Qatar hires third cruise hotel to solve World Cup accommodation problems

Qatar has hired a third cruise ship as a floating hotel to resolve accommodation issues ahead of the opening day of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the country.

Reservations are expected to be available for space on the 1,075-cabin MSC Opera from November 19 to December 19, in the charter contract which will be valid for a period of six weeks, Swiss-based MSC Cruises has confirmed.

More than a million people are expected to visit Qatar during the competition, with the Middle Eastern country scrambling to provide enough accommodation to contain visitors.

In 2019, MSC and the Qatari government signed an agreement for the global cruise line to provide around 4,000 seats on two World Cup cruise ships, but another new ship was included in the deal.

For a two-night stay, it will cost one person from $470 per night to stay on MSC ships during the first week of the World Cup, according to prices on MSC’s website as of Monday.

In late 2021, The Associated Press conducted a pre-tournament search of major hotel chains and available accommodation spaces in the country during the World Cup, but only one room was available nationwide.

The Qatari government has since begun construction of hotels and securing other accommodation facilities during the tournament period, with only 33,000 to 34,000 hotel rooms currently available in Qatar as of May 2022.

Meanwhile, prices are expected to drop as the competition reaches the first two elimination stages – rooms on MSC Opera that cost $320 will cost $220 in the final week.

This is not the first time that floating hotels will be deployed for accommodation during sporting events. Basketball teams stayed on a cruise ship docked in Rio during the 2016 Olympics.

The speakers of the Rio events stayed on a second cruise ship during the Olympic Games in Brazil.

The 2022 World Cup will be the first edition to be held in the Arab world when it kicks off on November 20 and ends on December 18.

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