Soccer fans have two luxury ships to enjoy

Mar 01, 2010
Author: Terry Hutson

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NOORDAM – image courtesy wiki commons

Oh to be a soccer fan! That was the thought when leaving the cruise ship AMSTERDAM (60,874-gt, built 2000) late on Friday night after an afternoon and evening spent soaking up some of the atmosphere and character of this ship and the Holland America Line.

The purpose of my visit, along with a few other hacks and tour guides was to acquire a taste of what soccer fans might look forward to during the 2010 FIFA soccer world cup. The scheduled visit to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban of the Amsterdam, which is on a 114-day world cruise, was the perfect opportunity for One Ocean Club, the German organisation that has chartered two Holland America Vista class ships as floating hotels during the big event, to arrange this opportunity and show off what Holland America and OOC has to offer.

The big soccer event is now just on 100 days away and although there are confusing reports about bookings, arrangements are continuing in full swing with most of the new soccer stadiums completed on time and ready for action. Some of the towns and cities may experience a shortage of 4 and 5-star accommodation, which is where One Ocean Club has stepped in with the charter of the two Vista class ships, NOORDAM and WESTERDAM (both 82,000-gt built 2006 and 2004 respectively).

The ships will be stationed at Durban (Noordam) and Port Elizabeth (Westerdam), with the Westerdam sailing to Cape Town for three games later in the competition and the Noordam to Port Elizabeth for just one night. So far it appears that bookings are matching some of the reports of the games themselves – I learned that the ships are a little over half full for the month they will be in South Africa.

Boris Leyck, operations manager for One Ocean said that an aggressive marketing programme was about to be launched to address this. One of the ways to fill the ships involves the chartering of aircraft to fly whole groups in from Europe. Durban, which by then will have its new King Shaka International Airport to the north of the city in operation, will be used as the South African base for these charter flights, with some groups going on by domestic flight to Port Elizabeth or Cape Town. Others choosing to stay in Durban will be transferred direct to their ship at the Durban Passenger Terminal.

“The ships act as a base camp for the fans,” said Werner von Molkte, CEO and founder of One Ocean Club. “We will help fans bypass the risk of delays and the expense and organisation involved in attending games and at the same time allow them to have a good time in a unique setting.”

Unique setting it certainly is. The ships offer genuine luxury, with none of the plastic look and feel that so many other visiting cruise ships seem to have. While on board fans will have full use of all facilities, the pubs, clubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas, sport courts, gyms, spas and conference centres for those who can’t manage to leave their work at home.

Local business is not being neglected here and a large fleet of private exclusive vehicles will be available for the transfers and to convey guests on tours to places like the Hluhluwe Game Reserve and World Heritage Site at St Lucia in KZN, the Addo game park near Port Elizabeth and in Cape Town to the winelands and other tourist attractions including Robben Island.

The use of cruise ships as floating hotels at international events like the Olympic Games and now the Soccer World Cup is not new, with ships having been used in Sydney, Athens and more recently in Vancouver, with One Ocean having been involved in several of these. It will be a new experience for South Africa, and Transnet National Ports Authority has given its full blessing and will be cooperating in every way to make the visits a success.

The ships will make their positioning voyages to and from Europe ahead and immediately after the world cup with the Noordam and Westerdam reverting to cruise ship operation on those occasions. This presents an opportunity for line voyages in either direction, travelling via Madeira and the Atlantic in both directions.

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one of the staterooms on board the Noordam



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