If your ideal vacation involves spending months sailing around the world – exploring storied, faraway lands and learning the mysteries of ancient civilizations and cultures – then you should consider booking a world cruise. These epic voyages transport guests around the globe to some of the world’s top historical and cultural attractions. You’ll sample locally inspired cuisines from Asia, Europe and other diverse regions, plus enjoy special events on the ship and in port, including expert guest lectures, cultural programs and memorable themed nights. And best of all: You’ll only have to pack and unpack once. Read on to learn why a world cruise may check all the boxes for your dream getaway – and get started on planning your next vacation.
When do world cruises depart, and how long do they last?
World cruises typically begin in January and end in April or May, but some lines, like Viking Ocean Cruises, offer voyages that embark in December. Therefore, full itineraries often last anywhere from around 100 to 150 days, though Royal Caribbean International recently launched the world’s longest world cruise at 274 days. If you’re not able to set sail for three to five months (or longer), some cruise providers also offer select, shorter segments of their full world cruise itineraries.
Are world cruises in high demand?
Before setting your sights on a particular itinerary, you should know that world cruises are very popular and usually sell out quickly. Post-COVID-19 shutdown, there’s been even more pent-up demand for these cruises in the 2022 and 2023 cruising seasons. In fact, many 2022, 2023 and even 2024 world cruises sold out within an unprecedented amount of time this year. Oceania Cruises’ 2024 voyage sold out within 30 minutes of the line announcing the itinerary, and its 2023 cruise was completely booked within one week. Similarly, Viking’s world voyages are sold out until the line’s 138-day sailing on Dec. 20, 2023.
With so many world cruises booking up in record time, you may wonder what other options are available for travelers seeking a lengthy voyage. Howard Sherman, president and CEO of Oceania Cruises, advises, “In 2024, we are providing guests more extended voyage options to deeply and meaningfully rediscover the world.” He adds, “While a globe-circling journey is the pinnacle of life-changing travel experiences, we have specially curated a set of Grand Voyages for seasoned and time-rich travelers to navigate storied seas, straits and oceans that boldly connect diverse and exotic corners of the globe.” The line’s grand voyages range from 72 to 82 days long.
Torstein Hagan, chairman of Viking, has this to say about Viking’s world cruises: “We are delighted to once again offer explorers the opportunity to circumnavigate the world in comfort. Our previous world cruises sold out in a matter of weeks, and we are now seeing more interest in these extended voyages than ever before. Like me, our guests are curious people; we view travel as an opportunity to discover, learn and grow. With that Viking spirit of exploration, our seamless world cruises are possibly the greatest of all adventures.”
President of Azamara, Carol Cabezas, agrees that travelers are excited and ready to set sail on a world cruise. She states, “Azamara is thrilled to offer its new World Voyage launching in 2024. As self-described curious travelers, our guests are eager to explore destinations further and make meaningful connections to each destinations’ culture and people, spending more time in a given port.” Cabezas adds, “Departing from our backyard in Fort Lauderdale, this once-in-a-lifetime World Voyage will take our curious guests to over 40 countries across six continents, giving them the time and opportunity to making these connections and explore the hidden gems and mystical wonders of the world, including the Great Wall of China, Great Pyramids of Giza, Chichén Itzá, Taj Mahal and more.”
Anne Scully, a partner at Embark Beyond, a luxury travel agency in New York City, says, “World cruises are always sought after as clients make lifelong friends and travel year after year together. World cruises are the ultimate dream trip, especially for great celebrations such as retirements, special anniversaries and getting out of the cold for the winter!” She notes that some lines’ upcoming world cruises may highlight new and unique events. For example, Silversea Cruises’ 2024 world voyage offers an overnight visit to the Buddhist and Hindu temples in Borobudur, Indonesia, two of the country’s nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
How does pricing work on a world cruise?
When planning a world cruise, it’s important to note that fares can vary significantly between cruise lines. Some lines advertise cruise-only fares, which do not include meals at specialty restaurants, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, excursions, some entertainment or other expenses. On top of that, many cruise lines’ base prices exclude port fees and taxes. Given the length of a world cruise, even small expenses can add up after several months on the ship and in ports around the globe. Typically, travelers can expect to spend a base fare of between $15,000 and $95,000 for their world cruise.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ all-inclusive fares include almost everything you could need, including door-to-door luggage service, first- and business-class airfare, pre-cruise gala events, unlimited dry cleaning and laundry, prepaid gratuities, meals, open bars and lounges, unlimited Wi-Fi access and more. Other lines may use a mostly all-inclusive payment plan and include additional perks, like Viking’s Silver Spirits beverage package. Still, others – like MSC Cruises – may include wine and beer at dinner, but charge extra for select beverages, some excursions and other items throughout the voyage.
