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Saturday, August 25, 2007

World Cruises: Exploration In Style

The history of civilization is the story of exploration – extraordinary journeys into the unknown, lasting months if not years. Each had its own purpose – conquest, treasure, knowledge – and each ended with fabulous stories of new worlds for a fascinated public back home. Luckily, today’s explorers and adventurers do not have to suffer the hardships endured by the Vikings, Columbus, Captain Cook or Darwin; they have a much more comfortable, even luxurious way to roam the globe: the world cruise.

Seven cruise lines cater to that growing population of travelers struck with extreme wanderlust, those adventurous vacationers determined to explore every continent and exotic new destination and eager to bring their own fabulous stories home again. As reflected in their innovative and ambitious itineraries, all six companies, some with more than 50 years experience circling the globe in style, report that demand for world cruises is greater than ever before.

From west to east, from the Arctic to the Antarctic, world cruises represent the perfect opportunity, for those who have the time, to visit destinations well out of the mainstream, such as Myanmar (formerly Burma), Oman, Vietnam, Iwo Jima and new ports of call in Africa and the Pacific. They also visit many of the world’s major cultural and historical sites and capital cities in Asia, Europe and the Americas. World cruises, lasting approximately 100 days or more, typically follow good weather, ensuring that passengers, wherever they are in the world, can do their exploring in comfort. Most travel westward, departing in January, but there are exceptions, notably a rare opportunity to sail north to south, from one pole to the other.

World cruises range in size, carrying as few as 400 or over 1,000 passengers. In 2008 they include the newest ocean liner in service as well as several of the highest rated and most popular luxury vessels. All have been designed to navigate with ease the open oceans they will travel through. Although cruise segments of a few weeks or more are always offered – enabling passengers to fly to embarkation points around the world – cruise lines report that traditionally more than half the passengers sign up for the entire voyage.
Here is a summary of our picks for the best world cruises for 2008:

Crystal Serenity, voted “World’s Best Cruise Ship” in 2006 by the readers of Conde Nast Traveler, will depart Los Angeles on January 19 for a 108-day odyssey through Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, India, Northern Africa and the Mediterranean. Overnight stays will be offered in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, India, Egypt and Monaco. Visiting 45 ports in 22 countries, it will be Crystal’s 13th annual world cruise.

Two of Cunard Line’s three “queens” will offer world cruises in 2008, continuing a tradition of global voyages that the company began in 1922. On January 13, Cunard’s newest ship, Queen Victoria, and the legendary Queen Elizabeth 2, beginning her last year of venerable service to the company, will sail from New York to Fort Lauderdale where they will then part ways. Queen Victoria will continue on a 105-day Pathway to the Explorers maiden world cruise, visiting 36 cities in 23 countries, and Queen Elizabeth 2 will make her 90-day South America, Pacific and Far East Odyssey, visiting 17 countries.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of its first world cruise, Holland America in 2008 will offer four “Grand Voyages” on two ships. ms Amsterdam sails westward from Fort Lauderdale on January 4 for a 114-day world cruise visiting 40 ports in 26 countries on six continents. ms Prinsendam will make a 68-day cruise to South America and the Antarctic starting January 3, followed by a 73-day journey to the exotic ports of Africa, for a combined 141-day world cruise. And, departing September 19, ms Amsterdam will explore Asia and Australia on a 65-day voyage to 20 ports in 13 countries.

Princess returns to world cruising in 2008 with a 102-day adventure aboard the Pacific Princess. Departing on January 10 from Fort Lauderdale, the 670-passenger ships first round the world voyage will take in 42 destinations in South America, the South Pacific, Australia, Asia, the Middle East and Europe before concluding in Southampton, England. Individual highlights include visits to the Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat and the Pyramids of Egypt. Then, in 2009, Princess plans to offer two world cruises – 107-day voyages from Fort Lauderdale on the Tahitian Princess and the Royal Princess.

San Francisco is the port of embarkation on January 6 for Seven Seas Voyager’s 115-night world cruise to the Pacific, Asia, India, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, North Africa, Bermuda and Florida. Featuring 11 overnight stays for in-depth exploration – in Tahiti, Sydney, Osaka, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Mumbai and Dubai – the voyage to 51 ports in 26 countries is also highlighted by visits to New Zealand, Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Oman and the Red Sea.

Departing from Fort Lauderdale on January 16, Silver Shadow will sail on a “Rhythms of the World” cruise, covering 25 countries and over 50 ports in 110-days. After sailing through the Panama Canal, the ship will journey through Hawaii and the South Pacific, including Iwo Jima and Guam, much of Asia, including Vietnam, Egypt and the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Highlights of the voyage include high profile partnerships and special events with such brands as Ferragamo and Men’s Vogue as well as celebrity chef Cat Cora and film critic Rex Reed.

The best way to learn more about world cruises is to seek the counsel of a CLIA travel professional, considered the consumer’s very best resource when planning a cruise vacation. For reviews of these cruises or cruise lines: Visit for more information.

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