Currently, Viking Ocean Cruises’ 245-day “Ultimate World Cruise” is sailing to six continents as the 930-passenger Viking Sun attempts to set the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous passenger cruise. Departing from London (Greenwich, U.K.), a month ago, it’s calling today (October 1) at Saguenay, Quebec, Canada, just one of the dozens of ports on this eight-month voyage. 

It also shows how the “World Cruise” has surged in appeal with luxury travelers. This certainly isn’t your grandfather’s World Cruise. Yes, mature retirees love these voyages, but globe-circling sailings of 90-plus days now also appeal to a bit broader audience, including working professionals who can telecommute from anywhere in the world, thanks to shipboard technology. 

Some travelers even arrange for their private jets to pick them up mid-cruise, fly them to a critical business meeting and then catch up with the ship at a future port of call. Luxury travelers love the enriching, culturally immersive experiences a World Cruise delivers – everything from onboard lecturers to new shoreside experiences and overland adventures. Here’s a look at several voyages we like for 2021 or 2022.  

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Return to Asia-Pacific

For its 2022 World Cruise, Regent Seven Seas Cruises will return to the Asia / Pacific region for an extended in-depth exploration. The 700-passenger, all-suite Seven Seas Mariner will sail a new “Elements of the Pacific” roundtrip World Cruise from San Francisco on January 5, 2022. Enrichment often means more time in port to delve deeply into culture, dining and nightlife, and Seven Seas Mariner will overnight in 18 ports: among them Papeete (Tahiti), French Polynesia; Sydney, Australia; Bali (Benoa), Indonesia; Singapore; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Hong Kong, China; Kyoto, Japan, and others. 

In Hong Kong, we’d head beyond the city’s hustle-bustle to Repulse Bay along Hong Kong Island’s southern coast. In a 19th-century battle, the British army repulsed fierce pirates here but today it’s a relaxing, luxurious residential area. Dining, designer shopping and beach fun are top activities. It’s fun to walk across Repulse Bay’s small Bridge of Longevity (cross it and it’s believed that the person’s life will be prolonged by three days). Nearby are two towering statues of the deities Kwun Yam and Tin Hau; visitors love taking selfies here.

When it’s time for lunch, Luxury Travel Advisor suggests the casual Limewood along the beach. It serves up a tasty mix of Southeast Asian, Hawaiian, South American and Caribbean flavors in dishes that center on barbecued seafood, fish and meats. Or, for a more upscale experience on Hong Kong Island, Duddell’s, a one-Michelin-star restaurant in Central serves up yummy Cantonese cuisine; it’s in an arts-focused building. 

During Regent’s 2022 World Cruise, guests sailing for the entire voyage will receive a choice of nearly 300 complimentary shore excursions and the opportunity to explore several dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They can, for example, stroll through ancient Ayutthaya from Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Thailand, or soak in stunning views of the Volcanoes of Kamchatka on a call at Petropavlovsk, Russia.

Wat Mahathat, a Buddhist temple in Ayutthaya, central Thailand, will be one of the major attractions for guests on Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ “Elements of the Pacific” World Cruise in 2022. // Photo by Getty Images / Preto Perola

Totally new are several shore-side experiences for full World Cruise guests. During an exclusive “Classical Rendezvous in Sydney, Australia,” guests will dine on a three-course lunch before joining Australian performer and conductor Bernard Walz, a full concert orchestra and soloists for a classical music concert in Centennial Hall. Another new experience, “Japanese Ceremony, Art & Cuisine in Tokyo,” will take cruisers to view gardens and art-adorned halls, sample sushi, enjoy a tea ceremony, watch classical Kabuki and meet authentic geishas. Ninja performances and a Japanese harp serenade will top off the visit.

For more in-depth enrichment, Regent’s World Cruise guests can leave the ship and head overland on optional, small-group adventures of up to five nights. We like the line’s two-night overland program from Rotorua (Tauranga), New Zealand. Guests will tour and have tea at the Zealong tea estate, peruse local art at Inspirit Art Gallery and the Lava Glass and Sculpture Garden of glass artist Lynden Over, taste vintages at a winery and experience the city of Napier’s spin on Art Deco architecture. 

Two Is Better Than One 

For guests seeking flexibility in “travel style” or itinerary when planning a World Cruise, Silversea Cruises has — for the first time — unveiled two different 2021 World Cruises. For connoisseurs of travel who enjoy the classic luxury experience, the 150-day “Finest World Tour” will set sail from Port Everglades (Greater Fort Lauderdale), FL, on January 7, 2021. The 388-passenger Silver Whisper will call at 34 countries across six continents, before arriving in New York on June 6, 2021, having circumnavigated the Earth. 

