The best way to watch the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix on the Côte d’Azur is from a cruise ship moored in the harbour, says Gary Buchanan
There are few sporting events more spectacular than the Monaco Grand Prix. For one weekend in May this enclave of the world’s most desirable real estate reverberates to the roar of finely-tuned engines and the popping of champagne corks. Stylish celebrities mingle with Formula One champions, while super-yachts gather along one of the world’s most glamorous coastlines.
In recent years several cruise ships have planned their itineraries to coincide with the Grand Prix. Nearly all offer unrivalled opportunities for their passengers to enjoy this challenging race up-close-and-personal. Since 2014 Silversea Cruises have created outstanding land programmes which offer a privileged vantage point to see the track. The company estimates up to 40 per cent of their guests sign up for this unforgettable experience. With exclusive use of the upper two floors and balconies of the F1 Club at the belle époque Villa Casa Mia, perched above the dramatic first corner at St Devote, Silversea guests enjoy inclusive hospitality, live music, and treatments at the Wellness Centre as well as testing their driving skills in an F1 simulator.
In 2017 Alison Earnshaw, managing director of Cruise118 and Six Star Cruises, was invited to the event as part of an 11-night cruise on Silver Spirit. “I’m not an F1 groupie but was blown away by it,” says Earnshaw. “We anchored off Monte Carlo on Saturday – the practice day – and even though we didn’t go ashore, the roar of the cars got everyone in the mood.
“On race day we arrived at the venue at 10am and from the top floor we had great views of the vibrant port and the legendary left-hand bend at Tabac corner – all the way to the tight turns around the swimming pool at the Rainier III Nautical Stadium. We watched the grandstands below filling up while waiters topped our glasses up with champagne.
“During our superb lunch the excitement grew as we watched the practice races on plasma screens and revelled in the carnival atmosphere. We got the full vibe – the aroma of burning rubber, roar of the engines, cheers of the crowds – all from a superb vantage point. This is undoubtedly the most elite package available and even if you’re not a petrol-head it’s an ideal option to experience this unique sporting event.”
Silversea Cruises’ guests who signed up for this year’s two-day Monaco Grand Prix land package got to meet nine-time Formula One Grand Prix winner, Mark Webber as the Australian racing legend discussed his illustrious career and revealed his own insights into the Monaco circuit as well as hosting a Q&A session. It is anticipated that he will again be a highlight of Silversea Cruises’ 2019 land package.
I’m not an F1 groupie but was blown away by it
Several other cruise lines offer the chance for passengers to witness this event and soak up the excitement of the chequered flag on Sunday, May 26, 2019. The boutique Crystal Esprit will be on an eight-day Yachting at the Monaco Grand Prix itinerary allowing guests to soak up the racing action.
Elaine Gillard, senior sales and marketing manager for Crystal Cruises in the UK says, “Guests on Crystal Esprit will be able to thrill to the glamour and excitement of an overnight in Monte Carlo which will include exclusive access to the Grand Prix. This is as close as it gets to attending the Grand Prix in your own private yacht as you and your 60 fellow passengers enjoy some of the best views.”
Other ships that will be in port for the 2019 Grand Prix include Azamara Journey during a 10-night Grand Prix & Cannes voyage departing Rome on May 21, 2019 which includes the Cannes Film Festival. Tickets are available for the F1 race itself as well as a two-day package to see the qualifying sessions. Star Clippers has a seven-night round-trip cruise from Cannes on 25 May aboard Royal Clipper, which will be in Monaco for the Grand Prix.
No other circuit in the F1 calendar can truly match the Monaco Grand Prix. From the iconic Casino Square to the world famous Grand Hotel hairpin, through the tunnel and nouvelle chicane at the port, Monte Carlo tests racing drivers to the limit. For some, winning it is even more prestigious than securing the World Championship.