Everything you need to know about going on a world cruise
Everything to know about a round the world trip...
28 Dec 2018
Considering a world cruise but have some questions you want answers to before you book? In this article, we look at everything you need to know about going on a world cruise, from what to pack to whether you’ll need travel insurance.
Everything you need to know before you go on a world cruise:
Before setting off on any long expedition getting travel insurance is a good idea. With a world cruise, it’s a must. As you’ll be at sea for months on end, ensuring you are in good health before boarding, but also that you are protected if something happens, is very important
We require you to have travel insurance before embarking on your trip, and on occasion, ships can turn away passengers if they do not have the documents highlighting adequate cover upon request. We also will not issue your tickets until you give this information to us. This means you will need travel insurance for any kind of cruise, but especially a world cruise
We spoke to cruise blogger Danielle Fear, known online as Cruise Miss. As a seasoned cruiser, Danielle told us why a world cruise is a great option for travellers: “It's a great option because it allows you to see incredible places and you only ever need to unpack once. A world cruise is the ultimate cruising experience, and nothing can quite compare. You meet interesting people, see some of the most stunning destinations on earth and you can do it all in the comfort of your home-away-from-home.”
When we asked Danielle what everyone should know before booking a world cruise, she had this to say: “You MUST ensure you have the best travel insurance. A world cruise will see you travelling for upwards of 3 months and in that time, things can change. Take out a good cruise specific policy before you leave, but shop around, don't just settle for the cheapest quote because it may not always be the best. Always disclose any health issues that you have and make sure you tailor the policy to suit your needs. Such as adding more baggage cover, gadget cover or activity cover.”
Where should I get travel insurance for a world cruise?
We recommend International Travel and Healthcare Limited for travel insurance. Their specialist policies can cover travellers from 1-99 years old, and, subject to medical screening acceptance, can cover any pre-existing health conditions too.
Do I have to travel the whole world on a world cruise?
The term ‘world cruise’ is an ambiguous one and although it often means navigating the globe on a cruise ship, there are many options now that mean you don’t need to do that on every world cruise. With passengers being able to book legs of the journey, boomerangs and more, there are plenty of options available.
We spoke to Adam Coulter, the UK managing editor of Cruise Critic. With his vast experience in the cruise industry, and his position as one of the leading voice in the industry we wanted to know why he thought a world cruise was a great option for every type of traveller: ”With its inimitable mix of sustained luxury and R&R and promise of seeing the world on one seamless, unpack-just-once sailing, a world cruise is a perfect choice if you have a lot of time on your hands and want to tick off a large number of bucket-list dream destinations all in one go.
“What’s not to like about the idea of 100 nights of lavish galas, hobnobbing with interesting fellow passengers and visits to faraway lands? Adding to the appeal is that most of these long voyages are scheduled in the dead of winter, tempting cruisers with the means of being whisked away to more temperate, faraway lands.
“Taking into consideration that all meals and entertainment are included in the overall cost – as well as the fact that you get a once in a lifetime opportunity to see a widely varied portfolio of diverse cultures all in one go – then the £9,000 to £35,000 price tag of a world cruise is actually pretty good value for money.”
We then spoke to Adam about what people may be able to do if they don’t want to take the full voyage: “You don't always have to book the entire voyage. Many sailings are divided into segments that let you experience an extended voyage in a region of the globe that interests you most. Savings particularly add up when you bundle two or more segments back-to-back into your own mini-world cruise – making certain world cruises more financially viable than many people think. Segments can range from two weeks to a month or more. They're a great way to sample the world cruise experience if you are strapped for time and money and they also provide the opportunity to test out the experience before committing to the full circumnavigation if you are a bit uncertain. You can embark in or depart from a nearby homeport - such as Southampton - or you can fly to the US, Europe or Asia to do a middle segment and then fly back home afterwards.
We also spoke to Anna Twitchin, known online as The Cruise Blogger, who spoke to us about the option of doing legs of a journey: “Some people are daunted by the prospect of 3 to 4 months at sea and the cost can be high. But most cruise lines will give you the option to do a leg or sector of a world cruise, allowing you to pick and choose which parts of the world you want to see. This gives you more flexibility and is often more cost-effective than the full itinerary.
“If you want to see more of the world, and have the time and money to do so, then a world cruise is the ultimate way to do it.”
What is a ‘boomerang’ cruise?
Adam then spoke to us about ‘boomerang’ cruises, and why they may be beneficial: “One recent spin on world cruises is the ‘boomerang’, which combines two ships in one trip. For instance, you might sail Queen Mary 2 from Southampton to Sydney and then board Queen Elizabeth to sail the rest of the way from Sydney back to Southampton. Sometimes the two ships are in port together, so you transfer on the same day. Other times, the cruise line may put you up for a few days until your second ship arrives - which can be a great way to see a city you've always wanted to visit in more depth. Nearly everyone doing boomerang world cruises uses two ships from the same line, but if you're truly adventurous in travel planning, you could do segments on two different lines.”
