Imagine seeing the planet — the entire planet — all in one journey. That’s exactly what an around-the-world cruise can offer.
Forget sailing for a week to the Caribbean. These trips can be gone for weeks, and sometimes months, as they sail from port to port, cross oceans, and explore ports of call that are almost never visited by other cruise ships.
As the popularity of cruising has boomed, so too has interest in these trips. Passengers now have their choice of a surprising amount of sailings across multiple cruise lines.
Of course, more sailings means more choices. You can now take sailings ranging anywhere from a few weeks (for a partial around-the-world journey) all the way to 200-day trips that circumnavigate the globe.
Of course, as you would expect taking one of these cruises, it’s a very different experience than what you’d get from a more traditional cruise. Even if you’d taken lots of sailings across multiple lines, the nature of sailing for such an extended period means that some things are extremely different.
Here are several things you should keep in mind about sailing on a worldwide cruise.
Expect to Be Gone for 100+ Days to Truly Go Around-the-World
If there’s one thing to know about a worldwide cruise, it’s that you should expect to clear your schedule. A full around-the-world trip will take at least 100 days, give or take two weeks. We’ve even found some trips of 200 days. During that trip you’ll make stops in dozens of ports as you trek from continent to continent and ocean to ocean.
Want a shorter trip? Around-the-world trips usually have shorter segments that you can also book. So while the complete cruise might take 110 days to circumnavigate, there could be an 18-day segment or a 45-day segment that you could book during that larger trip.
If you’ve never sailed for longer than a week, these shorter segments might be a good way to “dip your toe in the water” to see if such a cruise is right for you.
Only a Handful of Cruise Lines Offer Around-the-World Cruises
Don’t think that taking an around-the-world cruise is going to be on just any cruise line. Most of the big lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean don’t offer these cruises. Instead, you’re most likely going to be on smaller, luxury lines like Oceania, Regent, and Crystal Cruises.
One larger line that does offer extended worldwide trips is Princess. If you’re worried about how the experience will be aboard a particular cruise line, Princess offers shorter trips that you can take to get a feel for the experience without committing to going on a full around-the-world cruise.
You’re Going to Visit Smaller Ports
Is stopping in Cozumel or Nassau not really you cup of tea? If not, then you might love taking an extended worldwide trip. While some major ports are visited, many are smaller, out of the way places that aren’t as heavily visited by cruise ships.
For instance, a trip that visits South America will visit Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, but it also Porto Belo, Puerto Madryn, Buzios.
Never heard of these spots? That’s exactly the point. Around-the-world cruises give you the opportunity to explore places where few other travelers visit, giving you a real view of the culture of a region instead of just catering to cruise ships.
Some Cruise Lines Included Lots of Extras
Depending on the cruise line and your specific deal, worldwide cruises often throw in a lot of extras. Of course, these extended trips aren’t cheap but getting freebies can make your cruise a lot more comfortable. It’s also nice not to have to worry about being nickeled and dimed when you’re on a cruise ship for a month or two.
For instance, we found deals on Oceania Cruises that include your choice of free shore excursions, free beverage package, or free onboard credit with your cruise. Their deal also took care of gratuities, onboard medical care, free Internet, and more.
Not every line will have these free, but these sorts of deals are out there.
Be Prepared for Smaller Ships
Many of the headlines about cruising revolve around the newest — and biggest — ships. If you’re used to the mega-ships, know that around-the-world cruises are going to be on smaller vessels. After all, there aren’t near as many people taking 60-day cruises across the Pacific as people taking a week to sail the Caribbean.
For example, Princess Cruises sails the Pacific Princess, which is “only” about 600-feet long and carries about 700 passengers. Oceania’s Insignia, which sails a 200-day cruise, is about the same size.
Now, not every cruise ships that sails worldwide cruises is this size, but in general the ships are much smaller than the new mega-ships that are introduced each year. This will give you a better opportunity to get to know your other passengers as you’ll be spending lots of time with just a few hundred people.
Worldwide Cruises Can Help Handle Visas
If you were traveling on your own to a country requiring a visa, then it’s up to you to figure everything out that you need. On a worldwide cruise, you at least have some help. The cruise line will be knowledgeable on what you need to do to get all squared away before you travel.
That makes it much easier to navigate the complex web of rules and requirements for visiting so many countries on a worldwide trip.
Worldwide Cruises Are A Great Way to See Tons of Different Places (Without Getting Exhausted)
Even if you were to book a land-based tour that lasted the same length of time as an around-the-world cruise, there’s no way that you’d be able to visit the wide variety of places you’ll see when you sail.
The biggest issue with traveling around the world is transportation. Flights, buses, and trains are an exhausting way to get from place to place. But with a ship, you can move from port to port without the same hassles.
While you dine, visit with other passengers, or sleep comfortably in your bed, you’re taken to your next destination. That’s much better than having to try to sleep in an airplane seat as you fly from country to country. It leaves you feeling refreshed as you greet each day with a new port of call.
Worldwide Cruises Are Expensive, But Can Be a Great Value
First things first, don’t think that your around-the-world cruise is going to be light on your pocketbook. An Owner’s Suite on a 200-day trip aboard Oceania Cruises can run upwards of $160,000 — per person — before taxes and fees. Obviously there are cheaper cabins available, as well as less expensive cruise lines.
As a rule of thumb, you can expect to spend at least $10,000 for two people to sail on a cruise that’s at least a month long. Prices can rise dramatically from there depending on cabin type, cruise line, and length of trip.
There’s no denying that the cruises are pricey, but when you compare them to the cost of airline tickets, hotels, food, and more that it would cost you to replicate the trip on your own, it’s actually not that bad of a deal.
In fact, if you want to truly travel the world, it’s likely among the cheapest ways to do so while still being in comfort.
Homesickness Can Be a Real Thing
The good news is that the Internet has made communicating back home easier than ever. Meanwhile, Internet service is available on the ship, as well as in port. That makes it easier than ever to keep in touch back home.
Even so, you should be prepared to have some homesickness when you’re on an extended worldwide cruise. Away for so long means you will inevitably miss some of the people back home. And even if you can keep in touch, don’t forget about the comforts of home. Sometimes you miss your favorite shows, or your neighborhood restaurant, or even the taste of your coffee at home.
Keep this in mind and realize that bringing some creature comforts with you on your cruise can make you feel a little better and not so far from home when you’re on the other side of the world.
You Should Definitely Get Help With Booking
So many things today are done completely online, including buying a cruise. And while you might have booked a shorter cruise completely online, we’d suggest having a travel agent or speaking with a booking agent with the cruise line to get your trip scheduled.
Around-the-world cruises are a much bigger investment of time and money than a traditional trip and there’s a lot that you might have questions about.
The good news is that every cruise line and booking agency will have people that can help guide you through the booking process, tell you more about the trip, and answer any questions you might have. We suggest getting help before you booking to make sure you know what to expect before you book that ticket.
Have more questions about what it’s like to sail around the world on a cruise? Let us know in the comments below.