World cruises offer 120-day winter escapes to see 20 to 30 countries
World cruises which sail for about 120 days offer a fabulous lifetime experience to see the highlights of this big blue-and-green marble we live on — and escape winter from January to April. Or if you can’t afford an entire world cruise, since prices start at about $17,000, many lines offer more affordable segments to enjoy. Either way, you’ll meet interesting people onboard these special sailings.
A world cruise has a slightly different atmosphere than a regular cruise – it’s more like a floating country club with many unique characters on board. However since many cruise lines also offer segments of a world cruise from about 14 to 60 days, there are two types of passengers on board – Worldies and Seggies.
Captain Dag Dvergastein, formerly of Regent Seven Seas and now with Seabourn says, ”World cruisers are well travelled. Most know each other from previous voyages and they like to meet new people such as segmenters. But some worldies are a little less tolerant and think of the ship as ‘their’ ship. However, they know that segment cruisers are equally important as full-circle cruisers.”
Dvergastein knows many worldies. "The start of a world cruise is like a high school reunion for all the regulars. They look forward to meeting again," he says.
The crew keeps passenger spirits high throughout the four months as the voyage becomes less of a cruise and more of a floating community. They get to know passengers really well. "The whole ship becomes an extended family," says Dvergastein. "They plan cocktail parties and keep busy social calendars.”
Holland America Line’s Captain Albert Schoonderbeek says that regular world cruisers form an extensive network. He says, “Seggies are welcomed by worldies, provided they're willing to take part in the way the world cruise runs with its get-togethers and parties.”
Many world cruisers are well-known among the lines. Dvergastein says, ”We had one couple – two men – that we called our own Liberaces from Florida. They were in their 70s and brought a lot of jewellery with them, which they wore every day. We had an extra large safe just for their gold. They've done about 30 world cruises.”
Schoonderbeek says, “Eccentric behaviour from worldies is accepted because it adds more colour to the cruise.” One passenger stands out in his memory. "Kissing Annie, as we called her, did a world cruise for about 15 years," he says. "She sailed with her husband and when he died, she cruised alone. She liked to dance and would walk over to any gentleman, attached or not, and ask him. If he refused, then her answer was `No problem, hon, give me a kiss,’ " he says.
Another passenger wore a different hat each day and was known as the Mad Hatter."She had a separate inside cabin just for the 100 hats she needed for the cruise," he says. "She was a completely normal person apart from this hat issue.”
Donna Depew who has sailed on many Holland America voyages said, "It's an adventure. You meet interesting people and make lifelong friendships.” She recalls one gentleman who wore a shower cap all the time and liked to play the piano. Another woman who sailed on many world cruises rarely left her cabin. "The segmenters have less time to travel, so may do a world cruise over a few voyages," she says. "It's becoming more common to travel in segments now.”
Here’s a sample of world cruises for 2017:
Holland American’s Amsterdam 2017 Grand World Voyage is a 111-night round trip from Fort Lauderdale that begins with a transit of the Panama Canal followed by visits to Hawaii, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Guam and the Northern Marianas. The ship then sails to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India and the Middle East. It doesn’t include Australia and New Zealand and returns April 26. From U.S.$16,999.
The Pacific Princess World Cruise is a 111-night voyage that either departs from Fort Lauderdale on January 3 or Los Angeles on January 20. For those beginning in Fort Lauderdale, the ship transits the Panama Canal and visits Santa Marta, Columbia, and ports in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Baja Mexico before sailing up to Los Angeles to pick up additional cruisers. They then sail across the Pacific to Hawaii, American Samoa and Tonga before stopping in New Zealand and Australia. It also stops in Papua New Guinea and Micronesia, as well as Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and Sanya, China. Then it's on to Turkey, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Malta, Gibraltar and Portugal, with a stop in Bermuda on the way back on April 25. From U.S.$19,999.
Cunard has three ships that sail world cruises from January to May round trip from Southampton. The Queen Elizabeth circumnavigates the globe during a 120-night cruise and includes 40 ports in 25 countries. The Queen Victoria sails a 120-night cruise to 33 ports in 17 countries. The Queen Mary 2 visits four continents on a 118-night world cruise. From U.S. $23,999.
High-end cruise lines offer world voyages that are more all-inclusive in terms of shore excursions, as well as offer fine dining by Le Cordon Bleu, Relais and Chateaux and other award-winning chefs:
The Crystal Serenity sails a 94-night round trip itinerary from Miami. From U.S.$32,295.
Regent Seven Seas
Regent’s Navigator has a 128-night world voyage, round trip from Miami. From U.S.$55,999.
The Silver Whisper’s 2017 World Cruise is special because it includes an exclusive three-night sailing from Nice to Rome in May aboard Silversea's newest luxury ship, the Silver Muse, during its inaugural voyage. That special event is included in the 116-night voyage that calls on 62 ports in 25 countries. From U.S.$61,550.
(Prices accurate at press time but subject to change.)
Diane Tierney is FYI's chief cruising correspondent. To follow Diane on her voyages, click https://www.instagram.com/cruiseguru/
See Diane's previous blogs for FYI:
Sweet Greek Isles on the Seabourn Odyssey
Upgrades to the Carnival Miracle enhance its delightful whimsical decor
New cruise ship sails above the rest
Hawaii: Where the wild things are
Cruising never sounded so good
Time for Tahiti treat you've always dreamed of
Small ship cruising reaches hidden gems