Considering a world cruise but have some questions you want answering before booking? In this world cruise guide, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about embarking on a world voyage, from what to pack to whether you’ll need travel insurance:
- Do I need travel insurance?
- Will I travel the whole world?
- Does ship size matter?
- What should I pack?
- Is it a good idea for me and my partner?
- How should I prepare for departure?
- How can I stay fit?
- When should I book shore excursions?
- How should I spend my time during days at sea?
Do I need travel insurance?
With a world cruise, travel insurance is highly recommended as you’ll be at sea for months on end. Ensuring you are in good health before embarkation and also making sure you are protected if something happens, is very important. Some cruise ships turn away passengers if they don’t have documents highlighting adequate cover upon request. They also may not issue your tickets until the relevant information is received.
Danielle, cruise blogger at Cruise Miss, is a seasoned cruiser. She told us why world cruises are a great option for travellers, “world cruises are 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.”
We asked Danielle what advice she would give to first time world cruisers, she said, “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 from?
We recommend International Travel and Healthcare. Their specialist policies cover travellers from 1-99 years old and, subject to medical screening acceptance, can cover any pre-existing health conditions too.
Will I travel the whole world?
The term ‘world cruise’ is an ambiguous one. Although it often means navigating the globe on a cruise ship, there are many options now that mean you don’t have to stay the duration. With passengers able to book legs of the journey, boomerangs and more, there are plenty of options available.
Adam Coulter, UK Managing Editor of Cruise Critic, has vast experience in the cruise industry. He is one of the leading voices in the industry, which is why we wanted to speak to him about world cruises. “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 kick off a large number of bucket-list dream destinations in one go.
“What’s not to like about 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 also asked Adam what passengers should do if they don’t wish to take the full cruise, “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 had a chat with Anna, known as The Cruise Blogger, who explained 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?
“One recent spin on a world cruise is the ‘boomerang,’ which combines two ships in one trip,” says Adam. “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 it comes to ship size, there are a lot of variables at play. If you love a busy lifestyle, a large ship with lots of people to meet is fantastic. However, if you’re dreaming of unique and undiscovered locations, smaller ships often visit lesser-known and quieter ports.
“Think carefully about how big of a ship you want,” says Adam. “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 like Silversea’s Silver Wind 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 it's 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?
It can be hard knowing what to pack for a cruise. You want to be prepared for every eventuality and with a world cruise, you’re more likely to need a large range of things. “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,” says Adam. “This is where a little planning will pay dividends. Your cruise line can tell you how many formal, semi formal 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 of life. Then match the itinerary against weather charts for the time of year you’ll be visiting. For example, in January cruises to Europe could be chilly, the Caribbean will likely be pleasantly warm but not too 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 may 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, advises, “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 it a good idea for me and my partner?
Many world voyages can be hundreds of days long. 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 travel companion.
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 get some space, knowing 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 and David, avid cruisers who blog at Retired and Travelling. They said, “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.”
When travelling in a couple, Linda says it’s important to know you are ready for a world cruise, “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.
“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.”
How should I prepare for departure?
Due to the length of world cruises, there can be a lot to prepare before departure. Linda says, “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.”
How can I stay fit?
Sometimes the decadence of an all-inclusive world cruise means relaxation is pushed to the max and health and fitness goes out the window. The Inaugural ROL Cruise Survey found that over half (55%) of cruisers have found themselves putting on weight during 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.
Every cruise ship has a range of amenities to help you stay active, from gyms, fitness classes, swimming pools and more. On top of that, cruise menus contain a range of spectacular options, with most ships now offering dedicated menus for those with special diets or dietary restrictions, so you’ll be able to enjoy delicious healthy food as well.
“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,” says Vid. “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?
Knowing when to book shore excursions can be hard. As the trip is so long, you may not want to plan every day of your journey before leaving. But you also don’t want to find your dream excursion has been fully booked if you leave it too late. We recommend booking shore excursions that you feel are unmissable before departing while 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 says, “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 explained why it’s important to book shore excursions beforehand, “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 rejoining in another port. Although these excursions are never cheap, they do offer many guests a once in a lifetime experience.”
How should I spend my time during days at sea?
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 chatted to John Widner who has been travelling the world for many years, blogging his adventures at Roaming Around The World. “A world cruise provides such a seamless way to be able to experience so many interesting locations all around the globe,” he explains. It’s a great 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 in. 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 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 also shared his thoughts on 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 on 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 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 in a spa day.”
So, there it is, everything you need to know about going on a world cruise! With more cruise lines than ever offering extended cruising options, now is the best time to start looking for a life changing expedition.