Around-the-World Cruise Guide

Everything You Need to Know About These Far-Reaching Voyages

Taking an around-the-world cruise is the trip of a lifetime. Circumnavigating the globe by ship allows you to wake up in a new destination every day, taking in diverse cultures, landscapes, cuisines, and experiences. From majestic glaciers to tropical jungles, ancient ruins to modern metropolises, an around-the-world cruise has it all.

Here is everything you need to know to plan the Cruise Ship Travel of your dreams.

Choosing an Around-the-World Cruise Itinerary

Around-the-world cruises typically follow one of these popular routes:

Westbound Route

The classic westbound route starts in Florida and sails westward with stops in the Caribbean, Panama Canal, French Polynesia, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, India, Egypt, and the Mediterranean before ending in Europe.

This itinerary offers a chance to see European colonial influences across the Pacific and experience exotic Asian cultures. The Suez Canal and Mediterranean ports provide a taste of antiquity.

Eastbound Route

The eastbound route goes the opposite direction, starting in Europe and sailing eastward across the Atlantic with stops in South America, around Cape Horn, Antarctica, South Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, China, and Alaska before ending in New York.

This adventurous option includes the rare chance to visit Antarctica. You’ll also absorb Polynesian culture and work your way up the West Coast of the Americas.

Segment Itineraries

Some around-the-world cruises focus on certain regions like Asia, South America, or Australia and New Zealand. Others cover portions of the classic eastbound or westbound routes.

These segment itineraries allow you to focus on one part of the world in depth. They also make for a shorter trip, usually lasting 60-90 days instead of the 100-120 days of a full circumnavigation.

Booking Your Cruise

Booking an around-the-world cruise takes planning. Only a handful of luxury cruise lines like Cunard, Silversea, Seabourn, and Regent Seven Seas offer these extended voyages.

Here are tips for booking:

  • Book early. Around-the-world cruises usually sell out a year or more in advance. Booking early ensures you get your preferred room type and onboard perks.
  • Consider segments. If you can’t commit to a full circumnavigation, look into a segment itinerary that focuses on a region you want to explore.
  • Work with a travel agent. An agent who specializes in around-the-world cruises can help you evaluate options and get priority access to competitive fares.
  • Plan your flights. Most cruises start and end in different ports, so you’ll need to book flights to get there and back home. The cruise line or travel agent can assist.
  • Get your visas. Many countries require visas for entry, some of which can take months to obtain. Apply for any necessary visas as early as possible.

What to Expect Onboard

Around-the-world cruises emphasize luxury. You’ll enjoy fine dining, lavish entertainment, spacious staterooms, and top-notch service.

Here are some onboard features to expect:

  • Enrichment activities. Lectures, classes, and guest speakers provide context on the regions you’ll visit. Many lines also offer language lessons.
  • World-class cuisine. Gourmet restaurants and globetrotting menus allow you to taste local flavors from around the world.
  • Lavish amenities. Pampering amenities like spas, pools, gyms, and 24-hour room service make the ship a destination itself.
  • Evening entertainment. Broadway-style shows, live music, comedy, and theme parties provide onboard fun.
  • Complimentary beverages. Many high-end lines offer drinks, fine wines, and spirits as part of the fare.

With careful planning, booking an around-the-world cruise is an easy process resulting in the experience of a lifetime. Let the journey begin!

Popular Around-the-World Cruise Destinations

Around-the-world cruises call on the most captivating destinations across all seven continents. Here are some of the top places visited on world cruise itineraries:


Western itineraries often begin with island-hopping through the postcard-perfect Caribbean. Top stops include the private islands of cruise lines, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and more. Relax on sandy beaches and revel in tropical beauty.

Panama Canal

One of the top engineering marvels in the world, the 50-mile Panama Canal passes through massive locks as ships traverse between the Atlantic and Pacific. You’ll marvel at this feat on many around-the-world routes.

French Polynesia

The idyllic South Pacific islands of French Polynesia enchant with emerald peaks, turquoise lagoons, and lush jungle interiors. Spend days on the beaches of Bora Bora, wander historic Papeete on Tahiti, and explore the coral reefs.

New Zealand

From imposing fiords to volcanic peaks, New Zealand impresses with diverse natural beauty. See the geothermal phenomena of Rotorua, cruise the glacial Milford Sound, or sample world-class sauvignon blancs in Marlborough wine country.


Both eastbound and westbound cruises tour the Land Down Under’s vibrant cities and unique wildlife. Must-see spots include the Sydney Opera House, Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne cafes, and the rugged Outback.

Southeast Asia

Home to ancient temples, mouthwatering cuisine, and fascinating cultures, Southeast Asia dazzles on around-the-world itineraries. Top stops in Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia reveal this region’s history and beauty.


Sailing up the Chinese coast, around-the-world cruises provide a glimpse of destinations like Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. Admire the Great Wall, see old-world Shanghai, and indulge in dim sum and shopping.


Many world cruises end with explorations of the Mediterranean, where you can discover storied cities like Rome, Athens, Istanbul, and Barcelona. Take in millennia of history and bask on the region’s sun-kissed coast.

With so many incredible and diverse destinations, around-the-world cruises offer experiences of a lifetime. Each day brings new wonders!

Tips for Making the Most of Your Around-the-World Cruise

To have an incredible around-the-world cruise experience, here are some tips:

  • Book shore excursions ahead. Reserve your spot on the most popular tours so you don’t miss out.
  • Pack light. With laundry services onboard, you can get by with less luggage. Easy to pack and wear comfortable, casual clothing.
  • Get good walking shoes. Many tours involve lots of walking over uneven terrain. Sturdy, supportive shoes are essential.
  • Bring motion sickness remedies. Seasickness medication, wristbands, and natural ginger capsules can keep nausea at bay.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle. Stay hydrated and reduce waste while sightseeing ashore.
  • Join onboard fitness classes. With tempting food and drinks, staying active keeps you feeling your best.
  • Socialize at events. Trivia, dance lessons, and cocktail hours are great places to meet fellow travelers.
  • Take photos. Capture incredible moments and scenery to look back on. Pack extra batteries and memory cards.
  • Keep a journal. Note impressions, funny anecdotes, new friends, and lessons learned during your voyage.
  • Research ports of call. Reading up on upcoming stops enriches the experiences ashore.

With smart packing and planning, embracing fitness and fun, and making connections onboard, your around-the-world cruise will create memories to cherish forever. Let the adventures begin!

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