The Ultimate Adventure

Crystal Serenity, which previously sailed to Milford Sound waterfalls in New Zealand,is set for its first global circumnavigation in celebration of its 25 years of cruising.Pictured: Crystal Serenity, which previously sailed to Milford Sound waterfalls in New Zealand,is set for its first global circumnavigation in celebration of its 25 years of cruising.

Dreaming of traveling “Around the World in 80 Days” much as Jules Verne’s characters did? It’s easy to check off bucket list spots by taking a World Cruise. Departing each January, these grand voyages of three to six months are designed for the ultimate “port collectors.”

Explore exotic locales, enjoy multiple sea days and spend overnights in such cities as Rio de Janeiro or Hong Kong. Added benefits? Cruise lines engage specialty/celebrity speakers for onboard programs and create spectacular events shore-side. In 2015, dine under the stars in the coastal Namib Desert with Silversea Cruises or attend a 1940s’ nostalgia evening onboard the U.S.S. Missouri in Pearl Harbor with Oceania Cruises.

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Here’s a look at a sampling of 2015 World Cruises unveiled thus far. Many perks described below apply only for guests taking the full World Cruise, not those on just one or two segments. Also, these benefits are typically available to guests who book early, often more than a year in advance. 

First World Cruise

Interested in six months at sea? It’s doable as Oceania Cruises sails its first ever World Cruise, a 180-day voyage calling at 88 ports, on January 10, 2015. Departing roundtrip from Miami, Insignia sails south for a few days before calling at nine southern Caribbean destinations including a maiden call at Santa Marta, Colombia

Next on tap are French Guiana and Brazil before the ship’s transatlantic cruise to Africa. Go ashore in Togo, Benin, Sao Tome and Principe, Namibia, South Africa, Madagascar, Kenya and Tanzania. Soak up the sunshine and the island beauty of the Seychelles and the Maldives. One itinerary highlight: Guests spend significant time in Asia—exploring from India to Indonesia, China to South KoreaMalaysia to Myanmar, Japan to the Philippines, and beyond. Insignia also goes Down Under to Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania, before sailing to the South Pacific, Hawaii, the U.S. West Coast and Central America and making a full Panama Canal transit. 

Full World Cruise guests will enjoy exclusive shore-side events, such as an elegant open-air dinner at Namibia’s Swakop River Canyon, famed for its moonscape-like rock formations; tour temples at ancient Amarapura and Bagan in Myanmar; and in China, enjoy lunch along the Great Wall at Badaling before walking atop it. Enjoy a private cocktail reception at Bangkok’s Jim Thompson House; listen to an Angklung band, sip on cocktails, tour the Thai-styled residence and watch a Thai puppet show. 

Tasmania is on Insignia’s impressive itinerary that includes calls at 88 ports.Pictured: Tasmania is on Insignia’s impressive itinerary that includes calls at 88 ports.

For Full World Cruisers, Oceania includes two-for-one fares, first class airfare, plus a “Prestige Package” of pre-paid gratuities, a one-night, pre-cruise luxury hotel stay, onboard medical services, luggage delivery, unlimited laundry service and Internet, a visa package and roundtrip transfers. World cruisers also will have new digs when Insignia emerges from a drydock in 2014. New stateroom/suite décor will dovetail more closely with what guests find on Marina and Riviera. Owner’s and Vista Suites will receive new bathrooms. 

Elsewhere, expect more tables for two in the Grand Dining Room and Toscana; updated show lounges; new ship-wide artwork; new décor in Horizons, new furniture in Martinis; a new Baristas coffee bar; and new steam and changing rooms in the Canyon Ranch SpaClub. The refurbished Terrace Café will have a new grill for serving up savory grilled steaks, lobster tails and lamb chops. The ship’s only indoor smoking area within Horizons will be glass-enclosed with a high-tech air filtration system.

Sailing its first ever World Cruise, Oceania Cruises’ Insignia will go Down Under to Australia during its 180-day voyage. Pictured: Sailing its first ever World Cruise, Oceania Cruises’ Insignia will go Down Under to Australia during its 180-day voyage. 