We like this voyage for its high enrichment level, including two new Silversea initiatives to explore local culture ashore. The first, “Dine Around Town,” will allow guests to indulge in a food-and-wine paired meal “on the line’s tab” in fine restaurants in their choice of two of five select cities. The other new program, “Your Day, Your Way,” will enable guests to travel on their own or with friends, accompanied by English-speaking guides, with transportation in private sedans or minivans. It’s more intimate and flexible than traditional touring.

Along the “Finest World Tour” route, guests can expect 28 overnight calls during this voyage to Central and South America, Easter Island, French Polynesia, New Zealand and Australia, before setting sail for Bali, South Korea and Japan. At least one overnight will be spent in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore and Yangon. The ship then heads for Colombo, Mumbai and Oman’s Salalah before sailing to Jordan, Egypt, Israel and Greece. 

Next up are the Adriatic, Italy, Malta, Spain and Portugal, before Silver Whisper crosses the Atlantic, calls at Bermuda and finishes the voyage in New York City. Silversea plans welcome and farewell dinners in Fort Lauderdale and Bermuda, respectively, plus two enriching experiences ashore — an exclusive night at the races in Hong Kong and a traditional masked ball in Venice, Italy. 

Ksamil, Albania will be one of the six new ports of call for Silversea during its 2021 World Cruise. Shown above is the Ksamil Beach. // Photo by Getty Images / master2

For guests who prefer a smaller ship and an adventure approach (think Zodiacs, snorkeling, kayaking and trekking), Silversea also will launch its first expedition World Cruise in 2021, the 167-day “Unchartered World Tour.” It will be operated by Silver Cloud, which carries a maximum of 200 passengers in polar regions, 254 passengers elsewhere. Approximately 60 percent of the destinations will be accessed via Zodiacs. 

The pole-to-pole-style route will begin in Ushuaia, Argentina, and conclude 39,000 nautical miles later in Tromso, Norway, with cruise guests visiting more than one hundred destinations in 30 countries. Among the highlights are six new ports of call for Silversea, including Naxos, Folegandros and Nafpaktos, all in Greece; Ksamil, Albania; Bejaïa, Algeria; and Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. 

Naxos, the largest of the Cyclades Islands, is a hidden gem with ancient Byzantine history, Greek monuments, quaint hilltop villages and Chora Naxos (the island’s capital and main harbor town) with shops, eateries and bakeries. Why not pop in for a fresh spanakopita or baklava?

One interesting option for historically focused maritime buffs is that they’ll have the opportunity to meet descendants of the famous H.M.S. Bounty mutineers on Pitcairn. In addition to the line’s robust expedition team and Anthony Smith, the ship’s artist in residence, guest lecturers will enhance the enrichment experience. Speakers will include Felicity Aston MBE, explorer, scientist, author and the first woman to cross Antarctica alone; Tim Severin, explorer and gold medalist of the Royal Geographical and Scottish Geographical societies; and Jo Ruxton, co-founder of the Plastic Oceans Foundation. 

Silversea’s full expedition World Cruise guests also can plan on many special experiences, such as a private dinner on the Tower Bridge walkway in London, an exclusive Viking feast in Iceland’s Kjarnaskogur Forest and a private dinner in Robert Louis Stevenson’s former home at Apia, Samoa.  

Naxos, Greece, is a hidden gem with ancient Byzantine history, Greek monuments and quaint hilltop villages. // Photo by Getty Images / emicristea

Cunard Line also is offering two 2021 World Voyages, the first such sailings by the 2,691-passenger Queen Mary 2, the only true ocean liner in regular service. Freshly refitted with more suites last year, QM2 sails a classic east-west voyage to Australia, Asia, southern Africa, the Indian Ocean, Arabian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. This World Voyage sails roundtrip from New York (99 nights) on January 3, 2021 or roundtrip from Southampton, England, U.K. (113 nights) on January 10, 2021. Guests will travel to four continents, including Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. 

Also, Cunard’s 2,061-passenger Queen Victoria will operate a westbound World Voyage circumnavigation through the Panama Canal, which can be taken as a roundtrip from Hamburg, Germany (112 nights) or London (108 nights) or as a one-way voyage starting in Fort Lauderdale and ending in London (97 nights). The cruise begins by crossing the Atlantic to Florida via Bermuda. 

Following the canal transit, the ship sails across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii and Samoa, and visits ports in New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, Singapore, the Indian Ocean and South Africa, among others, before returning to London. Providing more time ashore for dining, shopping and nightlife; overnight stays are planned in many cities, including San Francisco. 

For that Queen Victoria overnight in San Francisco, we’d recommend a reservation at the three-Michelin-star Atelier Crenn, serving modern French cuisine in a minimalist setting. Its stellar tasting menu focuses on seafood and vegetables. What’s unusual? Each guest is greeted with a poem, each line symbolizing a presentation in the meal. 

