Cruise Guide: Full-Circle Sailings

Cruisers on National Geographic Explorer’s circumnavigation tour will visit such historic sites as Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which is home to the iconic warship HMS Victory.
Cruisers on National Geographic Explorer’s circumnavigation tour will visit such historic sites as Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, which is home to the iconic warship HMS Victory.

Like explorer Ferdinand Magellan, whose ships were the first to circumnavigate the Earth in the 1500s, today’s travelers can also set out to circle the globe. Alternatively, they can book a voyage that loops around an island, archipelago, region or continent. Unlike Magellan’s crew, however, they’ll sail the world in style — but with the same sense of adventure. Here’s a small sampling of “circumnavigation” options for clients to consider.

Around Britain & Ireland: Encircling Great Britain and Ireland, Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic’s 148-guest National Geographic Explorer operates a 19-day expedition-style itinerary that visits England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Departing April 29, 2017, it sails from Edinburgh, Scotland, loops around the British Isles and Ireland and concludes in Bergen, Norway. Cruisers will tour historic cities including Edinburgh, Scotland and Portsmouth, England, and also see wild, rugged western isles, Stone Age village ruins and World War II-era historic sites.

Perhaps clients have seen Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher, but it’s most likely that they’ve never seen it up-close at water level via a Zodiac ride, as cruisers can do on this expedition, weather permitting. Cruisers will also look for whales, dolphins and seals, and see nesting sites of seabirds. Guests can enjoy a good brew at a cozy pub and meet the locals. The voyage is led by a Lindblad expedition team and accompanied by a National Geographic photographer. Rates begin at $18,380 per person, double, in a category 1 cabin. The line will cover the guest’s onboard bar tab and gratuities for both National Geographic Explorer and National Geographic Orion voyages.

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Regent Seven Seas’ new Seven Seas Explorer will operate an 11-night roundtrip London voyage that circumnavigates the island of Britain and cruises along Ireland’s eastern coast. Departing June 3, 2017, this upscale cruise is one of Regent’s “Smithsonian Journeys,” which provides onboard enrichment activities in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution. Port calls along the way include Newcastle, Liverpool and Dartmouth, England; Edinburgh, Scotland; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Dublin and Cork (Cobh), Ireland; and Holyhead, Wales.

Princess Cruises’ “Circle Hokkaido” takes guests to Shiretoko Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Princess Cruises’ “Circle Hokkaido” takes guests to Shiretoko Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At Holyhead, a small island off the Welsh coast, guests can choose from several complimentary Regent shore trips, including a tour to “Anglesey’s Beaumaris Castle,” a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fares for the around-Britain itinerary start at $11,299 per person double. For 2017, the line is offering free business class air, among other inclusions. A pre-cruise program, including a hotel stay and tours, is available. During a post-cruise London package, guests stay at the Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott Hotel, with pricing per person double starting at $589 for one night.

Around Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway: Norwegian coastal line Hurtigruten offers a circumnavigation around the Arctic island of Spitsbergen, the largest in Svalbard Archipelago. With multiple departures in July 2017, Fram takes cruisers to Norway’s far north — even venturing for a brief time above the 80th parallel. During this eco-intensive cruise, guests may perhaps spot polar bears along with birds and marine life.

Much time is spent within nature preserves and Spitsbergen National Park. Guests will see such natural wonders as Alkefjellet, Edgeoya and the Monaco Glacier. Cruise pricing begins at $7,377 per person double, and Hurtigruten is offering an airfare credit of up to $1,500 per person for this 2017 itinerary.

Around Indonesia: Small-ship luxury operator Ponant has a new in-depth Indonesia voyage that makes a circle within the world’s largest archipelago. The 11-night “Discover Indonesia” itinerary is operated by the 148-passenger L’Austral, which sails roundtrip from Benoa, Bali on September 22, 2017. Among many highlights, cruisers will visit Taka Bonerate, a gorgeous marine park. At Flores Island, guests will go ashore and visit the relatively untouristed town of Maumere.

Cruisers will view traditional Tongkonan houses at Palopo in Toraja Land, also known as the “Land of the Heavenly Kings.” The ship also calls at other off-the-beaten-path destinations such as Makassar, Pulau Latondu, Pulau Rinca, Pulau Banta and Sumbawa. Fares for this luxury cruise start at approximately $5,110 per person double for a deluxe stateroom with private balcony.

Around Australia: Holland America Line’s 1,258-passenger Maasdam sails a 27-day “Australian Explorer,” nearly a complete loop roundtrip from Sydney to Melbourne on October 21, 2017. The ship’s interior motif pays homage to the historic Dutch East and West India companies; the atrium’s centerpiece is Luciano Vistosi’s “Totem” sculpture with 2,000 glimmering pieces of glass.

Guests will visit Brisbane, Hamilton Island, Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, the Ribbon Reef Region, Sherrard Island, Darwin, Albany, Exmouth, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island. The ship also docks overnight at Fremantle (Perth), transits the Far North region and Torres Strait, and times the cruise so guests can gaze at sunrise near Lizard Island and sunset at Booby Island. Maasdam also calls in Indonesia at Benoa (Denpasar), Bali and Komodo Island, which is home to humongous lizards. Fares begin at $5,199 per person double. 

Around Hokkaido, Japan: For those seeking a week-long cruise in Asia, Princess Cruises operates an eight-day “Circle Hokkaido” itinerary on Diamond Princess roundtrip from Tokyo (Yokohama) to Japan’s major northern island. Departing July 13, 2017, the itinerary calls at Kushiro, Otaru and Hakodate, Japan. It also offers scenic cruising of the Shiretoko Peninsula, and even visits Korsakov (Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk), Russia as a bonus. At press time, per-person-double fares for this itinerary started at $1,399 for an interior cabin; $1,799, oceanview stateroom; $2,189, balcony stateroom; and $2,569 for a mini-suite. The suites were sold out at press time. A free “Sip & Sail” beverage package was available.

