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4 days ago

The Perpetual Rise of Ultra-long Luxury World Cruises

Ideal for cruise devotees, these luxury world cruises can be extended by stringing together one after another.

By Becca Hensley

While I chose to spend my junior year of college in Spain eating tapas, a number of my friends opted for 100-day-plus world cruises, a floating university called Semester at Sea. I envied them — their peripatetic classroom where every port, whether Delhi or Hong Kong or Lisbon, became a science laboratory, a language class, an art history tutorial, a treatise on culinary and lifestyle culture, and a fitness opportunity as they ascended hilly towns or walked down long streets.

Launched into what would become a lifelong love affair with global travel, these maritime students ate from a metaphorical buffet of destinations, capturing snapshots of life that no doubt transformed them forever. What a dream! And perhaps a missed opportunity for me and others who didn’t board that ship back in the day.

[See also: First Look at Regent Seven Seas’ New Prestige-Class]

Lucky for jet-setting grownups with a penchant for sailing voyages, you don’t have to be a student to ship out among the waves for some six months at a time. A plethora of luxurious cruises beckon with captivating itineraries, VIP amenities, peerless service, first-class dining options and a range of onshore experiences so exclusive and so attuned to your adult life experiences, you’ll be glad you waited for these trips of a lifetime until you were older.

A long world cruise includes visits to some of the planet’s farthest reaches / ©Oscar Farrera

Some perks? You’ll only unpack your suitcase once — and truth be told, an able butler will likely be on hand to do that for you. You’ll be entranced by the sense of familiarity as weeks on board lead to new friends, deep connections and the fact that the bartender will mix your favorite cocktail as you walk through the bar’s door every evening.

You’ll fall into your own rhythm, not feeling you have to push yourself to get your money’s worth and attend every lecture, cooking class or guided tour through a city. After all, you’ll have weeks to do things — sometimes it may feel right to just sit on your balcony with a book and gaze at the horizon.

Providing a sense of belonging as assuredly and comfortingly as membership to a country club, extended cruises offer an automatic clique: fascinating friends who share your passions. Finally, with itineraries that embrace infinitesimal variety — imagine: stops in the South Pacific, Antarctica, Asia, Africa and South America — you’ll never be bored.

Perhaps most ideal for cruise devotees already smitten with the cruise scene and its nomadic pace, long cruises can be extended by stringing together one luxury world cruise after another. Who knows? Maybe you’ll cruise perpetually.

[See also: Exploring Greenland in Luxury on National Geographic Endurance]

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Holland America, Grand Voyage Pole to Pole

Need to know

133 days at sea

Round trip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, January 25, 2025-June 7, 2025 From $54,399,

Best for: History and science buffs, pickleball players and those who enjoy a bit of bygone European allure.

Volendam draws inspiration from gardens around the world / ©Holland America

Following a first-of-its-kind route that flows south-north-south, this unique cruise rambles through the Panama Canal, down South America’s west coast to Antarctica, then explores the heart of the Amazon River. Next, it traverses the Atlantic to Africa, sails north to Europe, ascending the North Cape — then on to Iceland, Greenland and beyond. Vibrant capitals, historic landmarks and dramatic scenery comprise only part of this itinerary’s rewards.

The ship

A medium-sized ship with capacity for 1,432 passengers, the Volendam draws inspiration from gardens around the world — perhaps even Amsterdam’s tulip fields — with floral fabrics and large vases awash with stunning floral arrangements. It boasts pickleball courts, a fitness center, the World Stage for riveting shows and plentiful shops. It also has three dining options: Pinnacle Grille, Canaletto and Lido Market.

The top suite

Relax in the Neptune Suite, a haven with floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows and a private veranda. An ample sitting room with a fold-out sofa for one extra guest invites repose, while a lower sleeping area holds a signature Mariner’s Dream bed featuring a Euro-Top mattress. Helmed by a private concierge, the suite includes complimentary pre-dinner canapes in suite, laundry service, priority boarding for tender ports and dinner reservations. Other perks for this suite include round-trip air credit to Fort Lauderdale, one complimentary shore excursion from The Collections of Holland America line, an en-suite liquor setup (four bottles) and a $500 Grand Mariner discount.

Itinerary highlights

Guests will be immersed in a variety of spectacular experiences including transit through the Panama Canal; an Antarctic expedition through the bays and islands of the Palmer Archipelago; visits to Easter Island and Machu Picchu; scenic cruising in the Great Barrier Reef; and key architectural moments, such as viewing the majesty of the Baroque in Portugal.