Picking your world cruise
To help you choose which world cruise is right for you, U.S. News has compiled a list of some of the best sailings that are still available to book for 2023. Keep in mind, if you’re interested in a world cruise that is fully booked, you shouldn’t lose hope. Scully advises that there are usually cancellations when trips are booked this far in advance, and you may be able to get on a waitlist through a travel adviser or by contacting the cruise line directly. Otherwise, if you’re ready to book your tickets and set sail on the trip of a lifetime, consider one of these eight upcoming world voyages.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Navigate the World
(Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas Cruises)
Date: Jan. 7 to May 30, 2023
Length: 143 nights
Price: Starts at $94,599 per person (deluxe veranda suite, double occupancy)
Starting on Jan. 7, 2023, 684 guests will call Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner home for its 143-night Navigate the World cruise. The ship sails from Miami to Barcelona, with stops in enchanting destinations across South America and idyllic islands like Bora Bora in French Polynesia. There are also stops in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Vietnam, India, South Africa, the Canary Islands and more.
The cruise fare includes up to 356 complimentary excursions, meals, open bars and other amenities and perks. Guests will also have access to exclusive shoreside experiences in several ports, such as the Moonscapes & Moonlight event in Namibia.
Seabourn Cruise Line: Extraordinary Discoveries
(Courtesy of Seabourn)
Date: Jan. 6 to May 27, 2023
Length: 140 days
Prices: Starts at $71,299 per person (ocean-view suite, double occupancy)
Seabourn Cruise Line’s 140-day itinerary departs from Miami on Jan. 6, 2023. Guests aboard the 448-passenger Seabourn Sojourn will visit 61 faraway destinations in 32 countries across six continents. Highlights of the Extraordinary Discoveries voyage include stops in cities like Lima, Peru; Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; and Casablanca, Morocco. There are also exotic ports of call in Seychelles and West Africa.
In the South Pacific, you’ll visit magical locales like French Polynesia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Easter Island and Papua New Guinea. While here, travelers can also experience an intensive exploration with a team of experts known as Ventures by Seabourn. These skilled professionals host optional Zodiac, snorkeling and trekking excursions in South Pacific destinations like Tonga and the Cook and Solomon Islands.
Other notable features of this itinerary include cruising the Panama Canal, crossing the equator and the international dateline and passing the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. This incredible journey ends in Barcelona, Spain. Travelers who are interested in a shorter journey can also opt to sail certain segments of the full world cruise ranging from 21 to 30 days; abbreviated sailings travel through Australia, Indonesia, South Africa and more.
Holland America Line: Grand World Voyage
Date: Jan. 3 to May 12, 2023
Length: 128 days
Price: Starts at $37,199 per person (veranda cabin, double occupancy)
Holland America Line’s 128-day Grand World Voyage departs on Jan. 3, 2023, and sails round trip from Fort Lauderdale. The extensive itinerary on the 1,964-passenger Zuiderdam features a Panama Canal transit and stops in exotic locales like Papeete, Moorea, Bora Bora and Raiatea, the Society Islands in French Polynesia. Travelers will also visit ports of call in New Zealand and Australia, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Spain, Morocco, France, Northern Europe and more stunning places in the world.
Princess Cruises: World Cruise
(Courtesy of Princess Cruises)
Dates: Jan. 5 to April 27, 2023; Jan. 19 to April 27, 2023; Jan. 19 to May 11, 2023
Lengths: 97 to 111 days
Prices: Starts at $21,499 to $23,171 per person (interior cabin, double occupancy), depending on route
Princess Cruises offers a 111-day world cruise that sails round trip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Jan. 5, 2023, aboard the 2,200-passenger Island Princess. The itinerary includes 50 exotic ports of call, from Cartagena, Columbia, to destinations in Hawaii, French Polynesia and New Zealand. Guests on the world cruise will also visit the United Arab Emirates, transit the Suez Canal in Egypt and tour European cities like Venice, Italy, and towns in Croatia and Slovenia. You’ll also enjoy the magical beauty of Provence in the South of France.
Other options for the 2023 world cruise on Island Princess include a 97-day sailing from Los Angeles on Jan. 19, 2023, that returns to Fort Lauderdale. This itinerary features 43 ports of call. Travelers can also hop aboard the ship on the same date in Los Angeles for a longer 111-day round-trip voyage.
