Luxury cruisers can truly experience the world’s iconic destinations and enticing isles on a 90+ day “full World Cruise.” In fact, some of these voyages in 2018 are as many as 180 days. Here are five of our favorite island ports that offer everything from beach play to eco-adventure, dining, shopping and cultural immersion.
Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile
Hundreds of miles west of San Antonio, Chile, lies an isolated Pacific Ocean island where Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk was marooned for more than four years in the 1700s. His story of survival inspired author Daniel Defoe to write “Robinson Crusoe,” and, in the 1960s, Chile officially changed the island’s name from“Mas a Tierra” to Robinson Crusoe Island. Crystal Cruises’ guests can head ashore here during the line’s 114-day “World Cruise 1” on Crystal Symphony from Cape Town, South Africa to Miami, FL, beginning January 7, 2018.
Part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a Chilean National Park, Robinson Crusoe Island boasts stunning mountains and undulating landscapes. Did you know it has dozens more species of native plants and birds than the Galapagos Islands? That’s true, so perhaps cruisers will get lucky and spot the rare Juan Fernandez Hummingbird with cinnamon and orange coloring. For many scuba enthusiasts, a must do is a wreck dive to the SMS Dresden, a World War I-era light cruiser scuttled by its German crew. Alternatively, cruisers can go trekking, horseback riding, snorkeling or ambling around the main town, San Juan Bautista, which was hit by a tsunami a few years back and is slowly being rebuilt. Locals make a living by spiny lobster fishing.
When the island day ends, cruisers won’t need to improvise as Crusoe did. They’ll simply return to their 922-passenger ship and ask their butler to set up cocktails en suite. Top digs onboard are the 982-square-foot Crystal Penthouse with Verandah. The living room features custom wool carpets, walnut floors, cabinetry and a Swarovski chandelier, while the dining room boasts panoramic ocean views. Guests can kickback in a master bedroom with a queen-sized bed (convertible to two twins), and a master bath with whirlpool, ocean view, Calcutta marble floor, Aquavision TV, separate shower and bidet. This suite also has a separate study, built-in bar, guest bathroom and large private verandah.
On this itinerary, Crystal Symphony will call at ports in Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific/French Polynesia, western South America and the Caribbean, along with a Panama Canal transit. In addition to Robinson Crusoe Island, maiden calls include Bunbury, Burnie (Tasmania), Esperance and Geraldton, all in Australia, plus Fakarava, French Polynesia; What’s nifty for 2018 is that Crystal offers four World Cruise itineraries — this full voyage on Crystal Symphony, another on Crystal Serenity, and two that involve both ships. Both vessels start their voyages in January, meet up in Sydney, Australia, on February 17, 2018, and then some guests (who’ve chosen in advance) flexibly switch to the other Crystal ship for the rest of the journey.
Spread across dozens of islands at the Malay Peninsula’s tip, Singapore was once a sleepy British East India Company trading post. Today, it’s vibrant and multicultural with Chinese, Malay, Indian, Peranakan and Eurasian influences. Certainly, many luxury cruisers have visited Singapore, but in late 2017 / early 2018, for the first time, Viking Ocean Cruises’ guests will do so. Sailing from Miami to London on December 15, 2017, Viking’s 141-day inaugural World Cruise will sail to five continents and more than 60 ports, including Singapore on the 930-passenger Viking Sun.
This itinerary features calls at ports in Cuba and the Caribbean; Panama Canal and South Pacific transits; visits to Asian destinations; and Arabian, Red and Mediterranean Sea crossings, before ending in London. Top digs? We’d opt for the high-end Owner’s Suite (OS) on Deck 7 with a king-sized bed, private verandah and 1,448 square feet of space, or the 757-square-foot Explorer Suites (ES1) on Decks 4 and 5, with sweeping bow or aft views.
Viking’s guests will have two days to explore Singapore during the ship’s overnight stay. First timers will likely head downtown to see British Colonial buildings, skyscrapers, the Singapore Flyer (think “London Eye”) and the iconic Merlion, a statue that’s a mythical lion head with a fish body. Guests can tour the National Orchid Garden or critter lovers can explore the Jurong Bird Park, Marine Life Park or Singapore Zoo. We highly recommend the zoo’s wildly popular Night Safari experiences; reserve a spot well in advance.
Shoppers eager for brand-name luxury goods can browse boutiques at the massive ION Orchard, recently cited as “Best Luxury Shopping Centre” by the AsiaOne People’s Choice Award (PCA). Dior, Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Patek Phillippe and Dolce & Gabana have all expanded here, plus the new boutiques include Tiffany & Co, Moncler and Van Cleef & Arpels. For repeat Singapore visitors, Sentosa Island is a robust activity option. You’ll find beaches, gardens, a historic fort, butterfly garden, waterpark, iFly Singapore (a skydiving simulator), a Segway eco-tour and much more.
