourteenth-century Palais Palffy.

Where You’ll Play

Beginning in Budapest (the trip sometimes embarks from Salzburg instead), you’ll play Pannónia Golf & Country Club. Next comes Fontana Golf Club, south of Vienna, a European Tour stop that, like Pannónia, was codesigned by Doug Carrick. Moving north, you’ll play Golfclub Schloss Schönborn, a pleasant stroll through the grounds of Schönborn Castle. In Germany, the Beckenbauer course awaits at the Hartl Resort Bad Griesbach. Laid out by Bernhard Langer, this Bavarian course is named for soccer star Franz Beckenbauer, but don’t expect too many kick-in birdies.

Cost and Contacts

From $6,575 per person, based on double occupancy., 800-314-3162.


Spring Cruise, SeaDream I, White’s World

May 8­–18, 2008

This British operator specializes in Mediterranean tours. With yachts and small ships as its vessels of choice, White’s World offers both scheduled cruises and customized charter tours. What distinguishes its offerings are the upscale touches on crafts such as the SeaDream I. Every cabin features a sea view and is equipped with a flat-screen TV, Internet capability and a multijet shower massage.

Where You’ll Play

To start, you’ll play Real Club de Golf de Sevilla, a José María Olazábal design that places a premium on imaginative greenside play. Next is a visit to Robert Trent Jones Sr.’s Club de Golf Valderrama, the famed Ryder Cup site and the top-ranked course in continental Europe. El Saler in Valencia, laid out by Javier Arana, Spain’s most prominent golf architect, features a sporty mix of holes that push through pines and dunes. The trip continues with Real Club de Golf El Prat, a Greg Norman course in Barcelona; Golf Club Barbaroux, a Pete and P. B. Dye layout outside St. Tropez; and the Chateau course at Four Seasons Provence at Terre Blanche.

Cost and Contacts

From $7,735 per person, based on a shared room. The trip begins with one night at the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville and disembarks in Monte Carlo., 866-442-0121.

Other Adventures by Sea

Eastern Caribbean Islander, Princess Cruises

Trips set sail twice a month, beginning January 5, 2008

This ten-day voyage aboard the Emerald Princess makes stops at several top Caribbean courses, including the Country Club course at Sandy Lane on Barbados, Mahogany Run on St. Thomas, and Royal St. Kitts, a palm-dotted beauty that was redone by Canadian Thomas McBroom. The cruise features a golf academy and custom club-fitting as well.

Cost and Contacts

Cost and contacts From $899 per person, based on double occupancy; greens fees not included., 800-774-6237.

Indian Ocean Golf Cup, Peter Deilmann Cruises

December 15, 2008 to January 6, 2009

"We’ve found that people enjoy starting conversations at dinner parties by saying, ’We played in Namibia last month,’" says Richard De Sousa, a Virginia-based representative for this German company. This cruise includes rounds at Le Touessrok Golf Course on Mauritius; Golf du Bassin Bleu on Réunion Island; several superb South African courses, including Pearl Valley in the Cape Winelands; and an intriguing desert layout called Rossmund Golf Course in Namibia.

Cost and Contacts

From $11,648 per person, including airfare and greens fees., 800-348-8287.