‘Anchors Aweigh’ fills the air from the brass band on the quayside, the champagne on deck is flowing, passengers are celebrating, 3 long deep blasts from the ship’s whistle as it slowly moves out into deeper water, another cruise liner saying ‘Farewell’ and is on its way. Where to, a world cruise.
Every January the cruise ships of Cunard, P&O Cruises and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines (amongst others) leave our cold shores to circumnavigate the globe, visit those places that dreams are made of and have our imaginations racing. The Americas, islands of the South Pacific and Polynesia, Australia, The Orient and Africa, spend nights in exotic locations before returning to the warmer spring sunshine of the UK in April.
Traditionally, classic world cruises are either Eastern or Western circumnavigations of the globe. Eastern heads to the Mediterranean, transits the Suez Canal into the Red Sea, and on to the culture change of the Indian continent and Sri Lanka. Traverse the Indian Ocean to Singapore, visit the Jurong Bird Park, the famous Botanic Garden or take a ships tour and explore the area before sailing on to Sydney and passing under the fabulous Sydney Harbour Bridge and mooring near the world-famous Sydney Opera House. At this point you have already completed half of your epic voyage. Next is New Zealand before heading northeast across the Pacific Ocean for the turquoise blue waters of islands made famous in film and song, Bali Hai, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Bora Bora. Enjoy a traditional Polynesian welcome with the islander’s small boats coming out to the cruise ship. It’s then onward to the Hawaiian islands before arriving at America’s west coast. Visit San Francisco, Los Angeles and Mexico’s ports before transiting the Panama Canal with its famous locks. Leave Panama in your wake as you cruise into the land of calypso, the Caribbean. 28 island nations, each with their own culture and history, the common denominator being sandy beaches, clear warm blue waters, lush vegetation and people who welcome you with a genuine smile. In Barbados, visit St. John’s Parish Church, set on a cliff top in the north of the island. The names of the original English settlers are inscribed on boards dating back to the 1800s. If it is Jamaica, try river rafting on the Martha Brae River in the mountains on the outskirts of Montego Bay. In Antigua, it has to be a visit to Nelson’s Dockyard.
It’s then the final leg, heading out across the Atlantic towards Europe and home. Where have those last 100+ days gone? The western cruise apart from being in the opposite direction often had different ports of call so select carefully which you require.
Up to 120 days away is not for everyone and cruise companies recognise this. There are clients who cannot or do not want to spend that length of time away and for this reason, most world cruises are made up of segments or sectors enabling the passenger to select visiting that part of the world which is their dream. Typical legs or sectors vary in length, 25 to 35 days being normal with the option of hotel stays at either end. This of course has the added advantage for the world cruiser that there is a change of companionship every few weeks.
There are alternatives that will take you on long voyages to other areas of the world, two of which are Africa and South America. Leave the UK and sail southwest to cross the Atlantic and celebrate the ‘Crossing the Line’ ceremony prior to arriving at the eastern coast of South America. Call at the port of Rio, one of the most beautiful ports to sail into with the statue of Christ the Redeemer watching over you. Then on to the bustling port of Santos before saying goodbye to Brazil and heading south to Uruguay and Argentina to visit the vibrant city of Buenos Aires and perhaps a Gaucho Ranch. Further south sail into the British Overseas Territory of the Falkland Islands, and the capital, Stanley. Receive a genuine welcome from the islanders before re-boarding your ship and sailing round the notorious Cape Horn and heading northwest to the Hawaiian Islands and Honolulu. Enjoy these lush volcanic islands that are the paradise playground for people from around the world and a favourite cruise stop. Its then transit the Panama Canal, the Caribbean and back to the UK.
For many, the charm of the African continent is irresistible. Sail south from the UK, enter the Mediterranean through the Straits of Gibraltar and finally transit the Suez Canal to visit Aqaba, Jordan. Visit the ancient city of Petra and Wadi Rum. Cruise through the Red Sea passing Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia before arriving in the historical trading city of Mombasa, second largest in Kenya. Indulge in a day’s safari, see the wild animals of Africa in their natural habitat. Back on board continue south to Zanzibar, and Mozambique before arriving in South Africa, the ports of Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town await you. Visit the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and Table Mountain in Cape Town and watch the beautiful sunset before heading north to Namibia, the volcanic tropical island of St. Helena, Africa’s west coast and the Cape Verde Islands. Visit Praia the capital with its beautiful cathedral or visit the local market where the selection of fruit, vegetables and fish is amazing. Now heading for home a final stop will be the Canary Islands before arriving back in the UK.
For those wanting to start off in the sunshine then there are several companies such as Holland America Line and Princess Cruises running world/long voyages out of the USA or have a look at Azamara Club Cruises for their 102 night journey.
The options are numerous but one thing they have in common is they will take you to memorable destinations around the world, to the sunshine during the winter and return you in the spring with memories that will last a lifetime, and as always you only unpack once.