Above all, though, Singapore has strong appeal for “foodies.” In the inaugural MICHELIN Guide Singapore ratings this year, more than two dozen restaurants garnered at least one Michelin star. These range from high-end, elegant restaurants to more casual hawker stands. We’d recommend Joel Robuchon at Resorts World Sentosa. It was awarded three Michelin stars for its French haute cuisine. If available, try the farmer’s guinea fowl with roasted foie gras, or a savory poached lobster in spicy bouillon. We love the eatery’s Art Deco-inspired décor and trolleys delivering an amazing array of breads, cheeses, desserts, ice cream flavors and teas.
If travelers prefer to combine fine art and top cuisine, they can tour Singapore’s National Gallery and, with advance reservations, dine at Odette, the on-site Michelin two-star choice with modern French cuisine by chef-owner Julien Royer. Tables are hard to come by at both restaurants, though, so start very early with reservations or contact the line’s concierge service well before departure. Of course, anywhere in Singapore, it’s fun to order a Singapore Sling, but particularly at Raffles Singapore, where the cocktail was invented.
Silversea Cruises’ 382-passenger Silver Whisper will also call at Singapore during its 2018 World Cruise (“La Grande Bellezza”), departing January 6, 2018 from Los Angeles to Civitavecchia (Rome). Top accommodations include the Owner’s Suite (OS), but we’re also partial to the layout of the Silver Suites, which range from 653 square feet to 701 square feet. During sea days, the line will bring on well-known lecturers and wine experts as well as chefs, certified ACBL instructors and the popular L’École des Chefs by Relais & Châteaux.
What’s new? Silver Whisper’s public spaces and suites will be freshly updated later this year as part of a $170 million fleet refurbishment project; the refurbishing will be completed in time for the line’s 2017 World Cruise, departing January 6 from San Francisco to Monte Carlo. Bathrooms will be adorned with dark emperor marble flooring. In addition, the pool will be freshly tiled; the Restaurant and La Terrazza will receive new furniture plus new carpet or hard-wood parquet, respectively; and two satellite antennas will be added to improve onboard internet speeds and enable guests to effectively use new, interactive TVs and watch on-demand movies in every suite.
With lush natural beauty, Réunion, an island in the Indian Ocean and a Department of France, has tall volcanoes collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among them are the highly active Piton de la Fournaise (furnace peak) and the inactive Piton des Neiges (snow mountain). Réunion also has lovely white and black sand beaches and hundreds of miles of hiking trails. While Réunion is French in culture and language, it’s also a melting pot of Creole, Indian, European, Chinese and Tamil influences.
Cunard Line’s recently remastered flagship, Queen Mary 2, calls at Réunion, during its first-ever, 134-night World Cruise roundtrip from New York, departing January 3. The ship sails to Southampton, UK, and then on to South Africa, Australia, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. Cunard’s guests can book a “Volcanic Experience” shore excursion. It involves a drive southward with views of seaside towns and St.-Pierre, plus a “volcano road” transit through green spaces and terrain aptly described as “moonscape.” After stopping at Nez de Bœuf, the tour continues to Pas de Bellecombe so guests can look down into Piton de la Fournaise’s crater. Then it’s on to a Creole lunch and visit to La Réunion National Park’s volcano museum. It’s fun to walk through the replica lava tunnel
For history buffs, we’d suggest time in Saint-Denis, the French colonial capital with traditional Creole buildings and a natural history museum that’s situated in a former colonial palace. What to buy? At Saint-Denis’ bustling Grand Marche, cruisers will find woven baskets, spices, wooden creations and embroidery. Some visitors opt for a vanilla plantation tour, while others just relax with a casual lunch like the locals do at Saint-Denis’ Barachois, a seafront park with food shacks; menus are posted daily. One Réunion specialty is bouchons (traditional pork dumplings). Thirsty travelers can ask for the local Bourbon beer (identified
by a Dodo bird symbol) or Cot lemonade.
In 2018, Seabourn Cruise Line’s 450-passenger Seabourn Sojourn will also call at Réunion during its 152-day “Great Oceans Exploration” World Cruise from Miami to Vancouver, BC, departing January 4, 2018. In addition to seeing exotic ports like Réunion, guests can participate in a new fleet-wide mindful living program being introduced onboard all Seabourn vessels this coming year. This new holistic spa and wellness experience created by Dr. Andrew Weil features new shipboard Wellness Guides certified in yoga and meditation, who will set up complimentary classes and gatherings.
