If you have time to spare and want to visit a treasure trove of destinations from the comfort of a ship, these global sailings are well worth the splurge.
In 1922, Cunard Line inaugurated the first world cruise from England that circled the globe in 130 days and visited 22 ports. Nearly 100 years later, the tradition continues—with some variations—and now numerous cruise lines offer these epic voyages.
World cruise itineraries vary widely, and in truth most do not actually completely circumnavigate the globe these days, which is the hallmark of a true world voyage. But regardless of whether they do a full around-the-world tour, they do tackle a large and impressive array of destinations. These weeks- or months-long cruises typically depart in January, and often need to be booked well in advance. However, some 2019 sailings are still available, and this is also a good time to start planning for a 2020 world cruise if the idea of taking one of these journeys is calling to you.
The type of ship you choose can make or break your experience. Luxury cruise lines offer posh accommodations on smaller ships with an emphasis on service and typically have many more inclusions (think freely flowing champagne and caviar). Premium lines are slightly larger ships with more entertainment and good-quality service and food, but they aren’t as all-inclusive. And the really big cruise ships offer more basic staterooms, more pools, gargantuan casinos and spas, and flashy live shows.
Regardless of the cruise line, a world cruise offers the convenience of unpacking only once and a balance of lazy sea days and busy port stops. These cruises are not just about the exotic ports of call but also are filled with dozens of sailing days, often a week at a time. Cruisers have numerous options during sea days ranging from informative lectures to dance classes, but it’s important that passengers be mentally prepared for these longer stretches of time onboard.
These voyages aren’t cheap either, but if you’ve yearned to sail the globe in a style surpassing that of famed maritime explorer Ferdinand Magellan and want to earn some serious cruising bragging rights, there are numerous world cruise options for a range of tastes and budgets.
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The 131-night “Navigate the World” cruise on Regent Seven Seas Cruises’s 700-passenger Seven Seas Mariner offers round-trip options from both Miami and San Francisco that visit 63 ports over five continents. Taking a westerly route, the Mariner will spend almost an entire month sailing around the South Pacific before docking in Australia where it will have several stops, including at the Great Barrier Reef. Afterwards, it will head toward Asia with stops that will include Hong Kong and Mumbai, before continuing to the Middle East and on to a Suez Canal transit. The Mariner features three specialty restaurants, a spa and fitness center, a heated swimming pool, two whirlpools, a library and a card room. Fares for the January 6, 2020, and January 20, 2020, sailings range from $66,500 to $179,00 per person, including airfare, shore excursions, gratuities, and dry cleaning, among other services.
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Viking Cruises offers a couple of world cruise options in late 2019 and 2020, including the longest continuous world cruise that will encompass a whopping 245 days. Both journeys will take place onboard the Scandinavian-inspired, 930-passenger Viking Sun. Viking is known for its great value and all staterooms have a balcony. The cruise line also provides a complimentary tour in every port, complimentary water and soft drinks, and beer and wine with lunch and dinner. Another included Viking perk is one of the best spas at sea with a thalassotherapy pool, steam sauna, dry sauna, snow room, and hot and cold plunge pools.
Viking’s 245-day voyage departs on August 31, 2019 and sails round-trip from London and will ultimately explore six continents, 53 countries, and 112 ports of call. It is the only world cruise that visits Norway, Greenland, Montreal and also sails up the Amazon River. Fares kick off at $90,000 per person for a lower deck veranda cabin and head up to $270,000 per person for the Owner’s Suite, including airfare. Viking also offers a shorter 119-day “Viking World Wonders” cruise sailing from Los Angeles to London that departs January 4, 2020. The cruise focuses heavily on the South Pacific, New Zealand, and Australia, where highlights include sailing the fjords of Milford Sound and the Great Barrier Reef. Afterwards, the Sun heads north to Asia with a dozen stops, including China, Singapore, Thailand, and India. It will then sail to the Middle East with stops in Oman, Jordan, and Israel before numerous port calls in Africa and the Mediterranean. Fares start at $46,000 for a lower deck veranda cabin and continue up to $140,000 for an Owner’s Suite, including airfare.
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Holland America Line has more than 50 years’ experience operating around-the-world voyages. Its 128-day world voyage takes place on the company’s 1,380-passenger Amsterdam, which features an America’s Test Kitchen facility onboard where guests can hone their chef skills with abundant hands-on cooking classes and demonstrations. The itinerary sails round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and focuses heavily south of the equator with extensive stops in South America plus an Antarctic experience sailing parts of the Drake Passage. The Amsterdam then heads to the South Pacific, Australia, and Africa, where it will make numerous calls before crossing the Atlantic to North America. This sailing departs on January 4, 2020; fares start at $21,500 per person for an inside stateroom and run up to $80,000 for suites.
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For those who don’t want to spend months on a ship and would rather get a “taste” of a world voyage, there is the option to book segments of a world cruise. Silversea’s 140-day world cruise, for instance, consists of nine segments and passengers can opt to sail one or more of them, such as the 18-day Sydney to Singapore segment or the 10-day Dublin to Amsterdam segment. In fact, the vast majority of cruise lines do this because less than half the passengers on a world cruise do the full itinerary—the rest join on various available segments.