Poolside cinemas, whirlpool baths, spa centres and rooms with ocean views – it’s not exactly what the average football fan is used to at a World Cup.
But, following the announcement of the first two cruise liners that will be used to accommodate 4,000 people during the 2022 tournament in Qatar, some supporters can certainly look forward to living it up in between matches.
The floating hotels will be berthed at Doha Port in the Qatari capital and be used alongside hotels, apartments and even tents in the desert to accommodate more than a million fans expected at the month-long tournament.
Qatar has chartered the ships from MSC Cruises and will use shuttle buses to take the fans to nearby train stations from where they will be able to reach the eight stadiums being used for the tournament – all of which lie within a 21-mile radius of the city.
The 94,409-ton MSC Poesia can normally be found cruising the corners of the world with amenities that include three swimming pools, four whirlpool baths, a foyer waterfall to a Zen Garden, authentic Japanese sushi bar, a state-of-the art gym, mini golf, tennis court, basketball court and poker room.
The other liner being used is the MSC Europa which hasn’t even been built yet and won’t come into service until May 2022, six months before the tournament kicks off.
When it’s finished it will be the biggest in the MSC Cruises fleet, capable of carrying up to 6,760 passengers.
It’s not yet known when fans will be able to buy tickets or how much a cabin will cost.
Nor has it been revealed whether alcohol will be served on board; strict laws on drinking in the Muslim country mean booze will only be served in specially-designated fan zones.
The tiny Gulf state – which is about the same size as Yorkshire and has a population of about 2.7million – needs to accommodate the fans of 32 teams in the tournament effectively in the same city and has had to resort to unusual means to fit everybody in.
But organisers have promised there will be enough room for everyone and that alcohol will be widely served.
A statement said: “Chartering cruise liners for fans has long been part of Qatar’s accommodation strategy, with the country keen to offer sustainable solutions.”
Hassan Al Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee, said: “We are pleased to collaborate with MSC Cruises to deliver this unique accommodation option for fans in 2022.
“We are sure fans from all over the world will be excited at the prospect of staying on board a cruise ship, with a fabulous view of the West Bay, and fast access to the all the stadium and fans zones.”
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, MSC Cruises, added: “We are delighted that Qatar has selected our ships to ensure that tourists who visit the country during the upcoming FIFA World Cup have high-end accommodation and services available to further enrich their experience.”