It’s the iconic voyage, the experience of a lifetime and the journey by which all others are measured. It’s the World Cruise, typically spanning more than 100 days and visiting destinations flung far and wide — a destination collector’s dream cruise.
Once the exclusive domain of the uber-rich, a World Cruise can now be had for less than the price of some new cars.
Typically beginning in January and running until late April or early May, these voyages span more than 100 days. Embarkation ports are usually located along the Eastern or Western seaboard in cities such as New York, Fort Lauderdale or Los Angeles. From these ports of call, ships embark on spectacular voyages that can take them to any corner of the globe.
Holland America Line, for example, offers a 115-day Grand Voyage World Cruise in 2013 aboard its flagship Amsterdam, which will depart from Fort Lauderdale on January 5, chart a course through the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean, South Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, Africa, South America, and finally the Caribbean before returning to Fort Lauderdale on May 1.
One notable port of call is Easter Island, home to the mysterious Moai head statues, which were carved by hand sometime between 1250 and 1500. The exact techniques used to move these enormous statues into their final positions are still largely unknown.
Cunard Line, which pioneered the World Cruise, still offers these extended voyages aboard its Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth.
Next winter, Queen Mary 2 sets sail from Southampton bound for the Mediterranean, Egypt, Dubai, India, Asia, Australia and New Zealand before looping back around South Africa for Southampton.
Queen Elizabeth charts a course from Southampton to America, calling on the Eastern seaboard first before transiting the Panama Canal and arriving on the West Coast. After calling on Hawaii and the South Pacific, she visits New Zealand before returning to Los Angeles, Mexico, the Panama Canal, and eventually Southampton.
Plenty of other lines offer world cruises, but few execute theirs with the lavish special features that ultra-luxury line Silversea bestows upon its guests.
In 2013, Silver Whisper will visit 52 ports in 28 countries on a massive 115-day World Cruise from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale. Guests booking the entire World Cruise receive complimentary Business Class airfare, private car transportation, a $2,000 bonus Onboard Spending Credit, a $1,500 Onboard Spending Credit, a Gala Bon Voyage pre-cruise dinner at the Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel, complimentary laundry and Silversea’s Baggage Valet luggage service.
If that wasn’t enough, the line has also created some special events for World Cruise guests. They can dine in the Namib Desert during their port call in Walvis Bay; an overnight stay in the Winelands region in Cape Town; and an excursion to Singapore’s exclusive China Club for dinner with Silver Whisper’s Captain and select Officers.
World cruises can also be sold in segments that range in length from a few weeks to a few months. These voyages tend to be exceptional values, given that world cruises frequently offer enhanced amenities and features, not to mention visits to some ports that aren’t on regular itineraries.
A world cruise isn’t for the faint of heart, however; in fact, we’d recommend it only to experienced cruisers and those who are comfortable with extended shipboard living. You wouldn’t want to commit to five months at sea only to discover that you get horrifically seasick any time you leave port. That’s by no means to say that first-time cruisers shouldn’t consider a world cruise, but we’d recommend testing your sea legs out on an extended voyage to start with.