Cunard’s Queen Victoria and Crystal’s Crystal Serenity will transit the Panama Canal during their World Cruise voyages. Shown here is the Centennial Bridge on the canal. // Photo by Getty Images / Lovely_Images

Adventures in Paradise

For sultry breezes, sandy beaches and adventures in the South Pacific, Seabourn offers “Extraordinary Oceans,” an immersive 2021 World Cruise, on the 450-passenger Seabourn Sojourn. Sailing from Miami to Barcelona on January 3, 2021, this 140-day voyage will take guests to 60 ports in Central America, western South America, the islands of the South Pacific, Australia, Indonesia, the Seychelles, Cape Verde, West Africa and beyond. 

Guests will go ashore to explore such cities as Lima, Peru; Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, Australia; Mombasa, Kenya; Cape Town and Durban, South Africa; Accra, Ghana and Casablanca, Morocco. With 10 overnight calls and 16 late nights in port, this itinerary will allow guests to spend more time ashore for cultural and enrichment activities. 

Luxury Travel Advisor particularly likes this voyage’s South Pacific component as it’s enhanced with the Ventures by Seabourn program. This is the first time the ultra-luxury line has included that adventure / expedition program for a World Cruise. When guests visit French Polynesia, Fiji, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, they’ll have the option of choosing a Ventures by Seabourn adventure. 

Seabourn’s 2021 World Cruise will give cruisers a chance to explore the tiny volcanic island of Dravuni in Fiji.  // Photo by Getty Images / sorincolac

Guests who so choose will head out via Zodiacs to explore remote coves and beaches, take a kayaking excursion, or go trekking and snorkeling. Ventures by Seabourn shore trips are led by an experienced expedition team of naturalists, scientists and scholars; those experts will also lecture onboard. 

In some destinations, guests will feel beyond the reach of civilization. For example, in Fiji, cruisers will visit Dravuni, a tiny volcanic island with white-sand beaches and a population of fewer than 200 residents; it’s a bit of a Robinson Crusoe experience with a deserted beach. In addition, Seabourn Sojourn will also spend a day at Tavanipupu, a private island in the Solomon Islands; guests will receive a traditional welcome by indigenous performers. Another highlight is three days in exotic Papua New Guinea.

In Africa, the ship will spend three days in Mombasa, Kenya, giving guests a chance for optional safari tours into the Serengeti. Plus, the ship overnights in Cape Town, South Africa, and Walvis Bay, Namibia. We’d opt for a desert tour in the latter, with the opportunity for star gazing. 

Seabourn Sojourn will spend three days in Mombasa, Kenya, where guests will be drawn to the open-air markets. // Photo by Getty Images / narvikk

A World of Boarding Options

Upping the ante of luxury exploration is Crystal Cruises’ “Myths, Marvels & Monuments: A Cultural Mosaic,” its 2022 World Cruise on the 980-passenger Crystal Serenity. Flexibility reigns as full World Cruise options range from 86 to 116 nights, so guests can choose to sail roundtrip from Miami or Los Angeles (116 nights); Miami to Monte Carlo (102 nights); Los Angeles to Monte Carlo (86 nights) or Los Angeles to Miami (100 nights). 

Depending on the embarkation and disembarkation selected, Full World Cruise voyages may begin or end with a Panama Canal transit. This is the ultra-luxury line’s 27th World Cruise, and this specific voyage visits 50 ports in 32 countries. Guests spend nine overnights in port and can explore 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Along the route, they’ll transit the Panama Canal; explore islands in Hawaii, Tonga and Western Samoa; visit Australia and New Zealand; head to ancient sites in Egypt and Israel; and explore the Black Sea. While this voyage features plenty of exotic ports, including calls in Jamaica, Nicaragua, Tonga, Bali, Sri Lanka and beyond, it also offers multiple relaxing days at sea in the South Pacific, so guests can lounge poolside, have a facial or massage, and “learn” at onboard lectures and classes.  

Crystal Serenity guests will sip vintages in the Margaret River wine region in Western Australia. // Photo by Getty Images / metriognome

What’s special? During calls in New Zealand and Australia, guests can peruse Lord of the Rings landscapes and sip vintages in the Barossa and Margaret River wine regions plus enjoy overnight time in Auckland and Sydney. And during the Arabian Gulf and Holy Land portion of the voyage, the ship will overnight for visits to Mumbai, Luxor and the Valley of the Kings (Safaga, Egypt) and Jerusalem / Tel Aviv. 

If guests love UNESCO World Heritage Sites, they’ll certainly have plenty to explore on this cruise, including India’s Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal, and the mosaics of Cyprus’ Paphos. 

Crystal Serenity will also explore the Black Sea coast, overnight in Istanbul and Monte Carlo, and visit Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania and the Italian Riviera. 

