World Cruises on Luxury Lines for 2012

| Wednesday, 06 Jul. 2011
The Seabourn World Cruise for 2012

World Cruises Part II - The Luxury Lines

I've used the more formal "Part II" instead of simply "Part 2" because we are going to talk about world cruises on luxury lines. The very first world cruise was offered by Cunard Line in the 1920s, designed for passengers with a great deal of discretionary income or inherited wealth. When the cruise industry replaced the ocean liner industry in the 1960s, world cruises were only offered by luxury lines. But as I wrote in Part 1 of this article, world cruises are now offered by many premium category lines including Princess Cruises and Holland America.

In Part 1, World Cruise Bargains, we discussed how Cunard Line and Princess are offering two different world cruises in 2012. We also noted how historically the term "world cruise" always referred to a cruise that begins and ends in the same city -- but for unknown reasons that rule no longer applies. For the premium cruise lines just mentioned as well as the luxury cruise lines we will cover in this article, a "world cruise" is no longer a true circumnavigation of the globe. In fact, many sailings described as "world cruises" in brochures are really just long voyages that never repeat a port.

The longest available voyage in 2012 is a 139-day world cruise from Regent Seven Seas Cruises. This cruise starts in Auckland, New Zealand, followed by visits to Australia, Indonesia, India, and the Arabian Peninsula; it proceeds through the Suez Canal, followed by extensive cruising throughout the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast of Europe, finally ending in Copenhägen. There is even a short jaunt to Reykjavík, Iceland.

This 139-day cruise offers many more days in port than the average world cruise. Altogether, it has only about 24 days at sea, or 110 days in port -- including many overnight stays. To make this even more attractive, Regent is the only line that includes shore excursions in the cruise price. That makes this one of the most exciting cruise adventures I can imagine.

That was the good news, but here's the catch: Regent is a luxury line, so this cruise starts at $79,000 per person. If you want to travel in the master suite, the price is a modest $262,000 per person for a combined total greater than the value of the average house back in 2006. Nonetheless, most of this cruise is already sold out, with availability in just two categories with prices ranging from $90,000 to $109,000.

The Regent Seven Seas 2012 world cruise ©Regent Cruises

Neither Oceania Cruises nor Azamara Club Cruises offers a world cruise, which comes as a surprise to me since these upscale cruise lines present themselves as a step above the premium lines Princess and Holland America.

Getting back to luxury cruise lines: Crystal Cruises has offered world cruises since it began, but 2012 is the first year when it will not offer a true global circumnavigation. The brochure presents the line's longest cruise of 2012 as a "full world cruise" when in fact it isn't even a partial world cruise.

Crystal's "world cruise" starts and ends in Los Angeles, but it never leaves the Pacific Ocean. From Los Angeles it heads straight to Hawaii, followed by Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, South Korea, Japan, and one port in the remote eastern regions of Russia, Petropavlovsk. From there it crosses to Alaska and down the West Coast of Canada until it returns to Los Angeles 94 days later. I don't know why Crystal would refer to this as a world cruise when it would more accurately be described as a Pacific Rim cruise. Still, exact wording in the brochure says: "explore legendary lands and idyllic isles on Crystal Serenity's 2012 world cruise, a 94-day round trip Los Angeles journey circumnavigating the world's greatest ocean." This is still a terrific cruise -- but not a world cruise.

The Crystal 2012 world cruise ©Crystal Cruises

Seabourn Cruises has also been doing world cruises for decades, but its next one also does not circumnavigate the globe -- although it comes closer than the Crystal cruise we just discussed. The Seabourn Quest embarks in Fort Lauderdale on January 5, 2012, on a southerly course that stops in Barbados, Devil's Island (French Guiana), Recife, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. From there it heads east, stopping at the remote island of St. Helena in the middle of the southern Atlantic Ocean (famous for hosting the final exile of Napoleon).

The next stop is Namibia, followed by Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durbin, South Africa. Next come calls in Mozambique, Mauritius, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and on to Shanghai in China. Here our ship takes a U-turn and heads back in the same direction but hitting different ports. After Hong Kong we have Thailand, India, and a few Arab states, including stops in Egypt and Jordan to see the amazing antiquities of the middle Nile and Petra. After a transit of the Suez Canal, the ship stops in Corfu and ends the cruise in Venice, Italy.

The Seabourn 2012 world cruise ©Yachts of Seabourn

Sixty days of this 109-day "world cruise" are at sea, far more than the Regent Seven Seas cruise and a little more than average for a typical world cruise. Seabourn cruisers are known for enjoying days at sea, however.

Prices for this cruise start at just $45,440 for an oceanview suite. A veranda suite ranges from $47,800 to $58,800. Penthouse suites and owner's suites are also available, but the cruise line requests that you call for prices.

Silversea Cruises is offering a 116-day world cruise also starting in Fort Lauderdale on January 6, 2012. This itinerary is very similar to the Seabourn cruise I just described. It also heads south, with three ports in the Caribbean, four nights in Brazil, crossing the Atlantic Ocean (but with no stop in St. Helena) directly to Namibia, followed by South Africa, Mauritius, the Maldives, on through Asia as far north as Shanghai (just like the Seabourn Cruise). At that point this ship also takes a U-turn to visit several Arab states, the same sites in Egypt and Jordan followed by the Suez Canal and ending in Monte Carlo. There are 53 days at sea.

Fares for the Silversea world cruise begin at $59,585 for a Vista suite or $74,000 for a veranda suite; the ship offers a large variety of various larger suites ranging from $119,000 to $214,000 for the owner's suite. While the starting prices for Seabourn and Silversea world cruises are about $20,000 less than Regent's, neither of them include shore excursions in the fare. Yes, Regent does cost a little more, but so do shore excursions -- especially on a cruise with 60 port days in exotic places.

As with all world cruises, any of the above voyages can be taken in segments -- and most passengers do take them that way. This is probably the primary reason why the cruise lines are no longer concerned about circumnavigating the globe even though they call these trips "world cruises".

Given my choice of any world cruise (a hypothetical situation that could only be considered if time and money were no object), I would choose the Regent Seven Seas cruise. It is the longest one available and includes shore excursions.

Speaking of inclusiveness, all the luxury cruise lines just mentioned include wine and spirits in their fares, as well as gratuities which can add up after 100+ days. These are luxury cruise lines with gourmet quality cuisine and a much higher staff-to-passenger ratio than other ships. That is why they cost more than the world cruises we highlighted in Part 1, where a line like Holland America offers a 112-day world cruise starting at just $18,999.

On the other hand, given my choice of world cruises where time and money are an object, I would opt for the Holland America cruise starting at just $18,999 I just mentioned. My second choice would be the 107-day voyage on Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth starting at just $23,883.

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