Certainly, major upscale cruise lines offer many two- to three-week voyages that explore a region or continent versus the typical one week or 10-day cruise. But the ultimate journey is a World Cruise, ranging from 85 days to 180 days, depending on the cruise line. Here’s a look at some of these voyages for 2019, with one highlighted port of call for each.
Tokyo, Japan: A favorite port call for luxury travelers, Tokyo brims with high-end shopping and fantastic cuisine. Guests on Silversea Cruises’ 132-day World Cruise will have two full days to explore the city. Departing from San Francisco to London on January 6, 2019, the 382-passenger Silver Whisper will visit 52 ports in 31 countries, with 17 overnight port calls. Guests will go ashore in French Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, including Indonesia and the Philippines, Singapore, India, the Maldives and Seychelles, plus ports throughout Africa and Europe’s Atlantic coast.
In Tokyo, much is new. A new landmark, Shibuya Hikarie opened in April as a multi-story complex with four underground floors and three above-ground floors with shopping, dining, a gallery and the large Tokyu Theater Orb. Also opening earlier this year was Tokyo Skytree Tower, developed around the world’s largest, free standing broadcast tower with office buildings, an aquarium and planetarium.
Shoppers can buy ’til they drop at Mitsui Outlet Park Kisarazu, which opened in Tokyo last spring with 171 stores and dining in a resort-style atmosphere. Why not view Mount Fuji from its Ocean View Terrace? Or, during an evening ashore, we’d opt for dinner at Tokyo’s luxurious Kozue, which serves up kaiseki (Japan’s version of haute cuisine) and resides on the 40th floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo. We’d suggest making reservations for a window table offering views of Mount Fuji.
Themed around “A Tale of Tales,” Silversea’s 2019 World Cruise will feature nine writers (on various segments) onboard, including Pico Iyer and Paul Theroux; they’ll write stories inspired by the world cruise route that will be included in a special anthology. Theroux is famed for “The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia,” a travelogue recounting his four-month 1973 journey by train from London through Europe, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia, plus a return via the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Silversea’s World Cruise in 2019 will circumnavigate Africa with an overnight in Cape Town. It will also have a double overnight in Bordeaux, France; a stopover in Saint-Malo, gateway to Mont Saint-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and such special events as “Greeting Tahitian Gods,” set in Papeete’s only fully restored marae (temple); “Robben Island: A Walk Through the History of South Africa;” and a private opening of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain. Among perks for the full World Cruise are business air from select gateways, transfers, complimentary baggage valet service, a $4,000 onboard spending credit per suite, complimentary unlimited Wi-Fi, complimentary laundry and dry-cleaning service and special commemorative gifts.
Haifa, Israel: Sailing from Los Angeles, the 131-day World Cruise of Regent Seven Seas Cruises departs January 4, 2019 to explore five continents; guests on Seven Seas Navigator will have the chance to explore 23 UNESCO World Heritage sites and 14 overnight stays will allow them to dine ashore in the evening, participate in local events or enjoy nightlife.
Regent’s product is very inclusive, including free shore trips, butler service and paid gratuities, and this World Cruise also comes with combination cruise savings, complimentary first-class air transportation, and instant recognition as a Seven Seas Society (the line’s loyalty club) member, which provides the guest with complimentary garment pressing and phone time, as well as priority online dining and shore excursion reservations.
This itinerary begins with a Pacific crossing to Hawaii, French Polynesia, Samoa and Fiji before the ship calls at multiple ports in Australia. Then it’s on to Asia, including the Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, multiple ports in Vietnam and India. The ship also calls at the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan, and guests will spend three days in Israel, one day during an Ashdod call and two days during a Haifa call.
While in Israel, cruisers can select many complimentary RSSC shore trips, as well as ones for an added fee. Guests have a wide choice of tours to Nazareth, Jerusalem, Bethlehem or Tel Aviv. Other options? If travelers have already toured those cities on past trips, two other good options are a shore trip to Acre (Akko), a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating to the Crusades era and a trip that includes historic Safed, a kibbutz and the Golan Heights.
