They say that we make plans and God laughs.
Well, God must have been doubled over in knee-slapping hysterics when last year’s lockdown coincided exactly with my retirement date.
Gone were my lavish retirement party and, even more heartbreaking, two Caribbean cruises along with my ideal post-retirement part-time job: a two-day-per-week greeter position at the New York Cruise Ship Terminal. If my calculations are correct, COVID-19 robbed me of about 40 days at sea … and now it’s time to make up for it (and then some) using the money I saved during a year in relative quarantine together with the freedom of my retirement.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about a world cruise or grand voyage. As a freelance cruise writer with 45 years of sailings under her belt, there’s little in the nautical world that intimidates me, but swapping my typical 7, 10-, or 14-day jaunts for a sailing that is measured not in days or weeks but in months sent me scurrying for advice and first-hand accounts we could all use.
World Cruise … or a Grand Voyage?
A world cruise is just that: a circumnavigation of the globe that can last nearly 200 days. Some world cruises, like the 180-day one aboard Oceania Insignia in January 2023, are port-intensive, while others offer a tremendous amount of sea days as they navigate from one area of the world to another. In fact, more than half of Queen Victoria’s 108-day world cruise in January 2022 is sea days!
While a world cruise ranks high on many cruisers’ bucket lists, a grand voyage brings a greater focus to a specific region or regions of the world. Typically shorter in length than a world cruise, a grand voyage may similarly be port intensive (like Regent Navigator’s June 2022 New York sailing that visits New England, Greenland, and Iceland before heading over to the U.K., Russia, and Scandinavia) or it may offer an itinerary that includes multiple sea day segments (like Coral Princess’ 56-night sailings from Auckland to Dover).
But if you think you’ll need to wait until retirement to experience an extended cruise, think again. One thing the pandemic has taught the corporate world is that employees can work productively from anywhere. You might have spent the past year working from your dining room table or from a vacation home — why not spend a year working from aboard a ship? When I sought advice from maritime artist and world cruise veteran Stephen Card, he recalled a shipmate on his last world cruise insisting that the 40s was the perfect age for a world cruise.
How much will a World Cruise cost?
Now more than ever, calculating the cost of your world cruise or grand voyage is determined by your selection of ship and cabin category. An inside cabin aboard Queen Mary 2 for its 62-night sailing from New York to Sydney next year obviously has a different sticker price than booking 145 days aboard the all-suite, all-inclusive Seabourn Sojourn as it sails from Los Angeles to Athens … but it’s more than the initial cost that needs to be considered.