When my wife, Ewa, and I were offered the chance to fill in as co-hosts aboard an 11-day Crystal Cruise golf-themed journey around the British Isles (good friend and PGA Tour TV essayist Jim Huber couldn’t make the trip and graciously suggested us), we jumped at the chance. It’s easy to see why.
At the top of the list was golf-rich ports of call and a terrific variety of courses, both historic and modern. And on this “Celtic Classic” cruise there was the extra bonus of spending time with our co-host, three-time major champion Billy Casper.
All from a base of operations that proudly boasts a 6 Star Rating, recognition as “The World’s Best Large-Ship Cruise Line” by Travel + Leisure Magazine the last 12 years, fantastic service and spectacular gourmet cuisine.
Plus, we had the chance to meet like-minded, passionate golfers (and other interesting, non-golf-playing travelers), and there was a superb on-board selection of lectures, concerts, entertainment and gaming. A floating cornucopia of choices.
We would cruise all night, pull into port in the morning, hop on a tour bus with our clubs waiting at each course—all arranged by Crystal staff and cruise golf director and PGA teaching professional John Clark.
Our itinerary took us from the legendary past (St. Andrews and Dornoch) to the emotional present (2006 Ryder Cup venue the K Club). We also played Royal Belfast, Waterford Castle and Fota Island in southern Ireland, among others. (Guests could pre-book whichever courses interested them.) Tips and tales from the generous Casper. For a golfer, perfect days.
If you’ve never been on a cruising golf tour, it’s definitely worth a try. On this Crystal Cruise, 40 or so golfers (out of the 940 guests) got to experience a wonderful combination of golf, off-course excursions, pampering by a staff that seems to exist for only that reason, and a ship full of interesting traveling companions, from our golf cohorts to the international staff and crew.
As each day passes, a strange sort of bonding takes place, and by cruise’s end, you feel as if you’re saying goodbye to a newly formed family, one that appreciates golf and luxury on the high seas.
Mitch Laurance is the creator, producer and host of Myrtle Beach’s Award winning television show “On the Green Golf Video Showcase” and the host of ” The Golf Road Show” on Comcast Sports TV.