Does ship size matter when booking a world cruise?
When booking a world cruise, you must ensure that you’ll have the best trip. When it comes to ship size, there are a lot of variables at play. If you love a busy lifestyle, a large ship with myriad people to meet is a fantastic thing. However, if you are dreaming of unique and undiscovered locations, often smaller ships can visit lesser known and quieter ports.
Adam Coulter weighed in: “Think carefully about how big of a ship you want. Until recently, there wasn't a wide variety in sizes of ships doing full world cruises. Today, you can choose anything from smaller, ultra-luxury ships from Silversea to giants like Cunard's Queen Mary 2.
“The advantages of a smaller ship on normal cruises are that you get a more personalised service, and the ability to visit smaller ports. If you've been around the world a few times, a smaller ship with a more exotic itinerary might be for you.
“A bigger ship usually offers more entertainment options, but it's more limited in the ports its able to visit. Also, check where the ship will dock. While small vessels can pull up close to a city, larger ones often have to seek out industrial ports farther away.”
What should I pack for a world cruise?
It is always hard to know what to pack for a cruise or any kind of holiday for that matter. You want to be ready for every eventuality and with a world cruise, you are more likely to need a large range of things.
Adam Coulter gave his advice: “The world cruiser has to pack for several months away and needs to make sure they have something for warm, cold and wet weather, as well as numerous formal nights. This is where a little planning will pay dividends. Your cruise line can tell you how many formal, semiformal and smart-casual nights there will be, so start by selecting outfits for them, remembering that accessories are a wonderful way of giving clothes you have worn once a new lease on life. Then match the itinerary against weather charts for the time of year you'll be visiting. For example, in January, cruises in Europe could be chilly, the Caribbean will likely be pleasantly warm but not hot, and tropical countries like Malaysia might be steaming but also in the midst of a rainy season - so a light raincoat or umbrella might come in handy.
“Remember also that all ships offer a laundry service, and many have do-it-yourself washing facilities. Ask if your ship does or does not, as this can help you save a fortune in laundry fees and help to lessen the amount you’ll need to pack.”
Vid, blogger at Bruised Passports, also spoke to us about the importance of packing well: “Travellers should think about the destinations they will be visiting and pack accordingly as it is hard to go shopping and explore a new place when the ship docks in a new place for a limited amount of time.”
Is a world cruise a good idea for me and my partner?
As we’ve mentioned, world cruises can be hundreds of days long, and although you’ll find a vast range of activities, and will spend many of your days exploring exotic locations, you’ll need to be sure a world cruise is right for you and your partner when doing one together. Whether you want to travel with a romantic partner, best friend or family member, knowing you’ll be comfortable sharing a space for such a long time with no issues is important. Although there are many places you’ll be able to go to get some space, knowing you’ll be able to live together for such a long time with no stress is important.
We spoke to Linda, avid cruiser with her husband David, who is the other half of their blogging team at Retired and Travelling. Linda told us why a world cruise is a great trip idea: “An around the world cruise is great if you want to only unpack once, have someone else cook and see a different view from your window every day! It gives you the chance to see so much of the world. And so many destinations that you may never visit otherwise. Once you have a little taste test you can plan a longer return visit.”
As part of a travelling couple, Linda gave some great advice about why it is so important to know you are ready for a world cruise before booking one: “Before going on an around the world cruise, you really need to know if you can manage in such small spaces for such a long time. This is particularly important if you are travelling with someone else and are sharing the space.
“Before embarking on an around the world cruise, you may want to start with a really long cruise. This will give you a chance to test out living on the water. And let you work the kinks out of your plans for dealing with things at home. It would probably be best to try a destination that is quite foreign to you. As many ports on an around the world cruise will not be the cruise ports you might generally pick.”
What should I do before departing for a world cruise?
There are many things to sort out before leaving for a world cruise. Due to the length, as well as organising travel insurance many people also have to organise a lot of other factors.
Linda gave some more great advice on some of the things someone should do before embarking on a world cruise: “Before going on a world cruise you will want to know that things at home are pretty settled. You need to take care of things like mail, bills and property maintenance. But you also don’t want to go if your family at home is not pretty stable and ok with your being away for an extended time. You can always get back home or deal with things remotely. But it is much harder. Especially if it happens often!”
How can I stay fit on a world cruise?
When on a cruise, sometimes the decadence of all-inclusive can fall over someone and relaxation can be pushed to the max. Our Inaugural ROL Cruise Survey found that over half (55%) of cruisers have found themselves putting on weight on a cruise, but over 16% of participants also claimed to have actually lost weight on a cruise. If you are booking a cruise to indulge, you’ll be more than able to. However, if you want to stay fit on a cruise ship, and are worried about putting on weight, there are some things you can do to fend off the extra pounds.