If you’d like to sail a shorter section of this world cruise, keep in mind a one 14-day segment is available. This itinerary embarks from Fort Lauderdale and ends in Los Angeles, visiting the Panama Canal, Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Mexico along the way.
MSC Cruises: World Cruise
(Courtesy of MSC Cruises)
Date: Jan. 4 to April 30, 2023; Jan. 5 to May 1, 2023; Jan. 6 to May 2, 2023; Jan. 7 to May 3, 2023
Length: 116 nights
Price: Starts at $15,549 per person (interior cabin, double occupancy)
This Jan. 4, 2023, world cruise sailing on the 3,013-passenger MSC Magnifica departs from Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy, for a 116-night voyage around the globe. Other possible departure ports include Genoa, Italy (Jan. 5); Marseille, France (Jan. 6); or Barcelona, Spain (Jan. 7). The transatlantic itinerary boasts 43 incredible destinations, including cities in South America like Ushuaia, Argentina; Punta Arenas, Chile; and Lima, Peru. Guests will also cross the South Pacific Ocean, visiting locales along the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea. The ship will then transit through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea before returning to Genoa.
Cruise fares include 15 complimentary shore excursions, as well as a Dine & Drink package that features a selection of wines, draught beer, sparkling water and other nonalcoholic beverages in the main restaurants during lunch and dinner. There is also a 30% discount on laundry services. Guests can enjoy themed evenings, guest speakers and language classes while on board.
If you’re interested in a shorter voyage along this route, consider booking a 22- to 94-day segment in a region of your choosing. Options include Rome to Sydney, Genoa to Singapore, Barcelona to Sydney and more.
Cunard Line: The Centenary World Voyages (Queen Mary 2)
Dates: Jan. 3 to April 30, 2023; Jan. 11 to April 23, 2023
Lengths: 102 or 117 nights
Prices: Starts at $20,029 to $21,299 per person (Britannia inside cabins, double occupancy), depending on route
Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2 departs round trip from Southampton, England, for a 102-night voyage on Jan. 11, 2023. This world voyage travels to Asia, Australia and Africa, while paying homage to the 100th anniversary of Cunard’s maiden world sailing. Highlights of this voyage include transiting the Suez Canal and visiting Luxor, Egypt. The ship will also call on Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, plus Muscat, Oman, before heading to Asia, Australia, South Africa, Namibia and Spain.
Cruisers can also opt to depart round trip from New York City on a 117-night voyage from Jan. 3 to April 30, 2023. Or, if you’d rather sail a select segment of this world cruise itinerary, opt for a 9- to 67-day sailing in a region of your choosing. Options include New York City to Southampton, England; Dubai to Singapore; Hong Kong to New York City; Cape Town to Southampton and more.
Cunard Line: The Centenary World Voyages (Queen Victoria)
Dates: Jan. 9 to April 25, 2023; Jan. 11 to April 23, 2023; Jan. 20 to April 23, 2023
Lengths: 92 to 105 nights
Prices: Starts at $18,499 to $21,699 per person (Britannia inside stateroom, double occupancy), depending on route
Cunard Line’s 105-night Centenary World Voyage aboard the 2,061-passenger Queen Victoria departs round trip from Hamburg, Germany, on Jan. 9, 2023. Other embarkation ports include Southampton, England, on Jan. 11 for a 101-night voyage or New York City on Jan. 20 for 92 nights. Highlights of the journey include spectacular beaches and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with stops across Hawaii, Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, the Middle East, Europe and more.
Meals in the main dining room, most onboard entertainment, gala evenings, afternoon tea and other activities are included in the cruise fare. Special wine events and tastings, as well as extras like exercise classes, are an additional cost. Travelers who are interested in booking a portion of this world cruise can opt for a voyage lasting between 12 and 75 days. These segments include routes like San Francisco to Southampton, England; Sydney to Dubai; Dubai to Hamburg and more.
P&O Cruises: World Cruise
(Courtesy of P&O Cruises)
Date: Jan. 3 to April 13, 2023
Length: 99 nights
Price: Starts at $16,388 per person (ocean-view cabin, double occupancy)
P&O Cruises’ world cruise departs round trip from Southampton, England, on Jan. 3, 2023. The 99-night sailing on the 2,094-passenger, adults-only Arcadia features international cities, exotic islands, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and stunning coastlines. Ports of call include stops in the Caribbean and Mexico, Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia, before heading to Asia and the Middle East. All meals and some nonalcoholic beverages are included in the fare.
Travelers can opt to sail on one segment of the longer itinerary, ranging from 11 to 60 days. Shorter route offerings include Hong Kong to Dubai; Southampton to Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Fort Lauderdale to Sydney and more.