For the first time in 2015, Princess Cruises offers a 111-day World Cruise that sails roundtrip from Los Angeles on the intimate Pacific Princess; the ship visits 34 destinations in 25 countries. A 94-day version is also available, ending in Fort Lauderdale. Port collectors can cross off many bucket list items on this Princess World Cruise including visits to Mexico’s Copper Canyon, Sydney Harbor, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and India’s Taj Mahal.

World Cruise highlights include port calls in Hawaii, Western Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, and ports throughout Asia (Brunei, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, China and India); the Middle East (Dubai, UAE; Muscat, Oman; Aqaba, Jordan); and Egypt (with no changes as yet, given the timing). 

This cruise includes plenty of sea days and a Suez Canal transit. Princess’s guests also enjoy seven Mediterranean port calls. So ride along the thrilling Amalfi Coast from Sorrento; explore bustling Rome or quaint Portofino, Italy; or shop in Nice, France, along the Cote d’Azur. Pacific Princess will also call at Barcelona and Seville, Spain; and Madeira, Portugal.

If you go ashore in Portofino, head for the Chuflay Restaurant, operated by Hotel Splendido Mare, an Orient-Express property. Order the Ligurian rock fish thick soup with red mullet filets as a starter and the veal medallions with wild local artichokes. 

Hong Kong is one of the destinations where Pacific Princess spends overnights.Pictured: Hong Kong is one of the destinations where Pacific Princess spends overnights.

Continuing its voyage, Pacific Princess sails across the Atlantic, with calls at Bermuda; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Curacao; and Cartagena, Colombia; a Panama Canal transit; and visits Central America’s west coast and Mexico before arriving back in Los Angeles. For those who love time ashore, Princess’ itinerary includes overnights in Sydney, Hong Kong, Dubai, Barcelona and Mumbai, India. Full World Cruise benefits include up to $1,000 in onboard credit, a complimentary hotel stay with dining charges and more. Suite guests receive a complimentary minibar set-up that is replenished weekly. 

Celebrating its 25th year of cruising in 2015, Crystal Cruises’ World Cruise will be part of its “Silver Celebration.” Sailing roundtrip from Miami on January 15, 2015, the 108-day World Cruise on Crystal Serenity will be Crystal’s first complete global circumnavigation. Port collectors will appreciate off-the-beaten-path calls at Saint Denis, Reunion, and Pitcairn Island/Adamstown, UK

This cruise touches Caribbean and French Polynesian shores, exotic ports in Africa, and Rio de Janeiro during its pulsating Carnival. Explore ashore during overnight stays in such destinations as Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima/Callao, Peru; Perth/Freemantle, Australia; and Auckland, New Zealand, with the luxury of two nights in Cape Town, South Africa. Crystal Serenity will also offer Overland Adventures throughout Africa; guests might go on safari or track gorillas. Maiden calls on this World Cruise include Albany, Australia; Ambodifotatra and Taolanaro, Madagascar; Richards Bay, South Africa; and Macapa, Brazil.

Expect two line-hosted evenings ashore that reflect themed cultural immersion on a grand scale. Crystal is known for building elaborate party “sets.” While it’s too early to know exactly what the line plans for 2015, expect creativity. Previously, the line built a Bedouin village in Dubai’s desert and, in another year, created an Avatar-themed forest in New Zealand. 

Crystal’s full World Cruise guests will receive a bon voyage pre-cruise gala in the port of embarkation, including hotel accommodations, complimentary chauffeured pre- and post-cruise transfers, souvenir gifts such as iPads, and more. Onboard, look for one-of-a-kind programs and themed events as well. 

A World Cruise is also about camaraderie—sailing with like-minded fellow guests who love travel and have the luxury of time. Take a class in art, dance, a language or iPad skills. Crystal’s classes are “progressive,” moving from basic to advanced levels as the World Cruise progresses; some guests even receive college credit. 

Crystal Serenity will receive a full makeover in 2014. Look for updates to the Crystal Penthouses and the Lido Deck includingTrident Grill, Tastes restaurant and Lido Cafe. Also, the line will expand its “green” concept with four living walls and additional greenery surrounding the Trident lounge.