Around Hawaii: Norwegian Cruise Line’s American-flagged Pride of America is the only big ship doing a week-long, intra-island itinerary; according to U.S. law, all foreign-flagged lines must have a foreign port call, adding days of ocean transit to a Hawaii cruise vacation. With departures throughout the year, Pride of America sails weekly cruises roundtrip from Honolulu, Oahu to Kahului, Maui (overnight); Hilo, Hawaii; Kona, Hawaii; and Nawiliwili, Kauai (overnight).

Silver Spirit’s Panorama Lounge is designed to provide guests an uninterrupted view of the destinations.
Silver Spirit’s Panorama Lounge is designed to provide guests an uninterrupted view of the destinations.

The nice thing about this cruise is the ease with which it lets clients both see multiple islands in a short amount of time and avoid airport hassles in getting from Point A to Point B. The itinerary provides more than 100 hours of port time ashore. Among the many shore trips is a day-long “Heavenly Hana” tour along the scenic Hana Highway, which is famed for its twisted, curved roadway (cruisers will be glad there is an expert driver) with views of lava cliffs, waterfalls, rugged terrain and hills with ferns and tropical fruit trees. Lunch is included. At the Kipahulu District, cruisers can see and photograph glistening pools formed by waterfalls cascading down the Haleakala volcano. This tour is priced at $189 per person.

Fares begin at $899 per person double and include an option for a four-day Oahu land tour in combination with the cruise. A recent “Free at Sea” value-added promotion allowed Norwegian’s guests to choose one of these complimentary perks: a one-night hotel stay, specialty dining, pre-paid service fees or shore excursion.

Around South America: Silversea Cruises is planning two new Grand Voyages circumnavigating South America in 2017. Sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, FL, these “Circle South America” itineraries include a Panama Canal transit, two days cruising Chile’s fjords, a multi-day stopover in Rio de Janeiro and multi-day calls in Buenos Aires and Callao (gateway to Lima and Machu Picchu). The first cruise of 63 days sets sail on January 16, 2017 onboard Silver Spirit. The 66-day second voyage will depart October 13, 2017, onboard the line’s newest ship, Silver Muse, which will be launched early next year.

On the Grand Voyages, full-voyage guests will enjoy a $2,000 onboard spending credit — one for each double-occupancy suite; one exclusive Silversea Experience; one exclusive shore-side event; free Wi-Fi; and free laundry and dry cleaning service. Fares for the “Circle South America” Grand Voyages start at $29,700 per person double for Silver Spirit and $36,700 per person double for Silver Muse.

Cunard Line’s Queen Victoria will encircle South America on a 50-night “Discover South America” roundtrip voyage from Fort Lauderdale, FL, on January 18, 2018. Visiting the Caribbean, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, the ship also rounds Cape Horn before hugging Chile’s long western coastline, sailing northward to Peru and Ecuador, transiting the Panama Canal and calling at other Caribbean and Central American destinations. The fares start at $8,258 per person double.

For those with more time, Crystal CruisesCrystal Serenity will sail a 2017 World Cruise roundtrip from Miami and circumnavigate South America as well as visit Central America, the Caribbean and Antarctica. The 94-day “Serenity’s Southern Celebration” itinerary begins January 10, 2017. Eight maiden calls include Santo Tomas, Guatemala; Trujillo, Honduras; Matarani, Peru; Iquique, Antofagasta and Castro, Chile; Porto Belo, Brazil; and Samana, Dominican Republic. Overnights are planned in Barbados; St. Barts; Colon, Panama; Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, Argentina; Punta Del Estes, Uruguay; Valparaiso and Punta Arenas, Chile; and Rio de Janeiro, Salvador de Bahia and Manaus, Brazil.

In addition to a festive Bon Voyage celebration pre-departure, full World Cruise guests receive such complimentary perks as two exclusive shoreside events, private enrichment classes, fitness programs, special entertainment, social invitations and more. Full World Cruise fares began at $32,295 per person double for a large deluxe stateroom with picture window.

Around the World: Most major luxury lines have some version of a global circumnavigation, but for clients seeking an “extreme voyage length,” Oceania Cruises operates 180-day voyages on Insignia, departing January 6, 2017 and January 3, 2018. In the latter itinerary the ship sails extensively in the Caribbean before heading to Belem, Fortaleza and Recife, Brazil. Insignia then heads east across the Atlantic to Africa with calls at Lome, Togo; Cotonou, Benin; the island of Sao Tome and Principe; and Walvis Bay, Namibia, before continuing around the Cape of Good Hope to South Africa and East Africa.

In Mombasa, Kenya, guests might choose to book an optional day safari to Shimba Hills or take an air excursion to Amboseli National Park, famed for its elephants. The voyage then continues into the Indian Ocean and on to Southeast Asia, China and Japan, the islands of Malaysia and Indonesia, plus Australia and New Zealand. The ship also spends six days in French Polynesia destinations, as well as four days in Hawaii (Hilo, Honolulu, Lahaina and Nawiliwili). Insignia then returns to North America for calls at Los Angeles and San Diego, Mexico, a Panama Canal transit and more Caribbean isles, before guests disembark July 1 in Miami. Fares start at $39,999 per person double. At press time, Oceania had a special offer that included bonus savings, airfare and unlimited Internet plus a choice of one of the following (per stateroom): 78 free shore excursions; a free beverage package or a $7,800 shipboard credit.

The above voyages are just a few of the many “circumnavigation” or near-circumnavigations offered by cruise lines. Visit www.travelagentcentral.com to see more options.

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