by Joan Dann

Great Explorations ! Travel

World Cruise or Grand Voyage, choosing the best one for you !

An Around the World Cruise--or a lengthy GRAND VOYAGE--- is high on the "Bucket List" of many people. For most...A World Cruise is the trip of a lifetime. For others.....it is something that they do year after year on the different versions of World Cruise itineraries. As the cruise lines...individual ships & their amenities....and length of voyage are all quite different.....there are some important considerations in choosing the right situation for you.

First and foremost.....A World Cruise or long extended cruise is a wonderful choice for the experienced cruiser who is already familiar with the World Cruise line of choice. With your familiar cruise line you will know what to expect (even though a World Cruise is different experience than just a regular cruise) and will already be familiar with the feel and atmosphere of the particular cruise line. You will already have a high comfort level with the accommodations, service, food, and overall character of the other passengers. Additionally....a repeat cruiser also usually obtains a "Past Passenger" rate. When you are looking at a long voyage---this can be a substantial savings. There are also additional perks to well traveled guests who return-----Special Cocktail parties or Brunches onboard with the officers or special amenities. Considering the length of a World Voyage, you will enjoy all the little extras that a familiar cruise line will offer you. If you have such a fond connection to a certain cruise line....this is most likely the best choice for you for a World Cruise. I would not recommend anyone booking a World Cruise with a cruise line that they had not sailed before. Think of all the fun you will have researching and sailing the different lines....where they sail and what life is like onboard each one !

There is a World Cruise for almost every budget ! There are several wonderful cruise lines who offer World Voyages.....Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Cunard, Crystal, Holland America, Princess, Oceania. Some are All-Suite Ships with all gratuities, cocktails and wine included. The last four lines listed offer a variety of different levels of accommodation and amenities. The first...Regent Seven Seas....is the most all-inclusive with all Shore Excursions also included. (2014 data) Seabourn is no longer offering a World Cruise as they once did....but there are long voyage options. Most lines will only offer one World Cruise on one of their ships. Cunard, on the other hand, offers a full World Cruise on EACH of their three ships ! They were the very first decades ago and have continued their tradition to this day. Certainly there are many choices to fit your personality, interest and budget. Whenever anyone asks me about the great values to be found in cruising---I always say, "Get on and STAY on !". Really when you prorate the day to day expenses & consider traveling costs---the longer voyages are a better value.

Please note ! There are incentives for booking the ENTIRE World Cruise---not just segments. There are often Special Parties, Amenities....little (or big) extras. Your Travel Agent may also have additional extras for you....Special Shore Excursions thru their agency or Special Cocktail parties, onboard credits.....all in ADDITION to what World Cruisers are offered via the Cruise line. And the Cruise lines are pulling out all the stops and giving all that they can to those who commit to the entire World Voyage. Gala Bon Voyage Reception at a luxury hotel the night before boarding....with the hotel room included. Complimentary Wi-fi  or dry cleaning for the length of the World Cruise. Complimentary baggage Valet service to ship a suitcase from home to ship and back. All may sway you one way or another in your choice of who you choose to sail.

All Cruise lines offer different itineraries (and will vary them from one year to the next for variety) and World Cruise or Grand Voyage lengths can vary from 70 to 116 Days or more. You may even choose to do a Segment Voyage....a short segment of the full World voyage, approximately 15 to 77 days. I personally sailed for 69 days of a 105 cruise on Seabourn.....and really loved every single minute of it. (The seasoned World Cruisers onboard may refer to you as "Seggies", as if you are a Pledge.) If this is all the time away or funds that you can afford....its a nice way to get a little taste of the excitement of this kind of voyage. Oceania is now offering a full world cruise of 180 Days ! Incredible !

World Cruise people are part of a special club or Fraternity. They all seem to know one another ! Many return year after year to the same cruise line.....some move from one luxury line to another the next year. They know most of the staff (the lines will put their most highly respected staff in charge of World Cruisers so you do get to know them and count on them).......arrive with suitcases upon suitcases (often shipping two suitcases ahead is included in your fare) and have a bustling social life onboard. (If you have ever wanted to feel like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor...you have come to the right place.)

"Oh that's too long" ...some will say. I know a number of people who park themselves in Florida for six months a year at the same condo. With a cruise...the stateroom stays the same but the view always changes. Besides....I know of few people at condos in Florida for the winter who have a Butler, a room steward and non-stop entertainment and fabulous food prepared for them daily. I remember one tall good looking gentleman who we got to know who had done seven World Voyages. I asked him if it got to be too long..."It takes 21 Days just to relax !", was his answer. How to start ? Begin with a lengthy GRAND Voyage if you are concered--------68 to 75 days, for example. Some choose to do a few segments instead of the entire voyage----which is a great option.

World cruisers really know how to enjoy the quiet and relaxing days at sea. (Great time to write a book !) Many are avid readers, needlepointers or Bridge players. The following with the trivia teams on some is legendary. (Be sure to beeline it on the first sea day to join a trivia team ! It is great fun over the course of the long cruise.) I personally love the pool and will be in it no matter what the weather. (People will be bundled up in the chaise lounge chairs with plaid blankets on them.....and I was splashing away.) Almost all make the most of the wonderful entertainment, fun parties, fabulous lecturers, fun cocktail hours and lavish service while onboard. Some enjoy the solitude and the luxury of doing just exactly what they want to do. Some are avid Golfers....and take this opportunity to golf all over the world ! Many enjoy the Spa, Beauty Salon and the brisk exercise program. The art programs can be fabulous. (I hadn't painted since high school and came home with 8 paintings.) Some have gotten married at the beginning of a World Cruise on the ship....and enjoyed the long extended Honeymoon ! Love to dance ? There are so many opportunities to do so in the evenings. Dance Hosts are onboard many of the world cruises to dance with the single ladies (confirm which ships with your travel agent). Afternoon Tea Dances on some voyages and dance lessons on sea days on most. The fun of meeting new friends and sitting in the restaurant over lunch or afternoon tea until you are the last ones there--because you have gotten along so well and have found so much to talk about. The personal connection on these voyages is amazing. Once you settle in and unpack....your days are full and the time flies. Of course...all of the places you will go and the things you will see ! The exotic World locations will literally be at your fingertips !