During that Monte Carlo overnight, we’d suggest lunch with a view at Le Vistamar in the Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo. Wellness and gastronomy dovetail well here with a gourmet tasting and sharing menu created by Chef Benoit Witz. Reservations are highly recommended as the one-Michelin-star restaurant has one of Monaco’s most sought-after dining terraces. 

Crystal Serenity cruisers visiting Monaco will look to dine with a view at Le Vistamar in Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo. // Photo by Getty Images / venakr

Around the World in 180 Days

If travelers desire to feel as though they’re in a Jules Verne novel, traveling around the world in 80 days, how about going “one better” and sailing on Oceania Cruises’ “Around the World in 180 Days” cruise? Departing Miami on January 9, 2021, this voyage on the 684-passenger Insignia spans 44 countries on six continents, before the cruise ends in New York City. Insignia was recently revitalized with all-new accommodations and guests can participate in creative workshops at the Artist Loft enrichment center. 

From sultry Havana to the South Pacific, from the Arabian Peninsula to Greenland and Iceland, travelers will visit 100 ports of call before the voyage ends in New York. Highlights include three days in Yangon, Myanmar, and another three in Istanbul, and overnight stays in such destinations as Bora Bora, Cairns, Hong Kong, Saigon, Bangkok, Singapore, Mumbai, Dubai, Luxor, Jerusalem, Venice, Lisbon, Seville and Bordeaux.

One big enrichment plus for Oceania’s full World Cruise guests are five exclusive shoreside events. In Istanbul, guests will set out for an evening in the ancient, ornate Binbirdirek Cistern (the underground Roman cistern with magnificent columns). Soaking up the aura of the Ottoman Empire, guests will enjoy a traditional bazaar, local delicacies, Turkish coffee and mesmerizing entertainment. Also, just outside of Livorno, Italy, lies Alpemare Beach Resort, owned by Andrea Bocelli and his family. Here, guests will partake in an exclusive wine tasting and lunch, and then retire to the family villa for a concert and performance by Andrea’s son, Matteo.

For many visitors to Ireland, seeing Riverdance is a “must.” Oceania’s guests will enjoy a private performance by that dance troupe at the 18th-century Mansion House, the Lord Mayor of Dublin’s official residence. It has hosted Pope John Paul II and Queen Victoria. Separately, during another exclusive shoreside event in Hilo, Hawaii, full World Cruise guests will be feted at the Makahiki Games at the Umauma Falls Nature Center, where athletes will compete in spear-hurling competitions. 

Optional overland tours can also deepen enrichment, and we like Oceania’s three-night “Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal” option. Cruisers will visit temples, royal cities and architectural treasures in and around Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu. Cruisers will stay at the historic Dwarika’s Hotel; go “flightseeing” over Mount Everest; and visit Patan for a cup of tea in a Newari home and a private audience with Patan’s “Living Goddess” (kumari). Guests will also visit Kathmandu’s Durbar Marg, Bhaktapur, Bodnath and Pashupatinath. 

Oceania guests who opt for the “Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal” overland tour will visit the Patan Durbar Square in Kathmandu. // Photo by Getty Images / fotoVoyager

More on the World Cruise Stage

While Viking’s “potential record-breaking World Cruise” is now under way, another upcoming option is its 2020-2021 World Cruise, departing December 14, 2020, from Miami to London. That 161-day voyage on the 930-passenger Viking Sun will sail to six continents and overnight in more than a dozen cities. A shorter, yet still lengthy, 140-day segment, the 2021 Viking World Discoveries voyage, departs from Los Angeles on January 4, 2021.  

Creating enrichment shoreside are “Local Life” excursions focused on everyday activities. For example, the onboard Viking chef will host trips to local farmers’ markets or guests will visit with local schoolchildren. “Working World” excursions include behind-the-scenes “making of” experiences such as factory or farm visits, while “Privileged Access” shore trips include exclusive visits to cultural sites or perhaps a private cooking class at a castle. 

Several premium lines also field World Cruises. Holland America Line’s 128-day 2021 Grand World Voyage on the 1,380-passenger MS Amsterdam departs January 4, 2021, sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. Guests can explore 20-plus countries and dozens of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Separately, the 111-day 2021 World Cruise on the 2,200-passenger Island Princess is the fastest-selling World Cruise in Princess Cruises’ history. Sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale on January 3, 2021, or roundtrip from Los Angeles on January 17, 2021, the itinerary visits 32 countries with maiden calls at Gythion, Greece; New Plymouth, New Zealand; and Mindelo, Cape Verde Islands. The line also offers a 97-day World Cruise from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale, departing January 17, 2021.

A World Cruise is a great way to see iconic sites, enjoy enriching experiences and meet like-minded travelers. With technological advancements, working professionals are no longer “out of touch” so it’s an easy, luxurious way to see the world and bring home trip-of-a-lifetime moments.

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