Silversea Cruises, World Cruise 2026: The Curious And The Sea

Need to know

140 days at sea

Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Lisbon, January 6, 2026-May 27, 2026 From $89,000,

Best for: Well-traveled sophisticates, first-in-class explorers and culinary-focused travelers.

Silver Dawn has capacity for 596 guests and an astonishing 411 crew members / ©Silver Seaas

From ancient times, intrepid gadabouts have followed the Spice Routes — also called the Maritime Silk Roads. Aboard The Curious and the Sea adventure, you’ll continue the tradition, channeling your inner explorer. In regal digs, sail through Central America; transit the Panama Canal; traverse South America, Easter Island, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia, Sri Lanka, India, the Red Sea and Europe; and more — visiting 70 destinations in 37 countries, some of them never before part of a Silversea itinerary.

The ship

Reputedly the most opulent ship at sea, all-suite Silver Dawn is the third vessel in the Muse Class series. It has a capacity for 596 guests and an astonishing 411 crew members. Otium, a spa and wellness concept inspired by Ancient Rome, highlights mind, body and spirit healthiness with salubrious spa-to-suite experiences. That means, wellness goes beyond massages to include signature Otium beds with sumptuous sheets and much more. On the culinary front, Silver Dawn proudly plunges passengers into countless global cultures via S.A.L.T., a program dedicated to evoking myriad cultures through gastronomic experiences on board and on shore. White-gloved, tuxedo-clad butlers attend to every suite category.

The top suite

Be enveloped in an Owner’s Suite, a sleekly stylish ‘pied-à-mer,’ deftly spiced with Italian style as befits Silversea’s roots. The spacious suite can be configured as a one- or two-bedroom palace at sea. An oversized terrace, hedonistic marble bathroom — complete with soaking tub positioned to embrace the vistas — separate dining area, walk-in closet and stylish common areas reign as standout qualities.

The Dawn Spa / ©Silver Seas

Itinerary highlights

Ever surpassing the status quo, Silversea curates deeply researched, pièce de résistance level experiences for every portion of its itinerary. On this trip, you’ll semi-circumnavigate Australia for 21 days, venturing along the unspoiled southern and western coastlines (a Silversea World Cruise first). In Northern Africa, you’ll delve deeply into the history of the ancient Carthaginians and Romans at La Goulette, in Tunisia. Cruising on a houseboat along the Kerala River’s pepper tree dotted shores, you’ll discover the Malabar Coast, as well as take a tuk tuk ride, don flower adornments and taste traditional southern Indian dishes. In the South Pacific, get to know some of the region’s less touristy islands — such as New Caledonia’s culturally rich Lifou and Noumea islands.

[See also: Regent Seven Seas Reveals Aston Martin F1 Spotlight Voyage]

Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Navigate The World

Need to know

150 days at sea

Miami to San Francisco, January 7, 2025-June 6, 2025 From $90,699,

Best for: Luxury travelers with a penchant for the glamour of heyday transatlantic travel

Seven Seas Mariner in Rio de Janeiro / ©Regent Seven Seas

Venturing into 25 different countries and gallivanting over more than 36,295 nautical miles, this passage encompasses 16 overnights and up to 395 free shore excursions. Providing a world of pleasure, new experiences and intellectual pursuits, the journey stops in Barbados, Bali, Bora Bora and beyond to showcase 48 Unesco World Heritage Sites and a realm of more remote locales.

The ship

Sailing on all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Mariner is akin to staying at an intimate five-star hotel in a sublime hotspot — but this resort keeps moving, swaying over the waves. With staterooms ranging from 301 to 2,000 sq ft, the boat offers some of the largest suites at sea. Only 700 guests, attended by over 400 staff, enjoy meticulous service. Gastronomic dining in three restaurants, a pool grill and a coffee bar ensure plenty of options. Don’t miss Chartreuse for inspired French art de vivre-style gourmet fare. For swilling, four swanky bars await including the Observation Lounge. The Serene Spa & Wellness center unravels muscles with matchless massages and leads guests in Pilates, yoga, meditation and other fitness classes. Guests can also join one of the wellness-themed shore excursions.