Seeking a strong focus on the South Pacific, Asia and Africa? Silversea Cruises’ 2015 World Cruise on Silver Whisper sets sail on January 5; this 115-day voyage sails from Los Angeles to 50 ports in 30 countries and ends in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Guests receive two complimentary Silversea Experiences ashore including the previously mentioned Namib Desert dinner. 

Frequent Silversea guests and port collectors should particularly relish the maiden calls in Haikou, China; Hambantota, Sri Lanka; Mahajanga, Madagascar; and Luanda, Angola. Silver Whisper stays in late on many ports, so why not dine ashore, stroll through a night market or attend a concert? Overnights provide even greater flexibility and Silversea plans these at Papeete, Tahiti; Sydney and Fremantle, Australia; Hong Kong; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Bangkok, Thailand; Singapore; Mombasa, Tanzania; and Cape Town, South Africa. 

The line’s guests also have three exclusive shore-side events. First, sip on a cocktail at a reception prior to an evening performance at Sydney’s Opera House. Second, take a scenic journey by vintage train in Sri Lanka to the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. And third, tour Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, followed by a garden lunch at the historic Résidence de France, with Table Mountain as a backdrop. 

Silver Whisper also transports guests to the South Pacific with port calls at Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas; Noumea, New Caledonia; Tonga; and multiple islands in French Polynesia. Time in eastern and southern Africa and its Indian Ocean offshore islands is planned. Guests set out on shore trips in Kenya, Tanzania, Mayote, Madagascar and South Africa. The ship also sails along Africa’s west coast with visits to Ghana, The Gambia, Senegal, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, and Cape Verde.

Silversea’s full World Cruise perks include business class air with private car transfers, a $4,000 onboard spending credit per double occupancy suite, and a bon voyage gala with dinner and accommodations at a luxury hotel. Other perks include commemorative gifts, Silver Shore Baggage Valet service, complimentary laundry service and a complimentary Internet package. 

Holland America Line’s 114-day World Cruise on Amsterdam departs January 15 from Port Everglades, FL, visiting 45 ports of call in 25 countries. Eleven overnight calls should satisfy port fans while there are also significant sea days; in one case, there are eight consecutive days at sea as the ship navigates from Manta, Ecuador, to Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia. 

Starting its cruise, the ship calls in Colombia, transits the Panama Canal and heads to many South Pacific islands before reaching Auckland, New Zealand, for a two-night stay. In Australia, Amsterdam overnights in Sydney, Adelaide and Perth, and also calls at Melbourne and Geraldton. Then it’s on to Indonesia, with an overnight in Bali and calls at Semarang and Tanjung Priok for Jakarta.

This portion of the World Cruise is port intensive, as the ship crosses the Equator and calls at Singapore overnight. Guests explore during back-to-back port calls at Port Klang and Penang, Malaysia, as well as Phuket, Thailand. An overnight is also spent in Myanmar, prior to calls in Sri Lanka and Cochin, India, and an overnight in Mumbai. Amsterdam spends another overnight in Dubai and also calls at Muscat and Salalah, Oman. 

At present, this cruise is still scheduled to call at the Egyptian ports of Safaga, Sharm el Sheikh, Port Said and Alexandria. At Aqaba, Jordan, head out on a camel to Petra, an ancient city carved into sheer rock, and at Kusadasi, Turkey, explore the ancient city of Ephesus. In addition, this voyage has something the other World Cruises described in this story don’t—two Greek port calls, one at Katakolon and an overnight call at Piraeus (for Athens). 

Then the ship sails on to Naples and Rome, Italy, as well as Cartagena, Malaga and Cadiz in Spain. Varying by stateroom category, Holland America’s full World Cruisers receive many benefits such as shipboard credits, prepaid hotel service charges, luggage delivery, welcome bottle of champagne and more. 

Only a decade or so ago, lengthy World Cruises were in danger of being passé, but technology re-energized the cruise model. Today’s on-the-go travelers can e-mail from Tonga, text home from Senegal or call their office from Shanghai, making it easier than ever to sail on the ultimate global adventure at sea.

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