All cruise ships have a whole range of amenities which can help you keep active, events on sea days. From gyms, fitness classes, swimming pools and more. On top of that, cruise menus contain a range of spectacular cuisine, with most ships now offering dedicated options for those with special diets or dietary restrictions, so you’ll be able to enjoy delicious healthy eating as well.
We spoke to Vid, travel enthusiast and blogger at Bruised Passports, who told us what is so special about a world cruise: “A world cruise functions as a perfect introduction to a lot of new countries and faraway lands - a degustation menu or sampling platter if you may. It acquaints you with the vibe of so many places. It also gives travellers the chance to disconnect from the world for a truly memorable holiday.”
Vid then gave us his top tip for anyone thinking of going on a world cruise: “An exercise routine is a must because it’s easy to put on weight as cruises have such extensive dining options, each better than the last.”
When should I book shore excursions for a world cruise?
Knowing when to book shore excursions can be hard. As the trip is so long, you may not want to pre-decide every day of your journey before you leave, but you also don’t want to find your dream excursion has been fully booked if you leave it to late. We recommend booking any ‘must do’ shore excursions before departing and keeping a list of the others you are interested in when you board the ship. That way, you’ll be able to decide a few days into your trip whether you are interested and book in early.
Anna, The Cruise Blogger, told us about her world cruise experience: “I have been fortunate enough to sail on a full world cruise and it was an unforgettable experience. This type of itinerary is truly unique because it enables you to travel the world in style, without having to change your hotel. Guests often form unique bonds with each other, with many becoming friends for life.”
Anna spoke to us about the importance of booking shore excursions before your cruise starts to ensure a place: “A lot of shore excursions book up before the cruise starts. Many people don’t realise this until they board the ship. It is possible to explore many ports on your own, but for the more obscure or specialist attractions, book as early as you can. Some cruise lines also offer overland tours, which allow you to disembark in one port, where you spend several days exploring famous landmarks, before re-joining in another port. Although these excursions are never cheap, they do offer many guests a once in a lifetime experience.”
How do you spend sea days on a world cruise?
Sea days on a world cruise are inevitable. However, with the amazing number of amenities on offer, a day on a cruise ship is a fantastic affair. With fitness centres, amazing shows, extravagant pools, games rooms and much, much more, you’ll find plenty to do on every ship.
We spoke to John Widmer, who has been travelling the world for over five years and blogs at Roaming Around The World. We asked John for his opinions on world cruising: “A world cruise provides such a seamless way to be able to experience so many interesting locations all around the globe. It’s great a pleasure to wake up in exciting new destinations to explore each morning. There’s no unpacking and packing necessary. There are no travel hassles often experienced at airports. And there’s no travel logistics to figure out. It’s also so convenient to be able to have some reliably fantastic meals on the cruise in between the onshore explorations. This all helps to make a world cruise an extremely easy, effortless, and luxurious way to get around to so many intriguing destinations all around the world.
“A cruise also provides such a fun and festive environment to travel on. We truly feel like we are on vacation when cruising, as we love all the parties, shows, games, and dancing. The all-inclusive nature of the entertainment, gourmet meals and lush accommodation can all make for an excellent travel too, all while being transported from one interesting port to the next. After all, it’s the unique adventures and exciting cultural experiences onshore that world cruises can make possible.”
John then spoke to us about sea days: “Be prepared for the sea days. While world cruises pack in so many interesting ports, there also tends to be an abundance of sea days. You’re crossing the world’s oceans after all!
“We find that to be a fantastic experience and enjoy the extra time out in the open ocean. World cruises have loads of activities and enrichment programs to participate in. We recommend getting involved. Go to the cultural lecture, take that cooking course, and join in on the progressive trivia. We’ve never once been bored the cruises we’ve taken around the world.
“In addition to the ship’s fun agenda, the sea days also provide a nice contrast to be allow people to relax in between the packed days touring all those international ports. Pencil some time in to simply lounge by the pool, read a book, or indulge a spa day.”
Do I have to disconnect on a world cruise?
When on a world cruise, we encourage all travellers to take full advantage of their vacation and disconnect as much as possible. For those who need to stay online there are Wi-Fi systems available, however, we suggest only using these of a needs-be basis and for the rest of the time trying to fully enjoy the experience.
John had this to say: “Prepare to disconnect. The satellite Wi-Fi systems on world cruises can be slow, unreliable, and expensive. Instead, enjoy a digital detox! It can feel great to be disconnected and simply slip into vacation mode. Focus on all the incredible experiences rather than checking emails!”
So, there it is, everything you need to know about going on a world cruise. With more cruise lines than ever now offering extended cruising options, now is the best time ever to start looking for a life-changing expedition around our beautiful planet.