For many, discovering the wonderful world of cruising is still in front of them. The classic 7 day voyages of the Caribbean are a good place to start cruising..and fall in love there. After discovering the wonderful food and service and ease of traveling from one port to another---with your clothes all in the same closet...you will be ready for more. The World Cruiser is looking for the long and the exotic. They know, for instance, that a ship can carry them to India and dip them in for three days....and then on to the next port of call. Just enough to get a taste of the country and see the highlights...without a long flight...and then back to the comforts of the ship.

"The comforts of the ship" are comforts indeed. The Western tastes and standards in food.........the English speaking staff..........the clinic onboard in the event you need them.....the unbelievable service.....the cabin steward who cleans your stateroom twice a day. Some swear that the steward must be hiding underneath their beds !

By the way..."Around the World" is not always the case. Some lines still do the Classic around the world itinerary but some lines now are offering very lengthy and intense "Grand" voyages.....a complete circumnavigation  South America or Australia, for example. And all lengthy voyages are not always leaving in January or February. There are "Ring of Fire" cruises, for instance, that circle the Pacific Ocean on a lengthy voyage in the Fall---beginning in Alaska...on the Orient....down thru the South Pacific. (We once sailed with a group of "Ring of Fire" cruisers in Alaska who were on for 2 1/2 months.....home for a few weeks for the Holidays....and then back again for a World Voyage. The cruise line stored their belongings in between.) Azamara Club Cruises just announced (as I write this) an unusual World Cruise for 2018---From March to June ....from Sydney Australia to London. So---not always only a January departure from NYC or London !

As always, I strongly suggest working with an experienced well traveled Travel Agent who really understands cruises......World cruises......and YOUR cruise line of choice ! A well-connected agent is also able to provide additional amenities for your special voyage (as noted above....other than those offered by the cruise line to World Cruisers or Past Passengers) such as  special complimentary shore excursions and special cocktail gatherings...additional perks and amenities from their exclusive travel agency. There may be Visas & Immigration requirements, required shots, trip travel insurance, cancellation policies to understand, dress codes and what to pack (there can be a great many formal affairs and traveling through many different climates), best time to book to take advantage of special savings etc. that require a specialist who understands them. I always tell people..."Book your cruise with someone who will think about you when you are gone." They will live your trip with you....and worry about you. This can be a priceless relationship !

As I write this---2018 World Voyages are now booking and 2019 sailings are taking reservations. BE SURE to book early and get your deposit in. There are plenty of incentives in doing so with extra perks & savings------ and best availability goes quickly. World Cruisers, as a general rule, book far ahead---obtaining just what they want. The big suites seem to fill first....as do the best location staterooms. Here is one case where your long term stateroom is more important than just a 7 day cruise.

And finally--(and I simply cannot say this strongly enough)------GO while you can ! If you can afford it....have the good health to do so....(there is a clinic onboard !)......just go. Whether you are going alone......or with your spouse or others.......remember that you will make many wonderful friends among the special World Cruise people. THIS is the year for you to go. No one ever regrets it. Only regrets are for people who put it off and then something happens to keep them from going. There will be special parties, exclusive complimentary shore excursions offered by the cruise line just for those doing the full World Cruise. It wasn't all that long ago when there were barely computers onboard to use. NOW---you can stay so connected to all of your friends and family from the far corners of the world. Don't forget your international cell phone---and an iPad ! (Remember...when you send letters home...you are your friends and families "eyes and ears" of places that they probably may never ever see.) Have some "calling cards" printed with your email address and phone. Print plenty of them----you will need them for all of your new friends. Throw in a big stack of cute notecards into your luggage. It will always be a new friends birthday and it is nice to send them a little note. You will not be lonely ! Be sure to pack a collapsible big duffle or tote as an extra piece of luggage as you will have purchases to bring home from all of these exotic locations.

Remember that gentleman I mentioned earlier ? I remember him also saying..."The best friends I have are the ones I see year after year on the World Cruises." There IS a special bond among people who LOVE to travel ! As a general rule...they are well read, adventurous, interesting, fun, happy and open minded.

If you are a World Cruiser, I would love to hear from you.

Bon Voyage !

Joan

Joan Dann can be reached via her website https://www.luxurylastminutecruises.com/ and email her at dann@dann-online.com .

Also visit----and sign up for the World Cruise mailing list...

http://www.dann-online.com/Great%20Explorations%20!%20Travel/greatexplorationstravel.htm 

Recent article...How to Pack for an Around the World Cruise or Grand Voyage...

http://dennis-dann.SearchWarp.com/swa777688-World-Cruise-What-To-Pack-For-A-World-Cruise-Or-A-Grand-Voyage.htm 

She is owner of Great Explorations ! Travel and a Cruise Expert....and a World Cruise Specialist and a member of Ensemble Travel Group. She is a frequent Ensemble Host onboard special Ensemble Hosted sailings. She is also Co-Owner of Dann Men's Clothing & Dann Formal Wear as well as other upscale shops. For almost 40 years she has worked with the luxury customer ...their travels....their clothing...etc. 

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