Want to explore the South Pacific, Cape Town or Shanghai? An ocean or river cruise puts exotic locations within easy reach, says Deborah Stone

Aerial view of Beijing © iStock

Another option for anyone wanting to explore far-flung destinations is a world cruise; and while some of these types of itineraries can require a lengthy time investment, it’s possible for travellers to book shorter sections.

“A world voyage – or even a long voyage of more than 90 days – is the jewel in the crown for many regular cruisers,” says Andy Harmer. “While a cruise is well known for being a great way to see multiple destinations while unpacking once, a world cruise takes it to a whole new level as you get the chance to visit not just multiple destinations but also multiple countries and whole continents.”

Bernard Carter, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, EMEA, Oceania Cruises, adds: “I would recommend doing some research and selecting itineraries covering shorter segments of the world cruise that are available to do in isolation. For example, you could sail from Cape Town to Singapore on a 35-day sojourn across the Indian Ocean and enjoy some of the most fascinating highlights of Africa, the Sub-Continent and Southeast Asia.”

Sailing the Mediterranean and through the Suez Canal to the Middle East calling at Dubai and Abu Dhabi en route for India and Indonesia would also be a cultural treat – and Princess Cruises has a 38-night Indian Ocean and Europe Grand Adventure leaving Southampton in 2018 that fits the bill. Sapphire Princess will call at Aqaba in Jordan for excursions to the ancient city of Petra, then over to India, stopping at Malaysia on the way to Singapore.

India is a colourful assault on the senses for most Westerners and Kochi (formerly Cochin) on the southwest coast is a reasonably gentle introduction, with an historic area dominated by Fort Kochi plus the gentle Kerala backwaters – a network of canals, lakes and rivers that can be explored by tourist boat.

“Our world cruises offer guests the chance to visit lesser known destinations that aren’t necessarily available on our shorter voyages, such as Hvar in Croatia and Colombo in Sri Lanka,” says Tony Roberts. He advises booking a world cruise as soon as they go on sale, while Neil Barclay at Viking Cruises says higher-grade staterooms sell even faster than the rest.

“Our first-ever World Cruise itinerary sold out over 80 per cent of its capacity in just three months last year, with both new and returning guests keen to experience destinations that are new to Viking, from Havana in Cuba and Tahiti to Sydney,” he says. Viking Sun will sail through the Panama Canal heading for the French Polynesian islands of Tahiti and Bora Bora – idyllic beach destinations with coral reefs and coastal forests – then on to Fiji with more palm-fringed beaches.

MSC Cruises has also announced its first-ever world cruise, on sale now even though it does not depart until January 2019. MSC Magnifica will call at 49 ports in 32 countries, including the South Pacific destinations and three full days in Hawaii.

“When developing the world cruise and its one-of-a-kind itinerary, we have listened to customers’ feedback and know that for many the opportunity to travel the world in comfort and style is a lifelong aspiration,” says Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO.

World cruises offer more time for overnight stays in ports and Holland America Line’s four Grand Voyages in 2017 and 2018 even have land-based tour options. “Guests can take advantage of overland tours mid-cruise where they can rejoin the ship in a different port,” says Lynn Narraway, Holland America Line’s Managing Director, UK & Ireland.

Wherever you decide to travel, the world really is your oyster on a cruise. As Andy Harmer says: “A world cruise is a cost-effective and thoroughly enjoyable way to hit those bucket list places and to discover those ‘hidden treasure’ ports that you may never have heard of before but will be a delight to explore.”

Read part one of Exotic Cruises 2017.

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