What to Expect on a Golf Expedition Cruise

Guest golf blogger Michael Cunningham asked a very important question – “How do I disembark from an expedition vessel and not get my golf shoes wet?”. After coming on board for the inaugural ‘Fiddles and Sticks‘ voyage in 2018, Michael now shares what to expect on your first golf expedition cruise.

It is June in Nova Scotia’s picturesque Cape Breton Island that I board the white-hulled expedition research ship, lying at anchor within sight of the historic Fortress of Louisbourg. Operated by the Canadian based, One Ocean Expeditions – a world leader in expedition cruising, it is about to set sail for an adventure any golfer would love to be a part of. To explore Canada’s finest east coast golf courses aboard a ship of adventure and exploration, best known for its ability to powerfully dissect thick ice floes while navigating the frozen waters of the Arctic and Antarctica.

Golf Clubs on board the ship.
Golf Clubs on board the ship. Image: Jeff Topham

On the pier, I am instructed by able crew members to put on expedition gear which will become my daily “ship to shore” excursion wear during my week-long voyage. A flotilla of Zodiacs artfully position themselves to take on red jacketed passengers for the short journey to the ship. As we approach the awaiting steel stairway ascending from the ocean water to the ships main deck, I observe the care and expertise as golf clubs are delivered by a dedicated inflatable and expertly hoisted aboard.

The shrill sounds of a bagpipe reverberates as we lift anchor and depart the sheltered waters, beginning our voyage. Our destination, the northern shores of Cabot Island and then to Canada’s smallest province, Prince Edward Island, Quebec’s Ile de la Madeleine and out into the Atlantic towards Canada’s most eastern extreme, Sable Island, where less than 450 visitors annually ever set foot on her sandy shores.

Horses of Sable Island. Image Jeff Topham
Horses of Sable Island. Image: Jeff Topham

But this first-of-its-kind trip is more than distant island exploration; it is a golf adventure unlike any other. Over seven days I will experience four award-winning courses that should be on everyone’s ‘bucket list’. The sheer beauty and distinctive design features have made Cabot Cliffs, Cabot Links, Stanley Thompson’s Highland Links and PEI’s The Links at Crowbush must-plays for every golfer.

‘Expect the unexpected’ should be the motto for all golfers when playing coastal courses, as weather conditions will be warm and sunny, then you may experience the cooling dampness of a ‘Scotch mist’. In preparation, every pocket of my golf bag is laden with paraphernalia that will have me ready for whatever Mother Nature sends my way.

Michael Cunningham at Highland Links golf course, Cape Breton

Rain gear, sunglasses, long underwear, toque and sunscreen are part of my ‘kit’. My camera and a durable backpack are with me wherever I travel. My silver flask is a companion as I toast, with new found friends, our fortunes to be where we are.

Each evening, we return to the ship to enjoy ardent conversation with disparate voyageurs; explorers, photographers, historians and scientists continuing our dialogue throughout dinner, tastefully created by a host of international chefs.

Golf expedition cruising is now in my blood!

Michael Cunningham is a travel and golf writer, and broadcaster based in Calgary, Alberta. He is the editor and senior writer of two best-selling books on golf and travel and provides editorial for publications in North America and Europe. He is a regular guest for the syndicated radio show “The Informed Traveler”.

Instagram/Facebook: Golf and Travel Writer

The Scotland and Ireland Golf Expedition will operate in 2020 from June 6th – 13th, with Fiddles and Sticks returning to our line up in Spring 2021.