The top suite

The Master Suite / ©Regent Seven Seas

Stress vanishes as your personal butler attends to everything in your 1,204-sq-ft Master Suite, an oasis poised on Deck 9 with two terraces. Its 798-sq-ft balcony is ne plus ultra — ideal for watching the world go by. Redolent of Park Avenue elegance, the two- bedroom, two-and-a-half-bathroom hideaway has preferred amenities including one free night at a pre-cruise hotel and priority status opportunities — including dinner with a senior officer.

Itinerary highlights

From South America to Antarctica, this cruise acts as a portal to the vastness of the world and its myriad cultures. Float through the Amazon, tango in Buenos Aires, snorkel in French Polynesia’s Raiatea, swill some wine in New Zealand, tour Singapore at night for the best street food, ride motorcycles in Saigon and trek a glacier in Alaska — among other matchless on- shore options.

[See also: Champagne Cruising: How Liners Are Adding Extra Sparkle]

Oceania Cruises, Kaleidoscope Of Your World

200 days at sea

Need to know

Miami to New York January 5, 2025-July 23, 2025 From $54,099,

Insignia travels from Miami to New York City over 200 days / ©Oceania Cruises

Best for: Epicureans, art aficionados and consummate adventurers

As the name suggests, this extravaganza of a cruise is meant to offer swanky sailors a mind-boggling array of sights, sounds, tastes and experiences. Incorporating the Amazon rain forest and the golden grasslands of South Africa as well as Asia’s bustling urban centers, exotic Indonesian islands and the otherworldly coast of Western Australia — among other hotspots — Kaleidoscope of Your World includes lesser-traveled ports of call such as the volcanic uninhabited island of Tristan da Cunha and the Indian Ocean’s Comoros.

The ship

Aboard Insignia, a 670-passenger vessel with 400 staff members, guests will revel in a residential ambience as sophisticated as townhouse living. Adorned with world-class artwork and replete with artful design details (from glassware to furniture), this Regatta Class ship features multiple dining venues, including four exceptional open-seating restaurants that require no surcharge, and a satisfying afternoon tea. Wine tastings, a buzzy casino, cabarets and nightly productions amuse daily, as well as educational offerings that include lecturers in fields such as history and local culture.

The top suite

Each of Insignia’s six glamorous Owner’s Suites encompass nearly 1,000 sq ft, complete with a private teak veranda, two flat-screen televisions and a capacious bathroom, anchored by an oversized shower. In addition to stateroom amenities, Owner’s Suite privileges include free laundry service, priority 11am ship embarkation and luggage delivery, 24-hour butler service, complimentary in-suite bar (set up with six bottles of premium spirits and wine), luxury bath amenities and more.

Itinerary highlights

From Bali to Buenos Aires, the voyage stops at 89 spellbinding ports in 32 countries. An amalgam of multiple ‘once in a lifetime’ holidays in one cruise, the journey thrills with options as diverse as African safaris, rain forest hikes along the Amazon and snorkeling in the South Pacific. Exclusive shoreside events run the gamut from starlit dinners in Namibia’s ancient desert to wine tasting in South Australia’s Barossa Valley.

Short and sweet

Nature, science and wildlife enthusiasts enkindled by the vintage explorer spirit of yore can’t go wrong on board an HX (Hurtigruten Explorer) ship. Book the Pole to Pole Adventure: The Ultimate Bucket List Expedition Cruise, which sails for 96 fascinating days from Vancouver to Buenos Aires, spanning regions as diverse as lush junglescapes and iceberg-punctuated northern waters. From the decks of the MS Roald Amundsen (a hybrid ship sailed with sustainable electrical propulsion), you’ll have the chance to check both penguins and polar bears off your list as you sail through both the northern and southern hemispheres. Meet the Inuit people after traversing the storied Northwest Passage.

From $71,154,

Princess Cruises’s Island Princess will take romantics on an epic 116-day world cruise, its longest voyage yet. It flaunts a globe- encircling, 33,500-nautical-mile tour that visits 51 destinations in 26 countries and six continents. Choose between two round-trip options in January 2025, one departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida and the other from Los Angeles. With a spa, pools, restaurants and other amenities, the World Cruise keeps the seduction theme alive as it drops anchor at sexy hotspots such as ports in Greece, Egypt, Montenegro, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, Hawaii, Bali and more.

From $18,783,

[See also: Seabourn Venture: Expeditionary Cruising in Effortless Style]

This article appears in the 03 Jun 2024 issue of the New Statesman, Summer 2024

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