Qatar hires 3rd cruise ship as floating hotel for World Cup

A third cruise ship was hired on Monday by the organizers of the World Cup in Qatar to operate as a football fan hotel docked in the port of Doha to add much-needed rooms for the tournament.

Geneva-based MSC Cruises announced the deal just six weeks before the start of the World Cup on November 20. The 1075 booth MSC Opera will be available from November 19 to December 19.

Prices for the Opera were listed on MSC’s website on Monday from 470 Swiss Francs ($470) per person per night during the group stage, with a minimum stay of two nights.

Qatar does not have the hotel capacity for all the teams, employees, volunteers and fans at the World Cup and is creating camping and cabins, renting cruise ships and encouraging fans to stay in neighboring countries and fly to the games.

MSC signed a deal with the Qatari government earlier in 2019 to equip two ships with approximately 4,000 cabins as floating hotels to accommodate the expected 1.2 million international visitors.

The high-end flagship MSC World Europe will enter the World Cup after being built in France.

Prices on the cruise ships drop during the tournament when half of the teams go home. During the round of 16 and the quarter-finals, the cheapest rooms on MSC Opera cost 320 Swiss Francs ($320), then 220 Swiss Francs ($220) during the final week.

Base rates include breakfast on board with an option to pay a daily supplement of 90 Euros ($87) for all meals.

Alcohol is expected to be available on board, while the MSC offers wine and beer on tap.

Qatar is a Muslim-majority country that typically restricts alcohol consumption to luxury hotels, but has relaxed rules on FIFA’s commercial partners, including corporate stadium hospitality provider and World Cup sponsor Budweiser’s brewer AB InBev.

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

In March 2019, passengers suspected of smuggling 18 kilograms (40 pounds) of cocaine, hidden in bowls and packets of snacks, were arrested when the ship docked on the Portuguese island of Madeira after departing from the Caribbean.

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

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