Inside the ‘HMS WAG’, where Qatar’s strict rules don’t apply: the US$1 billion MSC World Europa cruise ship is docked in Doha for the World Cup – and hosting the England squad’s wives and girlfriends

The MSC World Europa cost US$1 billion to build and has all manner of luxury amenities on board. Photo: @mscworldeuropa/Instagram
Known for their pampered lives of extreme luxury, the wives and girlfriends (“WAGs”) of England’s top footballers are certainly living up to their stereotype during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Shunning conventional and unexciting forms of accommodation, many of the WAGs at this year’s tournament are reportedly opting for a stay aboard the MSC World Europa, MSC Cruises’ recently launched new flagship cruise liner.

The MSC World Europa is MSC Cruises’ brand new flagship cruise liner. Photo: @mscworldeuropa/Instagram

Nicknamed the “HMS WAG” for this reason, the seafaring behemoth is set to welcome passengers for commercial cruises from December once the World Cup is over, according to its website. As the very first guests of the vessel – which is currently docked in the Qatari capital Doha, where the official naming ceremony recently took place – the WAGs at this year’s games are certainly in for a sumptuous stay while their significant others compete for the World Cup trophy.

So what do we know about the MSC World Europa? Let’s take a closer look inside the massive cruise ship.

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The MSC World Europa by numbers

The MSC World Europa has been dubbed the HMS WAG due to the fact that its currently home to several English footballers’ wives. Photo: @mscworldeuropa/Instagram

As described on the MSC Cruises website, the MSC Europa is the cruise line’s “most innovative, most environmentally advanced and most exciting ship to date”.

At 47 metres in width and weighing over 215,000 gross tonnes, the vast vessel boasts 22 decks, more than 2,600 guest cabins and some 40,000 square metres of public space. Furthermore, the so-called “ultra-modern urban metropolis at sea” features a selection of more than 30 restaurants, bars and lounges, including six speciality restaurants and seven new bars and cafes. These range from Michelin-starred chef Niklas Ekstedt’s Chef’s Garden Kitchen to MSC’s first on-board microbrewery.

The MSC World Europa recently had its official naming ceremony in Doha, Qatar. Photo: MSC

Hailed by the media as a “floating palace”, the MSC World Europa reportedly cost US$1 billion to construct.

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Abundant amenities

The MSC World Europa, aka the HMS WAG, has more than 30 restaurants on board. Photo: @mscworldeuropa/ Instagram

As one would expect from an engineering marvel of this magnitude, the on-board facilities are abundant and breathtaking.

The priciest cabins on board the MSC World Europa go for about US$7,000. Photo: MSC

Per British media, the MSC Europa offers its WAG passengers some exclusive perks, including a private Yacht Club area at the top of the ship, which features its own restaurant and bar complete with Swarovski crystal staircase plus two private decks with pools and jacuzzis. The elite Yacht Club guests all enjoy personalised butler service too.

The MSC World Europa cost US$1 billion to build and boasts the longest dry slide at sea, called The Venom Drop @ The Spiral. Photo: MSC

As far as where the WAGs will sleep, the most exclusive suites – which have been reported to cost at least US$7,000 – have been kitted out with opulent finishes, like hot tubs, walk-in wardrobes and super king-size beds.

The MSC World Europa is so huge it can accommodate thousands of guests. Photo: MSC

While the WAGs will surely enjoy the ship’s most exclusive features, general passengers will feel no less pampered. The ship’s most impressive highlights include spas with snow rooms, seven different swimming pools, an aqua park, a vast World Galleria housing shops and boutiques, and a multipurpose entertainment venue that can accommodate as many as 300 guests.

The “HMS WAG” is a floating pleasure palace, with everything from bumper cars to water parks and shopping malls on board. Photo: MSC

Perhaps most noteworthy is the vessel’s adrenaline-pumping Venom Drop @ The Spiral. This dry corkscrew slide is the largest of its kind on the ocean and sees thrill-seekers sliding down the height of 11 decks.

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Rumoured guests

Anna Modler recently got engaged to England’s footballer Eric Dier and is now out in Qatar supporting her fiancé. Photo: @annamodler/ Instagram

So why would the WAGs, who could stay wherever they choose, opt for offshore accommodation such as this?

Firstly, due to Qatar’s strict laws around alcohol, staying out at sea where local Qatari rules don’t apply makes sense. Guests can partake in their favourite alcoholic beverages at one of the many watering holes on board. This feels particularly fortuitous as officials recently announced that only non alcoholic beverages will be served at the stadiums.

Besides booze, staying on the boat provides additional benefits for the media-hounded WAGs, as it means they can also easily avoid the intrusive lenses of the paparazzi.

Jack Grealish’s girlfriend Sasha Attwood is thought to be on board the MSC Europa. Photo: @sasha__rebecca / Instagram

At the time of writing, according to British media reports, some of the WAGs rumoured to be staying on the ship include Katie Kane, wife of the England team captain Harry Kane, as well as Manchester City midfielder Jack Grealish’s partner, Sasha Attwood. Also possibly staying on board are centre-back Harry Maguire’s wife Fern, and South African-born model Anna Modler, who recently got engaged to Tottenham Hotspur star Eric Dier.

In addition to the high-profile partners, there are said to be over 14,000 football fans and supporters from England and Wales who have booked on-board accommodation.

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  • The MSC flagship cruise liner is docked in Doha and reportedly hosting the partners of England’s star footballers – from Harry Kane’s wife Katie to Eric Dier’s model fiancée Anna Modler
  • From the private Yacht Club section of the ship, the WAGs have access to everything from snow rooms to restaurants by Michelin-starred chef Niklas Ekstedt – oh, and cocktails, too