Cunard is offering 112-day world cruises in 2015. (Courtesy: Cunard)
Have a few extra vacation days … or months? Then think about booking a three-month stay aboard a cruise ship. Or perhaps try a 180-day, round-the-world trip and then spend another half-year sailing in the opposite direction.
Just imagine visiting 90 cities in 45 countries on five continents without having to book a hotel room, make an itinerary, or worry about visas, transfers, or meals. Phileas Fogg, from Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days would be jealous. Yes, he did his trip quicker, but he was rushing to win a bet, and he used trains.
World Cruising is a trend recalling the “Grand Tours” of 19th-century British aristocrats who enjoyed nearly unlimited time and money with which to explore the world, huge trunks in tow. The modern equivalents are the wealthy retirees (many of them still British) who are booking round-the-world cruises in record numbers. Trips are selling out so fast (one ship booked all its cabins in four hours!) that cruise lines are rushing to add additional voyages to meet demand. Heidi Allison, senior partner at cruise booking website Cruise Compete, told Yahoo Travel that their world-cruise bookings have increased 72% over the last five years.
Ten cruise lines are offering 17 world cruise itineraries for 2015 with prices ranging from about $18,000 for interior cabins on a 100-day trip to six-figure fees for luxury suites on the half-year tours. If you consider the price of a vacation rental in a nice resort for the winter, the cost of taking a multi-month cruise can seem pretty reasonable. For those with more limited time or money, there’s the option to book segments on certain trips lasting “only” 20 days or so.
(Courtesy: Getty Images)
For some, a world cruise is a bucket-list fantasy trip, but for others, being shipboard for six months could be like prison with a view. You can imagine running out of conversation topics at the dinner tables after a month or so, dreading the next 150 days of small talk with the same fellow passengers. But the exotic ports of call, celebrity onboard speakers, and exhaustive activity programs do provide plenty of new topics for discussion. Still, bring your Kindle for those six-day-long ocean crossings.
Even if you don’t have the time or money to do one of the trips, it can be fun to scan some of the world cruise itineraries below, just to imagine yourself sitting on the balcony of your cabin, toasting your arrival as the ship sails into Bora Bora, Madagascar, Benin or Samoa, wondering what adventures this new port will offer.
(Courtesy: Oceania Cruises)
Oceania Cruises: For the ultimate long-term odyssey, Oceania will be offering two 180-day world cruises in 2015, round trip from Miami. The cruises run back to back and have different itineraries, so it’s conceivable someone could spend the whole year aboard the ship and visit 150 different cities in 70 countries. Pack wisely. The luxury suites costing $81,000 to $123,000 have already sold out (!), as have the cheapest inside rooms at $45,000 apiece (which figures to be $250/day). Remaining rooms run from $47,000 to $66,000.
Crystal Cruises: Crystal’s 2015 World Cruise is on the Crystal Serenity, which recently got a massive overhaul. The cruise in Miami and hits French Polynesia, Madagascar, and Rio, with fares start at about $40,000 for the 108-day southern hemisphere journey. The 2015 cruise will be almost completely filled with world cruisers (versus segment travelers). This should create more of a community atmosphere than other companies that sail with closer to a 50/50 ratio of world cruisers to those hopping aboard for a shorter time.
(Courtesy: Crystal Cruises)
Cunard’s Queens: The ships Queen Mary, Elizabeth, and Victoria will be doing 112-day world cruises in 2015, sailing out of England, of course. One itinerary covers 40 ports in 22 countries, sailing over 34,000 nautical miles, including a full circuit around New Zealand. Americans can add a couple of weeks to the voyage and pick up the trip in L.A., New York, or Fort Lauderdale. For entertainment on this year’s transatlantic crossing, James Taylor will be giving a couple concerts on the Queen Mary 2. Prices range from about $20,000-$70,000.
Silversea: A smaller, ultra-luxury cruise ship adds benefits and special events (like an evening at the Sydney Opera House, and a ride at the Brunei Polo Club) for its 382 passengers (vs. 2000+ on some of the larger ships). Its 2015 World Cruise almost covers the planet, beginning in L.A. and finishing in Florida, with a business class flight thrown in to connect you. Their 115-day trip visits 50 ports in 30 countries, with prices ranging from $59,000 to $173,000 for the “owner’s suite.”
Costa: The “budget” option in the world cruise category, with trips starting at $18,000, sold out its first offering in four hours, the second added voyage sold out four days later. They’re offering a 115-night voyage aboard its 2200-passenger Costa Deliziosa which skips the Suez and Panama canals for a full trip around Africa and South America.