Making waves: Qatar World Cup will use cruise ships as floating hotels | Football


Once it was a three-star bed and breakfast or a capacious pitch on a camp site. Now fans travelling to the World Cup in Qatar are to be offered a very different experience after organisers confirmed they had chartered two cruise ships to serve as floating hotels in 2022.

The two vessels, hired from company MSC cruises, come with swimming pools, spas and a dinosaur playroom (for children). They also offer a combined capacity of 4,000 cabins. Rates are yet to be confirmed, although current MSC cruises run from £599 per person, and anyone hoping to experience life on the open waves will also be disappointed as both boats will be berthed throughout the tournament.

The deal was announced by Qatar’s supreme committee for delivery & legacy (SC) whose secretary-general, Hassan al-Thawadi, 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 onboard a cruise ship, with a fabulous view of West Bay, and fast access to all the stadiums and fan zones.”

Qatar has long considered cruise ships a ‘sustainable’ part of their plans to accommodate the 1m-plus fans projected to attend the tournament in a country with a population of 2.7m. The Gulf state has a shortage of pre-existing hotel rooms and as many as 40,000 fans are anticipated to end up sleeping on ships, with the vast majority taking up spare capacity on existing vessels. One other suggestion floated by the SC has included fans camping in the desert close to the stadiums.

The use of luxury vessels as impromptu accommodation will also serve as another sign of the excesses of Qatar 2022. Fifa’s decision to award the tournament to the Gulf state was beset by scandal, and the conditions endured by migrant labourers building stadiums for 2022 have been the subject of international outrage.

The World Athletic Championships, held earlier this year in Doha and part of the preparations for hosting the World Cup, were characterised by sparse crowds and a lack of atmosphere. There was also concern over the temperatures some athletes were expected to perform in. The World Cup has been rescheduled to winter to avoid temperatures that regularly top 40C.


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