Port Louis, Mauritius: In 2019, Cunard Line’s 2,000-passenger Queen Victoria embarks on a classic 107-night western global circumnavigation roundtrip from Southampton, U.K. via the Panama Canal. The journey visits 24 countries, including South Africa, Bermuda, the U.S. (Port Canaveral, San Francisco and Hawaii) and Colombia and showcases destinations in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. One enticing World Cruise port call is Port Louis, Mauritius.
Cunard guests will get a taste of Mauritius, when its 2,000-passenger Queen Victoria calls at the island nation’s capital, Port Louis. (Photo by Getty Images / vale_t)
At Port Louis, we’d opt for the “Yemen Safari by Single Quad Bike” excursion, which traverses the island’s western side and provides views of sugar cane fields and villages en route to the Casela Nature and Leisure Park. Originally a bird park, it’s now home to many animals and the private Yemen Nature Reserve, which has an African savannah feel. Boarding a quad bicycle, guests will travel through the reserve to see free-roaming zebras, antelopes, ostriches, wild boar, giant tortoises and wild monkeys.
Alternatively, Cunard’s “Tea Route” excursion from Port Louis will immerse travelers in the island’s tea heritage. First stop is the Domaine Saint Aubin estate, home to a lovely 19th-century plantation house. The estate still produces sugar, rum and vanilla pods. Cruisers will tour the estate’s anthurium, vanilla plantation and rum distillery, before the tour continues to Bois Cheri, Mauritius’ first and largest tea producer. There, they’ll delve into tea production, have lunch and enjoy tea tasting. A final stop will be made at Domaine des Aubineaux, a 19th-century colonial mansion transformed into a tea museum. Be sure to stroll the camphor tree gardens.
Shoppers going ashore at Port Louis will find 150-plus shops at Le Caudan Waterfront; we’d pop into both Cottons, selling colorful hand-made textiles woven by local craftspeople from natural materials. Seeking a specialty gift? A Pinch of Salt sells savory “La Fleur de Sel” with such flavors as vanilla, chili, black pepper, garlic, baie rose, three peppers or herb. Heading outside the city, Arsenal in the Pamplemousses District has lovely cashmere products and high-end goods. The Port Louis Craft Market is a “must” for handicraft fans, and the city’s Central Market sells wooden /traditional handicrafts and souvenirs, exotic fish and fresh produce.
In spring 2017, Queen Victoria received a $40 million refurbishment with the redesign of five Penthouse Suites as well as the Aquitania, Berengaria, Mauretania and Laconia Grand Suites; the addition of 43 more Britannia Club staterooms and a new Britannia Club restaurant in the former Chart Club space; a relocated Chart Club; and more upgrades. Sun worshippers will love the expanded aft Lido Sun Deck with new windbreakers, more sun loungers and the introduction of luxury cabanas, plus an expanded shaded area for al fresco dining.
Hong Kong, China: Five different options are offered by Oceania Cruises for its 2019 World Cruise on the 684-passenger Insignia; all depart in January and call overnight at Hong Kong. One voyage is a 158-day “Grand Escapade” cruise from New York to London, another an “Around the World in 180 days” voyage from New York to Miami. The rest feature U.S. embarkation / disembarkation ports; the 174-day “Global Exploration” roundtrip from New York, 177-day “World of Wonder” roundtrip from Miami and a 161-day “Celestial Traveler” voyage from Los Angeles to Miami.
Among the perks for full World Cruise guests are two-for-one cruise fares, complimentary first-class roundtrip airfare and OLife Choice amenities, including a choice of one of these: up to 72 shore excursions, a beverage package or up to a $7,200 shipboard credit. Guests on these lengthy voyages also receive complimentary prepaid gratuities, onboard medical care (with some restrictions), unlimited Internet, laundry services, a visa package, luggage delivery, one-night pre-cruise luxury hotel stay, roundtrip transfers and special shore-side events.
