World Cruise Segments and Grand Voyages, Demystified

Recently, we wrote about the World Cruises that are on-track for the 2019-2020 cruise season, and for those with the time and the resources to embark on such a journey, there are no shortage of options to choose from.

What you might not know is that there is another way to experience a World Cruise – or at least a part of it – without committing four months of your life and substantial savings to its pursuit.

World Cruise routes, like this one from Silversea, are often broken up into smaller, bookable segments. Illustration courtesy of Silversea

World Cruise Segments

Many cruise lines offer their massive World Cruises up as smaller World Cruise Segments. These can range from just a few weeks in duration all the way up to half of the entire World Cruise itself. Typically, you don’t get all the perks and incentives that those booking the full World Cruise journey do, but there’s still no shortage of prestige that comes with these voyages.

Crystal Cruises will let guests swap ships in Sydney, Australia as part of its 2018 World Cruise offerings. Photo courtesy of Crystal Cruises

Most cruise lines offer up their World Cruises as smaller, individual World Cruise Segments. Oceania Cruises, for instance, lets you pick smaller (though still quite long) segments of its massive, half-year long journeys. Guests can hop aboard Insignia’s 27-day voyage from Sydney to Tokyo on March 4, 2019, for instance; a little more accessible to most people than the incredible 180-day journey that the ship embarks on starting January 14, 2019 in New York.

Oceania is quite unique in that it has taken its massive 180-day World Cruise and has broken it into several World Cruises, each departing from different ports of call but all lasting longer than 158 days. Guests can sail New York to New York (Jan 11, 2019, 174 days); New York to London (Jan 11, 2019, 158 days); Miami to Miami (Jan 14, 2019, 177 days); and from Los Angeles to Miami (Jan 30, 2019, 161 days), in addition to the full 180-day World Cruise itinerary.

Smaller segments of a world cruise may not even show up on a special booking page on the company’s website, listed instead as regular voyage in the online booking engine.

Grand Voyages

Holland America’s Amsterdam sails a variety of Grand Voyage itineraries. Photo courtesy of Holland America Line.

Grand Voyages are something entirely different. You might hear a lot of cruise lines speak about these trips and to be sure, they most definitely live up to their moniker, sailing to multiple countries over the course of weeks or even months.

So why aren’t these classified as World Cruises? Well, most of these voyages do not, in fact, circumnavigate the world – always a drawing point on any World Cruise.

Instead, these Grand Voyages focus on one or two areas of the world. Some examples include a complete circumnavigation of South America, or an extended Pacific Ocean crossing that might leave from California before swinging through the South Pacific and on to New Zealand and Australia.

A great example of a Grand Voyage is Holland America Line’s 34-day Grand Asia & Pacific Adventure, departing from Los Angeles, California on September 30, 2018 aboard the ms Amsterdam.

This voyage – which is also available as a shorter 15-day cruise to Yokohama, Japan; a 57-day Grand Voyage between Los Angeles and Sydney; and an 82-day roundtrip voyage from Los Angeles to Los Angeles – sails across the Pacific to Hong Kong, by way of Alaska, Japan, and Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula. The full 82-day roundtrip cruise is the price of a small car, but the 34-day Grand Voyage between Los Angeles and Hong Kong comes in at under ten grand per person. The 15-day segment that just crosses the Pacific is a fraction of that.

Like World Cruise Segments, Grand Voyage Segments offer the ability to mix and match, creating the best combination of pricing, timing and itinerary to suit every need. It also benefits the cruise line: not everyone can steal away for nearly three months, but most of us can take two weeks off, even if it is to only cross the Atlantic.

Some Grand Voyages may be available in segments, even though they are not officially advertised as such. Ultra-luxury line Silversea has a 79-day Grand Voyage from Sydney to Tokyo on-tap for 2019. Departing on February 2, 2019 aboard the Silver Muse, it explores Australia and heads up the Asian East Coast as far as Japan.

Silversea offers the ability to sail this route in five separate segments: Sydney to Auckland; Auckland to Bali (Benoa); Bali (Benoa) to Singapore; Singapore to Hong Kong; and Hong Kong to Tokyo. They’re offered in digestible 15-to-20-day chunks, and are priced accordingly – but you have to know where to look. Thankfully, Silversea’s website does a great job of laying out these voyage segment options, and they appear as regular voyages in the line’s front-page booking engine.

When you get down to it, there isn’t much difference between a World Cruise Segment and a Grand Voyage Segment – just that the ship the segment is offered on may or may not be circumnavigating the globe.

What’s Your Voyage?

No matter where you want to cruise – or for how long – there’s probably an itinerary out there that’s right for you. And while World Cruises remain an elusive reality for many of us, it’s always nice to dream.

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