England football captain Harry Kane and fiancé Katie Goodland, pictured, with the new MSC World Europa. Photo/Getty Images; Supplied
God bless the good ship Wag and all who sail in her.
While the run up to the Qatar World Cup has been marred by accommodation shortages and some seriously pricing Airbnbs, the wives and girlfriends of the England football squad have found a novel solution: a brand new cruise ship.
With champagne still fresh from Sunday’s naming ceremony, the MSC World Europa is one of three ships chartered to accommodate fans and Fifa dignitaries during the tournament.
Writer Adele Thurlow was aboard the $2 billion ship reporting on the off-pitch action for The Herald.
“The wives and girlfriends of the English team will be staying on board MSC World Europa,” she says.
“My assumption is, they’ll be residing in the opulent MSC Yacht Club — an exclusive section at the front of MSC World Europa housing 152 suites, two ultra-spacious Owner’s Suites and a Royal Suite.”
Between 107 and 52 square meters and with up to 4 guests in each, the suites are large enough to be their own football fiefdoms.
Already dubbed the HMS Wag in the English press, the girlfriend of winger Jack Grealish, 26-year old Sasha Attwood, Aaron Ramsdale’s other half Georgina Irwin, and Marcus Rashford’s fiancé, Lucia Loi are expected up the gangplank this Saturday.
Alongside the MSC Poesia and MSC Opera, the three “floating hotels” will provide a combined 13,000 beds to the competition.
It’s at the prow of the ship in the MSC Yacht Club where you’ll find footballing royalty. Although there are no buffets for the masses, Thurlow says you will find “a Swarovski crystal staircase ideal for selfies”.
At $12,000 a week there are only two Owner Suites on the ship but speculation is that one will be going to Katie Goodland, fiance of the England skipper Harry Kane – aye aye captain.
The club VIP area is an exclusive area with personalized service for guests, says MSC Yacht Club director Cristian Comirla.
“The needs of every Yacht Club guest are anticipated 24 hours a day by our elite team of highly trained butlers,” he told The Sun.
The 22 drinking holes on the Europa make it something of an oddity in the temperance state.
“Consuming alcohol in public is not permitted in the State of Qatar but a ship moored in port is conveniently considered to be offshore,” says Thurlow. “Guests aboard the three MSC floating hotels will be able to enjoy a celebratory (or commiseratory) drink throughout the FIFA World Cup.
Appropriately one of the most sought after bars is the 1920s prohibition-themed speakeasy, which is “invitation-only.”
For the clean-living sports spouses, the ship’s spa offers novelties including a Finnish sauna, Mediterranean bath, Japanese hot stones and a hot and cold hydrotherapy Kneipp walk. Best of all, the Europa carries a snow room on its trip to the desert state. It will be extremely welcome in the average highs of 26 Celsius.
There are expected to be a number of soccer kids in tow. And the MSC is prepared.
With the kids’ play area covering more than 1000m2, there is plenty to help wags’ nannies keep their young charges occupied.
The brand new ship was named at a ceremony on Sunday 13 November, at which guests saw performances by Matteo Bocelli – son of and the legendary tenor Andrea – and the Qatar Youth Choir.
Illuminated by 600 display drones and attended by Qatar Airways the ceremony was a launch for a Qatari Tourism campaign to bring more international tourists to the region.
After the conclusion of the World Cup in December the Europa will set off on itineraries are around the Arabian Gulf and north for the beginning of next year.
– Additional reporting by Adele Thurlow in Doha