Additionally, while Insignia is in Hong Kong on April 13, 2019, full World Cruise guests will be treated to a special event at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, dating from the late 1800s. Cruisers will savor a buffet dinner of international dishes, watch horse-racing entertainment, and perhaps, if they so choose, put down a winning bet. Guests will then overnight on the ship.
While exploring the city the next day, those seeking a down-home, simple, local lunch can head for Lung Kee, 5 Gage Street in Central. This old-fashioned Hong Kong eatery — popular with the locals — serves yummy meats, including char siu, a reddish Hong Kong-style barbecue pork. Sweet and spicy, the char siu sauce is made with hoisin sauce, rice wine and honey. If you prefer a high-end lunch experience, we’d opt for the executive lunch at Lung King Heen (translated “View of the Dragon”) in the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.
Shopaholic? Then don’t miss Harbour City, Hong Kong’s largest mall with more than 450 shops and four distinct shopping zones for kids, sports, fashion and cosmetics. It’s actually composed of three malls — Ocean Terminal, Ocean Centre and Gateway Arcade. Outside on Canton Road, luxury shoppers will find Louis Vuitton’s largest Asian store and Chanel’s flagship Asia store. We’d also recommend checking out the fashions and beauty brands at Pacific Place, the mall atop MTR Admiralty Station that’s home to Hong Kong’s flagship Nars store. The mall’s Beauty Gallery has such boutiques as Natura Bissé, Yves Saint Laurent and La Mer.
Cunard’s Queen Victoria received a $40 million refurbishment in spring. Shown here is an upgraded Grand Suite.
Adelaide, Australia: Departing January 13, 2019 from Los Angeles, Crystal Cruises’ 980-passenger Crystal Serenity will operate an 85-day “Grand Continental Odysseys” 2019 World Cruise. Fresh from a major drydock refurbishment a few months earlier, the luxurious ship will sail with fewer passengers than in the past, allowing open seating with no set dining times in the main dining room. The ship will also sail with suite and public space upgrades which Luxury Travel Advisor has covered in past issues.
This pampering World Cruise calls at Hawaii and Kiribati, traverses the southern Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, rounds the Cape of Good Hope and visits cities like Malaga and Barcelona in the western Mediterranean. We particularly like that it ends with two nights in Monte Carlo for dining, gaming and nightlife plus a late disembarkation the next day so guests have three full days to explore ashore. Another big plus is the 10 nights spent in Australia’s waters for an in-depth country experience; calls include Sydney, Hobart (Tasmania), Kangaroo Island, Adelaide, Albany, Busselton and Fremantle / Perth.
Adelaide isn’t always visited on cruise itineraries, as less lengthy voyages often call at Sydney or Melbourne. So even for many frequent cruisers, Adelaide is a fresh experience. What’s to do? We’d start with a stroll around the Adelaide Central Market, a fresh-food center with gourmet cafés. Then wander around the galleries and museums in North Terrace, soaking in the architecture of the colonial-era buildings. Architectural buffs should pop into the grand Railway Station and view Parliament and Government House.
Those who love wine bars, shopping and dining shouldn’t miss the East End’s cosmopolitan Rundle Street. For men, Jack London’s fashions conjure up images of The Beatles and Rolling Stones in their early days — a bit of a punk / rock attitude combined with classic tailoring. Or, for a more classic, gentleman’s look, head to MJ Bale, a Sydney-based tailor and clothier. Ladies have a wide selection of shops, including the Australian brand “sass & bide,” known for its modern designs; Seafolly for swimwear; and Uggs & Kisses for fluffy sheepskin ugg boots and wool apparel.
Service is top-notch onboard Crystal Serenity. For example, those in Crystal Penthouse (CP) category suites will enjoy personal butler service, included gratuities, unpacking / packing upon request, pressing and shoe shine, afternoon tea service, nightly hors d’oeuvres, stocked bar, afternoon canapés, “ordering in” from specialty restaurants and private car transfers.
