World cruises are offered by several lines with various itineraries touching many of the top destinations around the globe. They can be a great way to cross many travel locations off your bucket list. If you are thinking of embarking on an extended cruise trip, there are several things to be aware of and plan for before booking the trip.
Determine the length of the cruise
A world cruise used to be relatively simple. Guests would embark from any number of ports around the world sometime in January and return to that same port a few months later. As cruising has gained popularity, become more economical for a larger segment of the population, and more cruise lines compete with one another, the options for cruisers have become more plentiful. If you are unable to commit to a full trip around the world, there are other options for sailings that might fit your needs.
Some cruise sailings can be upwards of six months long. If you would like to experience the allure of a world cruise, but are not ready to commit to four months at sea, you can opt for a segmented trip. It’s a great way to sample the world cruise experience without committing to a full circumnavigation. Most cruise lines offering world trips break their voyages into shorter segments that allow additional people on for anywhere from one week to a month or more. For example, you could hop on a 127-day world cruise departing from Miami and ending up in Greenwich, London, but hop off at one of the ports along the way and fly home.
A recent trend related to world cruises is boomerang sailings that combine two ships in one trip. Sometimes the two ships are in port together, so you transfer on the same day. In other instances, the cruise line will put you up for a few days until your second ship arrives which could be a great opportunity to see some of the city. Most people opting to do boomerang world cruises use two ships from the same line, but if you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for from one line, combining multiple lines is an option. Contact your travel concierge for help with travel planning.
Grand Voyages or Off-Season Sailings
Some cruise lines offer high-end extended sailings of 70 nights or more that may not be branded as a “world cruise” but should be approached in the same manner from a planning standpoint. Grand Voyages often focus on a particular hemisphere or continent.
Many world cruises have a start date for some time in January, but if this timeline doesn’t work for you, other cruise lines have started to offer world cruises at other times of the year. For example, Princess Cruises has a world cruise starting in May that departs from Australia.
Picking the Right Cruise for You
If you are genuinely thinking of going on a world cruise, there are fortunately many options to choose from as more and more cruise lines are adding extended voyages to their yearly schedules. This means there is a wide variety of itineraries, ships, and prices.
Small Ships vs. Large Ships
When researching options for a world cruise, you’ll be able to choose from small, ultra-luxury ships to massive 200,000+ ton ships and all types of sizes in between. You’ll find pros and cons regardless of what size ship you decide to reserve.
Smaller ships provide cruisers with more personalized service, more intimate environs, and the ability to get into smaller ports and therefore more exotic opportunities for shore excursions. Conversely, smaller ships are far more susceptible to large swells, choppy seas, and the conditions that lead to sea sickness for travelers. Smaller ships also offer fewer on-board amenities, dining options, and entertainment options.
Larger ships offer much more in terms of facilities, dining, amenities, entertainment, workshops, etc., but are more limited in ports and are relegated to the larger, more industrialized ports often further from the city. This makes independent off-board activities a little more difficult and can lead to additional expenses.
Picking a Cruise Line
There are a few British cruise lines specializing in world cruises, including a couple of the oldest companies in the business in P&O and Cunard. These companies along with Monaco-based Silversea offer luxury cruises and carry a higher price tag than some other options. These smaller, luxury-driven ships often feature unique shore excursion options, lesser-traveled destinations as well as favorites, and frequently spotlight distinguished speakers or celebrities.
There are also midsize luxury ships that provide a step up in terms of size and thus activities and other on-board options. Some providers in this market are Regent Seven Seas and Crystal.
For individuals looking to go on a world cruise with a bit of a tighter budget (it’s still going to cost a chunk of change), there are several options for more modern cruises. The ships won’t be as large as mega-ships in lines such as Royal Caribbean or Carnival, but are still more financially approachable than the aforementioned luxury lines. You’ll find world cruises offered by lines such as Princess Cruises, Holland America, Oceania, and Viking among others.
When picking a cruise line for such a trip, make sure to pay close attention to the itinerary and all the ports of call. If you don’t see specific destinations you really want to visit, shop around and see if you can find exactly what you’re looking for and don’t forget to use your members only concierge service to help with the planning. Also, make sure to ask about and check for perks associated with booking a world cruise with a particular line. In order to stay competitive with such a high-dollar affair, cruise lines will offer things incentives like complimentary business-class airfare or private car services to pick you up from your home. They’ll also offer special events such as on-shore galas, special access to attractions, shore excursion credits, and on-board credits for various amenities.
Picking Your Accommodations
If you are seriously considering a world cruise as an option, you most likely have enough money to spend on such a specialized vacation. If so, we would highly recommend spending up for the biggest and best room you can afford. Suites are always a good bet if you ave the budget for one, but balcony cabins with an unobstructed view is also a great option for your dwelling. Keep in mind the same general rules for picking a cabin on a cruise ship: lower rooms in the center of the ship are generally the most stable, but don’t provide great views; cabins at the front and back are more susceptible to movement in a heavy swell, but those at the rear often have wonderful views and sometimes bigger balconies; staterooms at the back are convenient to the self-service buffet on the top deck and the restaurants on the lower decks.
Packing for a World Cruise
Packing for a world cruise could be one of your most challenging undertakings for such an involved trip. You’ll need to plan on packing clothes for warm weather, cold weather, and wet weather along with formal clothes for hosted galas and balls. Be sure to check with the cruise line before departing to get an idea of how many formal, semi-formal and smart-casual nights there will be.
Since you are planning for and packing for a cruise taking you all over the world, it’s important to keep in mind you will most likely be in a large variety of climate zones during the journey. Take note of the common weather patterns/charts for the time of year in each port location and pack accordingly. If you don’t live near your cruise departure port, you’ll need to fly and will therefore need to be very aware of how much you pack. You can’t exactly bring your entire wardrobe because you’ll end up paying a ton of extra money to check bags. Not to mention, you will need to find room for all those clothes in your cabin once on board. Something to keep in mind is that you can always buy area-specific clothing if need be as you traverse the globe. You will also be able to do laundry throughout the trip as every major cruise ship offers laundry services, many of which are self-serve and will save you money.
Now that you have a general idea of what you’ll need to pack for your trip, you will need to carefully select the actual luggage for the journey. In the old days, cruising travelers would pack an extra large trunk that could carry all the items they would need for months at sea. Times have changed however, and we recommend selecting sturdy, lightweight suitcases and versatile carry-ons and to be diligent and pack as efficiently as possible.
If you are seriously considering a world cruise journey and have additional questions or would like to explore options, give us a call or submit an information request to start planning today.