Expedition Cruise line Cruise West is offering the world's longest World Cruise ever, almost a year-long starting in 2010.
What is the Value Equation? (Continued) Cruise West's Exploration Leaders are a vital component to every sailing the line offers. "No two exploration leaders are alike," Golden told me. "But every one of them is passionate about their area of expertise, and they love to share that passion with our guests. Onboard they will make detailed presentations about each destination, providing lots of little known facts about the people and the attractions. Their presentations will be accompanied by Power Point presentations containing lots of photographs, maps and other details to make our guests intimately familiar with each place they will be visiting. When they actually arrive, they already know far more than most traditional cruise ship passengers, and that allows them to enjoy the experience more."
In addition to the lively and informative presentations, the Exploration Leaders accompany guests during shore visits. They will point out interesting birds and wildlife during Zodiac excursions or nature hikes, and offer interesting tidbits while the Zodiacs hug the shoreline in search of any unique sightings.
But is a 335-day World Cruise really worth the hefty price tag Cruise West is asking? Guess it depends on what you are looking for. "We pack in a lot of value for the money, and that makes the price actually pretty reasonable," Golden explained.
"We include at least one shore excursion in every port," Golden continued. "This means that unless a guest chooses to do something special, such as helicopter flight-seeing or something incurring an added cost, they can actually have a comprehensive shore program without spending one additional dollar over their cruise fare.
Best of all, Golden told me, are the included "Wow!" experiences. Huh? "Each voyage includes one really special excursion called an 'Ultimate Explorer's Experience' and it is something guests can't get anywhere else. There is no extra cost for these experiences, though some of them are quite extravagant and may even involve flights."
For example, stopping in the beautiful wine region of Bordeaux, France, guests are invited to an exclusive wine tasting hosted by Cruise West Chairman, Dick West. During travels in the U.K., passengers will be treated to a gala evening performance at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. During a stop at Port Canaveral, guests are taken to visit the Kennedy Space Center and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, where they will be privately escorted by a former U.S. astronaut.
There are other things Cruise West includes in their fare as well. "Our prices include soft drinks and bottled water at no additional charge. Gratuities are also included in the cruise fare, and no further tipping is either required or expected. There is also a one-night pre-cruise hotel stay included at any city the guest joins the voyage. There are a lot of special events, such as a gala dinner in Singapore for those guests joining the voyage there. Some voyages are hosted by our Chairman Dick West, and others by our President, Dietmar Wertanzl. We have voyages that feature our own modern day explorer, Captain Reidulf Maalen, at the helm. We have lots of other included special events planned as well."
Golden admitted that probably very few people will sign on for the entire voyage. "We'll probably get a handful," she told me. "But most of our guests will likely be onboard for a voyage or two, maybe a chapter," she added.
"That's the unique thing about this cruise," said Golden. "There's something here for everybody." There are voyages that cover exotic destinations such as the Far and Mideast, and there are voyages covering destinations closer to the U.S., such as Canada and the Americas. Most voyages involve generous amounts of port time either via the ship or by Zodiac landing, and there's even one repositioning segment involving seven days at sea. "That's a great voyage for someone who is maybe studying for their medical boards or a Bar Exam," one of Cruise West's exploration leaders told me during a webinar. "It's also great for writers who maybe need to get away from all distractions for a week to finish that book or manuscript."
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