Montevideo, Uruguay: For luxury travelers who desire to go ashore at many South American ports, one good option is Viking Ocean Cruises’ 128-day World Cruise, departing January 3, 2019 from Miami to London. Sailing southward through the Caribbean, the 930-passenger Viking Sun hugs the eastern and then the southern coastlines of South America, before heading into the Pacific; calls are made at multiple ports in Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Chile, and the ship overnights in Rio De Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Santiago and Port Stanley in the Falklands, among other destinations throughout the voyage.
In Montevideo, we’d suggest museum lovers head for the Museo Romantico and Casa Lavalleja, both part of the Museo Histórico Nacional. For something different, check out the Museo del Gaucho y de la Moneda, which displays gaucho (cowboy) memorabilia. The Museo Torres Garcia displays works from Joaquín Torres-García, an artist who spent much of his time in Europe, painted historical figures, and created many Cubist paintings (think Picasso). After sightseeing or museum hopping, we’d head for Tandory, which serves a blend of Asian, Latin and European flavors. The chef and owner is Gabriel Coquel, service is top rate, and the décor includes souvenirs and heirlooms from Coquel’s world travels. The menu changes daily, depending on what’s available seasonally.
In Montevideo, cruisers will head to Mercado del Puerto (Port Market) for traditional Uruguayan food and beverage. (Photo by Getty Images / vale_t)
After sailing westward into the Pacific Ocean, Viking Sun calls at Robinson Crusoe Island, Easter Island, Tahiti (Papeete) and Bora Bora, French Polynesia, before continuing to New Zealand and Australia; one perk is a double overnight in Sydney. Then the voyage continues across the Indian Ocean to southern Africa. After an overnight in Cape Town, the cruise then sails around the Cape of Good Hope and along the western coast of Africa with calls in Namibia, Senegal, the Canary Islands and Morocco. Finally, the ship calls in Vigo, Spain prior to the voyage’s conclusion in London.
Pre- and post-stay packages are available for Miami and London. For example, the post-cruise package includes two nights in London at the Conrad London St. James (or a similar property); two breakfasts and one lunch; a farewell wine and cheese reception; a guided city tour; all transfers and the services of a Viking host.
U.S. Roundtrip: On January 22, 2019, Holland America Line’s 113-day “Grand World Voyage” on the 1,380-passenger Amsterdam sails roundtrip from Port Everglades, FL, so cruisers don’t have to take a flight to a foreign country to begin or end their cruise. Circumnavigating the globe, the eclectic voyage calls at Ireland, Scandinavia, northern Europe, the Iberian Peninsula, Indian Ocean, Aqaba, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, French Polynesia, Easter Island, Chile, Peru, Panama and Bermuda, among other destinations.
Five Continents: Sailing roundtrip from Los Angeles or Port Everglades, FL is Princess Cruises’ 2019 World Cruise, which will touch five continents — everywhere from Cape Town, South Africa to Singapore, Brazil and the Panama Canal. The 670-passenger, recently refreshed Pacific Princess will make maiden calls at Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe; the remote island of St. Helena to visit Jamestown; and Stewart Island in New Zealand. One highlight is a call at Colombo, Sri Lanka, from where guests can venture to the sacred city of Kandy.
Holiday Voyage: Seabourn’s 128-day “Grand Oceans Explorations” from Los Angeles to Cape Town, “looks the part” of a World Cruise (although it’s not billed that way). This extended voyage on Seabourn Sojourn departs October 15, 2018 and concludes February 21, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa. Highlights include four days in Hawaii, calls at French Polynesia and in New Zealand, 18 days of calls and cruising around Australia (including Townsville and Fraser Island), plenty of ports in Asia, the Maldives and the Seychelles and calls in eastern and southern Africa.
Island Explorer: On January 5, 2019, MSC Cruises’ MSC Magnifica sets sail on the line’s first World Cruise, a 129-night voyage roundtrip from Genoa, Italy. Guests will go ashore in the Caribbean, Central America, the U.S., South Pacific, Southeast Asia and the Middle East as well as six European countries. It’s a great cruise for island lovers with five on tap in the Caribbean and others in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean. Among the inclusions are 15 complimentary shore excursions and complimentary house wine by the glass in the main restaurant at lunch and dinner.