Qatar hires third cruise ship as World Cup floating hotel


GENEVA — Qatar’s World Cup organizers hired a third cruise ship on Monday to operate as a football fan hotel that will dock in the port of Doha and provide additional rooms needed for the tournament.

Geneva-based MSC Cruises has announced the deal just six weeks before the World Cup is due to start on November 20th.

Prices for the Opera Garnier were posted on the MSC website on Monday and start at CHF 470 ($470) per person, per night, for a two-night minimum stay during the Group Stage.

Qatar does not have the hotel capacity to accommodate all the teams, workers, volunteers and fans at the World Cup. We create camp and cabin sites, hire cruise ships, and encourage fans to stay in neighboring countries and attend matches.

MSC signed a deal with the Qatar government in 2019 to provide floating hotels with around 4,000 cabins on two ships to accommodate 1.2 million foreign tourists.

The high-end flagship MSC World Europe has started work on the World Cup after being built in France.

Cruise ship fares drop during the tournament when half of the teams return home. The cheapest room at MSC Opera was CHF 320 ($320) during the round of 16 and quarter-finals, and CHF 220 ($220) in the final week.

Breakfast on board is included in the base fare, with the option to pay an additional charge of €90 ($87) per day for all meals.

Alcohol is expected to be available on board with the MSC offering wine and draft beer.

Qatar, a Muslim-majority country, typically restricts alcohol consumption to luxury hotels, but many companies, such as corporate hospitality providers at stadiums and World Cup sponsor Budweiser’s brewery AB InBev, are FIFA’s have relaxed rules for their commercial partners.

MSC Opera made its maiden voyage in 2004 and had an eventful sailing season three years ago.

In March 2019, a passenger suspected of smuggling 18 kilograms (40 pounds) of cocaine hidden in bowls and snack parcels was arrested when the ship docked in Madeira, Portugal after sailing from the Caribbean. I was.

Three months later, the Opera collided with a tourist boat and dock in Venice, Italy.

Cruise ships have been discussed as a potential solution to Rio de Janeiro’s hotel room shortage ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. They were ultimately not hired by the organizers, and only seven of his 64 matches held in the city were played.

However, the US basketball team stayed on a cruise ship docked in Rio during the 2016 Olympics. A second ship was used as a hotel for Olympic officials.

Graham Dunbar

Associated Press