For example, guests might attend an onboard seminar about “Anti-Inflammatory Foods” or “Spontaneous Happiness and Spontaneous Healing.”Another new pampering perk? Created with Molton Brown, Seabourn Signature Scents — exotic combination fragrances of samphire/eucalyptus and basil/vetiver — are now complimentary bath amenities in guest suites.
Langkawi Island, Malaysia
Lying in the Andaman Sea off Malaysia’s northwestern coast, Langkawi, called “the Jewel of Kedah,” refers to both an archipelago of islands and a resort island within that group. Langkawi’s Kilim Karst Geoforest Park is famed for its mangroves, and it currently holds a UNESCO Geopark designation. Cruisers can explore Langkawi Island during Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ 137-night World Cruise on Seven Seas Navigator, departing January 8, 2018 roundtrip from Los Angeles.
Beach and watersports activities await at black and white sand beaches, or cruisers can go trekking, scuba diving, kayaking and birdwatching. World-class golfing? Langkawi’s Els Club Teluk Datai, an 18-hole, Par 72 course, was designed by PGA golfer Ernie Els and is surrounded by rainforest, mountains and the sea; it was chosen as the “World’s Best New Golf Course” at the 2014 World Golf Awards.
Regent offers its guests a half-day “Beach Escape” excursion to Wet Rice Island, which has soft sands and clear waters that deepen gradually — conducive for wading or swimming. Here travelers might even see a few curious monkeys. Also fun is a walk through Underwater World Langkawi’s underwater viewing tunnels to see sharks, turtles, fish and penguins. For a bird’s eye view, we’d take the cable car to Mount Mat Cincang’s summit. Other draws include small villages with wooden homes, rice agriculture at Laman Padi Langkawi and fish farms.
Regent’s half-day “Mangrove & Cave Adventure” features a boat ride into the mangroves, a walk into a bat cave and a fish farm tour. Those seeking an unusual souvenir can check out local plates made from cinnamon trees. During Regent’s global journey, full World Cruisers will be treated to several complimentary, exclusive shore-side experiences including a pre-cruise gala at Los Angeles’ Beverly Wilshire hotel, a Four Seasons property and a bush drive and dinner at the Zulu Nyala Private Game Reserve in Richards Bay, South Africa, among others.
Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia
Largest of the Marquesas, Nuku Hiva is a slice of paradise; it’s part of a group of French Polynesian islands and a French Overseas Collectivity. Did you know some of Nuku Hiva’s waterfalls are so high that much of their falling water evaporates before ever reaching the ground? Another claim to fame is that author and former sailor Herman Melville hid out in this valley after deserting his ship; he was ultimately captured by local residents but gained valuable insight used to write “Typee.”
Today’s cruisers will typically see Taiohae, the government and economic center, as well as small villages, churches, temples and Hooumi Beach. Or, they can take an off-road adventure to view scenery within the Taipivai Valley. Oceania Cruises’ guests can visit the valley during a Nuku Hiva call on Insignia’s “Around the World in 180 Days” World Cruise, which departs roundtrip from Miami on January 3, 2018. Oceania’s half-day “Visit to Taipivai Valley” shore excursion encompasses a four-wheel-drive journey along a steep trail lined with lush vegetation, stops at vistas for “selfies” and views of bays, mountains and small agricultural villages. Then it’s on to a beach to buy handicrafts.
These are just a few of the islands accessible via 2018 World Cruises. If cruisers have a bucket list, these lengthy voyages are sure to help check off the must do boxes.
A South of France sojourn
Cruisers who’ve dreamed of seeing the Monaco Grand Prix or strolling through Cannes during the annual film festival week can do that during Azamara Club Cruises’ first 102-day cruise itinerary on Azamara Journey, sailing March 7, 2018 from Sydney, Australia to London. This extensive voyage features 61 ports, including maiden calls at Bintulu, Malaysia; Oostende, Belgium; and Portimao, Portugal. In Sydney, Larry Pimentel, the line’s president and CEO, will host a special “send-off” celebration.
Pictured: Cannes will be visited by Azamara Club Cruises’ first 102-day itinerary on Azamara Journey in 2018.
For the Monaco Grand Prix, Azamara will offer a special excursion package with reserved seats, binoculars, ear plugs, seat cushions and other creature comforts.
While tickets for film showings at the Cannes International Film Festival are reserved for the film industry and its members, Azamara plans to offer a historic walking tour to the Hotel Barriere Le Majestic, a prestigious seafront hotel, for lunch and cocktails with a film aficionado. During the Cannes program, guests also will learn about sites featured in famous films. Fees apply for both special excursions.